In mankind’s struggle to head off the use of fossil fuels, the U.S., as well as other countries, have turned to the use of energy derived from plants. In the U.S., we have turned to ethanol, a corn derivative. Needless to say, the supply lags far behind the demand.
But now there is a new plant that may go a long way toward meeting mankind’s need for non-fossil fuels. Its name is Jatropha. It grows wild in India. It is an ugly plant. About the size of a golf ball, its seeds contain a yellowish liquid that can be converted into biodiesel.
O.P. Singh, a horticulturist for India’s ministry of railways, bubbles over with enthusiasm. The Wall Street Journal quotes him as saying, “This plant will save humanity. I tell you. Someday every house will have Jatropha.”
If and when the miracle happens, it will be another milestone in man’s progress on earth. Of all the creatures on earth, homo sapiens are the only creatures that know how to make tools to enable them to develop civilizations that thrive in the icy Arctic zones and in the deserts of Arabia.
In a wrestling match with a bear, I would put my money on the bear. But when a man is equipped with a tool called a gun he is the sure winner.
The Romans used to refer to man as homo sapiens — the human with a brain.
We do best when we use the brain as, in this instance — when we cultivate jatropha.