Algae, that green stuff in your pond, is being used to make biodiesel in New Zealand. Algae can grow almost anywhere, even in deserts. And some species grow so fast that they double in size three or four times a day. According to Fred Krupp, author of the excellent Earth: The Sequel, it would take only 47 million acres of algae to produce fuel for half of America's cars, compared with 1.5 billion acres of soy beans. I never knew pondlife was so exciting.
Algae also eat carbon dioxide at a similarly prolific rate. That makes them multitasking miracle-workers: both a fuel and a way to clean up power-plant emissions. Not surprisingly, several companies are now trying to move from relatively small algae beds to industrial scale.
If we could all stop resenting each other's prosperity, we might just build an economy where the price of oil no longer matters. And where the humble algae could, at the very least, power one person to the shops without taking someone else's food off the table.