There was a time when algae proponents like Edwards were considered a little crazy. Even though "algae needs no fresh water, doesn't displace any cropland and eats nitrogen and carbon dioxide," Edwards told me, industry gave it no respect as a fuel source. Now that we're hurtling toward a food-and-fuel catastrophe, however, pond scum is looking pretty good. Chevron has teamed up with a San Francisco-based company, Solazyme, to research algae-based biodiesel; Royal Dutch Shell is hard at work on an algae test facility in Hawaii.
And I helped get us here. As a conscientious car owner in search of better fuel, I helped "people understand the value proposition for renewable transportation fuel," Edwards said. "You're educating a whole wave of consumers. Once algae becomes available, they'll be eager to use it, because they'll understand that it's possible to fuel their cars with something other than petroleum."