Friday, August 15, 2008

Alive or Dead?

The last several days have been pretty full. On Tuesday, I started the beginning of moving to another computer. To make that move much more time consuming than it usually is, I'm moving to Mac world. On Wednesday, I drove to the coast to look at a potential wind site, and yesterday, I did a radio station interview at our local Koop radio station.

At the interview, the hosts, (there were three of them) asked me about my books and so on, but they also gave me the opportunity to just open up and speak from my center.

First, we talked about Climate Change and how important it is to understand that the framing of the "R's, roughly expressed as "Environment vs Prosperity" is totally bogus.
The frame should be "alive vs. dead".
We need to treat the climate issue as if it is a roving pawnee tribe on the verge of coming over the hill with a bunch of braves who will rape our women and enslave or murder our children. We need to treat it as if it is World War III, because if we don't, it will be anyway. And don't be confused by the skeptics who will and do say anything to make their self serving points.. They are the Swiftboaters of the climate issue.

I talked about how Al Gore's proposal to transition our electric sector to renewables in 10 years is totally preposterous. And preposterous thinking is exactly what we need right now.

We chatted about how we need to see a profound change in the world, yet it will be no more profound than the change that occured 100 years ago. Look at the pictures. In 1905, our manure plagued cities were full of horses and carriages. By 1920, they were packed with cars. At the beginning of World War I, cannons were pulled into place by horses, and by the end of the conflict, we were shooting each other out of airplanes.

They asked me about being a futurist, and what it takes to be one. I replied that it is closer to being a musician or an artist than being an engineer or a planner, yet every good musician must have the technical skills to play his instrument.

They asked how my views have changed over the years, especially since the writing of Silver in the Mine, which was a long term comprehensive energy plan written more than five years ago. My response was that I was pretty happy with the way the vision in the book was holding up. However, in the book, I called for the creation of a solar /hydrogen economy, and today I speak and write about a Unified Photonic Energy Web. Sure, we will need fuel to run our planes and for gourmet cooking and perhaps heating, but more and more I see a unified energy system.

I talked about our recent presentations at the Utility which show a triangle with a car, a home, and a power plant, and how at present, the lines of energy flow from the power plant to the home, (or office) while the energy supply for the transportation sector comes almost exclusively from the oil sector.

We need to change that.

Energy needs to flow in a new unified system from the increasingly green utility to the house and to the car. And energy needs to flow from the house to the car and from the utility to the car. And the energy must flow in both directions, from the car to the house, (if the house is off the grid), from the car to the utility (V to G), as well as from the house to the utility.

With an integrated, unified energy system, we would no longer have the waste that exists at a typical football stadium parking lot where more generation capacity sits idle on the pavement outside the stadium than exists in the whole community's electrical generation portfolio.

With Plug in Hybrids, that capacity would no longer be stranded.

I closed the hour by reminding the listening audience that Einstein didn't receive the Nobel Prize for E=MC squared. No, his Nobel came from describing the photovoltaic effect.

Running the clock down to the last few seconds, I explained how just a few decades ago, we made PVs by growing crystal pickles in dark foggy rooms, where they were sliced, and doped, and wired, and then put in a frame like a work of art. In many ways, they were.

But today, we have companies that have turned that crystal pickle into a semiconducting ink which can be printed.

If such a Photovoltaic ink can be placed in a ink cartridge which goes into a printer, every computer and printer in the world could become a micro manufacturing plant of inexpensive solar material.

And that would be a Revolution.



What will we be,

Alive or Dead?



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