The Future is Insight

The title of this blog was intended to work on many levels- some of which are that it plays off of my belief in hybrid technology being a necessary step towards our future, the fact that introspection and mindful planning are critical to our future, and to the fact that the future is literally in sight for those that are willing to see it. The ranks of that latter group are growing and its constiuents are becoming more outspoken with the continuing onslaught of hard data on the reality of global warming.

We are currently in South Dakota visiting relatives, and I picked up some magazines to help productively pass some of the downtime when traveling. One of those is the Sept. issue of Scientific American, devoted entirely to the scientific reaities of a future that is significantly less dependant on carbon fuels. One of the most striking quotes comes from the first article, where Gary Stix states emphatically “The debate on global warming is over”. With carbon dioxide now past 400ppm -the highest level in 650,000 years- the reality is indesputable, and the trends are pointing to 500ppm by 2050. The ‘uncertainties’ of climate change that are touted by skeptics-including our federal government- are now relegated to issues like when the polar ice sheets will melt, not if. Stix set s the stage and his poignant article is followed by several action orientated articles on what we need, and more importantly, can do about it. 2 Princeton professors, Robert Socolow (mechanical engineering) and Stephen Pacala (ecology) detail a very well researched and workable plan focusing on taking huge bites (1 billon tons of carbon) out of our carbon emmisions to freeze and/or improve our carbon situtation by 2050 in a manner that is conducive to economic growth ala Hawkin’s Natural Capitalism. The steps needed to acheive these goals – the steps that must be acheived to avert the unthinkable- are immense. Some seem impossible like Zero defrestation and a 100% switch to no till farming by 2050, to wishful: 700 fold increase in PV usage, to very attainable: doubling the effeciency of the world’s auto fleets from 30 to 60mpg and increasing the effeciency of coal power plants by 50%. They lay out 15 ways to take a 1 billion ton wedge out of our emmisions, and any 7 of them will attain their goals so it can be very workable-but any of these are huge undertakings that can make the Appollo Program or the Manhattan project look like science fair projects if for no other reason than we can’t do this alone-it will be a worldwide venture. And we can’t even agree to help out Darfur…

While I strongly encourage everyone to track down a copy their selves, over the next week or so I will highlight the main articles, delving slightly deeper as needed and of course provide some commentary (the ‘nuclear option’ article had me going…) as I work thru the issues for myself. More than anything else this issue of Sci Am put vast amounts of relavent, up to date data into one document from very reliable sources (MIT, Berkley, Princeton…) giving me verifiable facts to help me continue to connect the dots in my own gord let alone in trying to talk to others about it.
Stay tuned!

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