Monday, September 25, 2006

Good news!

I am often guilty of being either pessimistic or cynical, depending upon how you look at it. As my friend Alex pointed out to me, the great thing about being pessimistic is that 90% of the time you're right and the other 10% of the time, you're pleasantly surprised.

But several news items have pleasantly surprised me recently. First, the US has the ability to become energy independent with current technology by erecting a solar farm a mere 100 miles square.

"A farm 100 miles by 100 miles in the southwestern U.S. hypothetically could provide as much electricity as is needed to power the entire country," said SES general manager Bob Liden.|Link|

Now, this would be a total of 10,000 square miles, which is about the same size as Vermont, but would easily fit in Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, California, or Texas, all of which are sunny states with lots of empty space.
With solar now providing less than one percent of the world's energy, that would take "a massive (but not insurmountable) scale-up," NYU's Hoffert and his colleagues said in an article in Science. At present levels of efficiency, it would take about 10,000 square miles (30,000 square kilometers) of solar panels—an area bigger than Vermont—to satisfy all of the United States' electricity needs. But the land requirement sounds more daunting than it is: Open country wouldn't have to be covered. All those panels could fit on less than a quarter of the roof and pavement space in cities and suburbs. |Link|

So, why don't we just do it? This needs to be a platform plank for whichever party wants my vote, dammit. Just build the solar farm with the money we will save by pulling our troops and carrier groups out of the Middle East. Once we're energy independent we will have a lot more flexibility in dealing with the challenges posed by the Middle East.

Second, there is word of a breakthrough in battery technology that might actually make electric cars attractive (using our solar farm power, of course).

And finally, the German chancellor Angela Merkel protested the cancelling of a play out of fear of a reprise of the Danish cartoon drama.
Mrs Merkel denounced "self-censorship out of fear" as unacceptable, reflecting a mood of national indignation that was not limited to the arts set but cut right across all social lines. |Dailymail|
Not that I'm so interested in the play, but it's nice to see that some countries have leaders who actually champion freedom of the expression.

1 comment:

Jason said...

I am pleasantly surprised to find a bunch of good news at this blog!