There is a better way
Knowing that there is a better way is an important step in launching a re-tooling of society. As noted in yesterday's post, members of the architectural profession have recognized their role and responsibility in this redesign process. A similar sense of hope and optimism can be drawn from the growing ranks of sustainable farming and clean energy advocates/practitioners.
Not too long ago one could only find these scenarios of a sustainable future in publications like The Whole Earth Review or Mother Earth News. The true visionaries knew that it was just a matter of time before they would grace the pages of The New York Times and Wall Street Journal. (GW)
Continuing The Clean-Car Revolution
By Paula J. Dobriansky and R. James Woolsey
Wall Street Journal
May 24, 2008
Between the two of us, we've served the last five presidents. We join together in the belief that
As prices soar, oil imports add more than $1 billion a day to our trade deficit. There is also a security cost: The tight supply increases our vulnerability to disruptions by terrorists or other causes that could send prices even higher. On top of all this, oil is a leading source of global greenhouse gas emissions.
There's a better way.
At the U.S.-sponsored Washington International Renewable Energy Conference in March, we saw that government and industry have exciting new opportunities to create national energy systems powered by clean technologies.
President Bush addressed the conference, praising the 8,000 international participants as "pioneers on the frontiers of change." He also toured the trade show, during which we joined him in examining Jim's next-generation plug-in hybrid Prius (with its bumper sticker "Bin Laden Hates This Car"). The range of hardware and know-how displayed at that conference should give all of us great hope.
Plug-in hybrids can and should also be able to run on various combinations of ethanol, methanol, butanol and other second-generation biofuels produced from sustainable renewable sources such as agricultural and forest waste products, and grasses. These advanced biofuels will reduce concerns about competition between food and fuel. And compared with gasoline, these biofuels may cut carbon emissions by up to 86%.
For example, a plug-in burning E-85 (85% ethanol) when it needs liquid fuel can get up to 500 miles more per gallon of fossil fuel. A billion dollars of federal investment and new federal mandates, strengthened by the joint action of the Bush administration and Congress, are boosting advanced biofuels. Growing commitments of venture capital are validating their commercial promise.
We'll also need to change the way we produce electricity for American families and businesses. The federal government and leading
These new ways to produce and use energy are the beginning of a clean technology revolution, one that will allow us to sever the linkage between economic growth and fossil fuels.
The global economy has changed dramatically over the past 20 years; and major emerging economies must also join the effort to slow, stop and eventually reverse the growth of emissions. We'll need to respect that national capabilities and circumstances vary, so we must work out a coherent way for each nation to determine the best way to reach the goals we each set.
The Major Economies Process, launched by the president last year, brings together countries representing some 80% of the world's economic output, energy use and greenhouse gas emissions – in pursuit of key elements for a new international agreement on climate change. Leaders of major economies will meet this summer to finalize plans.
The coming years will determine whether we continue down the path of oil dependency and rising climate risks, or break our addiction and realize the promise of a clean and prosperous future.
A clean technology revolution is underway. Only if we work together on both of these goals can we get the job done.
Ms. Dobriansky is undersecretary of state for democracy and global affairs. Mr. Woolsey, former director of Central Intelligence, is a venture partner with VantagePoint.