- The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. It included $80 billion for green/sustainable initiatives like a smart power grid, renewable energy technology, home heating efficiency and green job training programs. If the American economy is going to be more sustainable, it’s going to take this kind of government leadership.
- The Copenhagen Climate Conference. It didn’t accomplish much of substance, but all of the major players were in one place duking it out, which at least elevates the issue of climate change to a more prominent place in the public eye.
- Boeing gets the 787 jet liner off the ground. The 787 Dreamliner, with a composite rather than aluminum skin, represents a future of more environmentally friendly air travel. With its more efficient engines and lightweight construction, the Dreamliner can make long hauls on less fuel than any of its forerunners or its ostensible competitor, the oversized Airbus A380.
- More polar bears are going hungry. Polar bears might be to this generation what the canary in the coal mine was the previous generations. Scientists in 2009 announced that the number of under-nourished bears has tripled in the last 20 years. The culprit is warmer global temperatures that are shrinking the ice masses where the world’s largest land predator hunts for seals.
- Chevrolet officially unveils the Volt. General Motors is staking a lot of its future on the plug-in hybrid, which is its long-delayed answer to hybrids from Toyota, Honda, Ford, and now Mercedes. That’s quite a turnaround for the company known for environmental nightmares like the Humvee, which gets about nine yards per gallon if it has a good tail wind.
Maine may be next for offshore wind. The state just announced three offshore wind test sites.
A couple other developments in the wind arena:
Endangered bat concerns stall another wind farm
Source: Wind Energy
With solar, wind, PHEVs, geothermal, biofuels and most other green technologies still out of reach for most people, the U.S. Department of Energy wants to try crowdsourcing our way to affordable clean energy.
The DOE recently launched an open-source wiki called Open Energy Information (OpenIE.org) as a community platform for collectively solving our energy challenges. What Wikipedia did for socializing world knowledge, OpenIE.org can do for clean technology innovation, the thinking goes.
OpenIE.org bills itself as a linked open data platform, trying to create synapses between all the world’s energy information “to provide improved analyses, unique visualizations, and real-time access to data.” Anyone can post and edit information, upload additional data to the site and download information in easy-to-use formats.
It’s a compelling idea. Most cleantech science is forged within silos, isolated in commercial and academic research labs. A global hive mind of expertise could bring a Red Bull jolt of collective creativity to unstick long-stuck science problems.
The joy of real
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