Dose of Reality: Happy New Year

“The science is beyond dispute… Delay is no longer an option. Denial is no longer an acceptable response.”

I never thought I’d see the day when the President of the USA would be considered “more green” than the prime minister of Canada. I’m happy to say, that I truly believe Obama is just that. (Although…to be fair – being “more green” then the Canadian government isn’t super hard right now.)

The future looks mostly friendly with Obama on leading the way. Originally there was some skepticism over his support for “clean coal” support – but won the environmentalists back with his incredibly aggressive and undeniably ambitious plan for climate change and renewable energies. This plan focuses on an attempt to reduce 80 % emissions from 1990 levels by 2050 along side auctioning 100 % of the pollution permits. If he holds true to his plan it will also include a $150 billion investment for green jobs and clean energies.

He is calling for 30% of all the government’s electricity to come from renewable energy within the next 11 years, and 25% of ALL U.S.A electricity to come from sustainable/renewable sources by 2025. All “new buildings” would be carbon neutral by 2030 and U.S oil consumption would drop by at least 35%. He opposes oil drilling in the Arctic, supports Nuclear energy (although doesn’t want it stuck under Yucca – but did accept $159 800 in contributions from Exelon) and supports labeling foods for GMOs and country-of-origin.

So it looks as though that America is rolling into a new year with some bright light ahead of them. To the east Spain is putting forth intense efforts to start a competition for the biggest and baddest solar energy device this world can offer. They’re not even going to keep it to themselves, but have said that they will export the technology to places such as Algeria and Morocco.

The 20MW solar tower is also a forerunner for an even more ambitious idea, one that Abascal [Abengoa’s CTO] hopes will become a standard for CSP plants in future — a 50MW version that could generate electricity around the clock. “During the day, you’d use 50% of your electricity to produce electricity and 50% to heat molten salt. During the night you use the molten salt to produce electricity.”

Molten salt technology is in its early stages but Abengoa is testing the idea at a power plant in Granada. So far the company has demonstrated that it is possible to store up to eight hours of solar energy by heating tanks containing 28,000 tonnes of salt to more than 220C. “This will make it possible to have almost constant production or at least it will be able to produce energy for most of the day,” said Abascal.

India is doing it’s part by introducing such technology as the solar rickshaw!

The solar version reaches a pretty impressive speed of about 15 kilometres per hour and, fully-charged, the battery can keep going for 50-70 kilometres. The goal is to develop the current four Soleckshaws into more advanced models in time for the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

Hopefully these sorts of technologies will only keep going so that the everyday rickshaw driver can afford one. But for less costly environmental efforts we can turn to Japan where they’re using recycled bottles to save people’s lives.

All over the world there are people devoting their lives, or simply just doing their best to help save the environment. I look forward to this new year, when I suspect that we’ll see many changes in America, Canada and all over the world. Although some of the governments may not have the best plans, at least they’re starting to have plans at all. And it’s going to take the effort, passion and devotion of every single person to see some major changes starting to take place.

So Happy New Year! I hope this coming year brings you lots of green-filled surprises and cool new technologies for us all to try out. Throughout the year I’ll keep you updated on coral reefs, endangered species, deforestation, pollution and the hardships that people are facing because of global warming and other environmental disasters.

“We are not acting as good stewards of God’s Earth when our bottom line puts the size of our profits before the future of our planet.”
— Obama Oct. 14, 2007, in a speech at an interfaith forum on climate change