A group of powerful U.S. business leaders has called on the government to sharply increase funding of renewable energy research or risk falling far behind other nations in the race to replace fossil fuels with green technologies. The group, which includes Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt, and venture capitalist John Doerr, said the government should triple spending on energy research and development to $16 billion a year and create a national energy board to oversee investment decisions in renewable energy research.
William F. Stewart is the author of Climate of Uncertainty: A Balanced Look at Global Warming and Renewable Energy, from Ocean Publishing. He is co-chair of the climate change and energy practice at Cozen O’Connor.
CleanTechies had four questions about his new book.
CleanTechies: You promise a balanced look in your title, and you give the global warming nay-sayers a chapter. Why do you feel it’s important to take this approach?
William F. Stewart: I know it is a cliché, but skepticism really is the lifeblood of science. Historically, it is through the intense questioning of conventional wisdom that advancement has been possible. Although there are certainly a lot of cynics and charlatans masquerading as skeptics, good faith skepticism itself must be embraced if we are to achieve new discoveries.
A nanorobot which defends a single cell against dangers such as the AIDS virus or H1N1 is the main character of a video game about molecular biology that is being developed by the Universidad Santo Tomas, in Chile.
Kokori, which means “collective game” in Rapanui (the language spoken in Easter Island), is one of six projects that won 2.3 million dollars in a contest about applying informative technology for educational purposes, organized by the National Commission of Scientific and Technological Research.
Of the six projects, Kokori, which uses information taught at the high school level biology, won $424,000.
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev has partnered with the University of Johannesburg and the University of California, Los Angeles to conduct scientific research into the fields of water purification and microalgal biotechnology, according to a press release last month.
“This is an international partnership that will benefit the peoples of South Africa, Israel and other countries around the world,” said BGU’s Vice President for External Affairs Prof. Amos Drory on occasion of the signing. Drory and Prof. Derek van der Merwe, Pro Vice-Chancellor at the University of Johannesburg, signed the research collaboration agreement in South Africa.
“The two universities will become involved in extremely important, evolutionary research that will mainly benefit third world countries throughout the world,” said Dr. Bertram Lubner, Vice-Chairman of BGU’s Board of Governors and president of the SA Associates of Ben-Gurion University (SAABGU).
Prof. Sammy Boussiba and Prof. Yoram Oren from Ben Gurion University’s Blaustein Institute for Desert Research will head up the projects in Israel working together with Prof. Bhekie Mamba, leading the South African research teams. They will be assisted by Prof. Eric Hoek, an expert in the fields of water purification and microalgal biotechnology at UCLA.
Does that headline grab you? If not, these numbers should:
If that has not grabbed your attention yet, consider that in January of this year, Continental Airlines completed a test flight using a biofuel mixture, which included fuel derived from algae. The test flight yielded a 1.1 percent increase in fuel efficiency compared to a jet engine using traditional jet fuel.
That isn’t exactly a great leap forward, but achieving incremental increases in fuel efficiency coupled with the latest engine technology, as well as use of new materials in aircraft production, such as the Boeing 787, could signal a dynamic shift for the airline industry.
Some heavyweights who know a thing or two about transportation are having a pointed online debate about whether or not electric vehicles should receive support from the federal government.
Terry Tamminen, who was Secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency under Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, threw down the gauntlet last month in an editorial in which he stated that “it’s time to dump the battery-powered car in the same policy landfill as corn-based ethanol.”