Saturday, December 11, 2010

A city powered by waste


Kristianstad, Sweden is setting an example for the rest of the world, as highlighted in this NY Times article, Using Waste, Swedish City Cuts Its Fossil Fuel Use. After a ten-year effort, the city of 80,000 has cut off the use of oil, natural gas, and coal for heating and now relies on waste products from farming and food processing to generate biogas.

hulking 10-year-old plant on the outskirts of Kristianstad uses a biological process to transform the detritus into biogas, a form of methane. That gas is burned to create heat and electricity, or is refined as a fuel for cars.

Once the city fathers got into the habit of harnessing power locally, they saw fuel everywhere: Kristianstad also burns gas emanating from an old landfill and sewage ponds, as well as wood waste from flooring factories and tree prunings.

Though the lock on fossil fuel use in the U.S. appears to be unbreakable, sometimes workable solutions to our energy problems are right in front of our noses.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Triac is not Tesla, but it's not meant to be


Tesla may have the celebrity cachet and media spotlight, but the humble, three-wheeled Triac is clearly the more practical choice for a "Green Core" consumer looking for a $25,000, all-electric vehicle with an honest 100-mile range. In a article, Mike Ryan, president of the firm based in Salinas, CA that produces the Triac, says that the car is aimed at people who have a more environmentally conscious lifestyle.

Key among the features is a sophisticated system for predicting remaining range before a recharge is needed.

The Triac will include a Vehicle Efficiency Data Assistant -- VEDA -- interface to the battery management system as well as diagnostic and navigational data. VEDA is an electronic learning system that captures a person's driving habits and commute patterns to accurately predict miles left before recharging.

"Range anxiety is something that gives people a lot of concern," Ryan said. "Say I forgot to charge my car. I'm at lunch. I want to run an errand before I go home. Will I make it home?"

Options in the electric car market are getting more expansive. The Triac is an interesting home-grown option that favors practicality over panache—and for many buyers that's a plus.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Sahara Solar Breeder Project to turn sand to solar cells to electricity


An ambitious project sponsored by universities in Janpan and Algeria seeks to accelerate the production of energy from solar cell technology using silica and sunlight from the Sahara Desert. The objective is to first extract silica from the sand to create solar panels and then combine the panels to make solar power plants in the same geographic area. The plants would be used to power additional silica extraction and solar cell manufacturing, building exponentially on the energy potential with a target of providing 50 percent of the world's energy by 2050.

As detailed in a article, the project is attempting to accomplish a number of things that haven't been done before.

Subscribing to the "give a man a fish and he eats for a day, but teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime" philosophy, another major aim of the project is to train scientists and engineers from developing countries. To that end, the project won’t just bring well-understood technology from developed countries, but will involve people from both developing and developed countries working together on R&D right from the outset.

“Because technology hasn't yet been established for making silicon from desert sand, then using it to make solar cells, our aim is to work together from the basic research stage, so we can discover and nurture talented scientists and engineers in Africa," said Koinuma.

More power to this project and a sincere hope that they meet their objectives.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Climate change deniers take over the House

Originally uploaded by Bjørn Giesenbauer

Elizabeth Kolbert's Field Notes from a Catastrophe tackled the challenge of global warming as a first-person observer, traveling around the world to witness the changes in places where they are most severe. Now, writing for The New Yorker in Uncomfortable Climate, she takes a hard look at the current crop of deniers entering the US House of Representatives, many of whom consider their primary role as disrupting any hope of political progress on this critically important global problem.

Though four presidents in succession have paid lip service to preventing dangerous climate change, these commitments haven't lead to any significant action given the magnitude of the challenge.

Elizabeth sums up the current situation neatly:

Meanwhile, as John Boehner chortles about the dangers of CO2, the world keeps heating up. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the first half of 2010 was the warmest January to July on record. And this is just the beginning. Owing to the inertia of the climate system, the warming that we’re experiencing is only a fraction of the temperature increase that’s already guaranteed.

The United States is no longer the world’s largest carbon emitter; that honor belongs to China. But we’re still the largest source of warming in terms of cumulative emissions, and on a per-capita basis Americans produce more CO2 than just about anyone except the Qataris. Without the active support of the United States, there’s no way to make progress on emissions globally. This month, negotiators will meet in Cancún for another round of international climate talks, and it’s a safe bet that, apart from the usual expressions of despair, nothing will come of them. It may seem that we’ll just keep going around and around on climate change forever. Unfortunately, that’s not the case: one day, perhaps not very long from now, the situation will spin out of our control.

The window left for action is closing quickly. If the new members of the House have their way, it will be slammed shut permanently, in blithe ignorance of the consequences.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Nicaragua adopts aggressive renewable energy targets

La Vieja Managua (Nicaragua)
Originally uploaded by denetsnuff

Nicaragua is setting aggressive targets to replace fossil fuel use with renewable fuels, as discussed in this Renewable Energy Magazine article. Under a plan announced by Emilio Rappaccioli, the Nicaraguan Minister of Energy and Mines, on October 29th, the goal is to increase the use of renewables to 94 percent by 2017 and to be at the 100 percent renewable mark by 2025. Currently, 66 percent of Nicaragua's thermal energy is petroleum based.

If we could get the US to make a similar commitment, we'd be able to make some serious progress toward reversing climate disruption.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Solar power creates electric grid challenges in Germany


The accelerating adoption of solar panels in Germany looks like a case of too much of a good thing. The antiquated power grid across the country is having trouble coping with the fluctuations resulting from feed-ins from photovoltaic systems and wind turbines.

As reported in this news story:

Experts have long called for an overhaul of the European power grid to integrate the fluctuating renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power.

Experts forecast between 8 gigawatts and 10 GW of solar power capacity to be installed this year -- the equivalent of roughly 10 large coal-fired power plants. In 2009, only 4 GW were installed.

With an equally fragmented and outdated power grid, the U.S. would do well to overhaul its own infrastructure in preparation for more extensive use of renewable energy. Google's investment in the Atlantic Wind Connection is a step in the right direction.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Mini Goes Electric


Another automobile manufacturer, Mini, dips its cast aluminum toe into the electric vehicle market, but this type it's scooter prototypes that appeared at the Paris Motor Show, rather than cars, as profiled by Wired magazine.

Details are scarce. It has an electric motor. You plug it in. But, the prototypes recall classic Italian scooters and Mods versus Rockers schtick.

There are three “interpretations” of the design by Adrian van Hooydonk, senior VP of design for BMW Group. One is a two-seater done up in the same colors (matte charcoal and yellow) as the Mini-E electric prototype. The second is a single-seater Mini calls “almost purist in design.” The third draws on British ’60s pop culture, particularly “the distinctive graphics of the Mod era.”

As a Mini Cooper owner and an admirer of the technology emerging from this BMW Group, it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Saab Goes Electric


From borderline extinction to a surprising renaissance under the Dutch firm Spyker, Saab may still have some innovative ideas left in its automotive bag of tricks. The company has unveiled its first electric car, an introduction which should help keep alive its reputation as an idiosyncratic but forward-looking auto manufacturer, as reported by AllCarsElectric.

Mats Fägerhag, Executive Director of Vehicle Engineering at Saab Automobile, says that "this program is designed to evaluate the potential for developing a high performance, zero emission electric vehicle and is an important next-step in the extension of our EcoPower propulsion strategy".

Let's hope that this is a positive step toward recovery for a car company that (at least until the GM years) always bristled with personality.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Real-world road test: life with a plug-in Prius


Adam Vaughan puts the new plug-in Prius through its paces in London and its outskirts and discovers that the vehicle is reasonably practical. But clearly more charging points are needed for this type of vehicle. Even in the mighty metropolis of London there are far too few.

Plugged in via the leads in the boot, the electric battery was topped up for free in an hour and a half. While Westfield’s developers deserve credit for installing the points in the first place, they also warrant a raspberry for allowing any car to take the charging spaces – they’re not reserved for electric vehicles.

And here lies the only real drawback to PHEVs: there are not enough places to charge them, even in the urban areas where they’re best-suited. Home-charging, in particular, is tricky in cities because of the lack of driveways and garages. Of course, because you have petrol as a backup, you don’t have to panic about recharging as you would with a 100% electric vehicle. But by not being able to charge out and about, you lose the unique environmental and financial benefits.

It's promising technology if we find smarter ways of generating the energy supplied to the charging points, but that's another problem for another day.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Life Cycle Analysis: Electric Vehicles


A recent Gizmag article summarized the findings of a life cycle assessment of the lithium-ion batteries often used in electric vehicles. Scientists from the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing and Research tracked the environmental footprint of Li-ion batteries, including the charging cycle when tied to a typical European electricity mix, with generally positive findings.

The study shows that the electric car’s Li-ion battery drive is in fact only a moderate environmental burden. At most only 15 per cent of the total burden can be ascribed to the battery (including its manufacture, maintenance and disposal). Half of this figure, that is about 7.5 per cent of the total environmental burden, occurs during the refining and manufacture of the battery’s raw materials, copper and aluminum. The production of the lithium, in the other hand, is responsible for only 2.3 per cent of the total.

“Lithium-ion rechargeable batteries are not as bad as previously assumed,” according to Dominic Notter, coauthor of the study which has just been published in the scientific journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Now if we could just get past the controversy on whether there is a pending lithium shortage, the technology would have a clear path to success.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Kia set to introduce electric vehicle

Kia Electric POP

The Kia Electric POP (highlighted by Fast Company) hints at the future of electric vehicle design. The tiny three-seater will be on display in October at the Paris auto show. Bring sun glasses.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Let there be light (and heat)

A new process developed by Stanford engineers--photon-enhanced thermionic emission (PETE, for short)--promises to boost solar power considerably, bringing it within a range to compete with oil.

"This is really a conceptual breakthrough, a new energy conversion process, not just a new material or a slightly different tweak," said Nick Melosh, an assistant professor of materials science and engineering, who led the research group. "It is actually something fundamentally different about how you can harvest energy."

Watch and judge for yourself.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

RMI's Reinventing Fire initiative launched

If the catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico makes you want to help move the U.S. to a more sane approach to meeting energy requirements, consider the path that the Rocky Mountain Institute has devised to reshape our thinking and our national priorities on energy issues.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

String rail: a low-cost rail alternative?

String Rail vehicle

String rail, a promising, inexpensive alternative to conventional rail systems profiled by Gizmag, might be a genuine breakthrough in comparion with other forms of high-speed mass transit. With costs estimated to be anywhere from three to 10 less expensive than approaches such as railway or monorail, string rail—originally prototyped by Anatoly Unitsky in Russia—is projected to support top speeds of 220 to 300 mph.

Is this something that could actually happen? The article's author, Loz Blain, notes:

Would I find it a bit freaky to be doing 350 kmh while hanging from a wire? Yes sir. Am I entirely convinced that the strings won't snap, even if a tower or three get taken out? No. Would a full scale demonstration convince me? Probably, yes. And this is the stage Unitsky is stuck at. His demonstration rig is small-scale, and there's nothing like the UST in operation anywhere in the world.

STU Systems in Australia is working to commercialize the concept and, naturally, seeking investors. Does anyone have a few hundred million of seed money to help get a very interesting mass transit approach off the ground?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Reacting to the Gulf of Mexico Disaster


Even the early NASA photos etched a chilling picture of the scope of the British Petroleum oil spill. The scale of environmental damage is incalculable and even though the outpouring of oil and gas appears to have been at least temporarily stopped, the true cost of this mega-accident won't be known for decades.

The sane response, and the one presented by Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, is to immediately launch a nationwide initiative to switch to clean energy. An excerpt from his press release on the subject lays out the simple facts:

The simple truth is that we cannot drill our way to energy independence or lower gas prices. The United States uses roughly 25 percent of the world’s oil, 7.5 billion barrels per year, but we have only 2 to 3 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves. Offshore drilling today provides roughly 10 percent of the oil we use in the United States. While we are all familiar with such political rhetoric, supported by the enormously profitable oil industry, as “drill here, drill now, pay less,” it’s just not accurate. The non-partisan Energy Information Administration has stated that opening new areas for offshore drilling would not save consumers a single penny per gallon until 2020, and would only save about 3 cents per gallon in 2030.

The alternative to continuing to risk catastrophe from offshore drilling is a bold and aggressive move to energy efficiency and sustainable energy. Instead of saving a few pennies on the gallon by 2030 through more drilling, we can save far more with stronger fuel economy standards. Just by raising our fuel efficiency standards to 35.5 miles per gallon for cars and trucks, as President Obama is doing, we will save consumers a dollar per gallon of gas in 2030, and save so much oil that we will no longer need to import any from Saudi Arabia. We know we can do this because new cars sold in China today average more than 36 miles per gallon, and General Motors already sells nearly as many cars in China as in the United States.

If, as a nation, we are prepared to take bold action in energy efficiency, public transportation, advanced vehicle technologies, solar, wind, biomass, and geothermal, we can transform our energy system, clean up our environment, and create millions of new jobs in the process. This direction, and not more offshore drilling, is where we have got to go.

No more new offshore drilling. Not now! Not ever!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Post Peak Oil Two-Wheeled Fun


I'm a sucker for two-wheeled vehicles, but I've been discouraged lately from the acquisition of petroleum-powered machines by both the nature of the fuel and the CO2 generation. Bicycles are great, but in a rural area with few bike paths battling autos for a tiny sliver of space on a skinny backroad can get dicey.

The introduction of a new electric scooter, the ZEV7000, as profiled by Gizmag, looks like a healthy way to enjoy two-wheeled travel without the pollution problem.

The battery power specs for this machine, billed as the fastest electric scooter on the market, look pretty good:

Range for the ZEV7000 is similar to the Vectrix at between 55 and 70 miles between charges, which take 25 minutes for a 75 percent top-up, or around 2 hours for a full charge. You can extend the vehicle's range or choose to access higher power by using what the company calls its "electronic transmission" - a switch that lets you choose how many amps the engine is running at. Low amps means low power but extended range, higher amps will drain the battery faster but give the bike substantially more beans.

Put up a wind turbine to recharge it at night and you've got a non-petroleum mode of transport that promises to be a kick and a half to ride.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Energy used for Cloud Computing


Large-scale data centers place tremendous demand on the electrical grid, a demand that is increasing rapidly as cloud computing becomes more common as a business strategy for many corporations. As more than one pundit has pointed out, the source for powering these data centers is often generated by coal--modern technology energized by an eighteenth century fuel that is a global warming nightmare.

Heather Clancy in a ZDNet post thinks that corpoations ought to make a strong effort to boost the visibility and acceptance of renewable energy sources, as in an example she cites about Kaiser Permanente and Recurrent Energy installing solar power systems.

When they are completed, the systems will carry approximately 10 percent of the power load at sites in Vallejo and Santa Clara in Northern California and Fontana and San Diego in Southern California.

Kaiser is developing the systems with Recurrent, which will actually own them. Kaiser will buy the power through solar power purchase agreements. And, low and behold, this will make recurrent eligible for a 30 percent tax credit because Kaiser is a not-to-profit organization.

Kaiser will look to additional renewable energy sources in the future to continue building out its distributed system.

So far, Kaiser has managed to save up to $10 million per year in its energy conservation efforts.

The inspiration for this piece, a Greenpeace report on the ramafications of cloud computing, suggests that industry IT leaders, such as Microsoft, IBM, Google, Facebook, and Apple, ought to begin wielding their influence to speed the adoption of renewable energy systems.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Attack of the Deniers


A few snowstorms bring out the climate change deniers in force, proudly displaying their ignorance in mistaking meterological events with long-term climate trends. The winter of 2009/2010 has given them an unexpected windfall of events to use as ammunition in their misinformation campaigns, which appear to be working: more and more Americans no longer believe climate change is a matter of importance.

A TomDispatch article by Bill McKibben, one of the first writers to sound the global warming alarm as scientific studies came to light, examines the phenomenon of the denier movement and considers their tactics and motivation.

The fact that the media gives the skeptics high-profile coverage is one reason behind the diminishing belief in climate change, despite overwhelming and growing body of scientific evidence.

The climate deniers come with a few built-in advantages. Thanks to Exxon Mobil and others with a vested interest in debunking climate-change research, their “think tanks” have plenty of money, none of which gets wasted doing actual research to disprove climate change. It’s also useful for a movement to have its own TV network, Fox, though even more crucial to the denial movement are a few rightwing British tabloids which validate each new “scandal” and put it into media play.

That these guys are geniuses at working the media was proved this February when even the New York Times ran a front page story, “Skeptics Find Fault With U.N. Climate Panel,” which recycled most of the accusations of the past few months. What made it such a glorious testament to their success was the chief source cited by the Times: one Christopher Monckton, or Lord Monckton as he prefers to be called since he is some kind of British viscount. He is also identified as a “former advisor to Margaret Thatcher,” and he did write a piece for the American Spectator during her term as prime minister offering his prescriptions for “the only way to stop AIDS”:

"...screen the entire population regularly and… quarantine all carriers of the disease for life. Every member of the population should be blood-tested every month... all those found to be infected with the virus, even if only as carriers, should be isolated compulsorily, immediately, and permanently.”

He speaks with equal gusto and good sense on matters climatic -- and now from above the fold in the paper of record.

While the fossil-fuel companies fight furiously to dispute climate science, McKibben notes that the Chinese are already taking advantage of American inaction.

Right now, China is gearing up to dominate the green energy market. They’re making the investments that mean future windmills and solar panels, even ones installed in this country, will be likely to arrive from factories in Chenzhou, not Chicago.

McKibben's upcoming book is Eaarth: Making a Life on as Tough New Planet.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Vermont Yankee Voted Down by Senate


Unreliability, radioactive spills, aging reactor components, and lying statements from Entergy, the firm that had operated the Vermont Yankee plant for the past 37 years, were among the reasons that the Vermont Senate voted to deny a request for a 20-year extension of its operating license. Here is a photo essay on the historic vote from the Burlington Free Press.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Tesla Gears Up to Manufacture the Model S


With a USD 465-million loan finalized, Tesla is setting up manufacturing lines for the world's first mass-produced electric vehicle, the Model S. An article in Ecoseed notes that this loan from the United States Department of Energy is one of a series intended to stimulate growth of this sector of the transportation industry.

The loan is the second agreed by the Energy Department with an advanced technology vehicle manufacturer. The department signed its first loan agreement for $5.9 billion to Ford Motor Company in September last year.

The department has also signed conditional commitments with Nissan North America Inc. and Fisker Automotive. Nissan plans to build electric cars and battery packs at the company’s Smyrna, Tennessee manufacturing complex, while Fisker recently announced that it will re-open a General Motors plant in Wilmington, Delaware to build plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.

The price tag for the Model S is daunting ($49,900), but the technology offers promises to change the nature of the auto industry.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Future of E-bikes


Adam Stein in this article on The TerraPass Footprint points out that e-bikes (electric hybrids) occupy an odd place in the American landspace. People don't know what to make of them. Dedicated bicycylists think they're a cheat. Auto drivers see them as an annoying poor-man's transportation they'd rather not share the road with. Motorcyclists see them as a joke. With a slightly different mindset, the e-bike could be a very useful and practical mode of transportation that could effectively take scores of automobiles off the road over the long term.

Stein asks:

Could this change? Maybe. In China, where bicycles are a major mode of transportation, people love them. In Copenhagen, also a cycling hotbed, people are indifferent. I’m not entirely sure what accounts for the difference, but I’m guessing culture plays a big role.

Developing more acceptance of two-wheeled transportation might not be a bad idea. Bike paths, anyone?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Jellyfish Populations and Global Warming

false twins -jellyfishes
Originally uploaded by marfis75

"They just make these things up," climate modeler Mojib Latif observed after seeing an article in the London Daily Mail that identified Latif as projecting a 30-year span of global cooling. This Truthout article, written by Michael Winship, offers other examples of climate change deniers misinterpreting and misrepresenting scientific studies, often attributing statements to researchers that are essentially bald lies.

In fact, as Latif told the British newspaper the Guardian, "I believe in manmade global warming... There is no doubt within the scientific community that we are affecting the climate, that the climate is changing and responding to our emissions of greenhouse gases."

Winship than points to one of the bizarre and harrowing consequences of global warming: massive increases in jellyfish populations that are causing havoc with the fishing industry and jamming desalination plants.

This has led to all manner of consequences, some you would expect, others not. A 2008 National Science Foundation study found populations growing along the East Coast -- in the Chesapeake Bay area, people are stung about half a million times a year. In the Middle East and Africa, swarms have jammed hydroelectric and desalination plants, forcing them to shut down. In Japan, the fishing industry is losing up to $332 million a year because jellyfish swarms fill the nets, crowding out mackerel, sea bass and other fish.

The AP reports that in October, off the eastern coast of Japan, "Jelly-filled nets capsized a 10-ton trawler as its crew tried to pull them up. The three fishermen were rescued."

This is the stuff of science fiction, but in this case it's entirely real.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Accelerating Wind Power in the UK


While the US effectively twiddles its collective thumbs on the issue of offshore wind power (with installations such as Cape Wind Project in Nantucket Sound endlessly delayed), the UK is forging ahead with a massive investment in offshore wind farms. The British government has approved the building of wind farms in nine development zones capable of generating more than 32 gigawatts of power, as detailed in this article from the Environment News Service.

Justin Wilkes, policy director of the European Wind Energy Association, said the projects announced today, once built, "will multiply by 10 Europe's offshore wind energy capacity."

"These are European companies building a European industry and generating some 45,000 European jobs. It takes Europe closer to exploiting the power of our seas and developing a brand new European offshore wind industry," said Wilkes. "Offshore wind is Europe's largest untapped energy source. There is enough wind across Europe's seas to power Europe seven times over."

The power that will be generated by the developments announced today is part of the more than 100 GW of offshore wind power currently being planned by European utilities, developers, and governments, mostly in the North Sea.

Proposed projects in the US, as shown by this map created by, show potential, but we lag significantly behind the European countries that have installed wind turbines offshore.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Derailing Wind Energy Progress


The basis of our American experiment in democracy has always been predicated on following the will of the majority while respecting the positions of the minority. As a recent Mother Jones article (Cape Wind Delay a Big Win for Dirty Energy Interests) points out, the democractic process has been turned on its ear by an unlikely alliance of oil and gas interests with a group of Native Americans who are looking to define an entire body of water as a national historic site, blocking the construction of the Cape Wind Project on Nanucket Sound.

Journalist Kate Sheppard notes:

The tribes surely have perfectly sound reasons of their own for opposing the project. "We are hoping...that we can protect the sound and our religious right to worship the rising sun and be able to pass that tradition on to our grandchildren," Green said. "The government has not honored many of the things it has promised to the Native American people...All we have is the process, and all we've asked for is due process."

That's clearly a consideration for the Department of Interior, which oversees NPS. To that end, the Interior Department recently issued a new tribal consultation policy, a long overdue effort to improve the agency's relationship with tribes.

But in the case of this particular decision on Cape Wind, granting this level of preservation to an entire body of water could be a bad omen for all future offshore wind development. Barring development here, Cape Wind president Jim Gordon told Mother Jones recently, "would have a chilling effect on what could possibly be one of the most promising sources for energy independence and creating a new green economy."

The forces aligned against renewable energy use every tactic imagineable to derail progress on the alternative energy front. In this case, the majority of the residents of Massachusetts, the state legislature, the state's congressional delegation, and the Governor, Deval Patrick, are solidly behind the Cape Wind project. The opposition is small, well-funded, and determined--undettered by what their opposition means to the future of energy development or the absolute necessity to reverse global warming. In this particular scenario, democracy isn't working very well at all.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Stopping Major Climate Distruption


In his new book, Storms of My Grandchildren, climate scientist James Hansen offers a pragmatic solution, perhaps our last chance, for reversing the build-up of CO2 in the atmosphere and restoring equilibrium to global weather patterns. In an excerpt published in The Nation, Hansen spells out the essential tenets of his plan:

Let's define what a workable backbone and framework should look like. The essential backbone is a rising price on carbon applied at the source (the mine, wellhead, or port of entry), such that it would affect all activities that use fossil fuels, directly or indirectly.

Our goal is a global phaseout of fossil fuel carbon dioxide emissions. We have shown, quantitatively, that the only practical way to achieve an acceptable carbon dioxide level is to disallow the use of coal and unconventional fossil fuels (such as tar sands and oil shale) unless the resulting carbon is captured and stored. We realize that remaining, readily available pools of oil and gas will be used during the transition to a post-fossil-fuel world. But a rising carbon price surely will make it economically senseless to go after every last drop of oil and gas--even though use of those fuels with carbon capture and storage may be technically feasible and permissible.

Global phaseout of fossil fuel carbon dioxide emissions is a stringent requirement. Proposed government policies, consisting of an improved Kyoto Protocol approach with more ambitious targets, do not have a prayer of achieving that result. Our governments are deceiving us, and perhaps conveniently deceiving themselves, when they say that it is possible to reduce emissions 80 percent by 2050 with such an approach.

Hansen then goes into a discussion about why cap-and-trade solutions are doomed to failure and what our best bets are for preserving the planet for our grandchildren. As arguably the foremost authority on the issue of global warming, Hansen's words carry a strong degree of credibility.