Environment

Martin Rees: An Apollo project for green energy

Posted by: Bgiussani

Sir Martin Rees is dismayed by the "worrisome lack of determination" shown
last month in St Petersburg by the leaders of the G8 countries to
accelerate the development of clean energy technologies. In an
editorial published by the journal Science this week (only the abstract is available
online), he calls for a significant increase in public R&D spending
for technologies "that are too far from market" (nuclear fusion,
biomass, geothermal, solar, wind etc), funded by carbon taxes or other
similar instruments.

Unless the global approach to energy changes radically, he says,
"the world will continue to become more reliant on fossil fuels beyond
2030" and that will lead to disastrous increases in greenhouse gas
concentrations.

Sir Martin is famed for his pessimism (his most recent bestseller is titled "Our final century"
– meaning the one we’re living; he has predicted "a 50 percent chance
of a really severe setback to civilization by the end of the century";
and last year at TEDGLOBAL in Oxford he warned
against the risks of bio and cybertech) but he is also one of the
world’s most respected scientists and the president of Britain’s Royal
Society.

In the Science article (the Guardian has a write-up)
Sir Martin calls for a high-profile, sharply-focused programme
"analogous to the Manhattan or Apollo project, but
on a global, rather than national, scale". These projects, he writes,
have shown that when a goal is given a high priority "things can be
done much more rapidly than would have happened in the normal course of
events".

[Cross-posted on LunchOverIP]