All of us might wish at times that we lived in a more tranquil world, but we don't. And if our times are difficult and perplexing, so are they challenging and filled with opportunity.
~Robert Kennedy

Bobby Kennedy undoubtedly wasn’t thinking about global warming when he made this statement all those years ago, but what he said applies today as much as to what was happening back then. After spending parts of Thursday and Friday at the Climate Change Think Tank: Transportation’s Impact and Solutions at UMass in Amherst, MA I came away with the gnawing feeling that perhaps, just perhaps we could innovate our way out of the problems we are facing and that our current crisis represents not only a threat, but also a substantial opportunity.

Just as innovation led to the development of the internal combustion engine, so could technology and innovation provide us with the solution to the global warming crisis we most assuredly now face as a result of all that innovation during the Industrial Revolution.

Congressman John Olver, who has served the first congressional district in Massachusetts for many years was the keynote speaker. Olver cited many statistics during his speech such as the fact that the U.S. has 5 percent of the world’s population and produces 20 percent of the green house gasses (and that percentage would be higher if it were not for the increasing industrialization of China in recent years).

He also suggested that we bear considerable responsibility for the problem and that if we don’t meet the problem head on, there is not going to be a solution. But Olver also looked at technology somewhat pessimistically when he suggested, that we can’t science and engineer our way out of the problem, there are no quick fixes, that such things can take years of R&D.

On this point, I must part ways with the good Congressman because I believe it is possible to innovate our way out of this, and I believe our scientists and engineers and programmers could lead the way. But it will take a total and complete commitment on the part of the government (something the current one is clearly unwilling or unable to do).

In the early ‘60s, John Kennedy challenged the nation to find a way to fly to the moon within 10 years and we succeeded. If we could get to the moon in less than a decade with 1960s technology, I can’t see why, if we put our entire intellectual, political and moral authority behind global warming, we couldn’t come up with a way to deal with the crisis in a similar timeframe. What makes this a more difficult nut to crack is that, unlike the moon landing, this is not a single goal or problem. It is a series of problems about energy, transportation, housing, food, recreation; touching virtually every aspect of our lives.

Yet I still believe if we put our whole heart and soul into this issue as a national imperative, as though our lives depended on it (certainly an argument could be made that they do), we could come up with some pretty cool ideas. We certainly can’t wait for Congress to do it for us. They recently passed new fuel standards with the pathetic goal of 35 miles per hour by 2020. (I’m guessing consumers will be demanding much higher standards in a much shorter timeframe.) Congressman Olver pointed out that as of today, 98 percent of US transportation relies on oil and we are long past the point of that being acceptable.

Yet even today, technology is helping solve the problem through more intelligent road and traffic signal systems, evolving hybrid technologies, better communication protocols for cars that could help improve traffic flow and so much more. Governments can reduce the amount of pollutants by planning cities around public transportation systems and by charging high fees to come into the city by auto during peak travel times (something Sydney, Singapore and other major cities are doing today). Technology can help by monitoring traffic and giving officials real-time data about changing traffic patterns. When you combine the technological solutions with smart planning, green building, local organic food production and other initiatives you can begin to turn the tide and in the process improve the quality of life with cleaner air and less noise and traffic congestion.

Whatever happens moving forward, you can be sure that those smart people who come up with the winning ideas will be the leading companies in the coming decades. The heads of these companies will be the new Captains of Industry. Just as John D. Rockefeller, JP Morgan and Andrew Carnegie ruled the early days of the Industrial Revolution, so will these men and women lead ours.

The words of one humble scribe don’t add up to much, but I do know this much, that whoever is out there working in large corporations and small private labs, across college campuses or perhaps in someone’s garage to bring our intellectual power to bear on this problem and generate the technologies to deliver reliable, safe and clean energy sources (or even just solve a small piece of the problem), recognizes what Bobby Kennedy understood all those years ago, that this difficult and perplexing problem is filled with opportunity. The question is: who will seize it?

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the entire "manmade global warming" scare is a massive fraud enterprise based on a hoax.
There is no "manmade global warming", only natural climate fluctuations.
And thinking that anything we can do will influence those to any more than minimal degree and on a global scale is tantamount to insanity.
It's also a clear sign of a massively inflated ego to think mankind can either cause or prevent climate change on a more than extremely local and smallscale level.

Of course powermad politicians see the entire thing as an ideal way to give themselves more power.

You obviously believe you know more than the world's leading scientists, so it's hardly worth trying to convince you otherwise, but I suggest you check out the Intergovernmental Report on Climate Change at You may want to read AR4 Synthesis Report/Summary for Policy Makers:

These reports are put together by 1000s of scientists from around the world backed up by research and extensive peer review. If facts don't persuade you, it's clear you are just trying to be contrary.

I actually don't believe in global warming. I think that there is global climate change. But since the earth is a closed system and as such must remain in equilibrium, there will be compensation for some areas becoming too warm. There will be changes resulting from polar ice melt. It may come in the form of stronger storms, more intense hurricanes, more storms in general, deserts becoming lush forests and vice versa...after all, Saudia Arabia was once an extremely densely populated forest teeming with animal life.
Is it manmade? Yes, in part, it is. In history, you can pinpoint major catastrophic events that triggered climate change. This time you can't--other than man's presence.

At one time in history, the consensus among most humans was that the Earth was flat. (Now only Thomas Freedman thinks that :). I'm also interested in getting to the facts. And in truth, there's just as much (if not more) science that global warming is NOT the result of human activity.

Here's a study and Web site with the names of 31,000 scientists (including 9,021 PhDs) that remain unconvinced that humans have any affect on climate whatsoever. They've all sworn to that effect. The science is most assuredly NOT in, and if Congress implements its "cap and trade" carbon tax (being debated this week), the costs will make Bush's deficits look like a restaurant tab.

But the climate change you refer to is brought on by warming temperatures. I encourage you to check out the report I referenced in my previous comment. It lays out a lot of scientific research in clear language and it makes a compelling case that the earth is warming at a far more rapid rate than at any time in our history and this is due to human actions within the system.

But for the sake of argument, let's suppose there weren't anything to this (even though I believe the problem is very real), wouldn't it make all the sense in the world to reduce pollution because when you reduce pollution it improves the quality of life. It makes no sense to have everyone in single cars on the road at the same time every day. There has to be more efficient ways of dealing with this issue.

Even if pollution weren't having a profound effect on our eco-system (and I believe it is), it clearly has substantial health effects related to it and so it's worth reversing, as is our dependence on oil and coal as our main fuel sources.

So you can believe what you will about global warming or climate change, but pollution is very real and it will benefit us all in very real ways to reduce fossil fuels as quickly as we can.

I'm a bit shocked at the number of contrarians on this issue. But I must respectfully disagree with you all. I'm not sure what you think is causing the degradation of the ozone layer, the melting of the polar ice caps, the severity of weather patterns over recent years from Katrina to Tsunamis and countless other severe weather disasters. You can't simply explain these away as normal weather patterns. I don't claim to be a scientist, far from it, but I believe the problem is real, is due to the introduction of C02 into our atmosphere from human made pollutants, and I believe we need to act quickly or delay at our own peril (or at least that of our grandchildren's).

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