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from the Age of Prometheus to the Age of Apollo

Here's the basic idea of how we can mitigate the future dangers from fossil fuel burning climate change and move the planet to an energy future that will sustain growth and development for humanity.  The core idea is simple (the only idea I can deal with).  We need to move from use of ancient photons to current photons.

When we burn oil, coal, natural gas, we are releasing energy that plants captured from the sun (photos) millions of years ago and stored in chemical bonds, carbon - hydrogen.

By releasing to the atmosphere in a few hundred years, carbon that was removed from the atmosphere over hundreds of millions of years, we are rapidly increasing its heat-trapping ability.

The planet will cook. It might work out ok for the alligators, but the six billion human beings on the planet will be in big trouble.

We need to slow/stop digging up that carbon, holding the energy of ancient photons, and move to capturing the energy of the photons streaming in from the sun right now.

The most obvious way to do that is by photovoltaic conversion of photons, aka solar power. (Actually pv is just one form of solar power, more on that later)

Wind is a less direct way, but it is also a way to capture the energy of current photons, because weather patterns are the atmosphere's reaction to energy streaming from the sun. Harnessing the power of waves is the same idea, although we can thank the moon for a contribution there.

It is easy to use my perspective of "current photons" to evaluate biofuels. Relative to fossil fuels we could call them "current", because their carbon hydrogen bonds have been formed almost currently, over a few recent years. Still its a pretty elaborate and inefficient process to form those bonds, and all the land use, water use, fertilizer pollution issues that go with agriculture should probably be left to supplying food when there are better and more current sources of current photons.

The human race harnessed fire hundreds of thousands of years ago, and has used it to come along way, including producing a population of seven billion (and counting) people who would like to drive around in cars. I guarantee that if they all drive around in gas guzzling suvs getting 20 miles to the gallon, the human race will cook and the alligators will take over. (Ok, there's a little hyperbole here, but not so much)

Western culture has thanked Prometheus for bringing it fire. Its time to let him rest, and start dealing directly with Apollo.

Image and text Copyright, 2013, Robert Manz, all rights reserved, feel free to share, with attribution.