Innovation can help stop global warming

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Innovative technology can help stop global warming
Released in 2008, “Earth: The Sequel — The Race to Reinvent Energy and Stop Global Warming” highlights innovators and risk-takers who are pushing technology to the limit to find the newest, cleanest and most abundant ways to power the planet.
Fred Krupp, who has headed the Environmental Defense Fund for 26 years, wrote the book with staff member and journalist Miriam Horn. They will talk about innovative technologies that can reverse global warming in Keppel Auditorium in the Robertson College Community Center.
“New fortunes will be made that will dwarf the megafortunes of the information technology revolution,” Krupp said on the Environmental Defense Fund website.
Among the young companies and entrepreneurs featured in the book are:
• Scientists at California-based Innovalight, who have found a cheap substitute for costly solar panels. They dissolve silicon nanocrystals in ink that can be printed onto any surface to harvest solar energy;
• The founders of Amyris, who are genetically engineering yeast to ferment sugar — not into ethanol, but into hydrocarbons virtually identical to jet fuel, diesel and gasoline that can go right into existing pipelines and automobile gas tanks;
• A tribe of Native Americans, fishermen for 2,000 years in the roughest waters of the North Pacific, who are now working to harvest the fierce power of the waves themselves.
One of Krupp’s favorite stories in the book is about the Massachusetts innovator GreenFuel Technologies, which targets the single largest source of global warming pollution — the carbon dioxide that spews out of power plant smokestacks.
“What they’ve invented is a way to feed that carbon dioxide to a ravenous type of algae,” he said. “Then the algae turn the carbon dioxide into a useful fuel.
“So GreenFuel creates two benefits at once — reduced global warming and increased fuel — and they’re working with an Arizona electric company to demonstrate its practicality,” Krupp said.
He said the enthusiasm of these inventors and the attention they are receiving from big investors makes him optimistic about our planet.
“By pairing the power of markets with the ingenuity and innovation found on every page of this book,” he said, “we can reverse global warming before it is too late. It’s a race for the future of our planet.”
Under his leadership, the Environmental Defense Fund has grown from a small nonprofit with a budget of $3 million into a worldwide leader in the environmental movement. The organization’s full-time staff has increased from 50 to 350, while its membership has expanded from 40,000 to more than 500,000 with new offices now open in Raleigh, Austin, Boston, Sacramento and Beijing, China.
Krupp is widely recognized as the foremost champion of harnessing market forces for environmental ends, such as the market-based acid rain reduction plan in the 1990 Clean Air Act that The Economist hailed as “the greatest green success story of the past decade.”
He broke new ground by engaging American companies such as McDonald’s, FedEx and DuPont to lessen their impact on the environment. Krupp also helped launch a corporate coalition — the U.S. Climate Action Partnership — whose Fortune 500 members such as Alcoa, GE and DuPont have called for strict limits on global warming pollution.