Friday, April 11, 2008


Calif. scientist Nate Lewis says CO2 is rising rapidly - and why only Solar can power the Earth.

This includes Repodcast clip from ABC National's "In Conversation" with Robyn Williams. Robyn finds Nate frustrated with the gush of greenhouse gases in the last few years. We are going the wrong way, while conferences conference, politicians talk, and consumers take teeny tiny green steps.

That leads to disaster, but scientist Lewis quickly knocks out the nuclear option. By his calculation, we would have to start building a new nuclear power plant, starting today, every day, basically forever, to meet the world's power needs (they only last about 40 years, and so we never quite make it, given the developing world's needs.) Nuclear really is no answer.

But the Sun has more than enough. A single hour of the Sun energy striking the Earth, if we could capture it all, is equal to the total power consumption of our entire current civilization.
Lewis explains that we can get enough solar, and build a civilization with it. We just need to get going. It is an impassioned speech, one of many scientists trying to get humans to act, while action is still possible.

Then Wall Street insider of Climateer Investing explores solar market & new tech that could do the job. This interview is almost half an hour, from a person plugged into the multi-million dollar trades in alternative energy. Our guest explains how solar energy subsidies by governments can lead to some strange results. In fact, in some cases, subsidies might even be a transfer of wealth from the poorest people/ratepayers to the wealthy (who actually install the solar capacity, in part paid for by the rest of us...)

We talk about what is going on overseas in solar, and whether the big oil companies were sincere when they bought solar companies (you guess....) Best of all, we peak into the hot new solar tech coming online - especially thin cell solar, which is reaching the Holy Grail of alternative energy: it can be build at the same cost as coal. Why would we ever use coal, if clean solar can do it cheaper? And the Google boys are in the race, with their company Nanosolar. Lots of info on what could be the world's most important topic: how solar energy could power the next civilization.

Plus our look at who owns India's Tata, and why World Bank is financing Tata Ultra Mega coal plants as "clean energy." Just recently, the United States, Britain, and other OECD countries announced a multi-billion dollar clean energy fund. The World Bank is supposed to run it.

Unbelievably, an arm of the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) is funding a $4.4 billion project to build five 800 MW coal-fired power plants in India - and they are calling it "clean coal". It even qualifies under the "Clean Development Mechanism" under the Kyoto Protocol! That's it: burning mega coal to save the planet.

We give the details on this "Tata Ultra Mega" project - and learn about "supercritical" coal burning. Yes it is more efficient, but it will still release millions and millions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere - in a state renowned for it's sun power. Wrong way Jack.

I always wonder who the mega-billionaires are, who could stop a project like this. We investigate Tata, and find a maze of Parsi charities own a big chunk. The Parsi (also spelled Parsee) are a tiny (less than 100,000 people) minority in India, who arrived from Iran many centuries ago. They are very successful business people, and own India's largest industrial conglomerate: Tata. It is the same Tata who just announced a cheap people's car, that will soon flood the roads, and skies, of India.

The Parsi are renowned for their charity. So even though a Tata is still CEO, he doesn't really own control. However, there is one large block of stocks owned by another Parsi giant, the Mistry family. Palonnji Mistry took up Irish citizenry, now becoming the richest Irish citizen! But his whole empire runs out of Bombay. Remember, Tata also bought out the English steel industry, now known as Corus.

Anyway, these are the people who may help wreck the climate of India, while trying to help their own people get the electricity they need to develop. The ideals are good, the technology choice is absolutely suicidal. We hope Tata Group will reconsider, and go solar.

Ecoshock show 080411 1 hour CD Quality 56 MB or Lo-Fi 14 MB

Production Notes: Our feature ending song is "Until the Day is Done" from new album "Accelerate" by R.E.M. Participating stations can cut it, if you need more time for local station announcements.

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