The Plus Side

As a reminder that we’re not doomed yet, here are a couple of articles on large investments in research and development in clean technology. Both are from Wired.

First, especially to please the conservative/free market types, Formula One car racing is requiring its teams to make their cars more energy efficient and look for alternative sources of power, by banning engine development for the 2008-2018 seasons. Hybrid technologies, alternative fuels, and recapture of heat and exhaust to be converted to power are some of the systems to be developed to make the race cars racier in the future. Formula One is to the world like NASCAR is to Middle America, it would seem, and they’re sponsored by some major car companies to demonstrate cutting-edge technology, which then quickly trickles down into the everyday-driver market. This could have a pretty fantastic impact on the efficiency of cars available to the public, and it’s a great demonstration that efficient cars aren’t lame, for those more interested in smoking other cars at stoplights than conservation.

For those interested in the viability of government investment in research and development of new technology, Russia’s $5 billion investment in a state nanotechnology center is worth watching. Nanotech is good for lots of things (everything, according to those involved in nanotech research), but the director of the facility Mikhail Kovalchuk is mostly interested in the applications of his research on efficiency and clean energy technologies. Even more exciting, since Russia’s budget surplus that allows them to make this investment is mostly due to their incredible gains in the oil and natural gas markets (holding Eastern Europe over the barrel, har). The article points out that this investment is at least in part meant to stave off the effects of the certain collapse of the fossil fuel economy on Russia’s economy.

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