What would be a really great invention is to develop a glass that first harvests solar energy and still allows enough light going through to grow plants underneath --functioning kind of like a shade cloth. In other words: a semi transparent solar panel integrated in glass which then can be used to built greenhouses (or be built into any building structure).
-integrate food with energy production
-relieve the requirement of having the absolute highest electricity return on the solar panels themselves, since they also provide heating and shading for intensive food production (which should be added into the total energy production). So it should be relatively inexpensive compared to most other solutions which solely concentrate on energy or agriculture, and at the same time with a much higher return
-create scalable models that can be reproduced in many circumstances and regions all over the world
-contribute to food and energy security
-allow for lots of employment and business oportunity in all kinds of areas, since real wealth is being produced
Dr. Steven Chu can make this one of the priorities for the National Labs --I know they can easily do this (and we will see quickly how serious the labs are about going 'green')
Though the Obama government has been talking about a substantial stimulus package, so far it has been short on details available to the public -- possibly because the task to come up with a whole new future vision that makes any sense is so daunting now. Yet that has to be the very backbone of the stimulus plan: a shared vision.
What needs to be addressed in any stimulus program are the following pressing needs:
-increase in intellectual capital (ie. education and science) -employment opportunities -food security -solar and green energy production -increased energy efficiency (redesign of shelter/transportation) -re-orientation towards holistic and universal healthcare
What we are looking for is an integrated approach to our predicament, which synthesizes solutions for the interwoven problems we are facing. Real priorities have to be made now, with serious choices to be made for our future generations. Let’s face it --we will never be able to pay our current debts back, but perhaps we can establish a more equitable way of being together on this small planet. We are going to have to.
From my point of view the central point is to be able to regionalize most of the food and energy production in an integrated manner. Given the climatological challenges ahead any stimulus package should make a significant investment into greenhouses, which produce both food and energy and merge aquaculture, water and waste management into whole nutritional loops. With funding, an educational facility like Ecoversity could demonstrate the viability (and enjoyment) of such a food and energy producing greenhouse and attract sufficient design talent and know-how to make it work as a ‘scalable model’.
Through collaboration with the remaining small regional farmers, and yet another large influx of stimulus moneys (don't make farmers go deeper into debt!), a decentralized, highly intensive but energy and waste neutral (or better) food production can become a reality. This would create a lot of meaningful jobs in education, solar energy development, manufacturing, architecture, processing, infrastructure development, etc. etc.--but what is more... it would create a sense of community and common goals.
We have to realize that we are not like banks -- money will not come automatically our way. We will need to develop shared vision and political engagement. Udall and Bingaman are probably more aware than most of the scale of the problems that are about to unfold. So they need to act in a decisive manner -- yet it can't be a random grab-bag of subsidies and local bailouts at all. This time it needs truly to reach at least 7 generations --which is after all only 140 years or so. We all need to develop an informed voice in this one.
Where the stimulus money needs to end up is with boots on the ground --actively manifesting a new vision of human life and life in general based upon kind of a deep-ecology understanding of ‘interdependent co-arising’.
ps. I think the newest updates of the ecoversity web site really allow everyone to study the reality of our predicament. visit ecoversity.org and realize all the new features and information.