I wrote last week about Barack Obama further laying out his plans for renewable energy. He states in that video that he plans to invest $15 Billion or more in renewable energy each year. My question is, what can we start doing now? In order for him and the renewable energy community to hit the ground running on Jan 20th, we need to start planning some actions for the new administrations (with or without funding).
- Education — Without a new crop of able young engineers, we won’t get far. So how do you get involved in helping to make this a reality? Follow my volunteer idea and go to middle- and high-schools and share what it’s like to be an engineer with young people. Even better, I recently found out that I was right in thinking I was not original…there are many programs in place to allow engineers to easily reach out to their communities. The one I am currently considering is the New Faces of Engineering Road Show, hosted by the Cleveland Engineering Society. They travel to schools and promote engineering and science to young students, basically the exact thing I wanted to do.
- Conserve — The best way that individuals can help on a daily basis is to conserve, in general. Use less utilities (turn off your lights, turn down your heat), recycle your recyclables, carpool to work
- Stay involved — This year has shown young people actually can make a difference in elections and in general. This is due to the extreme influence of social media and how it connects people online and throughout the world. Now use that power to go out and influence individuals and corporations that a green economy will benefit all Americans (and the world).
- Consider alternative and renewable energies — Black silicon or not, photovoltaic (PV) cells are still expensive. However, there are simpler methods, such as corn stoves, which have lower environmental impact and are definitely renewable year after year.
- Keep them honest — No matter how good their stump speeches are nor how honest they may seem, absolute power corrupts absolutely. While the checks and balances were put in place by our forefathers to keep our branches of government watching one another, the true power in oversight will come from civilian oversight. This has been further enabled by the internet in recent years and we must insist that our newly elected government officials do not take advantage of their positions for personal or nepotistic gain.
- Join the fight — Sure, there will be more political battles, notably with oil barons not wanting to relinquish their grasp on easy profits; but the real battle is with innovation and design challenges. Use online resources to go out and educate yourself on analog electronics. The biggest challenges will be won by the groups with the most resources. If we want a future filled with solar and wind generated power, go out and learn how to make that a reality by studying the basics.
- Start something — Been studying this stuff for so long that you think you have a great idea on improving an existing system (the power grid, anyone?) or developing a disruptive renewable energy technology? Go for it. In order for the green revolution to begin, America (and the rest of the world) needs entrepreneurs to step up to the plate and take risks in order to develop these emerging technologies. Do you prefer the less technical side of engineering? Pair up with the entrepreneurs. Technically minded people are just as important to take the time to introduce the new technology to the rest of the world.
Good luck President Obama. You have a huge challenge ahead of you, a huge wreckage behind you and a huge nation standing and waiting for you to wave the green flag. Let’s all try and toe the line as soon as we can.