by John W. Gofman, M.D., Ph.D., and Egan O'Connor. Fall 1997.
a In May 1997, a wonderful book about progress in solar energy and energy-efficiency was published: Charging Ahead: The Business of Renewable Energy and What It Means for America, by John J. Berger, Ph.D. (398 pages; Holt & Co.; $30; <www.charging-ahead.com>. It can be bought directly from 1-800-288-2131 or 1-800-544-4565). The book seems to confirm what CNR asserted in 1974: All of humanity (not just a small fraction of it) could be affluent without using nuclear power and fossil fuels. Back then, CNR quoted the late, great chemist, Dr. Farrington Daniels, who had written in 1970:
b "Solar energy is amply adequate for all the conceivable energy needs of the world. It is harmless and it is certain to work ... Surely solar energy will be important within 20 years, and if enough financial support should become available, the time could be considerably less."
c Berger's book is a believable, fully-sourced, easily readable update about progress in most solar energy and energy-efficiency technologies (with addresses and contacts). It is also a gripping drama which relates the gambles, ups and downs, and personal comments of the major inventors. The mystery: What slows up adoption of these popular, proven, renewable technologies? This book explains --- and could empower the public to remove those obstacles. Dr. Berger has done a monumental public service. His book (selected for listing by Science News Books) belongs in the hands of every owner of a home or building, every person who dislikes smog and oil-wars and nuclear pollution, and in every college, high school, and public library.
d Please note: Under a system of Adversary Science we would expect no exemption for solar energy. Who would not want an early-warning system, in case the enthusiasts fail to foresee a deadly side-effect from one of the many solar choices?
e The solar energy which reaches Earth is distributed approximately as follows (adapted from Dr. M. King Hubbert, Scientific American, Sept. 1971):
- 30% is reflected back to space without entering the ecosphere.
- 47% converts to heat in the atmosphere, oceans, and on land, and provides the enormous kinetic energy of wind, waves, and ocean currents.
- 23% drives the planet's water-cycle (evaporation, precipitation) and the photosynthetic chemical process of plants.
- The reason that Earth does not accumulate energy daily is because all the incoming energy is eventually degraded to heat and re-radiated to space.
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