At WPost, MIT President Calls for Energy Manhattan Project
Following up on her testimony before Congress yesterday, MIT President Susan Hockfield writes in the Washington Post today that the U.S. needs a Manhattan Project-scale investment in renewable energy R&D.
Drawing on the metaphor of Vannevar Bush's pact between government and science, Hockfield describes that part of the problem is the absence of serious R&D investment from the major energy companies, despite what they might tell us in TV advertisements:
Today, the United States is tangled in a triple knot: a shaky economy, battered by volatile energy prices; world politics weighed down by issues of energy consumption and security; and mounting evidence of global climate change.
Building on the wisdom of Vannevar Bush, I believe we can address all three problems at once with dramatic new federal investment in energy research and development. If one advance could transform America's prospects, it would be ready access, at scale, to a range of affordable, renewable, low-carbon energy technologies -- from large-scale solar and wind energy to safe nuclear power. Only one path will lead to such transformative technologies: research. Yet federal funding for energy research has dwindled to irrelevance. In 1980, 10 percent of federal research dollars went to energy. Today, the share is 2 percent.
Research investment by U.S. energy companies has mirrored this drop. In 2004, it stood at $1.2 billion in today's dollars. This might suit a cost-efficient, technologically mature, fossil-fuel-based energy sector, but it is insufficient for any industry that depends on innovation. Pharmaceutical companies invest 18 percent of revenue in R&D. Semiconductor firms invest 16 percent. Energy companies invest less than one-quarter of 1 percent. With this pattern of investment, we cannot expect an energy technology revolution.
While industry must support technology development, only government can prime the research pump. Congress must lead.
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Is it "perverseness," the "death drive," or something else?
She met mere mortals with and without the Vatican's approval.
- For centuries, the Virgin Mary has appeared to the faithful, requesting devotion and promising comfort.
- These maps show the geography of Marian apparitions – the handful approved by the Vatican, and many others.
- Historically, Europe is where most apparitions have been reported, but the U.S. is pretty fertile ground too.
It's up to us humans to re-humanize our world. An economy that prioritizes growth and profits over humanity has led to digital platforms that "strip the topsoil" of human behavior, whole industries, and the planet, giving less and less back. And only we can save us.
- It's an all-hands-on-deck moment in the arc of civilization.
- Everyone has a choice: Do you want to try to earn enough money to insulate yourself from the world you're creating— or do you want to make the world a place you don't have to insulate yourself from?
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