3. Engineering an Economic Bridge

For those who had enough vision to foresee the economic tsunami of climate change we now face, it was only natural to also foresee that alternative energy technologies could eventually provide the economic boost needed to replace fossil fuels. But the key word here is eventually. Many visionaries didn’t realize that, in the fossil fuel–dominated economy we’re stuck with for at least the next quarter-century, it isn’t the burgeoning of new industry that drives growth, so much as how the existing technology is used. In political speech, the image of an old coal-burning steam boiler can’t compete with a shining new solar farm for inspirational effect. But in the real world of industry, if the right modifications ...

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