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Fossil Fuel Switch

October 19, 2006

A new study shows that we can wean ourselves off of fossil fuels faster than we might suspect.


A fossil-fuel phaseout plan. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Many plans to eliminate fossil fuels depend on developing new energy technologies. But we don’t have to wait for that, according to chemical engineer Reuel Shinnar of the City University of New York. He and Francesco Citro recently published a thirty-year plan to replace 70 percent of our fossil fuels, using only current technologies like storable solar power, safer nuclear plants, and methanol from crop waste.

REUEL SHINNAR (City University of New York, City College):
Because as a researcher, I have always believed that if you have to solve a problem, you have to use what you have. And to my surprise I found we have it.

He says the switch would cost about 200 billion dollars a year. It’s not pocket change, but it’s less than half the current defense budget, and doesn’t factor in savings from reducing fossil fuel imports, pollution and global warming. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.