By FRANK LINGO
At the risk of tarnishing my image as a nattering nabob of negativity (a phrase written by William Safire to describe the millions who protested America inflicting genocide on Vietnam), here are some ideas and inventions that could help prevent we humans from inflicting terracide on the Earth.
To make the necessary changes, the media must get on board the green train. Thomas Jefferson said if he had to choose between elective government and a free press, he'd choose a free press. He said no one could be happy or free without participating in public power.
But at this point, newspapers, radio and television are controlled by a few huge corporations who show little interest in rocking the gravy train of advertising money spent by other huge corporations promoting non-green products like cars.
But even cars have begun to change. Honda's Insight and Toyota'a Prius are gas/electric hybrids with much-improved mileage. Only problem is people are still buying the behemoths instead.
Some exciting changes have been taking place in both the private and public sectors. For instance, Santa Monica, California's local government buildings are now completely powered by geothermal steam.
An interesting energy advancement is the Helical Turbine, developed by Alexander Gorlov, a professor at Northeastern University. As written about in the Boston Globe and the Wall Street Journal, Gorlov's turbine harnesses the motion of tides and currents of oceans and rivers into renewable energy. The 36-by-40 inch turbines can be linked in mass numbers along shorelines without harm to fish and the gained energy can be stored.
There are good websites exploring environmental solutions. Bioneers.org offers "Visionary and practical solutions for restoring the Earth." It links you to everything from organic farming to green entrepreneurship. And speaking of green business, greenbiz.com is an online marketplace for exchange of green products and services.
The Green Pages (greenpages.org) is available in format like a phone book with thousands of socially and environmentally responsible products and services. For an ecologically sustainable future, including everything you need to get off the electric company's grid (like home wind turbines), check out realgoods.com.
I'm not just howling at the wind when I say wind power is where it's at. "Wind Farms" are sprouting up with huge high-tech turbines that gather the clean and renewable energy for whole towns. As prices of fossil fuels go through the roof, we can put solar panels up top to get free heat, too.
Like everything else in the alternative energy field, photo-voltaic cells, the guts of solar power devices, are becoming ever more efficient. Imagine how fast progress would come if the energy companies decided to aggressively develop clean technology, instead of pursuing more oil explorations as our new petroleum president has promised.
Actually, there is a bit of movement taking place even in Big Oil. BP is one company that is investing in a future when we decide to stop blackening our air by burning oil. But if this weren't a happy-face column about the bright prospects before us in the new millennium, I'd mention that it's going to take one hell of a sea-change before alternative energies become everyday reality.
Still, encouraging transformations are taking place. Right now they're only on a small scale compared to the same-old system that got us in this fix of upsetting the global climate. But it's heartening to know that solutions are out there for us.
Now all we gotta do is use them.
Frank Lingo is a columnist for the Kansas City Star. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org