TED is a yearly conference where some of the smartest (and/or best connected) people around get together and talk about all the cool things they're doing to make the world a better place and what else needs to get done.
In this eight-minute video, Saul Griffith talks about the amazing potential giant kites have for generating electricity. The gist of his presentation is that a properly designed and built system of high altitude kites could allow us to unlock ourselves from the self imposed coal powered prison we've built ourselves into over the past 100 or so years. Mr. Griffith said that a kite the size of a 747 (~200 feet) can produce 6MW of energy- enough for around 6,000 homes and more than is generated by the largest of conventional turbines. With a few factories pumping out kites and a focused effort, Mr. Griffith thinks we could replace be producing most of the nation's energy within a decade.
One of the things that annoys me the most about the "other side"— the climate change creationists, global warming skeptics and industry hacks — is their lack of imagination. They literally can't imagine a world that isn't powered by burning coal, oil and natural gas. We put a man on the moon. We created the Internet and the airplane, we built World of Warcraft and the national highway system. If we can now build cell phones that have more storage capacity and computing power than the first computer I bought 13 years ago, how in the world are we unable to quickly transition to a electricity generation system that doesn't turn the air into a smoggy dirty mess?
People like Saul Griffith and technology like his kite generator are going to be the catalysts for a long term, highly sustainable (in both a business and ecological sense) changes in the way we do things. Everything has to change if we want it to stay the same.
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