Monday, September 15, 2008

Louis Palmer's Solar Taxi

Friday night I attended an unbelievable lecture by Louis Palmer, inventor and driver of the world's first Solar Taxi ( Louis is a substitute teacher from Switzerland who loves traveling and being exposed to other cultures. When he was about 15 years old, he drew a picture of a car that could run on solar energy. As he began noticing the rapid deterioration of the world around him, he decided to build that solar car and drive around the world in it educating everyone he encounters about the power of harnessing the sun's energy. Louis has been driving for 14 months and his total trip will be 18 months long and will cover 40 different countries. Here is a photo of the Solar Taxi (he calls it a taxi because he gives anyone who wants one, a ride):

As you can see, Louis has a giant trailer that follows him wherever he goes. He uses that mostly as a tool to educate people about solar energy. When he is driving his car around Switzerland he doesn't attach the trailer and can still get 60 miles without recharging. With the trailer, he can get up to 200 miles per day and the car goes up to 55 miles per hour. Louis has met all kinds of interesting people including the Secretary General of the UN Ban Ki-moon. Be sure to check out his website and read about his experiences while traveling all over the world. His adventure is truly amazing!

Here is his mission statement:

On 3 July 2007 I set off on my first journey around the world with a solar powered vehicle. Admittedly, as a regular citizen I cannot change the world but I can demonstrate to the world just how dire the global climate situation has become and how many sophisticated solutions to lower the greenhouse gases already exist, which bring with them many other advantages. So that we can have a better world and a more secure future. The solar taxi should rekindle hope and a zest for life, set an example to counteract resignation and stimulate reflection. And show that every single one of us can take a step towards preserving our planet.

Global warming can be stopped. Solutions are available.

Here are some of his energy facts:

For billions of years, plants have processed the CO2 that comes from volcanoes, forest fires and other sources, thus making life on earth possible. These carbons lie under the earth in the form of crude oil, natural gas and coal. Right now, mankind is set on emitting most of this CO2 into the atmosphere within only a century. Here are a few figures on current worldwide production:

  • 4,874,940,000 tons of crude oil are used each year. With constant extraction, the resources will be exhausted in 41 years.
  • 2,689,000,000 m³ of natural gas are extracted each year. With constant extraction, the gas will be exhausted in 65 years.
  • About 4,000,000,000 tons coal are used for producing 40% of the worldwide power requirement. The coal ressources will be exhausted in 230 years.

Shall we wait until everything is gone and the climate has been destroyed? Or is it possible to create a world in which renewable energies make a future worth live in? 75% of the world's CO2 emission could be avoided by using solar energy.

These energy facts are astounding. It is no longer about the debate of "should we drill off the coast of the US or in ANWR" but about "this can't go on...lets figure out the alternative NOW!"