This post is by Miriam Horn, a writer at Environmental Defense Fund and co-author of the New York Times bestseller, Earth: The Sequel.
We received quite a few questions in email about the new technologies I described in our video series, Unleash the Future. I responded to questions on specific technologies in comments to the relevant blog post (solar, biofuels, geothermal, and wave). But there was one important question that applies to all the different technologies:
I'm a firm believer in alternative technology to reduce world wide dependence on fossil fuels, but with our present knowledge of the negative impacts of past innovations due to lack of foresight, what precautions are being taken to make sure that 50 years down the road our grandchildren will not be mopping up yet another mess or suffering from health problems due to compromised ethics?
This is an extremely important issue. We addressed it at length in Earth: The Sequel, and it's an increasingly important focus throughout EDF. Our Oceans team, for instance, is working to insure that wave energy development doesn't damage marine ecosystems. Our Land, Water and Wildlife team is examining how biofuels and solar thermal development impact habitat and water. We want to accelerate the move to low-carbon energy, but also steer that development to minimize collateral damage.
Thank you all for very provocative questions. I couldn't answer all of them, but hopefully I've been able to add some insight.