There is an optimistic feeling in the Bay Area of CA that we can solve our major world problems through technological innovation. That is a dominant feeling as we celebrate Earth Day 2007. Looking to the immediate past, it is instructive for a traveler to go to the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA, and see what innovation has accomplished in the recent past. Think of all the trees that did NOT need to be cut so that information and insight could be printed on paper and disseminated, as just one simple illustration. The computer and the Internet can do that much more efficiently, and much of the innovation for these matters occurred in the Bay Area of CA, from Intel to Apple to Google. Think of all the products that can now be manufactured in relatively miniaturized forms because the computer makes the innards of the machine less mechanical and more digital. Similarly, the major issues of today and tomorrow, such as energy production and global warming, are now the subject of engaged Bay Area intellectual energy, and in another 50 years there will be a new museum to these accomplishments. The graduate student, in-the-garage, grassroots innovators, assisted by the venture capitalists, will probably develop a genetically-engineered new plant, possibly at the algal level, that will be immensely more efficient than corn to produce ethanol. New efficiencies in solar cell technology and manufacturing may create energy-generation systems that would bypass ethanol entirely. Possibly the air could be scrubbed of its increasing amount of CO2 and global warming reversed. Green will become the new favorite color, but it will be brainpower, innovation, creativity, and the desire for profit that will be the deciding factors. Money will be made by the people who can figure out how to solve real problems. From the current California governor to the man on the street, there is a can-do optimism in the Bay Area of CA that good things will happen, and we will ease ourselves through these rough times, in the new energy/global warming era, just as we did in the transformation that the Bay Area nurtured in the information technology era.
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