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Courier Article by Sean Davis
Sunday, March 30, 2008

Future Awaits with Green Technology, Clean Energy

Once again our Earth is reborn. The subtle design of the everyday world is following the pattern it has followed for billions of years by giving birth to spring's early buds, followed by the full blossoming of life.

It is a design both simple and intricate, wondrous in its everyday expression. It is a design to which modern science and engineering is paying close attention, hoping to revolutionize our lives.

For centuries, engineers have been reshaping our world to more smoothly fit our needs. In The Design of Future Things by Donald A. Norman, the reader is given a picture of the problems that face designers when creating products they hope will make life better. The author explores man's role in his environment and offers the belief that we are losing control. Take, for example, systems such as anti-lock brakes and traction control in automobiles — they make our drives much safer, but at the expense of driver control.

People's relationships with their cars are becoming more like that of a horse and its rider a century ago. We may steer it for now, but we may not even do that in the future.

This idea of giving up control is one that many of us would disdain. In the home, however, such processes may prove to be a godsend. From self-guided lawn mowers to energy-efficient appliances, technology is making our living spaces more efficient with little to no work from us.

In Contemporary Design in Detail: Sustainable Environments by Yenna Chan, several examples of smart home designs are offered to demonstrate how we can control our effect on the Earth. Each home is a lesson in different technologies available to harness the power of the world around it. All succeed at sustaining themselves through different combinations of green technology.

How can we power our planet with a clean environment and conscience? Solar power, hydroelectric and wind power are all answers to the question in our pricey fossil fuel future. The Clean Tech Revolution by Ron Pernick gives a broad overview of what to expect in the future of power production and takes it one step further by recommending investment opportunities. Each chapter addresses a different aspect of the green tech market and lists the businesses already making billions for themselves and their investors. This book holds a lot of sound investment advice and practical wisdom on getting involved in green technology.

Another book with a vision of our future free from oil is The Hydrogen Age by Geoffrey Holland and James Provenzano.

The book lays down a brief history and argument for hydrogen production and future application. By citing examples of people working in the industry, this book also becomes a heads-up on investment opportunities in an emerging market. It presents a future of clean energy and dispels many of the misconceptions people have about hydrogen technology.

Misconceptions run high when it comes to alternative fuel sources, also with hybrid cars. The Essential Hybrid Car Handbook by Nick Yost and David Friedman gives the reader a consumer-driven account of what is available on the hybrid car market today. Brief descriptions of the differing types of alternative-fuel/hybrid technologies give the readers some useful knowledge to arm themselves with when purchasing their first alternative automobile.

Our world is changing, as surely as the seasons change. We must ask ourselves if we are ready to face the challenges ahead. Or should we continue investing our time, resources and money in fading technologies? These innovations in design are making it possible to live as we have only dreamed of living. The innovations also promise the opportunity at wealth. We, too, can join this revolution, with a little redesign of our everyday lives.

Sean Davis is a readers' advisor in the Reference Services Department at Central Library.