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SA Author Tells David Letterman How to Power the World on Renewables [Video]

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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How do you convince the American public that the entire country, and indeed the entire world, could generate all of its energy from the wind, the sun and water? Go on The Late Show with David Letterman, be earnest, present the plan you published in Scientific American and have Letterman smile at you.

That’s what Mark Jacobson did on October 9. Jacobson is a civil and environmental engineering professor at Stanford University, and he wrote our November 2009 cover story, A Path to Sustainable Energy by 2030. Although he didn’t mention the magazine on the show, and he has of course continued to advance his research, he unveiled the same plan he laid out in his highly visual article. The Late Show clip is below. As it begins, it’s easy to feel that familiar force coming—that Letterman is going to mock this geek or give him a hard time. But Letterman becomes spellbound by Jacobson’s vision and lets the interview go for 10 minutes—a long time in the TV biz. At the very end Letterman asks Jacobson to look directly into the camera and “tell people everything is going to be okay.” Jacobson does! And without missing a beat he throws in a little speech, and Letterman just sits there and smiles at him.

Read the Scientific American cover story: A Path to Sustainable Energy by 2030.

Mark Fischetti About the Author: Mark Fischetti is a senior editor at Scientific American who covers energy, environment and sustainability issues. Follow on Twitter @markfischetti.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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  1. 1. sault 3:58 pm 10/30/2013

    It’s amazing what you can do when you ignore all the paid shills of the fossil fuel industry who sit around and make up accusations against renewable energy all day. Congrats, Mark!

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  2. 2. jerryd 4:02 pm 10/30/2013

    Excellent show Mark, Dave!!!

    Nice to see some straight talk of our future instead of the bull we usually get.

    And it’s not like we have a choice as in 30 yrs FF will be too expensive to burn anyway so we need to start switching now.

    The economic stability he mentioned from stable low cost energy prices held down by the fact anyone can make their own, will be a great help in increasing the world’s standard of living and stopping oil wars, etc.

    The other thing is even if not into GW, it costs less to do clean power, so why not?

    And driving EV’s is great with my lightweight ones costing 25% of the total costs of a similar gas version.

    Soon others will figure out just how much less it costs doing it cleanly. Their focus will be sharpened as FF’s costs rise and RE costs drop and they become common, more will switch whether anyone big oil, coal, auto, utility cares or not.

    Once not polluting and making home/building power costs less, and for most it already has, not much can stop it unless big energy drops their prices. But they can’t as FF, etc costs are rising, thus the end of the FF era before 30 yrs, leaving much FF in the ground.

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