DOE official cites need for major breakthroughs to cope with climate change

August 26, 2008

WASHINGTON, Aug. 26, 2008 -- Meeting the world's growing energy needs while responding to global warming during the 21st Century will be one of the biggest challenges humanity has ever faced, Raymond L. Orbach, Ph.D., the U.S. Department of Energy's Under Secretary for Science, says in the latest podcast in the American Chemical Society's Global Challenges/Chemistry Solutions series.

In a two-part podcast entitled "Confronting Climate Change," Orbach notes that meeting this challenge will demand "transformational breakthroughs in basic science," meaning revolutionary discoveries rather than common step-by-step scientific advances. He cites as one example the development of artificial versions of photosynthesis, the natural process that plants use to produce energy from water and sunlight. Artificial photosynthesis -- "photosynthesis without the plant," as Orbach put it -- could theoretically open the door to fueling cars of the future with water rather than pricey gasoline. Artificial photosynthesis units would split water into hydrogen and oxygen, producing clean-burning hydrogen fuel, the podcast explains.

Other scientists featured in the climate-change podcasts include:
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The "Confronting Climate Change" podcasts focus on stopgap and permanent solutions to the release of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide. Those solutions range from revolutionary scientific advances such as artificial photosynthesis to simple societal changes such as consumers foregoing red meat once a week for chicken, fish or vegetables.

The podcasts are available without charge for listening on computers and downloading to portable audio devices at iTunes (requires iTunes software) and other podcasting sites. They also can be accessed on ACS's Global Challenges web site. The site provides audio links and full transcripts of each podcast. Additional resources on each Global Challenges topic also are available, on the site, including information for consumers, students, and educators.

The American Chemical Society -- the world's largest scientific society -- is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

American Chemical Society

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