By Robert C. Koehler
Tribune Media Services
Harvey Wasserman’s newly published “Solartopia!” is a breath of fresh air, blowing – well, whipping, at Great Plains velocity -across the thinking person’s vision of the future. What a gift this book is: an informed, science-savvy vision of tomorrow that isn’t an eco-nightmare.
Rather, it’s an enthusiastically optimistic look at a rational, very green near future. (To order, go to solartopia.org.) The setting is 2030; the premise is a flight in a hydrogen-fueled airship from Hamburg to Honolulu, with Wasserman serving as tour guide and eco-historian as we watch the world unfold beneath us and gradually learn about the death of King CONG, the joyous global proliferation of rooftop gardens and how all those giant wind turbines wound up off the coast of Holland, among much else.
King CONG, an acronym of Wasserman’s coinage – Coal, Oil, Nukes, Gas – is the fossil-fuel addicted junkie-beast we think of today simply as reality, but to the relaxed narrator of “Solartopia!,” this beast, which in 2007 seemingly runs the world and holds it hostage to its appetites, is nothing more than a historical curiosity.
Listen up, boys and girls: We make it! We survive as a species. King CONG collapses of its own irrationality. Mind you, it ain’t pretty, but by 2030 its death throes, its meltdowns and final mad wars of resource acquisition (though not, of course, its radioactive waste and eco-dead zones) are behind us, and renewable-resource technology – wind, solar and biomass, along with extreme techno-efficiency – powers the human race to a sustainable, prosperous and democratic future, in which healing can begin.