August 26, 2008

U.S.Official Warns of Global Warming

A U.S. energy official has acknowledged that responding to global warming while meeting energy needs will be one of the greatest challenges faced by humanity.

Raymond L. Orbach, the U.S. Department of Energy's undersecretary for science, reaches that conclusion in a two-part podcast entitled "Confronting Climate Change," published Tuesday as part of the American Chemical Society's Global Challenges/Chemistry Solutions series.

Orbach says this challenge will require "transformational breakthroughs in basic science" -- meaning revolutionary discoveries rather than common step-by-step scientific advances.

As an example he cites the development of artificial photosynthesis, the natural process used by plants to produce energy from water and sunlight. Artificial photosynthesis, or "photosynthesis without the plant," as Orbach put it, could potentially open the door to fueling cars of the future with water rather than gasoline. Water could be split by artificial photosynthesis into hydrogen and oxygen, allowing clean-burning hydrogen fuel, Orbach explains in the podcast.