And we need to get this done fast. NASA's top climate scientuisJames Hansen says that coal emissions must be phased out (PDF) by 2025 (developed countries) or 2030 (developing countries) (PDF). That's a lot faster than utilities will move on their own here: What to do if you need money now?. Something has to break through the inertia that seems certain to doom all our best efforts. That something is public clamor. The slogan "100 miles of mirrors" is catchy. It's simple enough, and it could cause a chain reaction. Bumper stickers, graffiti, calls to talk radio, letters to newspapers, gossiping, rumor milling -- it can become a national phenomenon that unites right-wingers with left-wingers to "just build those 100 miles of mirrors." Why not? It saves our country from near certain doom.
Wind, geothermal, efficiency, and all the other good ideas will have their place. In fact, these additional alternatives mean that we may need far less than 100 miles of mirrors. But because it can provide a direct baseload substitute for coal plants, CSP has a unique role to play in rallying the public around a simple message -- and generating public clamor requires an extremely simple message:
You wanna burn coal?
You melt the South Pole!
100 miles of mirrors or it won't be pretty.
Solar saves Miami and New York City!