Editorial: Gov.'s Proposal Gives High Tech a Green Light

    As part of his upcoming state budget, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed last month a $95 million bump in funding for technological research. The money would go to “”green”” research, such as UC Berkeley’s Helios solar energy project, and computational programs, such as the petascale supercomputer project on which a number of UC-run labs have bid.

    Especially promising is the offer of $40 million for UCSD or UC Berkeley, should one of them win a $500 million grant from the British Petroleum Energy Biosciences Institute for research into alternative fuels. Using state incentives for private grants – instead of paying for research outright – allows California to work toward environmental goals without footing the entire bill, and is a good model for future investment.

    As our economy shifts further from the manufacturing sector to services and high technology, investment in technology will help prepare Californians for the jobs of tomorrow. Additionally, growing concern about humanity’s impact on our environment – as well as the limited sustainability of a fossil-fuel based economy – should catapult the importance of environmental technology in the very near future. And the expanded need for raw computing power to process reams of data in fields ranging from geophysics to genetics means that building up the state’s computational infrastructure now will pay off immensely in the future.

    The governor’s proposed investment in our universities puts California in a solid position to tackle all of these realities, and should provide a long-term return that is well worth the money.

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