06/01/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Ford's Giant Green Leap

If you think President Obama's job is hard, meet Susan Cischke, the VP of sustainability, environment, and safety for Ford Motor Company. It's her job to turn her company, that gave us the mass-assembled automobile and the CO2 that comes with it, into the green machine of the future.

When you read stories about the apocalyptic effects of global warming, see the latest satellite images of an ice sheet, the size of Rhode Island, nearly break off of Antarctica, or get an email forward full of adorable pictures of koalas begging for water in Australia because their water sources are drying up, you want to hold someone accountable. That person is: all of us. The consumer, government, and industry.

Electric cars are the near future, but we need cheaper batteries and tons of charging stations, so the cars can recharge on the road, before they can be feasible.

"We have to have everybody being a player in this," says Cischke, explaining what's holding up the electric car."This isn't, do we have the vehicles." It's also, do we have the infrastructure and is the product affordable so consumers will buy it.

Ford was the first of the big three American car companies to introduce an electric car and promises a whole family of hybrid, hybrid plug-ins, and electric cars for 2012.

Given the crisis we face, we should all be driving around in zero-emission vehicles. Forget the flying car and living like the Jetsons! We need cars that don't emit C02, now. (Legendary musician Neil Young is on the case--he's committed to building a zero-emission vehicle, and blogging about it.)

Cischke is working on it. She's partnering Ford with major electricity supply companies, like Southern California Edison, to build smart grids and managing Ford's $14 billion investment into sustainability.

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