Quantum Leap

Credit: Ross MacDonald

It is big news that Scientific American, one of the world’s most prestigious sources on science and technology, after 175 years of publication, has endorsed a presidential candidate for the first time ever.  The Editors declare that “Scientific American Endorses Joe Biden.”  They feel “compelled to do so” and “do not do this lightly.”  The first and foremost reason given for this historic endorsement is clear:  “The evidence and the science show that Donald Trump has badly damaged the U.S. and its people—because he rejects evidence and science.”  They detail the catastrophic consequences of this rejection, like the nearly 200,000 Americans who have succumbed to the coronavirus.  They further note his lies and, beyond that, the attacks on “environmental protections, medical care, and the researchers and public science agencies that help this country prepare for its greatest challenges.” Continue reading


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Unity

On May 10, 1940, German armed forces invaded the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and France.  That evening, the chairman of the UK’s Labour Party, Harold Laski, wrote “We are at a turning point in the history of the world.”  Less than a week later, Winston Churchill, newly installed as Prime Minister, and Clement Attlee, the leader of the opposition in Parliament, announced an agreement to form a coalition government in order to prosecute the war.  Unity was the watchword.  David Low’s famous cartoon from that time vividly illustrates the fierce resolve of the leadership and, indeed, the public.

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Natural Gas Revisited (Again) – Part Two

I wrote the other day about some of the manifest benefits of natural gas in our economies.  There are also, without question, many negatives.  Let me count the ways here.  I also, however, want to note that there are ways to capitalize on gas in our transition to fully decarbonized energy economies.  I’ll do that in a third post. Continue reading


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Natural Gas Revisited (Again)

I haven’t taken an extended look at the many ins and outs of natural gas for a good long while.  It’s a bloody big topic.  But let me preface this by first quoting Amory Lovins, the maestro of the “soft energy path.”  I heard him speak at an event over ten years ago.  What he said then still reverberates in my psyche:  “The ‘renewables revolution’ has been won.  Sorry if you missed it.”  There is no doubt, at this late date, that solar and wind and the array of other modern renewables, along with energy efficiency, sustainable mobility, and other clean tech are well and truly burgeoning.  The numbers don’t lie. Continue reading


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Women’s March 2020

Women's March NYC 2020

(Click on the photo and go to the Flickr stream, click on toggle slideshow, and enjoy some of the posters from yesterday’s march in NYC.)

That’s not me, but it’s certainly my sentiment.  I’m a dad and I’m against the patriarchy.  I’ve written about the evils of the patriarchal mentality, and was reminded after the catastrophic election in 2016 about how the New, Improved American Right is fed by it.

I was out with my daughter for the march in 2018 and yesterday with my wife.  They went together in 2017 for the big inaugural event in Washington, along with a million of their sisters and brothers. Continue reading


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Offshore Wind

I was discussing renewables with my class the other day and recounted an event I moderated a few years back in which one of the panelists, Minoru Takada, observed that there was much to celebrate on the renewable energy front, very much including the fact that policy makers, both in governments and the private sector, and general publics around the world, have been steadily gaining confidence in our ability to transition away from fossil fuels.  I think we can all draw a great deal of hope as energy economies around the world continue to build confidence in this critical transition in which we are engaged. Continue reading


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Bull Hill

Bull Hill

(click on the photo here, then see the slide show)

We were out with friends early in November for a hike over Cold Spring, NY to Bull Hill.  Here is a photo from about fifty miles north of New York City.  You can see the towers of Manhattan and also Jersey City off to the west.  This was a great day to get out of the big city and to get a sense that there are mountains, and forests, and the mighty Hudson all still there beyond the concrete and steel, the millions churning and the power plants burning.  Sometimes you forget how magnificent our old planet really is.  John Muir’s message was to get out and see the magnificence and then get back home and work like the devil to protect it.  “Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.” Continue reading


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The Great Transition

The Great Transition is the title of the preeminent sustainability theorist and activist Lester Brown’s last book.  The Energiewende – energy transition – is what the Germans call their brilliant initiative to reshape the energy economy.  Call it a transition, revolution, mobilization or transformation, or what you will.  Call it clean tech, green tech, the green economy, sustainable development, or even the Low Carbon and Environmental Goods and Services Sector (LCEGSS).  Whatever you want to call it and however you slice it, we are in the midst of a series of remarkable breakthroughs. Continue reading


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Climate Mobilization or Transformation?

There are a lot of ideas out there to save the world from our global environmental crisis.  Lester Brown’s Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization, Project Drawdown, and the Green New Deal among them.  A friend of mine pointed out a new essay in the New York Times this morning, “Climate Change Is Not World War.”  The writer, a professor of English, purports that “We are underestimating both the deep national trauma of World War II and our present challenge.”  Here’s my reaction. Continue reading


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The Avatar of the Fossil Fuel Industry

I finally got around to reading Private Empire this summer.  (You know how it is:  a bazillion books, papers, articles and every other doggone thing on your reading list.)  I’ve been reading Steve Coll’s stuff in The New Yorker for years.  He’s the dean of the J-school at Columbia.

Private Empire, to a certain extent, follows in the footsteps of The Prize, Dan Yergin’s Homeric saga in which he recounts “the Epic Quest for Oil, Money & Power.”  But Yergin’s book is a historic and geographic sweep of the oil industry while Coll’s book zeroes in on ExxonMobil, the company with the second-highest revenues in the world, $453 billion, in 2012 when the book came out.  They dropped to eighth by 2018 with $290 billion in revenues. Continue reading


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