I have a Spanish friend who likes to use the expression: “Is complicate.” When it comes to the climate crisis, the transition to clean energy, and international politics one can safely say: “Is complicate.” I tried to convey a real sense of optimism in my book, A Newer World, and some of the hopeful trends I identified then have proven even more robust than I could have imagined at the time I was researching and writing it. We are spending a great deal of money, globally, on clean tech, and that’s only going to continue. Continue reading
First, a little context: What you see on the left is the flaring of natural gas from oil rigs, in this case in Iraq. It is a problem all over the world though. Flaring is but one part of the problem of how “fugitive” natural gas greatly exacerbates the climate crisis. There is an awful lot of anthropogenically produced methane in the world that escapes into the atmosphere every year: about 7.13 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2013 according to the excellent Climate Access Indicators Tool (CAIT) of the World Resources Institute. That was about 15% of the total of all the greenhouse gases produced that year, including those from land use changes like deforestation. Continue reading
I wrote here after Election Day of the Catastrophe that Trump’s election meant for the world, particularly the part of the world where I spend most of my time: the environmental movement. That sense of foreboding has been more than justified in the selection of the extraordinarily perverse group of troglodytes earmarked for top leadership at the EPA (Scott Pruitt), Department of Energy (Rick Perry), Department of the Interior (Ryan Zinke) and, as strange as it could get, the Department of State (Rex Tillerson). Continue reading
I went to a cool little rally last evening here in New York City. We were standing across from the David H. Koch theater at Lincoln Center to say “No!” to the KXL. We were there, of course, because the Koch Brothers have been the principal funders in recent years of any number of reactionary organizations, including Americans for Prosperity and ALEC, not to mention the Tea Party itself. Of course, they have a serious vested interest in the Canadian tar sands. By the time I left, we had a good 200 or so people out on a cold night. The excellent folks at 350NYC organized the rally and we knew that there were scores more across the country at the same time. Continue reading
There’s a lot of good energy, as it were, at Columbia University all the time: they’re working on climate and sustainability, and have a wealth of world-class educational programs. I went to this year’s tenth annual energy symposium staged by the students from the business school, law school, and SIPA. I’ve been to a few of these over time, including last year’s.
The night before the symposium, I went over to a “cleantech startups showcase” to check out some really innovative projects. I heard the mini-pitches from folks working on fuel cells and on cellulose for bioplastics. One startup has developed a cheaper and easier way to conduct energy Continue reading
I had the distinct pleasure this past Tuesday of moderating a panel of top experts on clean tech and the state of its global development: Clean Energy For All was a part of the “Fueling Our Future” series at NYU’s Center for Global Affairs where I teach. Our guests were Travis Bradford, from SIPA and the Prometheus Institute; Vignesh Gowrishankar, from NRDC; and Minoru Takada from the UN’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative. CGA’s Dean, Vera Jelinek, welcomed our guests and the full house of audience members. Continue reading
…to know which way the wind blows. It’s blowing against the reactionary forces spearheaded by the relatively unsung member of the Koch family, Bill. Although not in the same league as his two protofascist brothers, Bill nevertheless gets high marks for doing what he can to undermine both democracy and a sane approach to energy in his obdurate opposition to a superb renewable energy initiative, Cape Wind. The list of supporters for this project is, however, long and prestigious. Continue reading
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse is shown here having fun with some of his colleagues prior to launching what we used to call a teach-in. They spent 15 hours last night into this morning highlighting the manifest dangers of climate change. Whitehouse has been a vocal leader on the issue, delivering a series of floor speeches as part of his “Time to Wake Up” campaign. He is part of a wholly reinvigorated effort in the US Senate to move the climate agenda. Climate Progress has essential messages from most of the more than 30 Senators who took part. One new Senator, Ed Markey, is well known for coauthoring the Waxman-Markey bill which passed the House in 2009, but died in the Senate. Reuters quotes Markey last night: “We hope that by staying up all night … we will signal a new dawn of climate change action in Congress.” Continue reading
As I said a couple of years ago when the capitol building in Madison was being occupied by people incensed by the depredations being mounted against democracy by the Republican Party there, driven by Tea Party ideology and Koch Brothers money, I was never more proud to be a graduate of the University of Wisconsin at Madison. (See Wisconsin is About Climate and Energy Too.) I still am proud.
Frontline has produced pretty consistently terrific programs over the years. I use both Hot Politics and Heat in my classes on climate change and on energy and the environment. Another blockbuster program, Climate of Doubt, hit the airwaves this past week on PBS. It looks very closely at the industry that has grown up around climate change denialism. It pinpoints the fact that many millions of dollars have been spent by the likes of ExxonMobil and the Koch Brothers to fund this industry. It documents the havoc that this disinformation campaign has caused. Continue reading