Columbia University’s Energy Symposium

CU energy symposium 2014There’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


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O Brave New World

Amory-Lovins-Reinventing-Fire-browserThis is an eye-catching graphic, wouldn’t you say?  It’s for a talk that Amory Lovins gave at Yale exactly two years ago.  (See also the companion interview from the superb online journal Yale Environment 360.)

I use Reinventing Fire from Lovins and the Rocky Mountain Institute as a textbook for my graduate and continuing ed classes on clean tech.  There is no more comprehensive, Continue reading


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Driving Die Energiewende

DruckThe revolutionary “energy transition” that Germany is undergoing is being driven by a lot of forces:  a very progressive public that fully embraces the concept of high tech and far fewer GHGs, a political establishment that backs the project – across the entire spectrum from right to left, and a number of visionaries like the late Hermann Scheer.  I have written about the Energiewende for my old blog and for the new one.

Another one of Scheer’s generation of leaders on renewables is Rainer Baake.  He’s heading up a project called the Agora Energiewende which is, among other things, supporting the transition with advanced technical thinking on a range of issues and is also helping to spread the gospel of 100% renewable electricity globally. Continue reading


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Carpe Diem

Carpe diem.  Seize the day.  That’s what some American university students are realizing needs to be done.  I was in the streets in the early ‘70s protesting the war.  I even wound up in jail a couple of times.  One of the proudest things I can say about that time is that I was in jail with the legendary peace activist Dave Dellinger for three days.  It’s good to be young and to know what’s at stake. Continue reading


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After Sandy – Smarter Power and Transportation

It seems more and more evident every day, with storms like Sandy upon us, that business as usual is no longer an option.  It’s certain that we have to accelerate our efforts to mitigate the greenhouse gases that are exacerbating, day by day, global climate change.  But we also have to adapt.  The sad reality is that we are seeing the unmistakable signs of a warming world and that the impacts of climate change are here to stay, probably for a hundred years or more.  As no less a personage than the New Yorker’s David Remnick writes this week, we can have No More Magical Thinking. Continue reading


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Lightweighting Vehicles

The demand destruction of oil for transportation, as I wrote recently, is in train.  (See Houston, You’ve Got a Problem.)  One of the key factors in this trend is the electrification of light-duty vehicles.  In order to fully realize this potential, though, it will be necessary for automakers to significantly reduce the weight of their cars and trucks.

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Houston, You’ve Got a Problem

This graphic represents what Amory Lovins and the Rocky Mountain Institute think is a viable pathway to 0% oil use in the transportation sector.  It is part of the brilliant Reinventing Fire scheme “…for running a 158%-bigger U.S. economy in 2050 but needing no oil, no coal, and no nuclear energy.”  (I use Reinventing Fire as a textbook for my graduate class on clean tech.)

How do we get to zero oil use for transportation by 2050?  Continue reading


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