Oil companies and OPEC insist that we are going to need their product ad infinitum, but the International Energy Agency said in June this year that “a peak in oil demand is on the horizon” and “Growth is set to reverse after 2023 for gasoline and after 2026 for transport fuels overall.”
The IEA’s latest “World Energy Outlook,” out this week, makes what appears to be a bulletproof case for the looming demise not only of oil, but of coal and natural gas. Dr. Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the IEA, is unequivocal: “The transition to clean energy is happening worldwide and it’s unstoppable. It’s not a question of ‘if’, it’s just a matter of ‘how soon’ – and the sooner the better for all of us.” (This echoes what the IEA reported in December of last year in “Renewables 2022.” ) Continue reading →
Nuclear power has been a bête noire of mine for decades. When I was a kid, I thought this was the future – power “too cheap to meter” as the high priests of the cult of the atom told us. But a book came out in 1971 by two veterans of the American nuclear project that was an epiphany for me: Poisoned Power. Long before Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima, it made a convincing case against nuclear power. In the half century since, I have seen virtually nothing that has made me rethink my opposition. A brilliant new book, Atoms and Ashes – A Global History of Nuclear Disasters, has further deepened my convictions – not that they really needed any deepening, as my posts here will attest. Continue reading →
The New Yorker had a characteristically superb compendium of stories last month about the climate crisis. The best one was “Climate Change from A to Z” by Betsy Kolbert. She relates important facts about climate change, going through the entire alphabet: A for Arrhenius (who scoped the physics of global warming in the late 19th Century) to Z for Zero (in which she recounts how the “Colorado River basin has been called ‘ground zero for climate change in the United States.'”
She touches on the promise of clean tech but neglects one of the key burgeoning areas that is going to help us mitigate the worst impacts of the climate crisis, namely hydrogen. I wrote a letter to the magazine and, just for the record, I want to share it here. Continue reading →
I have always said that I’m an environmentalist but not a naturalist. I’m an environmentalist largely because I had so much pleasure outdoors as a kid: camp on the ever-magnificent Lake George in New York, climbing and hiking in the Adirondacks, skiing in the Green Mountains, traveling around the American West one memorable summer, playing ball in the fall and spring. I was blessed that way. My wife and daughter have imbibed much of that love of the great outdoors. I have never gained, however, a great deal of a grasp of the inner workings of the natural world. Birders are all around me in Central Park during migration, but I can’t tell a hawk from a handsaw. The wonders of nature nevertheless never cease to astonish me. An article from last year absolutely mystified me with this fact: A species of beetle in South Africa, feeding on animal dung, like others of their cousins which are found on all the continents except Antarctica, roll their dung balls in a straight line at night by orienting with the Milky Way. Astonishing. The flash of color from a male Red-winged Blackbird once captivated me so thoroughly hitchhiking at dusk in Wisconsin that I realized it was my totem animal. When I watch trees waving in the wind, it seems to me that they are dancing in joy at the sunlight and air. Continue reading →
That water flows toward power and money is, according to Marc Reisner in his magisterial book, Cadillac Desert, “the West’s cardinal law.” In every chapter, that sad fact is illustrated in abundance. The book, first published in 1986 and revised in a 1993 edition, put a new lens on the American West and the regional and national politics of water. It, like so many chronicles of the abuses of power, and the lies, arrogance, and destruction that accompany them, is both revelatory and maddening.
Dept. of Better Late than Never: A friend gave me the book more than 30 years ago. Continue reading →
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 →
(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 →
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 →