The Clear Reality of the Clean Tech Revolution

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


Print pagePDF page
Download PDF

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


Print pagePDF page
Download PDF

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


Print pagePDF page
Download PDF

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


Print pagePDF page
Download PDF

Connecting the Dots on Oil – Iran, Trump, and the Kochs

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

I wrote here almost a year ago that “It’s the fossil fuels, stupid.”  We, the people, suffer, of course, from Trump Inc.’s self-serving, kleptocratic impulses, manifest in his executive agencies, with the full complicity of that wholly owned subsidiary of corporate America, the Republicans in Congress, aided and abetted by the reactionary majority on SCOTUS.  But if there’s a guiding force behind the greed, the racism, the sheer vileness of the behavior, indeed the treason of these mutants, it’s fossil fuels.  More precisely, it’s the money generated by the fossil fuels. Continue reading


Print pagePDF page
Download PDF

“It’s the fossil fuels, stupid.”

James Carville, one of the sharper Democratic consultants to come around in several generations, reminded Bill Clinton’s campaign staff that among the three things on which they needed to focus one was:   “The Economy, Stupid.”  This morphed into the expression “It’s the economy, stupid.”  It has become abundantly clear that the message of the present White House administration, along with their Republican party enablers and a few Democrats from fossil fuel-dependent states (like Joe Manchin from West Virginia and Heidi Heitkamp from North Dakota), is that “It’s the fossil fuels, stupid.” Continue reading


Print pagePDF page
Download PDF

Finally, A Small But Significant Victory, Courtesy of the Senate

Yes – and it was about bloody time – the Senate finally held up at least a small part of its bargain with the American people: to protect the public health and the environment.

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


Print pagePDF page
Download PDF

KXL – RIP

Obama rejects KXL

It’s been a few months since I’ve been on the air.  There is absolutely no better news I could come off my sabbatical with than that the Keystone XL pipeline project is dead. President Obama this morning announced the US rejection of the application.  There is enormous significance in this on several levels: Continue reading


Print pagePDF page
Download PDF

Great Minds Against Tar Sands Development

before and after tar sandsI am sorry to say I’ve been off the air for too many weeks.  It’s been a busy Spring, culminating in a week-long trip to Berlin with my graduate students to take a live and in-color look at German clean tech.  I will be following up here with some reporting on that.  Great stuff!  Stay tuned.  Plus there’s other news on which I will add my two cents, including the recent G7 talks and the upcoming encyclical from Pope Francis. Continue reading


Print pagePDF page
Download PDF

Peak Carbon?

Well, maybe not Peak Carbon yet, but it was a pretty hopeful signal that the International Energy Agency sent on March 13th in announcing Global energy-related emissions of carbon dioxide stalled in 2014.  The IEA noted “…that efforts to mitigate climate change may be having a more pronounced effect on emissions than had previously been thought.” Continue reading


Print pagePDF page
Download PDF