Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009
This seems to be the Finnish response to RMI’s Amory Lovins’ “Hot Showers and Cold Beer.” I arrived in Helsinki about 10 hours ago, though thanks to an airport worker’s strike and a spirited bout of jet lag, I’m only now getting to walk around the city. I have yet to get my vitamin D for the day, the weather was foggy and rainy when we arrived, and the sun set predictably early at around 4PM, which meant that my three hour nap killed any possible exposure, and I won’t lie, I feel it.
From my research in preparation for this trip, Finland has made some impressive commitments to both the environment and stimulating clean tech initiatives. What it doesn’t have in sun resources for much of the year, it makes up for in tremendous water, biomass and commitment to pursuing technological solutions. Thanks to the Finnish government’s interest in promoting the country’s clean energy leadership – and me winning a spirited game of rochambeau (rock-paper-scissors) with my colleagues for the chance to accept their invitation – I will spend the next three days visiting Finnish clean tech companies and organizations. (more…)
Tuesday, September 1st, 2009
NPR’s Morning Edition recently aired this story, a variation on a theme that I have written about in the past on CleanTechies and in scholarly work: green backlash against renewable power. The Morning Edition piece focused on the land use implications of renewables, noting that it takes a lot more land to generate a terawatt of solar, wind or biofueled electricity than of coal or natural gas power.
True enough. But, for me, it all comes down to the threshold question: do you believe the worst-case climate scenarios? If your answer is yes, and you have the courage of those convictions, then you realize — as I have — that we have no choice, and no time to dawdle. People who answer that question affirmatively know that the paradigm shifts in energy production and consumption that are necessary if we are to have any chance of righting our climatological ship will face knee-jerk opposition and demagoguery from opponents (s, e.g., the spring time bloodbath over the Waxman-Markey bill). A movement that remains — however gallingly — on such tenuous footing cannot afford to endure the additional obstacle of in-fighting over policy nuances. To twist a familiar and over-used metaphor:
Thursday, August 20th, 2009
Australia’s Parliament has passed a law requiring that 20 percent of the country’s electricity come from renewable sources by 2020, an increase from the current level of 8 percent.
The standard, which matches the European Union’s, means that the households of all 21 million Australians could be powered by renewable energy in a decade.
Green Party leaders said, however, that the standard should be 30 percent, and Climate Change Minister Penny Wong noted that even with the new renewable standard, the nation’s CO2 emissions are expected to be 20 percent above 2000 levels in 2020 because of the growth of the Australian economy.
Tuesday, June 30th, 2009
In my continuing effort to launch the CleanTechies community to the forefront of the clean energy debate – and perhaps, in some small part, because I am an insatiable gadfly – I dashed off the following letter to the New York Times yesterday.
It is tough to give much nuance to the argument in less than 200 words, but to me, there are clear connections and contradictions between the the two energy/environment Op-Eds they ran yesterday, one by Gregg Easterbrook, the other by Paul Krugman. The letter follows: (more…)
Monday, June 8th, 2009
The internecine battles in the green community are growing in number: there’s pro-renewable versus open space; the anti-hydro crowd; and the nukes or no nukes debate. Add the fight over clean coal, which the Boston Globe editorial staff weighed in on yesterday.
We know from his comments earlier this year that Al Gore essentially sees clean coal as a shell game, and he is being borne out at least in part by the larding of Waxman-Markey with billions to placate coal state legislators.
But, the Globe editorial touches on an interesting geopolitical/economics quandary. The US and Europe may be pushing toward carbon reduction reforms; but, it is the largest and fastest growing emitters in Asia that pose the greatest threat to the planet and are projected to negate even the most ambitious Western reduction estimates.
So, clean carbon technology might be the liar’s lie that Gore claims it is for US energy production, but what about the possibility of developing technology to export? Do we have an obligation to invest in clean coal research for the greater good even if its not in our future?