Archives for November, 2010

Whose Oil Curse Is It?

Can having too much oil be a curse? Or is being dependent on oil the real curse? Since the 1990s, thanks to the insights of economists like Jeffrey Sachs and Andrew Warner (see “Natural Resource Abundance and Economic Growth” [pdf], Harvard University, 1997), it has been widely accepted that having an abundance of extractive resources…

For decades, a number of environmentalists have been hoping the American love affair with the car would fade away.  A lot of people who’d like this to happen see hope in a survey by Zipcar, the car-sharing firm, which found that a majority of 25- to 34-year-olds say they’d rather drive less. There’s also a…

The current energy buzz is all about alternatives – principally wind, solar, biofuels, and nuclear – and about reducing the use of carbon-based fuels and their emission of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.  The buzz is usually a little breathless, so breathless that only lip service is paid to the notion that coal, oil, and…

In our previous post we discussed a specific solar project example.  We received many comments related to the post and wanted to share some of Pace Global’s additional thoughts regarding the value of solar energy projects and the prudency of the governmental policies that support solar power. The comments we received centered around the following…

The sad truth is that if you want to learn about or work on energy efficiency, you need to understand the world of finance. Many of us in the energy/environment field (especially those working on policy) are more comfortable talking about efficiency ratings than credit ratings. But implementing energy efficiency projects at the scale we…

The recent World Energy Outlook report by the International Energy Agency tell us that global greenhouse gas emissions are growing dramatically in the developing world. By 2035, world energy demand is expected by 36 percent, and almost all of that new demand – 93 percent of it – is going to come from developing nations.…

New Orleans is justifiably proud that the city’s spirit has never been broken, never wavered. The city has seen disaster – twice in the last decade alone. The city has survived. The stories of those survivals have been told many times. They’re stories made possible by the people who live there; who remain and maintain…

Ranching families in New Mexico face a difficult dilemma. Last week I was in New Mexico attending a conference organized by the Quivira Coalition, a group dedicated to bringing together “ranchers, conservationists, scientists and public land managers around concepts of progressive cattle management, innovative stewardship and improved land health.” The topic of the three-day event…

Maybe the hardest thing for Americans to accept about the energy challenge is that it isn’t all about us anymore. Whether they realize it or not, both sides of the argument in the United States tend to see the root causes the same way:  it’s all about the American consumer.   For environmentalists, the  problem  is…

From Colonel Drake’s discovery of oil in 1859 to the vast cut-over of remaining primary forest, to a little-known offshoot of the Atomic Energy Commission’s Project Plowshares called Project Ketch, which (before it was stopped) would have nuked a cavity in north-central PA for storage of natural gas, Pennsylvania’s rural areas have served as an…

Have you ever wondered why so many former opponents of nuclear power are switching sides and are now advocating for nuclear power plant construction with the same passion they once devoted to fully abandoning this controversial technology? Why is Dr. Jim Hansen, the godfather of climate change, in favor or nuclear power? Why is Stewart…

I became an environmentalist much later in life than I should have. Born in San Francisco I grew up in Suisun, California, a small town of small, aging ranch-style houses on a slough that fed the Bay. It’s the kind of town that, usually if someone thinks they’ve heard of it, they’re actually thinking of…

But is it a good revolution or a bad revolution? According to Steve Forbes, editor in chief of Forbes magazine and sometime presidential candidate, the “energy crisis [is] over!” (In case you’re wondering, that exclamation point is Mr. Forbes’s.) What ended the crisis? According to Mr. Forbes, there’s an energy “revolution” on that’s due to…

In the ivory towers of academic economics (from which I mostly escaped years ago), markets are the heroes of many a mythical story. As the theory goes, wherever there is a need and a way to meet it at a profit, and so long as nasty things like governments don’t interfere, a market will materialize,…

As scientists assess mounting evidence of a new geologic epoch where human activities will largely control the evolution of our Earth’s environment, they have coined this epoch, “The Anthropocene.” Don’t look now, but you’re living in it.   What we don’t know is whether our influence on climate during the Anthropocene will be a short-term, relatively…

How did the largest fully-contracted, solar energy power plant north of Florida end up in Delaware, the second smallest state with the fourth lowest overall production of electricity? How did such a leap forward in renewable energy production occur only three years into Delaware establishing solar-specific mandates in their Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS)?  By getting…

On Nov. 2nd, voters in California chose a clear path to clean energy and a growing green economy by defeating Prop 23, one of the most brazen attacks on climate and energy legislation. Californians sent a message that clean energy is not only good for the environment, it’s also vital to the state’s economic future.…

The world’s energy challenges are not just a problem for international negotiators, oil companies and climate scientists.  They are shared by all of us — the homeowner installing solar panels in the back yard, the researcher using cutting-edge science to see how termites create energy from wood, the small business looking for innovative financing to…

Business to Governments: You Dance.

Today, climate change and sustainability issues are rising to the top of corporate agendas, and this is good news.  Business will need to be deeply engaged in these issues if the efforts of governments are to be successfully leveraged.  However, there is an important disconnect that needs to be addressed: a decided lack of clarity…

Given a moment to think about it, nearly everyone agrees that the United States needs to make some decisions about how to insure that we have safe, clean, reliable, affordable energy for the future. If we keep postponing these decisions, we’ll be putting our economy, our environment, and our way of life at risk. But…

Rethinking Nuclear Power

In the coming months I will be blogging here about a film I’m making called “Pandora’s Promise”.  The film is an independently produced, feature-length documentary about the history of nuclear power, told in part through the eyes of several prominent former ‘anti-nukers’ who have recently come to believe, as I do, that without the rapid…