Archives for April, 2011

My challenge to Austin and to Texas is to observe the first anniversary of the Macondo tragedy not by bashing crude oil we all gulp ad nauseam every day, but by striving to gulp a little less oil, and do more with the oil we gulp. We need to wake up to the fact that we all are co-conspirators here and we all share blame for this horrific accident, not just the big bad oil companies. After all, it is we, who indulge in the crude oil drinking binges every day, not just the oil industry employees.

Anytime coal’s cost to America is discussed, the coal industry reflexively talks about what an economic lifeline it is for the states in which it operates. Headwaters Economics, a Bozeman-based think tank focusing on natural resource issues, has a solid new study that’s getting national attention for undercutting those claims. For instance, the Headwaters study…

Nobody likes a methane leak. Now, now, don’t go there. We’re talking about leaks from natural gas production — and more specifically from horizontal drilling and hydrofracturing (or fracking) to extract natural gas locked inside shale. A look at the seesaw saga of the so-called bridge fuel to a bright, clean, renewable-fueled future. First came the natural gas “gold rush” …

This past week—in honor of Earth Day—there’s been a lot of soul-searching about why public concern about climate change is declining despite scientists’ increasingly urgent warnings about the consequences of inaction. Politically, of course, action is stalled in Washington, and given the fight over the federal deficit it’s not clear the government will even hang…

In my eating habits I tend to be omnivorous, equally happy with squid, fufu and Five Guys. But a recent health issue had me on a vegan-plus-fish diet for three months, and this dietary change coincided with teaching a class at GW called People, Land & Food. With a subtext of exploring the geographies of…

Albert Horsley’s future seemed bleak and directionless. A resident of Portland, he spent his early twenties drifting in and out of homelessness. Many nights, he slept under a bridge. Community college classes didn’t pan out. Stints in low-wage jobs didn’t last. Then he caught a break. In 2010, a local youth and family center told…

Flip on a light switch. Press the power button to your TV. Plug your cell phone charger into the wall. Are you expecting something to happen? If the answer is ‘yes’, congratulations, you remembered to send in last month’s electric bill. But the real reason you can be confident that when you want power –…

There has been a lot of talk over the past few years about the promise of the clean economy and green collar jobs. Unfortunately, in many places, there has been a lot more talk and a lot less promise. I work for an organization that is focused on developing the clean economy one project at…

It seems hardly a week can go by without another Middle Eastern nation joining the growing succession of countries grappling with protests and possible regime changes. To call that region of the world unstable is a gross understatement. (Related: National Geographic Gulf Oil Spill Anniversary Coverage) As America watches from afar, our need for energy…

The Shale Quandary

Does the good outweigh the bad? The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s report on “Emissions of Greenhouse Gases in the United States 2009” was officially released on March 31st. Two of its key conclusions: Total U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases were down by about 5.8 percent relative to 2008 — a…

The new, raised assessment of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident puts it on par with Chernobyl in terms of potential consequences, but it is obvious to anyone that there is a difference between Japan’s ongoing crisis and the 1986 explosion in the Ukraine. Summed up in a single word, that difference is “containment.” Steel and…

Since the Copenhagen Climate summit we’ve known there is something very wrong with the U.N. political framework for climate change. Early morning compromise decisions by exhausted negotiators have become the rule at Climate Change meetings. It happened again at the preparatory talks in Bangkok last week. Delegates have consumed three and a half days just…

So, oil prices are above $100 per barrel, the price at the gasoline pump is well past $3 per gallon, and people are looking for reasons. Your possible explanations are: Unrest in the Middle East Rising worldwide demand, driven by growth in China and India Speculation by oil traders You can find people pitching all…

It’s no surprise that oil and coal companies are having a banner year. Earthquakes in Japan and revolutions in Africa have oil riding a profitable wave of instability. The Wall Street Journal noted that rising gas prices are a boon to oil companies even as costs pinch consumers. Fortunately there are plenty of energy innovators…

John Maynard Keynes, a giant in modern economic theory, famously wrote that “Most, probably, of our decisions to do something positive, the full consequences of which will be drawn out over many days to come, can only be taken as the result of animal spirits…” This notion, laid out in his seminal book The General…