Scott Bittle and Jean Johnson

of Public Agenda

www.publicagenda.org

Public Agenda's blog is co-written by Scott Bittle and Jean Johnson. This blog will focus on educating typical citizens about climate and energy issues to spur realistic dialogue on solutions.

Scott Bittle is is a senior fellow at the nonprofit, nonpartisan organization Public Agenda. With Jean Johnson, he's the author Who Turned Out the Lights?, a book designed to help people understand the debate on the nations' energy and climate challenge, and of Where Does the Money Go?, on the debate over the federal budget and national debt. Their latest book, Where Did the Jobs Go?, examines unemployment and the struggling economy

An experienced editor and reporter who has worked for both online and print publications, Mr. Bittle was the editor of PublicAgenda.org, twice nominated for a prestigious Webby Award as best political site by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences. Mr. Bittle is involved in the production of citizen education guides and is lead author of A Place To Call Home: What Immigrants Say Now About America, the Energy Learning Curve survey and the Confidence in U.S. Foreign Policy Index. He was also the Web director for Planet Forward, an innovative PBS project to bring citizen voices to the energy debate.

He is also author or co-author of five papers on ways to use the web and other digital tools for engaging the public in dialogue and deliberation, all published by the Center for Advances in Public Engagement (CAPE).

Jean Johnson is Executive Vice President of Public Agenda and a writer and speaker who specializes in helping non-experts understand complex policy issues. She has more than 20 years experience in public opinion and public policy. Her work has focused on issues ranging from education and energy to the federal budget and foreign policy. 

Writing with Public Agenda colleague Scott Bittle, she is the co-author of Where Does the Money Go? Your Guided Tour to the Federal Budget Crisis originally published by HarperCollins in 2008, and now being revised for a new edition in late 2010. The New York Times described the book as “entertaining and irreverent while serving as an informative primer on a subject that is crucial to the future of all Americans.” Bittle and Johnson published the second book in the series -- Who Turned Out the Lights? Your Guided Tour to the Energy Crisis -- in late 2009. The authors were recently featured on Bill Moyers Journal discussing the public’s understanding of energy and environmental issues, and they are frequent contributors to The Huffington Post on these topics.    

Ms. Johnson is also head of Public Agenda’s Education Insights division which focuses on opinion research and public engagement on education issues. At Public Agenda, she has authored or co-authored opinion studies on K-12 education, higher education, families, religion, race relations, civility, and foreign policy. Among her most recent publications are With Their Whole Lives Ahead of Them: Myths and Realities about Why So Many Students Fail to Finish College (2009), and Life after High School: Young People Talk about their Hopes and Prospects (2005). She has also published articles and opinion pieces on education issues in USA Today, Education Week, School Board News, and Columbia University’s Teachers College Record.

Ms. Johnson has appeared on CNN, NPR’s Fresh Air, the Today Show, Lou Dobbs Tonight, and The O’Reilly Factor. She graduated from Mount Holyoke College and holds master's degrees from Brown University and Simmons College. She is also managing director of Sugal Records, a small classical music recording company based in New York.

The federal government’s latest international energy projections are out, and there’s no question we’re living in a time of enormous change—and perhaps remarkably little progress. The International Energy Outlook from the U.S. Energy Information Administration tries to identify the big trends and projections affecting the energy world through 2040. Some of the trends include: The…

When it comes to keeping the lights and air conditioning on this summer, how much of a safety margin do we need? After all, summertime is when electricity demand surges, as an entire nation reaches for the thermostat in the midst of a heat wave. Overall, our grid is getting older, and the demands are…

A lot of the debate over energy and climate change has focused on changing how people live. But in a lot of ways, where someone lives is as important as how they live. Not all parts of the United States are the same when it comes to how much and what kind of energy is…

Comments Off on If It’s Good for Schools, Will It Be Good for Energy?

Imitation, they say, is the sincerest form of flattery. But is duplicating “Race to the Top” the way to get a new energy grid up and running? If you don’t keep track of education policy, Race to the Top is the Obama administration’s signature schools initiative, with $4 billion in federal grant money awarded to…

  Sometimes the long term trends are the hardest to see, yet also the most significant. Take energy efficiency, for example. There’s no question that using energy more efficiently is crucial in both meeting the rising global demand and in minimizing climate change. And the good news is that the United States has been on…

This past week the Government Accountability Office, the federal government’s independent auditor and watchdog agency, added climate change to its list of “high-risk” threats to the nation’s fiscal health. “Climate change creates significant financial risks for the federal government,” the GAO report said. “The federal government is not well positioned to address the fiscal exposure…

Comments Off on Energy to Burn: Making Choices by the Light of a Gas Flare

  Energy policy historically has been a matter of policymakers chasing events – and the most recent example is the current boom in natural gas. The controversial technique of fracking gets most of the attention, and there’s no question that fracking’s ability to  vastly increase the supply of natural gas is reshaping the energy world.…

Comments Off on Drifting Toward the Energy Future

If the people expecting the world to end when the Mayan calendar does on Dec. 21 are right, then we probably don’t need an energy policy. But NASA has an ironclad case that they’re wrong, and not many people seem to be taking the doomsayers seriously. Just about everyone is doing their holiday shopping as…

Energy independence is a lot like the extravagant Christmas present you wished for all year as a child. For Americans, it’s been the equivalent of a pony, or a Red Ryder BB gun  – we hoped for it, we yearned for it, but we never completely believed we’d get it. Now that it’s potentially within…

Surveys show the American public is more convinced of the reality of global warming – but how much will that really shift policy? Two surveys released this month, from the Pew Research Center and the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, both find solid majorities of Americans who say global warming is real and growing…