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.

No less an authority than the International Energy Agency says the world could cut the fuel used for road transport in half over the next 40 years. The question is whether anyone is willing to do the work needed to get there. Fully one-fifth of all energy use worldwide is for transportation, and transportation is…

One of the interesting – and challenging – problems with energy policy is that it’s both global and local. The implications of climate change are worldwide, and so is the problem of meeting surging demand. And certain kinds of energy, like petroleum, are traded in truly global markets. When it comes to electricity, however, what…

Comments Off on Our Energy Inheritance: Living With Our Grandparents’ Decisions

Most news coverage of energy and the environment is in love with the new: cool new technologies, new research, and all the impressive creative energy that’s being poured into these fields. Yet one of the most significant factors shaping the energy field is the power of old decisions. Take, for example, the power plants that…

It’s a sad fact of modern politics that what politicians don’t say is as significant as what they do. That certainly seems to be true on energy and climate change in the 2012  campaign, where both sides seem to be ducking the issues as best they can. Unfortunately, that’s not much help to the voters.…

Change is hard in the world of energy, and nothing shows that more than attempts to change the deep roots of the vehicles Americans drive every day. Almost all the oil we use as a nation goes for transportation, with all the implications that brings in terms of dependence on foreign oil, gas prices that…

Comments Off on Efficiency, Imports, and Emissions: The Shape of Things to Come

Every year, the Annual Energy Outlook  from the U.S. Energy Information Administration  tries to identify the big trends that are likely to shape the next 20 years in energy – and in this year’s edition, some key trends  are different from those that shaped the last 20 years. For instance: We keep getting more efficient.…

Americans still haven’t lost their taste for living large, at least when it comes to housing. The latest Census Bureau statistics show that the average new American home got a little bigger in 2011 — just by 88 square feet over 2010, but still a surprise given the poor housing market. Housing experts say this…

Comments Off on Facing Tradeoffs: The Decline of Coal

Sometimes, the under appreciated ingredient in energy policy is fear. For some, it’s fear of not being able to afford to fill up the gas tank or run the air conditioner. For others it’s irreversible climate change. In places like Kentucky, it’s about having a job, period. In the coal country of Kentucky, the slow…

What will it really take to get the public to make tradeoffs on energy? It’s a fundamental question, because energy policy is all about the tradeoffs. No form of energy is perfect. Everything comes with pros and cons. The key to moving forward is figuring out what people will accept: how much will they pay,…

One of our fathers had a sign in his garage: “If you don’t have time now to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?” That line comes to mind with the latest energy news from Japan, which is embarking on a massive switch in its energy policy, on the fly.…