Blog — Recent Developments

Speed-Dating for the Mind

Last week took me to Chicago Ideas Week, described by its organizers as a "global hub for new ideas, an ecosystem for innovation and a playground of intellectual recreation."  I participated in a panel called "Energy: Scalable Solutions."  The experience felt like speed-dating for the mind: each speaker had exactly 12 minutes to lure the audience.

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Human Fallibility in the Nuclear Industry

Three civilians armed with nothing more than bolt cutters and hammers were able to penetrate the defenses of the the Y-12 National Security Complex at Oak Ridge, Tennessee.  Some time later, they were noticed by a lone guard, but only after they had managed to spray-paint a number of slogans on the facility's walls.  The ease of entry that this thankfully pacifist trio enjoyed should remind us of the perils of relying on a technology that presumes an impossibly high level of vigilance in protecting the public from potentially catastrophic hazards.

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China's Environmental Movement Comes to Life

Citizen activists in several Chinese towns and cities have recently taken to the streets to protest polluting industries.  This represents a dramatic break from the decades of government-enforced silence that have allowed heavy industries to contaminate the country's air, water, and soil with relative impunity.  Amidst this rising tide of citizen engagement, it remains unclear whether concerns about the siting of new wind farms - a non-issue to date despite their rapid development - will become a focus of greater Chinese public scrutiny. 

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NREL Study: Renewable Energy Can Provide 80% of U.S. Power by 2050

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has just released a study of enormous importance, affirming that we can draw 80% of our electricity from renewable power sources by mid-century, using presently available technologies and a more flexible grid. 

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Earth Day 2012 Q&A

On Earth Day 2012, my publisher Beacon Press asked me to to answer the question: "What is today's most pressing environmental issue?"  "How long?" I asked.  "One to two paragraphs," I was told.

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Visualizing the Wind

Who says the wind is invisible?  A Cambridge-based team of visualization pioneers has come up with a way for us to "see" where the wind is blowing, and how fast.

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Article in Guernica - Wind Power: America’s New Harvest

Unlike the battering that U.S. solar equipment producers have suffered at the hands of Chinese and other Asian competitors, America is well on its way to building a robust domestic manufacturing platform for wind.

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