Kansas is hardly a bastion of progressive politics, but it is a renewable energy frontrunner – way ahead of liberal Massachusetts. With my home state on the verge of launching its first serious foray into windpower off our shores, I suggest that we take inspiration from the unsentimental pragmatism that has made Kansas second-in-the-nation in wind’s share of electricity generation.
In June, I traveled to Cloud County, a staunchly conservative farming and ranching community on the Kansas prairie where the research for my book, Harvest the Wind, began nine years ago. On this trip I was searching for a few strands of hope that might span the chasm between red and blue America. This article offers some insights on what I found.
This second letter about driverless cars’ grave safety flaws seeks to expand public debate beyond this particular technology to a broader look at how we set our national transportation priorities.
At a time when our planet and those who inhabit it cry out for help, it’s stunning that Jeff Bezos has decided to pump his extra billions into space tourism. In this letter, I urge him to choose among the many wiser, more compassionate causes here on Earth.
In this letter, I respond to the tragic death of Elaine Herzberg, who was killed by a driverless car that was being tested on the streets of Tempe, Arizona, on a quiet Sunday evening. I argue for a slower, more careful exploration of this technology and for a stepped-up commitment to mass transit.
Harvard has long lagged behind many other colleges and universities in tackling the transition to a carbon-neutral future. Finally it has committed to curbing its use of fossil fuels, but its investment portfolio – replete with fossil fuel stock holdings – remains intact. In this letter I call on the university to exercise overdue leadership by cleaning up its endowment. I am responding to a short AP article lauding the university for committing to meet its operational needs through carbon-neutral fuels by 2050.
In this letter, I argue that we should no longer be supplying life support to nuclear power given its exorbitant cost and grave environmental deficits. I am responding to Eduardo Porter’s column touting nuclear as a zero-carbon fuel that shouldn’t cede its turf to wind and solar. Porter ignores the huge price advantage that wind and solar have over nuclear, and his characterization of nuclear as zero-carbon overlooks many externalities, including the huge carbon footprint of cleaning up after nuclear disasters like Chernobyl and Fukushima. Oh yes, the human suffering too.
At a time when President Trump and his followers in Congress are hell-bent on dismantling the clean energy architecture of the Obama era, many Americans are looking beyond Washington, and even abroad, for solutions to our energy crisis. Here’s an account of my recent visit to one of these transformative gems: the Danish island of Samso.
It’s appropriate to advocate for the use of more efficient, less carbon-emitting chemicals for air conditioning, but the growing number of people needing air conditioning in a warming world deserves equal or greater focus. I make this argument in response to an article that singles out the importance of finding a better refrigerant now that hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) have been proven to be a deeply flawed alternative to the chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) that were poking a hole in our ozone layer before the Montreal Protocol reined it their use.
In this letter, I challenge investment strategist Ruchir Sharma’s assertion that slow population growth is to blame for a lagging U.S. and global economy. Sharma’s shortsighted perspective fails to look at the disastrous impacts of ongoing population growth on our already overstressed global environment.
Looking beyond the temporary victory won by the pipeline protesters at Standing Rock, this op-ed explores the gradual emergence of a clean-energy sector in Native American communities that have, for many decades, lived under the shadow of some of the nation’s largest coal plants.
7.4 Billion and Counting: Could Curbing World Population Help Cool the Planet? – WBUR (Boston Public Radio) – Cognoscenti
Will our growing world population, predicted to reach 9.7 billion by 2050 and 11.2 billion by 2100, outstrip even our most determined efforts to rein in global greenhouse gas emissions? This article calls for a renewed look at an environmental issue that has received too little attention in recent decades.
The Ethical and Environmental Implications of a Driverless Future – WBUR (Boston Public Radio) – Cognoscenti
As we hurtle toward a seemingly inexorable future of driverless mobility, I use this article to offer some cautionary reflections on the wisdom of this wholesale shift in US transportation.
Multi-year droughts and chronic overuse have taken their toll on the Colorado River’s great reservoirs, Lake Mead and Lake Powell. In this article, I describe the role that floating solar arrays could play in curbing water losses to evaporation while generating large amounts of renewable electricity for the power-hungry Southwest.
In this op-ed, I look closely at Exxon Mobil’s outreach to shareholders on the eve of its May 25 annual meeting. What I find is a high wall of resistance to reforms that might bring greater transparency or accountability to a company that has long obfuscated the risks and causes of climate change.
Thanks to the Big Dig tunnel project, more car commuters than ever stream into downtown Boston, yet promised investments in public transit have been delayed, downsized, or canceled. This letter welcomes the State’s approval of a stripped-down Green Line extension through underserved, overcrowded Somerville and surrounding communities.
In this letter, I question whether Graham Allison and William Tobey’s call for greater vigilance in protecting nuclear plants will be sufficient to meet growing threats in a politically unstable world.
Power from the sun is surging in the United States. Realizing its vast potential invites us to make creative but careful use of our built environment and open lands. The Environmental Forum is published by the Environmental Law Institute, www.eli.org.
In this letter to the editor, I take issue with Joshua Goldstein and Steven Pinker’s op-ed, which much too readily embraces nuclear power as “the world’s most abundant and scalable carbon-free energy source.”