Christopher Mims

Christopher Mims's dystopian non-fiction is sought after by an ever-growing roster of publications.

California goes balls to the wall on renewables

As of 2020, California will be getting fully one third of its energy from renewable sources. So says a bill passed yesterday by the state assembly. It's a "renewable portfolio standard" so aggro that it makes a WWE elbow drop to the throat look like a tiddlywinks match played by pink cloud-people in a straight-to-DVD Disney sequel. "As a result of [this renewable portfolio standard] program, renewable energy generation in California in 2020 will be roughly equal to total current U.S. renewable generation," Peter Miller, a senior scientist at NRDC, told SFGate's Cameron Scott. Critics of the renewable portfolio standard …

Map: Every nuclear reactor on earth, present and future

Where my nuclear reactors at? HUH!?! Climate Central just rolled out a series of interactive maps to help you figure that out. Here's the world shaded according to how many nuclear reactors each country has: USA! USA! We have 104. That's almost twice as many as France. France is much smaller, sure, but also, they were once humiliated by the Germans. Japan is in third place with 55, because this information is slightly outdated. Percentage of total electricity production from nuclear is probably the only contest Lithuania will ever win. Aside from, I dunno, goat tossing? China is planning A …

Getting to 100 percent renewables in 20 years

Boffins at the Institute for Policy Research and Development in London have calculated just how much fossil fuel we have to burn to get to the point that we never have to burn them again. Their paper, "A Solar Transition is Possible," argues that in a best-case scenario, "a renewable energy infrastructure could double present global power capacity to 32 terawatts (TW) in 25 years." This would be enough energy to provide what they estimate is the minimum amount of energy for every person on earth to achieve a high "human development index" — or 3.5 kilowatts of power for …

Dilbert on clean energy innovation

Obama to reduce oil imports by a third via magic

Obama's energy speech today promises to be mostly a re-hash of previous administration announcements regarding efforts to make America more energy independent, but at least one bombshell has already been leaked by the White House: Obama wants to reduce America's oil imports by a third in 10 years. It's hard to think of anything — short of an economic crash bigger than any ever seen in U.S. history, or perhaps an alien race forcing all of us to take to our bicycles — that could conceivably accomplish such a goal. The U.S. Energy Information Agency projects that we will import …

Is Germany’s nuke shutdown a Pyrrhic victory for climate hawks?

Germany’s Green party staked its historic win on promises to accelerate the shutdown of the country’s remaining nuclear reactors. But Europe’s energy commissioner says their plans will only lead to more coal-fired power. Guenther Oettinger — who may have his own ax to grind, as he is also a “former premier of the Baden-Wuerttemberg state where Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives lost power on Sunday” — argues that renewables simply can’t ramp up fast enough to replace the base-load power provided by Germany’s fleet of nuclear plants. For Germany to meet its commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and eliminate its …

Reactor 2 at Japan’s Fukushima plant in full meltdown, says expert

The radioactive core of the second reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant appears to have melted through the its steel casing, and is now pooling on the concrete floor below, Richard Lahey tells The Guardian. (Lahey is former head of safety research for boiling-water nuclear reactors at General Electric, so he would probably know.)

Americans worry less about climate change than drinking water, rainforests or sprawl

The good news is that 75 percent of Americans are worried about air and water pollution, and a majority are concerned about the extinction of plants and animals. The bad news is that Americans are less worried about all things related to the environment than they were 10 years ago. Oh, and for anyone who's a regular reader of Grist, here's a kick in the pants: "Global warming" was the environmental concern least likely to keep Americans awake at night. (With apologies to Ezra Klein for stealing his excellent headline.)

America falls to third place in global race for clean energy

Globally, clean energy investment and finance reached $243 million in 2010, up 630 percent from 2004 and 30 percent from 2009. Germany experienced a 100 percent increase in investment, to $41.2 billion, trouncing the U.S., which came in at $34 billion despite having nearly four times the population of Germany. China, of course, was number one, with $54.4 billion in investment, up 39 percent since 2009. Solar grew faster than every other area in 2009-2010, and came close to closing the gap with wind, falling just $16 billion behind wind's total investment of $95 billion. Within solar the fastest growing …

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