Gar Lipow

Gar Lipow, a long-time environmental activist and journalist with a strong technical background, has spent years immersed in the subject of efficiency and renewable energy. His new book Solving the Climate Crisis will be published by Praeger Press in Spring 2012. Check out his online reference book compiling information on technology available today.

Zombie carbon trading’s latest resurrection

[Because the following is long, it is also available in pdf format at ] Even as London carbon trading desks shut down[1] in response to the crumbling European Trading System (ETS) , the zombie concept of carbon trading spreads to China. Because Robin Hahnel’s carbon trading defenses[2] offer the best pro-carbon market arguments to date, this article tackles carbon trading largely by answering Hahnel. For those wondering “who the hell is Robin Hahnel?”, he is an underappreciated left economist. His 1999 book Panic Rules was one of the  best critical primers on globalization.  He is a long time critic …

Light rail on a diet equals better mass transit

I often write about the key role the federal government plays in infrastructure. Ultralight rail is one small example of the role national governments can play in advancing or bottlenecking infrastructure change. The state of today’s light rail: when extensively used it saves energy compared to cars. Another advantage: light rail has lower capital costs. Trains are simpler to build than automobiles. Extensively used trains also put more of their capital capacity to work, because trains operate for much of the day, where autos typically sit 22 to 23 hours out of 24 hours. Railbeds, though initially more expensive than …

The Price is Wrong

[A short excerpt from the following was previously published on the "Triple Crisis" blog of Dollars & Sense magazine] For United States climate activists to succeed, they must demand serious government spending on energy efficiency and renewables – spending comparable to the current war budget. Calling for hundreds of billions in annual green public investment has potential for the popular appeal needed to build a powerful grassroots climate movement. That investment would be the best policy as well. Massive clean energy spending would not only provide jobs and economic growth on a grand scale. It is the most effective way to …

“Pennies for Wendy’s”

Wendy’s is the biggest holdout among the fast food giants who refuses to pay a penny more per pound of tomatoes on condition that growers treat workers with a minimum of fairness. This , payment to workers at least equal to the minimum wage, time clocks, a third party grievance procedure. By refusing to join Wendy’s saves costs of less than a penny per meal. So a group of us collected pennies at a local Olympia festival as charity to Wendy’s so they can afford to do the right thing.

Climate change deniers, you should get together with Beatles deniers

Yes, along with those who deny that human action is the primary cause of this century’s global warming, there are people who deny that the Beatles ever existed.  Their basic argument: There was never just one group of 4 individuals calling themselves “The Beatles” who rose to world stardom.There were multiples of each character performing as “John”, “Paul”, “George” and “Ringo”. Each part of the world appears to have had its own Beatles group, And even then, there were sometimes multiple characters within. They all looked identical to each other except for a few features here and there.But what was most …

Business & Technology

Why your iThings don’t have to be weCruel

Does Apple really have no choice but to build your iPad and iPhone unsustainably, exploiting workers and resources? Not once you realize how the devices' costs break down.

Climate & Energy

Sorry, we still don’t know if biochar can save our asses

Claims of biochar being a magic-bullet solution to climate change are so far unfounded, but if we invest heavily in research, it could turn out to save us.

Why Miracle on 34th Street delights my cold cynical heart

Miracle on 34th Street is the perfect Christmas movie for those who hate fake sentimentality. It is not that the classic 1947 film lacks schmaltz, but that a sly script hides a sharp edge under every schmear. Most of the plot advances come when characters, good and bad act out of self-interest. Two exceptions are “Kris Kringle” who is soon revealed to suffer from a delusion of being Santa Claus, and Sawyer, the evil psychologist who acts out of ego-driven malice and hurts other for no gain other than personal satisfaction. With those exceptions everyone has motives an economics 101 …

Clean, cheap long distance electricity transmission? Worth investigating.

I recently stumbled upon some High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) technology that seems promising to me for long distance transmission. It is not existing technology; it is a detailed proposal with no prototype and not even a computer simulation behind it. Nonetheless it looks like a less expensive and more environmentally friendly way to move large amounts of electricity over long distances — well worth further exploration. The basic idea, elpipes, as developed by Roger Faulkner is to place HVDC lines inside insulated pipes, which can then be buried underground or placed just above ground rather than raised on transmission …

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