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.

I have cancer — a personal meditation on technology, sustainabity, and social context

I have cancer, but thanks to modern medicine, in terms of health it may be no big deal. The surgeon will use a scalpel to remove a thin layer of tissue from the floor of the mouth along with a tiny bit of the connection to the tongue. Then a laser will cauterize it, minimizing bleeding, killing microorganisms that stray from my mouth into the wound, and sealing off nerve endings, reducing soreness. The  surgeon has  asked me several times not refer to this as a “slice & sear”. Since the odds are the cancer is encapsulated, they will send …


The real cost of coal: even higher than we think

Every now and then I see studies that try to estimate the real cost of fossil fuels, what we don’t pay up front. Normally they contain numbers that seem unbelievably low to me, like this one from the National Academy of Sciences that was reported on Grist. We blow the tops off mountains, kill miners quickly in accidents and slowly through black lung, pollute massive amounts of water, pollute the air, put mercury into the ecosystem, and on and on. All that only costs $62 billion a year? That’s a lot of money, but for the damage we’re seeing, it still seems …


Thumb on the scale in the comparison of fuel taxes and efficiency standards?

A new review of the literature by Resources for the Future suggests that gas taxes motivate drivers to use less gasoline far more cheaply than auto efficiency standards like CAFE. There are a number of reasons to be suspicious of this conclusion.

The Rising can defeat the pirates of the new age

Can the climate bill's death help build a living climate movement?

Environmentalists who want to solve the climate crisis need to stop using institutional barriers and opponents' unfair tactics as an excuse for failure, and instead build a grassroots movement that can overcome both. Such a grassroots movement must put forth exciting, attractive policies to fight climate chaos, rather than limp, pre-compromised proposals nobody can work up enthusiasm for.

Flying Energy Generators: maybe the next big thing.

Because it has been documented that today’s technology could replace all or most fossil fuel consumption with renewable sources[1], the most important focus for writing on technical solutions to the climate crisis is what can be done today. There is too much yammering about “innovation”, and not enough attention paid to mature conservation, efficiency and renewable technology we already know how to build, and simply need to deploy. But that does not mean potential technical breakthroughs are unimportant. While conservation and efficiency that save energy are cheaper than today’s fossil fuels, renewable sources of heat and electricity are mostly more …

Replace zombie cap-and-trade

The climate bill is dead. Long live the climate bill!

Months after the Waxman-Markey/Kerry-Lieberman bill died, Harry Reid and environmentalists have finally admitted it is dead, and may even be ready to remove its rotting corpse from the living room and give it a decent burial.

Zach Weiner on how to pass climate change legislation

Wind electricity from flying energy generators cheaper and more reliable than coal?

A technology that might provide clean electricity that is cheaper and more reliable than coal is ready for testing. Some of the world’s leading scientists think it will work. So why aren’t we spending a few million (not billion but million) dollars to find out? The basic idea: wind blows harder and more constantly at high altitudes where aircraft fly than over the tops of towers we install wind turbines on today. Attach wind turbines to tethered helicopters and we can generate many times the energy of conventional turbines. We can use the tethers both to send electricity to the …

Biochar – probably not going to save the world after all

Biochar is being promoted as a way to save the world. (I admit to being optimistic about this myself for a very brief time.) It certainly sounds good. Take agricultural or forestry waste that is pretty much pure carbon, with almost none of the other nutrients plants need. Burn it without oxygen, producing a bit of bio-gas for fuel, and a bit of high value pyloric oil suitable for a number of advanced uses. What is left is charcoal which can help build soil and permanently store carbon. As a a bit of added glamor it is based on the …

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