Business & Technology

U.S. left in the solar dust

Solar PV market doubled to 6 Gigawatts in 2008

After growing 19 percent in 2006 and 62 percent in 2007, world solar photovoltaic (PV) market installations exploded by 110 percent last year to a staggering 5.95 GW, according to Solarbuzz’s Annual Report, Marketbuzz 2009: …

Is the global economy a Ponzi scheme? Part 4

Former GE Chief Jack Welch says obsession with short-term profits was ‘Dumb Idea’

File this one under “now they tell us” or maybe “the former drug kingpin says crack is not healthy for you.” The Financial Times reports the shocking not-quite-deathbed conversion: Jack Welch, who is regarded as …

Big Coal on the ropes

Knock out calls for anti-mountaintop removal bills

Ain’t no mountain high enough: King Coal is on the ropes. Across the nation, anti-mountaintop removal bills are quickly being moved across Capitol Hill and numerous legislatures this week to stop one of the most …

Tab dump

Product service systems, Microsoft, blackouts, Kentucky’s Clean Energy Corps, and cool maps

Grist has comments turned off as we transition to a new website. If you have feedback on this post or anything else, let me know: droberts at grist dot org. • One of my favorite …

Tab dump three

Economics malpractice, climate and poverty, oil sands nightmares, and more WSJ dipshittery

• Max Schulz demonstrates how economics is typically used in the energy debate: "There's an unavoidable problem with renewable-energy technologies: From an economic standpoint, they're big losers." As though the "economic standpoint" is some static, univocal thing. Douchebag. • A nice report from Brookings on a woefully under discussed topic: Double Jeopardy: What the Climate Crisis Means for the Poor. • National Geographic has an in-depth examination of the horror that is Alberta's oil sands program. Excellent journalism, albeit the stuff of nightmares. • Shockingly, the oil and gas industry opposes the Obama administration plan to eliminate some taxpayers subsidies for the oil and gas industry. • A while back, Holman Jenkins, a Wall Street Journal columnist and member of the editorial board, characterized Obama's concern over climate change as a "soppy indulgence," and said of climate science: "We don't really have the slightest idea how an increase in the atmosphere's component of CO2 is impacting our climate, though the most plausible indication is that the impact is too small to untangle from natural variability." Stuart Gaffin, an actual climate scientist at Columbia University, responded in a blog post, pointing to actual science. In turn, Jenkins retrenched in a blog post of his own, with a bunch of absurd harumphing and misdirection. Gaffin responded again, decimating the smoldering remains of Jenkins argument with a torrent of scientific citations. This is typical of many other exchanges between ideologues and scientists about climate. The galling thing, with this one as with most of them, is that the scientists are correct, by any reasonable assessment, and yet the ideologues can just go on saying whatever they want, in widely read editorials. There simply is no winning here. It's really hard to see what the scientists should do.

Radiant Cities: Living in your car

New breed of houses makes use of carbage

Guess what will save the economy and the environment? Buying a new car! Cadillac ranch? OK, maybe not save — but according to the folks at Oregon-based Miranda Homes, it can help. The automobile industry …

Punching in

On-message items from the green jobs front

Every year, renewable energy campaigns seem to converge on a theme. Last year, it was energy independence. This year, the theme is -- you guessed it -- jobs. By cosmic convergence, Tuesday featured three cool new clean-energy-jobs-related items: Clean Edge released a report which projected that solar and wind industry employment will grow from 600,000 jobs in 2008 to 2.7 million by 2018 (if, of course, we get the enabling policies right). SEREF released a mind-blowingly cool Google-earth/job estimator mashup. (More from Google.) And we launched a campaign to highlight the very real job opportunities that solar offers by placing fictitious HELP WANTED ads in Florida, Texas, and Nevada. By bringing levity to this serious issue, we hoped to generate some press for our policy goals. So far, so good; here's the Palm Beach Post's take.

Umbra on catchy Earth Day slogans

Dear Umbra, My work colleagues are trying to think of a catchy slogan to celebrate Earth Day this year. We typically plan a week of activities to educate and increase awareness of the benefits of …

Eco:nomics: Fail

Conference treats press like crap; treats CEOs like butt buddies; doesn't give me a beer

I've been thinking a bit about how to get another post or two out of the Wall Street Journal Eco:nomics conference. But you know what? The Wall Street Journal Eco:nomics conference can blow me. I've never been to a conference where the press was more walled off. And this was a conference by a media company! First off, laptops weren't allowed in the main presentation room -- too "distracting." (Who's distracted by a guy with a laptop in the back of the room?) So there was no way to post real-time updates from the main room. That meant we were stuck down in the press room, watching the conference on TV. To boot, the press wasn't allowed in the lunch roundtables. Or the cocktail reception before dinner. Or the dinner. Or the "cordials" after dinner. Or the breakfast roundtables the following day. Practically speaking, this all but precluded press from having unscripted encounters with conference participants and speakers -- always the best parts of these conferences. We were at least fed dinner, but -- and this was the unkindest cut of all -- no alcohol. You don't deny journalists their booze! You just don't. So basically, press got to watch the thing on TV in a dry basement room. Perhaps if the conference sessions had been scintillating -- or at least as entertaining as last year, when none of these press restrictions were in effect -- it would have been all right. But frankly, the conference was boring, wonky, and flat. Corporate PR was dutifully delivered by folks like Ford CEO Alan Mulally and Duke CEO Jim Rogers, in the face of questioning that could charitably be described as friendly. Gore delivered his usual shtick. Inane cranks like Bjorn Lomborg and Vaclav Klaus delivered their usual shtick. And so on. So I could squeeze another post out if I tried, give the thing a little more publicity, but I never got my beer, so eff it. I already tweeted that b*tch anyway.

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