Climate & Energy

Train of thought

Rail and the coming changes in transport

National Train Day was marked this year on May 10, so it's not too incredibly late to mention two new books of note: John Stilgoe's Train Time: Railroads and the Imminent Reshaping of the United States Landscape that came out in the fall says that rail is "an economic and cultural tsunami about to transform the United States." Maybe that's a little grand, but rail is definitely on the ascendancy, since it can move people and freight at a fraction of the energy usage vs. petroleum. Also, Radio Ecoshock's March 28 edition of its useful weekly podcast had a recording (skip to minute 11 for the presentation) by authors Richard Gilbert and Anthony Perl at the launch event for their new book Transport Revolutions: Moving People and Freight without Oil. They are forecasting a grid-tied and electrified (increasingly from renewables) rail system among four revolutions coming in transport:

Notable quotable

Rogers: cap-and-trade without corporate giveaways like ‘mafia’

“This is just a money grab. Only the mafia could create an organization that would skim money off the top the way this legislation would …

Bright lights, big energy

Hybrid solar lighting: a solar retrofit for hot climates

A fascinating commercial application for solar energy in clear (or semi-clear) hot climates seems to not be getting the attention it deserves: hybrid solar lighting. You take a parabolic concentrator and focus some sunlight, optically split with plastic fiber into visible light and heat. Pipe the visible light through diffusers throughout the building. It saves lighting electricity, of course, but unlike skylights or conventional T8s, it adds almost no heat to the building. In a cooling climate it saves about a third as much in air-conditioning energy as it does in light.

Beam me down, Scotty

Can we shoot concentrated solar power down from space?

CNN takes a look an energy long shot that could change the game on climate change: space-based solar power. The idea is to launch satellites …

Nukes, part II: nuclear bomb

Bite-sized version of longer nuke study is on Salon

If you are looking for a shorter, more readable version of my study, "The Self-Limiting Future of Nuclear Power," I've got just the thing. Salon has published my article, "Nuclear bomb: Nuclear energy, the sequel, is opening to raves by everybody from John McCain to a Greenpeace co-founder. Don't be fooled. It's the Ishtar of power generation." As the article points out, back in May 2001, the Economist explained ($ub. req'd) that nuclear power had fallen out of favor because it simply was "too costly to matter." Today, nuclear power is nearly three times the price it was when the Economist wrote that.

DOE applies to store nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain

The U.S. Department of Energy has filed a formal application to construct a nuclear-waste repository at Nevada’s Yucca Mountain. The application, which runs tens of …

Jumping ship from the USS Fossil

Climate action advocates need a simple, compelling message on costs

As this lamentable New York Times piece demonstrates, advocates for action on climate change have lost the framing battle. If they don’t want to lose …

Tuesday link dump

A little bit of this, a smidge of that

The ol’ browser’s getting a little clogged up. Time to stop thinkin’ and start linkin’! Yee-haw. —– Eco-friendly bombs! A couple of crack economists at …

The price isn't quite right yet

Carbon pricing is about tweaking the little, everyday decisions we make

I’d like to add one quick addendum to my previous post on cap-and-trade. When we consider the extent to which we need to reduce our …

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