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Articles by Andy Brett

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  • The NY Times does peak oil

    Peak oil made what might be described as its MSM debut today, and in dramatic fashion, as the cover story in the New York Times Magazine. Weighing in at just about 9,000 words, the article by Peter Maass qualifies as a quick read just about as much as it qualifies as uplifting.

    After describing some of the effects of peak oil on life as we know it, Maass then asks: "But will such a situation really come to pass?" (Collective sigh.)

    Like it or not, Maass says, Saudi Arabia is the key to the if and when of peak oil. It's difficult to read the article and not be, among other things, a little miffed about the practices of Saudi Arabia and the rest of OPEC, between the vague numbers about output and reserves and the outright refusal to be audited. Matt Simmons, the peak oil "Cassandra" of the article, is frustrated as well -- if the Saudis issued the necessary data, he says:

    It would then take anybody less than a week to say, "Gosh, Matt is totally wrong," or "Matt actually might be too optimistic."
    For better or worse, Maass presents both sides of the story throughout the article, leading off the final section with, "So whom to believe?" After citing a US DOE report [PDF] that claims peak oil will be "abrupt and revolutionary," the article states (in the very next sentence) that "most experts do not share Simmons's concerns about the imminence of peak oil." Maass does, however, conclude by saying:
    When a crisis comes -- whether in a year or 2 or 10 -- it will be all the more painful because we will have done little or nothing to prepare for it.
    For more on "PO," check out Dave's post handicapping the Hamilton v. Kaufmann, free-market v. intervention discussion.

  • Mooney and Pielke

    The internet has been described as a conversation. I have never seen a better example.

    Featuring Chris Mooney and Robert Pielke Jr., with cameo appearances from Jamais Cascio and Jonathan H. Adler.

    Gentlemen, start your laptops. The prompt is: "Science = Liberalism?" ... go!

  • Makower on Marketplace

    Joel Makower, author of the blog Two Steps Forward, makes an appearance (so to speak) on tonight's edition of NPR's Marketplace. The topic? Green energy as the next big thing for investors -- and not because it helps out the photogenic megafauna. Check it out.

    [editor's note, by Dave Roberts] Special blog-only breaking news/sneak preview! Makower fans -- and who among us doesn't fit that description? -- will be excited to hear that the man himself will soon take up residence as a regular Grist columnist. Ssssshhhh ... don't tell the non-blog-readers.

  • CWRU goes green

    About 740 students who attend Case Western Reserve University in Ohio will be returning to new living quarters this fall: "The Village at 115," a brand new dormitory that expects to become LEED certified after its opening (as heard on WCPN this morning).

    The cluster of buildings is expected to reduce annual energy consumption by 40 percent, and features a mechanism for groundwater recharge that separates stormwater from sewage. One of the more intriguing aspects is a set of monitoring systems -- kiosks in each house will display realtime electricity, water, and steam use, and data will be posted online for researchers (aka parents) to access. The monitoring is intended to function as a "teaching instrument" so the students learn what habits save them energy.

    It will be interesting to see what kind of social norms develop among a small community like this when energy use is monitored and made public. Unless CWRU is different from most other universities, it doesn't charge its students piecemeal for heat, AC, water, electricity, etc. Those are common goods that no individual student has a direct financial incentive to conserve. But something tells me the social norms that develop will play a big role in the dorm's decreased energy use.

    Jamais Cascio has conveniently just posted more on LEED over at WorldChanging.