Hi there! And welcome aboard. I haven’t seen you much on the train/bus/bike lane before – you must be one of the new people. I hope that’s not offensive. I mean, there are a lot of you, um, “refugees,” if you will, and it’s quite a change for all of us. While there are bound to be some hiccups along the way, I want you to know that I, for one, will endeavor to make your transition to your new life as a pedestrian as welcoming and comfortable as possible.
The first thing to remember about your new life is that you are likely very attached to your old way of living – not that there’s anything wrong with that! – but, because of this attachment, you are also likely to experience some culture shock; this is a natural part of the adaptation process. For starters, pedestrians are quite different culturally from car people. Like, you can actually bump into us on the street! Quite a bit different than running into or over us, I’m sure.
You will also come to notice that we have certain social norms, habits and customs that are quite distinct from your native land of freeways, traffic jams, road rage and parking lots. We probably seem like a curious tribe, what with our backpacks, books, bike helmets, ankle straps, monthly transit passes and sidewalk maneuvering techniques.
But with a little effort and a lot of patience, you too can fully assimilate into pedestrian culture. In time, I think you’ll find it’s a superior lifestyle. So in an effort to help speed and smooth the transition for you, I’ve drafted the following pointers and tips, designed to help you gain some basic skills; for those of you who are former pedestrians who “fell off the wagon,” so to speak, consider this a refresher course in “Pedestrian Skills 101.”
One of the major challenges facing the global energy sector is the amount of time it takes to develop new energy resources. Even if you didn’t care about the negative externalities, environmental impacts or climate change contributions of fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas, it takes a long time (and billions of dollars) to drill deep holes, excavate or detonate massive mines, build pipelines and railways, construct power plants and high-voltage power lines … as a famous recent American President and avowed fossil fuel aficionado likes to say, “It’s hard work.”
Which brings us to a major and under-appreciated advantage that most clean energy technologies have over traditional, “let’s burn more rocks” resources like coal and oil: speed to market. Because there are no pollution concerns and related air quality permitting requirements, renewable energy projects can be developed with lightning speed – especially medium-sized commercial projects where the power will be used on-site.
First, a disclaimer: the Wall Street Journal’s news reporting on climate science, clean energy and related environmental issues is and has always been stellar. To a person, the reporters are subject matter experts in each of their relevant beats and are the lodestars of accuracy, healthy skepticism and a desire to understand the complex, cascading set of issues.
Then there’s the Journal’s editorial page. The page is known for its unabashed defense of … well, of its own quirky ideology. They’re not exactly capitalists: they like profits when they’re privatized, as long as the related costs (especially if it’s infrastructure, pollution or poor labor conditions) are socialized. They disdain partisan politics, unless the partisan in question is bashing Democrats or those God-forsaken liberals.
Usually, the wacky, unsigned opinions on the Journal’s editorial page give little insight into the personalities behind their “unique” outlooks. At least, that was the case, until they started recording themselves on video and posting it on the internets.
Ever wondered where all the investment in clean energy and cleantech is going? As in, the physical terminus of all that cash? If one were looking for work in the industry, it sure would be handy to know where to start.
Well, if you’ve been wookin’ pa nub in all the wrong places, wook no further. Our good friends at Earth2Tech have developed a most highly excellent Google map that gives the precise locations of most of the major companies developing solar technologies, clean fuels, storage, smart grids, clean chemistry, ad infinitum.
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The map is a bit U.S.-centric – believe it or not, there’s a lot of cleantech activity in Europe, India and China these days – but I think it’s unlocked, so add your favorite cleantech company to the list.
Carpenteria, California-based Clipper Windpower might not be a household name, but their depth in the wind industry is unrivaled. Back in the 1980’s, a lot of the folks at Clipper were building a little powerhouse wind company called Zond Corporation – which should get the credit for not only inventing the U.S. wind power industry from whole cloth, but planting the seeds for its growth globally, as well.
As wind power has enjoyed record growth for the past decade, a lot of the attention has been focused on European wind companies like Vestas and Gamesa, and big, vertically-integrated companies like GE. But Clipper may be poised to jump back in the ring, big time.
Ever thought about where your oil dollars go once you’ve extracted them, screaming, from your wallet? With oil prices now settling into a comfortable cruising altitude above $100 a barrel, the answer is pretty stunning.
We’re all familiar with the toll high oil prices have taken on our personal economic well-being, particularly among those with the least disposable income (disclosure: I don’t own a car, so I don’t have first-hand experience, but some of my friends drive).
But what about the toll on the broader economy, and implications for geopolitics? The Institute for the Analysis of Global Security took a good, hard look at the numbers, and recently published a report (warning: PDF) with its findings. The question is … how long can we keep holding up our end of the bargain? Jim Strock posted a disturbing excerpt on his blog: