Posts by: adam

Amusing ourselves to death

Gadgets, those little energy vampires that remain almost constantly plugged in, are sucking our energy system dry: > Worldwide, consumer electronics now represent 15 percent of household power demand, and that is expected to triple over the next two decades, according to the International Energy Agency, making it more difficult to tackle the greenhouse gas emissions responsible for global warming.… read more →

Cash for clunkers: still looking pretty good

I'm not sure why it's so hard for people to admit that the Cash for Clunkers program basically worked. I mean, I know it seems like the ultimate boondoggle: let's pay people to buy new cars! And let's layer over some fairly lame mileage requirements to give the program a green patina! I myself was somewhat skeptical (although certainly not… read more →

Defusing the population bomb

People may be the problem, but what's the solution? Although energy use is driven by demographic trends, we don't seem to have many tools readily at hand for addressing population as a root cause of climate change. But a new study suggests that a simple investment in family planning services might save an enormous amount of carbon emissions at very… read more →

Space-based solar energy

Generating solar energy in space stations and beaming it down to earth is a wacky idea, but it's also an interesting one, and not just for the obvious reasons (outer space, energy beams, etc). To explain why, I need to make a digression into some energy facts and figures. Solar energy enthusiasts are fond of pointing out that enough energy… read more →

Paris to launch innovative car-sharing program

Paris is preparing to unveil a car-sharing program consisting of a 4,000 electric cars and 1,400 rental stations scattered throughout the city and neighboring suburbs. Dubbed Autolib, after the popular Velib bike-sharing program, the car-sharing service will offer far more flexibility than its U.S. counterparts. For example, drivers won't have to make a reservation to use a car. Instead, they… read more →

Sprawl: a problem without a solution?

Dueling headlines cropped up in my newsreader today: > More People, Less Driving: The Imperative of Curbing Sprawl (Smart Growth America) Vs.: > Forget Curbing Suburban Sprawl: Building denser cities would do little to reduce CO2 emissions, a new NAS report concludes (MIT Technology Review) Both articles refer to the same study, conducted by a blue-ribbon panel for the U.S.… read more →

Digital books: greener than real books

Last week brought the unsurprising news that mp3s are more environmentally friendly than physical CDs. I wondered at the time whether the same might be true for digital books: > It’s not clear to me, though, which way the scales tip. Book are not, of course, completely benign. Energy goes into their manufacture, transport, and disposal. Beyond that — and… read more →

The greenest city in America

I'm not sure what link trail led me to this five-year-old New Yorker piece on the greenest city in America, but it holds up quite well. According to New Yorker magazine, the greenest city in America is: New York. > The average Manhattanite consumes gasoline at a rate that the country as a whole hasn’t matched since the mid-nineteen-twenties, when… read more →

California proposes auction to boost solar energy

California has proposed setting up an open bidding process for mid-size solar projects. Under the scheme, utilities would rank bids by price and accept all of the cheapest proposals that their budgets allow. The auction would be repeated twice a year, with the eventual goal of bringing an additional 1,000 megawatts of solar capacity online. The scheme is somewhat reminiscent… read more →

Searching for Impact Man

If you read only one piece of long-form environmental journalism this month, make it Elizabeth Kolbert's New Yorker piece on the uncertain lessons to be learned from "eco-stunts," the tradition of self-promotional experiments in green living that winds from Thoreau right on down through No Impact Man. Colin Beavan, the central figure of the piece, has been successful enough in… read more →
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