Energy

Building a New California

california-beach (2).jpg

The Golden State has historically led the United States and the world in technology, quality of life, social innovation, entertainment, and public policy. But in recent decades its lead has ebbed. The reasons for this are various. But there is one area of decay whose story is a parable for California’s other plights—that area is infrastructure.  read more »

Behind the Driving Increase

cox-pirg (1).JPG

The Federal Highway Administration reported that driving increased 1.7 percent between 2013 and 2014 in the United States. This compares to virtually no increase over the period from 2004 to 2013. The 2014 increase will come as a disappointment to those who have perceived that the flat driving volumes of recent years signaled a shift in preferences away from driving.  read more »

Peak Oil, Yes and No

johnny-peakoil.jpg

I have an Australian friend who works on an oil drilling platform off the coast of Tasmania. He sent these photos from his phone. Pretty cool, huh? These photos got me thinking about the Peak Oil meme. For the uninitiated there are two camps on the subject.  read more »

The Inevitability of Tradeoffs, or Understanding New England’s Sky High Energy Costs

779px-Pawtucket_Power_Plant.jpg

People advance two main sorts of arguments in favor of things for which they advocate: the moral argument (it’s the right thing to do) and the utilitarian one (it will make us better off). As it happens, in practice most people tend to implicitly suggest there’s a 100% overlap between the two categories. That is, if we do what’s right, it will always make us better off too with no down sides at all.

But is that true?  read more »

Time to Bring Back the Truman Democrats

Usa_work_program.jpg

Once giants walked this earth, and some of them were Democrats. In sharp contrast to the thin gruel that passes for leadership today, the old party of the people, with all its flaws, shaped much of the modern world, and usually for the better. Think of Franklin Roosevelt or Harry Truman, John Kennedy, or California’s Pat Brown, politicians who believed in American greatness, economic growth, and upward mobility.  read more »

Germany Also Having Big Problems Building Infrastructure

stuttgart21-protest.jpg

Der Spiegel had an interesting article recently called “Angry Germans: Big Projects Face Growing Resistance.” The article (linked version is English) talks about how it is increasingly difficult to get infrastructure projects built in Germany.

Wherever ambitious construction ventures loom on the horizon in Germany — from the cities to the countryside, from the coastlines in the north to the Black Forest in the south — opponents are taking to the streets….  read more »

America Down But Not Out

bigstock-Text-USA-map-25594874_0.jpg

America, seen either from here or from abroad, doesn’t look so good these days. The country that maintained world peace for decades now “leads by behind,” or not at all. You don’t have to have nostalgia for George W. Bush’s foreign policy to wish for someone in the White House who at least belongs in the same room with the likes of Vladimir Putin. Some wags now suggest that President Barack Obama has exceeded Jimmy Carter in foreign policy incompetence – Carter certainly was more effective in the Middle East.  read more »

Energy Preferences to Play Big Role in November

oil-pump.jpg

The November election will be played out along all the usual social memes – from gay marriage, racism and immigration to the “war against women.” But what may determine the outcome revolves around one key economic issue: energy. This has all come to a boil now as President Obama has backed an Environmental Protection Agency effort to accelerate tougher emissions standards, something that could shutter hundreds of coal-fired power plants and slow fossil fuel development across the country.  read more »

Fracking, Youngstown and The Right to the City

oil tanks in Ohio.jpg

What happens when the Chamber of Commerce, labor leaders, and government officials, most of whom live outside the city, are pitted against a small yet influential group of community and university activists?  read more »

Deutschland on the Pacific?

bigstock_Renewable_Energy_5988845 (1).jpg

California and Germany may not immediately come to mind as a doppelganger, but they do share several characteristics, particularly when it comes to their attitudes toward energy production and consumption.

Both “States” have large populations which seem to agree that the world will be a better place if renewable sources of energy are given precedence over hydrocarbon based options in powering their economies.  read more »