Environment

Can Florida Escape the Horse Latitudes?

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When it comes to the winds of change, Florida remains in the horse latitudes.  This zone of the Atlantic around 30 degrees latitude was so named by ship captains because their ships, becalmed in the water, seemed to move faster when they lightened their load by throwing off a few horses.  Florida’s governor Rick Scott, who campaigned on a promise to create 700,000 jobs in this state, appears to have adopted the same tactic by throwing overboard the Department of Community Affairs, the state agency that regulated real estate development.  Other bureaucracies may be next in line  read more »

California’s Green Jihad

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Ideas matter, particularly when colored by religious fanaticism, wreaking havoc even in the most favored of places. Take, for instance, Iran, a country blessed with a rich heritage and enormous physical and human resources, but which, thanks to its theocratic regime, is largely an economic basket case and rogue state.  read more »

Natural Gas Vehicles Floor It in Long Beach

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The Alternate Clean Transportation Expo held in Long Beach earlier this month was a spectacular display of engineering ingenuity by Natural Gas Vehicle providers. The event's theme was that America’s self sufficiency in natural gas has decoupled our energy resources from petroleum prices. But the consensus among the gathered engineers and scientists was to look beyond the current prices of petroleum alone, and consider that domestic self sufficiency includes keeping jobs at home.  read more »

Pollution: An Off – Road Guide to Environmental Hot Spots

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Not all pollutants are created equal, nor do they necessarily hang out in the same hot spots. Rankings of the most polluted cities — you know who you are — have become depressingly familiar. But those standings almost always represent a statistical stew of assorted toxins in the air and water, averaged together. The list that follows may surprise you: A quick look at a handful of cities, each with the unfortunate distinction of being the worst in the U.S. for a specific environmental health hazard.  read more »

Subjects:

The High Speed Rail Battle of Britain

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A high speed rail battle is brewing in Great Britain, not unlike the controversies that have lit up the political switchboard in the United States over the past six months.

The Department for Transport has announced a plan to build a "Y" shaped high speed rail route that would connect Leeds and Manchester, to Birmingham, with a shared line on to London and London's Heathrow Airport.  read more »

Energy Policy Reset: Forget Nuclear Reactors and Mideast Oil

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The two largest crises today — the Japanese nuclear disaster and the widening unrest in the Middle East — prove it’s time to de-fetishize energy policy. These serious problems also demonstrate why we must expand the nation’s ample oil and gas supplies — urgently.

The worsening Japanese nuclear crisis means, for all intents and purposes, that atomic power is, if not dead, certainly on a respirator.

Some experts may still make the case that nuclear power remains relatively safe. Some green advocates still tout its virtues for emitting virtually no greenhouse gases.  read more »

Asthma: The Geography of Wheezing

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Are you familiar with the Hygiene Hypothesis? The HH — or, as some of us call it, the “pound of dirt theory” — is grabbing attention again. A minor medical press feeding frenzy followed the publication in the New England Journal of Medicine of a study based on data from Europe. The summary?  read more »

Dallas Charges Up for the Electric Chevy

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If they build it, will we come? Planners, utilities, auto industry execs, and retailers are hopeful that we will, as they get themselves ready for electric vehicles in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. This isn’t a pie-in-the-sky vision for the future. The reality is unfolding right now. In 2011, NRG Energy will install upwards of 70 car-charging stations across Dallas and Forth Worth. As the Nissan Leaf and the Chevy Volt begin to penetrate the D/FW market, NRG aims to capture the revenue stream from charging car batteries here, just it is doing in Houston. NRG’s news comes on the heels of electric utility TXU Energy's announcement of its own installation of twelve public charging stations being allocated across Dallas and Fort Worth.  read more »

Agglomeration Vs. Isolation for Science Based Economic Development

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Earlier this month President Obama signed the reauthorization of the COMPETES Act, which provides federal funding for science initiatives aimed at enhancing economic competitiveness. In addition to shoring up agencies like the National Science Foundation, the bill called on the Department of Commerce to create a new program charged with supporting the development of research parks and regional innovation clusters. Unheard of before World War II, these entities today represent the cutting edge in what insiders call TBED: technology-based economic development.  read more »

The Urban Energy Efficiency Retrofit Challenge

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I was welcomed home to Chicago from visiting family on Christmas Day by a cold house and a gas furnace that wasn't working. The next day a repair tech gave me the bad news about a blown circuit board that would cost over $500 to replace. But I heard that were was a $1500 tax credit for energy efficient upgrades that was expiring at year end. With $2000 in “free money” to spend, I thought maybe furnace replacement might be a better option. At eight years old, the furnace might have more years of life.  read more »