Today Dr. James Hansen, the well known American climate scientist, will accept the prestigious Edinburgh Medal for his work on climate change science. The Edinburgh Medal is awarded each year to a person of science whose professional achievements are judged to have made a significant contribution to the understanding and well-being of humanity. Dr. Hansen will reportedly use the occasion to talk about climate change as a moral issue of unprecedented scale.
In the noise surrounding the Supreme Court arguments over ObamaCare last week you probably missed the latest, small bit of progress in the Obama Administration’s effort to reduce the carbon pollution that causes climate change. Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued the first draft regulations to regulate carbon pollution from new power plants.
Margaret Mead famously said “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Those words have inspired many—myself included—to work for positive change in the world. It occurs to me, though, that climate change presents a big challenge to Margaret Mead’s proposition.
Anybody smell a skunk? Chances are you have recently, because the warm February weather has the skunks out much earlier this year. This has been one freakishly warm winter in the Northeast. But is this “skunk” climate change?
In 1931, Thomas Edison was talking to his friends Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone about the future of energy when he famously said “I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.” Hope, indeed.
The past few years have been difficult ones for those of us who hoped an Obama presidency would mean the United States would finally face up to the challenge of climate change. Sure, Obama got off to a good start. The stimulus package was the single biggest investment in clean energy and energy efficiency the nation has ever seen.
A new report out of the Brookings Institution gives New York high marks for leveraging state clean energy dollars to create new clean tech industries and new jobs, suggesting other states should follow its example. The report follows the green jobs study released by Brookings last year. That study found the Albany, New York area among the hottest areas for green jobs growth in the country.
Here we are at the start of the 12th year of this, the 21st century. In this time of reflecting on the year past and looking forward to the year to come, we make resolutions seeking to improve our situations and ourselves.
In 1882, the world’s energy economy was forever changed when Thomas Edison, the wizard of Menlo Park, constructed the first central power plant near the intersection of Fulton and Pearl Street in Manhattan. The Pearl Street Station started producing enough electricity from a single generator on September 4, 1882 to power about 400 lamps. Two years later, Pearl Street Station was providing power for more than 10,000 lamps.
In the 1920s, on pitch black nights in rural eastern Montana, the farmhouse owned by the parents of brothers Marcellus and Joe Jacobs stood out for one reason: it had light, although located far from power lines and gasoline supplies. It was a beacon in the dark that attracted farmers from miles around, who would travel to inquire how they, too, could get connected.