Climate Change - Locked and Loaded?

Climate change in the form of global temperature rise about 2C might be “locked and loaded” into the global electricity system already, according to a new study of projected power-plant emissions. We do not yet recognize how dramatic the shifts are that are required to keep global warming in check. The kids are right - we are rapidly flying into the clouds of a climate crisis, a time of unimaginable turbulence, without our seat belts fastened.

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Coastal Real Estate – A Depreciating Asset in an Age of Climate Change?

Think about it: 40% of Americans live in coastal counties. With rising sea levels and greater damage expected from storms, hurricanes and wave surges, much of coastal America will be in growing danger. Each year, predictably and unpredictably, the sea will inundate low-lying coastal areas. Rising sea levels will affect billions of dollars in real estate, destroying some of it and devaluing much of the rest.

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Climate Crisis: Prevention AND Adaptation

The climate emergency is rewriting human history, year by year. We no longer have a choice between preventing massive climate change and putting adaptive measures in place - we simply must do both, with a speed that has never been seen in political, social and economic affairs. That requires a massive public education program by all professions and a massive commitment to training millions of professionals in new strategies for zero carbon design and climate adaptation/mitigation engineering.

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Joe Biden's Climate Plan Looks Bold, But Is Skepticism Justified?

Joe Biden released his Climate Plan this week, to mixed or tepid reviews. At what point will he advocate stripping the fossil fuel industry of all tax advantages and start asking everyone to pay the true cost of carbon emissions? A carbon tax means pain for all of us, and the last thing politicians want is to promise you pain! The vague promises of “making the polluters pay” ignores that our entire economy is still predicated on the promise of cheap, readily available and abundant fossil energy. The Clean Energy Revolution needs to be completed by 2030, not 2050, as Biden’s plan promises.

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Jay Inslee - The Grown-Up in the Room on the Climate Crisis?

Two weeks ago, Washington Governor Jay Inslee introduced a plan to address the Climate Crisis with an “Evergreen Economy Plan.” The plan proposes to “catalyze” $9 trillion of investment over ten years — with at least $300 billion in average annual federal spending leveraging approximately $600 billion in private and local government investment each year. Inslee’s plan is detailed, thorough and feasible, but has received little public attention.

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A More Efficient Trump?

A more efficient Trump Tower? Three related stories caught my eye in the past two weeks. First, New York City mandates energy efficiency upgrades at all tall buildings, including Trump Tower (lawsuit against the mandate to follow?); second, Amory Lovins is back with another paean to energy efficiency, a drum he’s been banging for 40 years; third, renewable energy mandates are incredibly costly compared to efficiency upgrades.

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Climate Emergency: Move Fast and Break Things!

“Move Fast and Break Things” shouldn’t only be Facebook’s motto. Everyone engaged in climate policy needs to understand that we need to adopt a new kind of war footing: get new ideas into prototype as fast as possible, try them out, then choose the ones that can scale the quickest and most effectively. This is not a time for political candidates to tread cautiously on climate, hoping that people will divine their true intentions behind the rhetorical timidity.

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Cutting Oil Use - A True Heavy Lifting Challenge!

A recipe for climate disaster! Barclays’ recent study shows how hard it is to cut oil use, let alone get to “zero net carbon” emissions by 2050. Under “most likely” scenario, world oil demand peaks in 2030-2035, with 2050 demand about 5% above today, 105 million barrels/day. What can we do to change this?

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Remembering the First Earth Day (1970)

The first Earth Day in 1970 shifted the 1960s early environmental movement into overdrive. In September 1969, Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson announced that a national Earth Day would be held the following April 22nd. As a student at Caltech, the announcement electrified me: Here was a cause I could support: a clean environment, focused on passing laws reducing air and water pollution.

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Deepwater Horizon - Remembering the Worst US Environmental Disaster

Just in time for a remembrance on Earth Day, April 20th marks the 9th anniversary of the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, 40 miles off the coast of Louisiana. We shouldn’t forget that the fossil fuel age is not just about carbon dioxide concentrations increasing in the atmosphere, it’s about significant adverse impacts on people and the environment of this dependence.

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Slaying the Seven Dragons of Climate Change Inaction (Part Two)

Seven Dragons are generic types of psychological barriers, compiled by psychologist Robert Gifford at the University of Victoria (Canada), that hold a person back from doing something. These barriers may help explain why a person (or society) agrees that climate change and environmental sustainability are important issues yet doesn’t take sufficient action to effectively deal with them. (Part Two)

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Slaying the Seven Dragons of Inaction on Climate Change

Seven Dragons are generic types of psychological barriers that hold a person back from doing something. These barriers help explain why a person (or society) may agree that climate change and environmental sustainability are important issues yet doesn’t take sufficient action to effectively deal with them. How many dragons can you find (and then slay) in your own thinking about dealing with climate change?

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Bring the Green New Deal Home - Decarbonize the Campus by 2030!

The most effective place to implement complete decarbonization is on the nation’s 2,500 college and university campuses. We can get to zero net carbon by 2030 on almost every campus and do it in an economically beneficial way. But it will take an energized, committed and thoughtful student effort, three student generations really, to get the job done. So I say: Students of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your emissions!

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Green New Deal - Will a Carbon Tax Work?

Raising gasoline prices enough to cut carbon emissions dramatically from transportation would be suicide for politicians, but if we don’t do it, how will we achieve climate goals? Electrifying transportation with a “moon shot” program is probably the only real solution, perhaps using the carbon taxes from gasoline sales to incentivize the transition.

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The Green New Deal & Building Retrofits

The Green New Deal advocates retrofitting 100% of the country’s buildings over the next 10 years to net zero energy. This is purposeless, wasteful and unnecessary. We need to pay attention to the “80/20 Rule” - 20% of the buildings are generating 80% of energy use; our focus should be on them. When you look at the numbers, this goal is quite achievable.

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The Green New Deal - Why It Could Work!

We already know what we must do to prevent the worst aspects of climate change from happening and, more importantly, we have done something like it before. When I helped organize the first Earth Day celebration on the Caltech campus in 1970, joining 2,000 other campuses in a massive national Teach-In, we collectively started a national environmental movement that over two short decades reduced pollution dramatically and protected nature everywhere.

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The Green New Deal – Can It Work?

All the buzz around climate change has descended on the Green New Deal proposed a few weeks ago by Senator Ed Markey and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. In its current form it’s a mishmash of “progressive” politics and climate change practicalities. In this blog series, I deal with just with the climate change aspects.

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Is Paris Burning?

Do the Paris riots have something to tell us about how to approach climate change? How would your proposed climate change policies and recommendations sit with the 80% who are struggling to get by, if they thought it would make daily life harder, more expensive, etc.?

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