Monthly Archives: October 2015
The Great Transition by Lester R. Brown
W. W. Norton & Company (April 20, 2015)
Review by Ross McCluney 22 OCT 2015
This is a terrific contribution from an experienced writer on environmental issues.
It has been a long struggle to bring the costs of solar energy and other renewable sources down to a point where they can actually compete in the energy marketplace, even without major government incentives.
That’s the case for wind and solar, as Brown describes so well in this new book. Other renewable energy sources are also making great strides, as are efficient buildings and efficient transportation — not to mention research accomplishments on energy storage technologies, efficient long-distance electricity grid designs, and massive new investments in green energy.
The only deficiency is the lack of graphics to support the text. But never mind that. Web searches on wave energy, tidal energy, ocean current energy, solar electric, solar thermal, energy storage, geothermal, wind turbines, electric grids, and renewable energy economics can put these images plus relevant charts and graphs at your fingertips.
For example, when I started out as a solar scientist in 1976, the holy grail in the photovoltaic world was getting the price of PV down to an amazingly low price of 50¢ per peak Watt (Wp) of electrical output. At that time the price was over $76/Wp. Take a look at this astounding bar chart of the price from 1976 to 2015.
It turns out that we passed the 50¢/Wp point in 2013 and now the price is an amazingly 30¢/Wp, thanks mainly to China’s recent burst in solar equipment manufacturing, aided along the way by the United States, Japan, and Germany. Continue reading
Most U.S. politicians running for and holding office seem rather oblivious to scientific evidence that could underpin (or cause them to reverse or modify) many of their decisions, policy suggestions, and justifications for bills submitted to the Congress — as well as their votes on those bills.
Well, somebody created a great web site on this subject and populated it with a few brief pages filled with useful information on science in politics.
The idea came from Shawn Otto in a TEDx speech he gave on “Why Not Have a US Presidential Science Debate?” To see it, go to sciencedebate.org and click on “WHY?” in the top command bar. Then watch and listen at least to the first few minutes of Shawn’s brief presentation.
If you don’t have time to watch the 12 minute TEDx talk, click on “DEBATE INFO.” Then you can go to this page to read a set of questions to be sent to the moderators of the next presidential election debate, in hope that at least one or a few of them will be asked of the candidates.
I did that and was given 10 votes I could assign to different questions in the list. You can do that too. Many of the questions are very good from an environmental standpoint.