The future

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Adaptive load leveling

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A presentation from Friday night that stood out for me was by Kevin Brokish, about adaptive load-leveling, which is akin to what the black box will do on the smart grid, but within that context, quite different.

For the smart grid, the box will allow communications between customer and grid, allowing, among others things, customers to set the rates they are willing to pay for the functions of each (i.e., run the dryer only overnight, when electric prices are at their lowest).

Transportation fuels in 2050

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For many, the question isn't "will cars be powered differently in 40 years?" but whichnfuel will dominate — electricity (plug-in, or batteries or both?), biofuels (food-based ethanol, or something more advanced?), or hydrogen? (Really?)

But in a session at the MIT Energy Conference Saturday afternoon, analyst John Casesa, a one-time GM employee who spent 17 years on Wall Street before opening his own consultancy, says he doesn't envision much change:

E.O. Wilson on GMOs

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As I continue to read "Naturalist," EO Wilson's biography, bolstered by my exposure to him during the closing session of GreenBuild, I find myself increasingly convinced that everything he says is considered, wise, and valuable. Certainly, this is hagiography, but at least I see it as such, and for today, I'm sticking with it anyway. You can judge as you wish. In his GreenBuild appearance, while talking about water and food scarcity, both of which are worthy topics on their own, he paused for this blanket statements: "Many people are afraid of a super bug.

Bucky Fuller, visionary even now

I once said in print that Jean-Luc Ponty was the greatest jazz violinist alive, and a friend who was a more seasoned music critic blanched at my boldness — who was I to opine so broadly? He was certainly right — I'm nowhere near the authority on such a matter. But I also felt that not only was it a defensible opinion, but who was anyone to say otherwise, definitively? No objective standard exists to settle the point.

What we're in for

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OK, so now we have the guy we wanted in the White House. So what is the outlook for clean tech?

Martin Lamonica, green-tech writer at CNet, surveys the landscape. I am always informed by Martin's writing.

[added] covers some of the same ground, but also looks at how voters reacted to clean-energy referenda nationwide.

Less is more like it

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Three months ago, at a Northeast Sustainable Energy Association public forum in Boston, green PR guru Solitaire Townsend said the movement to overcome climate change needs to tell its equivalent of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, rather than what it’s has been doing, which she called, “I Have a Nightmare.”

Townsend has a good point. Environmentalists have been militating for decades for drastic changes from businesses and consumers, and for most of that time, all it really gained us was a reputation as do-gooder killjoys. Frickin’ treehuggers.

The big payoff

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Even among those of us who want to be part of the solution to global climate change, there is a lot of confusion on how to get there. Buy a Prius? Put a solar cell on the roof? Grow your own vegetables? All helpful ideas, but is any of those the best way to proceed?

The problem, of course, is that there is no one right answer. It's true that if you take one of those actions, you'll likely be helping. But we're on a deadline here: The level considered safe is 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and we're already at 385 and growing by 2 ppm a year.

Game changer?

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I can't cite a source, but I remember "learning" when I was a kid that an early-20th-century Farmer's Almanac predicted that soon enough, the streets would be made impassable by all the horseshit from all the horse-drawn carriages. What the writer didn't envision, of course, that an unseen development would change the course of everything.


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