My New Gig(s)

It’s been almost a year since the Oracle deal closed, and I’ve been fortunate to work on a lot of interesting projects since then, including the Energy Innovation Tracker, which I’ll write more about soon. By last fall I was feeling like it was time to settle down somewhere again. I talked to a number of companies; some of the companies were really small, and some were really large. But late in the year I got an offer to work full-time for Applied Minds and their spinoff, TouchTable, and enthusiastically accepted.

UK Carbon Bait and Switch

David Roberts has an excellent piece at Grist titled “Carbon tax in the U.K.: What does it mean for U.S. debate?".. Personally I wasn’t surprised. I’ve always believed that there was a mismatch between the idea of a pure cap and trade system and a democratic system of government. Once cap and trade (or any other carbon pricing scheme) fills up the proverbial cookie jar, there’s no way that elected officials will be able to keep their hands out of it.

BP: Trying to Save the Well?

I got the following note from a friend from my MIT days: There is a drilled well that, at the seabed, enters a structure that is compromised. That structure cannot be fixed in a timely fashion or at all. Thus eliminate the structure (drag it away, underwater demolition, piecewise removal). Once that is removed, you can create a clean single exit point for the oil/gas. THAT is where you want to apply an engineering solution.

A Guide to Cap and Trade Legislation

When I first heard of the concept of a Cap and Trade system for reducing pollution, I thought it was one of the most elegant ideas that I’d ever heard. A Cap puts a hard limit on the amount of pollution that will be allowed in a given time period, and permits for that amount of pollution are distributed and traded among the polluters. Polluters that are ahead of the goals can sell their excess permits, and those that are behind have to buy extras.

Getting US Business Behind Climate and Energy Legislation

With the upcoming release of the Kerry/Graham/Lieberman energy bill amidst a contentious environment on Capitol Hill, we’re starting to see the big push to get business support for the legislation. The Politico interview with Sen. Graham makes the case explicitly: “The package represents major victories for the business community, which was virtually shut out of House deliberations on an energy reform bill that passed last year. …. But the partisan atmosphere in Washington could wipe out those gains if the corporate world doesn’t stand behind it, Graham said.

Sustainability: TNG

The theme of the weekend was the next generation of sustainability leaders. Tom Friedman led off with an excellent op-ed on the 2010 Intel Science Talent Search. Meanwhile, I got a look even farther into the future at the Alcott School Science Fair, here in Concord, MA. With three kids, I’ve been to my share of elementary school science fairs. They are always fun and the kids seem to have a great time.

Green Education: What We Need

Over the holidays USA Today had an article talking about the sudden rise of green-oriented minor and major programs at universities. According to Paul Rowland, Executive Director of Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, two factors are driving the surge: students want the courses, and employers want the trained students. When I give talks on our book “Citizen Engineer” at universities this topic always comes up. In specific, we discuss what employers are looking for in these students.

Some Data Released in UK

Steve McIntyre reports that “the UK Met Office has released a large tranche of station data, together with code”. Notes: The Met Office says that this is not a complete set of data, but it is unclear what is missing. This is the processed data - the raw data is claimed to have been deleted. Over at The Air Vent, Jeff Id discusses some of the details. In my recent discussions (1, 2) of open climate science, I have stressed the importance of understanding licensing terms when discussing specific code or data.

Judging Goodness

Two different news items recently led me into the same train of thought: we are all increasingly in the business of judging Goodness, and of being so judged. I purposefully capitalized Goodness here, because I mean in it in the highest sense of the word. This probably sounds vague, so let me use the examples to explain. The first item is from the NYTimes, and discusses the conundrum caused by a proposed solar plant in Nevada.

Trip Report: A Visit to the Capitol

This was written for my Sun blog and cross-posted here Last week I was down in DC with a group of investors and business execs, many of whom were in the green space under the banner wecanlead.org, a collaboration between Ceres and the Clean Economy Network. John Doerr was the headliner of the group, but there were CEOs of some hot company like A123 and Seventh Generation. The motivation for us all to be there was to impress upon our legislators that well-constructed, comprehensive legislation could be good for business.