United Airlines Crosses a Line

I usually don't bother to write about airlines, since its not news to anyone that crappy experiences happen all of the time. But things crossed the line on United Airlines flight 6314 from Des Moines to O'Hare on July 23rd. Part way through boarding, a young man with some clear…

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A Special Trail Run

I'm at the Breakthrough Institute's annual meeting across the bay from San Francisco, and that means its time for a trail run up in the hills above the Golden Gate Bridge. While I had a great run this year, it was bittersweet. Yesterday I learned of the passing of Kate…

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The Untapped Opportunity in Environmental Education

(I wrote the following note in preparation for a roundtable I'm participating in at the Breakthrough Institute's annual Dialogue meeting.) The purpose of this note is to share an alternate perspective on the opportunity and role of environmental studies in undergraduate and graduate eduction. It is based on my work…

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Solar Roads and Faith in Innovation

Whenever I see something a wildly create idea like the solar road idea, it renews my faith in the power of innovation and its potential to address our toughest sustainability problems. Given the number of people who sent me links to this project, the idea seems to have captured the…

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Are We Witnessing the Roots of US Data Isolationism?

If you're an American you probably don't spend much time thinking about where all of your data is stored. In reality it is probably spread across Gmail or some other email provider, Facebook, staples.com, your cell company, the Department of Motor Vehicles, etc, etc, etc. If someone you do…

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iPhone Power Revisited: Still Less Than a Fridge

In August Mark Mill's paper "The Cloud Begins with Coal" claimed that that the annual energy use of an iPhone exceeded that of a standard refrigerator. In my response I showed where his calculations were flawed, and that his claim didn't hold up (a number of others also offered critiques)…

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I'm Special And So Is My Weather

Every so often over the last decade or so I've sensed a trend that I call "temporal exceptionalism", or the view that right now is special, particularly related to weather events. This recurring idea that our storms are "historic" continues, even when data suggests the opposite, such as the recent…

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Energy, Clouds, iPhones and Refrigerators

In the last few weeks an idea has been making the rounds that, when you count all of the required networks and cloud services, your iPhone uses more electricity than your refrigerator. This idea was first presented in a publication called "The Cloud Begins with Coal" by Mark Mills, and…

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