decarbonisation

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pages: 520 words: 129,887

Power Hungry: The Myths of "Green" Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future by Robert Bryce

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Bernie Madoff, carbon footprint, cleantech, collateralized debt obligation, correlation does not imply causation, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, decarbonisation, Deng Xiaoping, en.wikipedia.org, energy security, energy transition, flex fuel, greed is good, Hernando de Soto, hydraulic fracturing, hydrogen economy, Indoor air pollution, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Menlo Park, new economy, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, Ponzi scheme, purchasing power parity, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, smart grid, Stewart Brand, Thomas L Friedman, uranium enrichment, Whole Earth Catalog

In late 2008, Nobuo Tanaka, the executive director of the IEA, averred that “preventing irreversible damage to the global climate ultimately requires a major decarbonization of world energy sources.”17 Of course, not all countries are decarbonizing at the same rate. And some countries, including China and India, are increasing, rather than decreasing, their coal consumption. But the long-term decarbonization of the global economy is continuing, and given concerns about climate change, that trend is likely to accelerate as countries around the world build more nuclear reactors and increase their consumption of natural gas. Decarbonization favors natural gas and nuclear power at the same time that environmentalists and some politicians are working to impose countryby-country limits on carbon dioxide emissions.

Thus, achieving a substantial increase in nuclear power production in the United States will take decades. In the meantime, natural gas provides the most attractive option. Together, natural gas and nuclear are essential to the ongoing decarbonization of the world’s primary energy use, a trend that has been ongoing for about two hundred years. Decarbonization, the trend favoring fuels with lower carbon content, is occurring because energy consumers are always seeking cleaner, denser forms of energy that allow them to do work cleaner, faster, and more precisely. Embracing N2N offers a no-regrets energy policy that will lead to further decarbonization while providing multiple benefits to the United States and the rest of the world. The structure of this book follows the basic outline contained in the title. In Part 1, I discuss our hunger for power, how much we use, where it comes from, and why our desire for power of all kinds continues to increase.

Or as one recent book, A Cubic Mile of Oil, explained it, about 2,000 tons of uranium-235 “can release as much energy as burning 4.2 billion tons of oil.” That’s the equivalent of about 30.7 billion barrels—or one cubic mile—of oil.14 The surging use of natural gas and nuclear power demonstrates and reinforces one of the most important energy megatrends of the modern era: decarbonization. Decarbonization is the ongoing global trend toward consumption of fuels that contain less carbon. This megatrend was first identified by a group of scientists that included Nebosa Nakicenovic, Arnulf Grübler, Jesse Ausubel, and Cesare Marchetti,15 who found that over the past two centuries, the process of decarbonization has been taking place in nearly every country around the world. Because consumers always want the cleanest, densest forms of energy and power that they can find, the trend will surely continue. The ratio of carbon to hydrogen atoms in the most common fuels tells the story.


pages: 224 words: 69,494

Mobility: A New Urban Design and Transport Planning Philosophy for a Sustainable Future by John Whitelegg

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active transport: walking or cycling, Berlin Wall, British Empire, car-free, conceptual framework, congestion charging, corporate social responsibility, decarbonisation, energy transition, eurozone crisis, glass ceiling, megacity, meta analysis, meta-analysis, New Urbanism, peak oil, post-industrial society, price mechanism, smart cities, telepresence, the built environment, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Spirit Level, transit-oriented development, urban planning, urban sprawl

Society will be much fairer with much improved access for everyone, much fewer demands on those with constrained budgets through the elimination of the need to own a car as a default option and the availability of many more transport choices. Achieving the Vision Achieving a maximum decarbonised future by the year 2050 is desirable and achievable on quality of life, fiscal and climate change grounds. It will involve more action than those applied to the transport sector including a decarbonised electricity generation system and a new grid distribution system to support a very different pattern of domestic and transport production and consumption of energy. Nevertheless transport holds the key to decarbonisation simply on the grounds that it is a fast growing source of greenhouse gases and, so far, shows very little sign of following successful reductions in GHG emissions in industry, offices and homes. Achieving the maximum level of decarbonisation in the transport sector is not a technical or a fiscal problem.

This structured approach was also adopted by the Stockholm Environment Institute study of zero carbon transport in the UK (Whitelegg et al, 2010). In this study spatial planning and accessibility planning measures produced a 60% reduction in CO2 emissions from the road transport sector and fiscal measures produced a 25% reduction. The remaining amount of car use was then assumed to be EV powered by electricity that was 100% decarbonised. This combination of spatial, fiscal and technological measures together with some behavioural changes produced a 100% decarbonisation of the road transport sector in the UK and a decarbonisation that was assisted by electric vehicles but was delivered through highly integrated layers of policies that first of all reduced demand for car transport and then applied the EV technology to the residual demand. Any consideration of mobility and accessibility must fully embrace the spatial dimension and the degree to which mobility measured in vehicle kilometres goes up in cities and metropolitan areas operating at low densities.

Reducing greenhouse gases in the aviation sector Vallack et al (2014) carried out a detailed study of the potential for decarbonising the transport sector in the UK by 2050. The research project covered road, rail, aviation and shipping, estimated CO2 emissions that are the responsibility of the UK in 2050 (the Business as usual or BAU scenario) and then demonstrated how this total could be reduced by the implementation of a series of interlinked measures (the maximum impact or MI scenario). The final results are summarised in Figure 12.3. The project concluded that it was feasible to achieve a 100% decarbonisation of road and rail transport but this was not possible for shipping and aviation (Figure 12.3). The aviation BAU Scenario already included changes expected over the next 40-50 years. The DfT (2009) recognises that, even in the longer-term, the decarbonisation of aviation (and shipping) and the use of alternative fuel sources will be more challenging than for road and rail modes.


pages: 370 words: 102,823

Rethinking Capitalism: Economics and Policy for Sustainable and Inclusive Growth by Michael Jacobs, Mariana Mazzucato

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3D printing, balance sheet recession, banking crisis, Bernie Sanders, Bretton Woods, business climate, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, collaborative economy, complexity theory, conceptual framework, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, decarbonisation, deindustrialization, dematerialisation, Detroit bankruptcy, double entry bookkeeping, Elon Musk, energy security, eurozone crisis, factory automation, facts on the ground, fiat currency, Financial Instability Hypothesis, financial intermediation, forward guidance, full employment, Gini coefficient, Growth in a Time of Debt, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, Internet of things, investor state dispute settlement, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, labour market flexibility, low skilled workers, Martin Wolf, Mont Pelerin Society, neoliberal agenda, Network effects, new economy, non-tariff barriers, paradox of thrift, price stability, private sector deleveraging, quantitative easing, QWERTY keyboard, railway mania, rent-seeking, road to serfdom, savings glut, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, the built environment, The Great Moderation, The Spirit Level, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, total factor productivity, transaction costs, trickle-down economics, universal basic income, very high income

The challenge of shifting the fossil-fuel-based infrastructure of present production and consumption towards clean forms will require strong government policy with a clear goal of decarbonisation—what Mazzucato describes as ‘mission-oriented’. In many cases this will need to overcome early high costs, which are likely to breed political resistance. But if a tipping point in investment and policy can be reached, feedback loops and network effects may kick in and accelerate the process of change, with positive spillovers to the rest of the economy. These mutually reinforcing mechanisms can lead to abrupt step-changes. Standard neoclassical economics, of the kind taught commonly in business schools, struggles to accommodate such dynamics. The long-run costs of global decarbonisation may therefore be far less, and indeed potentially negative. Economic models In assessing and determining policy options, governments use economic models.

A virtuous circle is therefore possible; but it requires policy-makers to show leadership, set clear goals and hold their nerve when immediate political resistance is encountered. Changing policy in response to events only increases risk and raises costs. None of these crucial dynamics which determine the viability of decarbonisation are captured in standard economic models. Conclusion Climate change poses a challenge to capitalism both from its consequences and its causes. If global warming is to be controlled at a safe level, net emissions will have to fall to zero within this century. Because of the centrality of carbon to our economies, this can only be done through a profound structural transformation—the decarbonisation of production, distribution and consumption systems. Assessing whether this is achievable requires a form of economic analysis which focuses less on static market failures and more on the dynamic processes of innovation and structural change.

Inequality and Economic Growth Introduction The great rise of inequality Explaining inequality The price of inequality Reversing inequality Conclusion: redefining economic performance Acknowledgements Notes 9. The Paradoxes of Privatisation and Public Service Outsourcing Introduction The limits to competition The mutual convertibility of economic and political resources Conclusion: capitalism and democracy Notes 10. Decarbonisation: Innovation and the Economics of Climate Change Introduction The challenge to capitalism The challenge to economics Innovation and growth Path-dependence and innovation Economic models Climate change policy Conclusion Notes 11. Capitalism, Technology and a Green Global Golden Age: The Role of History in Helping to Shape the Future Introduction: growth without technology or sustainability without growth?


pages: 829 words: 229,566

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate by Naomi Klein

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1960s counterculture, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, big-box store, bilateral investment treaty, British Empire, business climate, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carbon footprint, clean water, Climategate, cognitive dissonance, colonial rule, Community Supported Agriculture, complexity theory, crony capitalism, decarbonisation, deindustrialization, dematerialisation, Donald Trump, Downton Abbey, energy security, energy transition, equal pay for equal work, Exxon Valdez, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, feminist movement, financial deregulation, food miles, Food sovereignty, global supply chain, hydraulic fracturing, ice-free Arctic, immigration reform, income per capita, Internet Archive, invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, market fundamentalism, moral hazard, Naomi Klein, new economy, Nixon shock, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, open borders, patent troll, planetary scale, post-oil, profit motive, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Rana Plaza, Ronald Reagan, smart grid, special economic zone, Stephen Hawking, Stewart Brand, structural adjustment programs, Ted Kaczynski, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, trickle-down economics, Upton Sinclair, uranium enrichment, urban planning, urban sprawl, wages for housework, walkable city, Washington Consensus, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks

., “Trends in the Sources and Sinks of Carbon Dioxide,” Nature Geoscience 2 (2009): 831, as cited in Andreas Malm, “China as Chimney of the World: The Fossil Capital Hypothesis,” Organization & Environment 25 (2012): 146; Glen P. Peters et al., “Rapid Growth in CO2 Emissions After the 2008–2009 Global Financial Crisis,” Nature Climate Change 2 (2012): 2. 27. Kevin Anderson and Alice Bows, “Beyond ‘Dangerous’ Climate Change: Emission Scenarios for a New World,” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A 369 (2011): 35; Kevin Anderson, “EU 2030 Decarbonisation Targets and UK Carbon Budgets: Why So Little Science?” Kevin Anderson.info, June 14, 2013, http://kevinanderson.info. 28. Gro Harlem Brundtland et al., “Environment and Development Challenges: The Imperative to Act,” joint paper by the Blue Planet Prize laureates, The Asahi Glass Foundation, February 20, 2012, p. 7. 29. “World Energy Outlook 2011,” IEA, p. 40; James Herron, “Energy Agency Warns Governments to Take Action Against Global Warming,” Wall Street Journal, November 10, 2011. 30.

The “8 to 10 percent” range relies on interviews with Anderson and Bows-Larkin as well as their published work. For the underlying emissions scenarios, refer to pathways C+1, C+3, C+5, and B6 3 in: Kevin Anderson and Alice Bows, “Beyond ‘Dangerous’ Climate Change: Emission Scenarios for a New World,” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A 369 (2011): 35. See also: Kevin Anderson, “EU 2030 Decarbonisation Targets and UK Carbon Budgets: Why So Little Science?” KevinAnderson.info, June 14, 2013, http://kevinanderson.info. HUGELY DAMAGING: Anderson, “Climate Change Going Beyond Dangerous,” pp. 18–21; DE BOER: Alex Morales, “Kyoto Veterans Say Global Warming Goal Slipping Away,” Bloomberg, November 4, 2013. 49. Stern, The Economics of Climate Change, 231–32. 50. Ibid., 231; Global Carbon Project emissions data, 2013 Budget v2.4 (July 2014), available at http://cdiac.ornl.gov; Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center emissions data, available at http://cdiac.ornl.gov. 51.

Since this was before the globalization juggernaut took hold, it would have created an opportunity for China and India and other fast-growing economies to battle poverty on low-carbon pathways. (Which was the stated goal of “sustainable development” as championed in Rio.) Indeed this vision could have been built into the global trade architecture that would rise up in the early to mid-1990s. If we had continued to reduce our emissions at that pace we would have been on track for a completely de-carbonized global economy by mid-century. But we didn’t do any of those things. And as the famed climate scientist Michael Mann, director of the Penn State Earth System Science Center, puts it, “There’s a huge procrastination penalty when it comes to emitting carbon into the atmosphere”: the longer we wait, the more it builds up, the more dramatically we must change to reduce the risks of catastrophic warming.


pages: 357 words: 95,986

Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work by Nick Srnicek, Alex Williams

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3D printing, additive manufacturing, air freight, algorithmic trading, anti-work, back-to-the-land, banking crisis, battle of ideas, blockchain, Bretton Woods, call centre, capital controls, carbon footprint, Cass Sunstein, centre right, collective bargaining, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, David Graeber, decarbonisation, deindustrialization, deskilling, Doha Development Round, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, Ferguson, Missouri, financial independence, food miles, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, future of work, gender pay gap, housing crisis, income inequality, industrial robot, informal economy, intermodal, Internet Archive, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, late capitalism, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, market design, Martin Wolf, means of production, minimum wage unemployment, Mont Pelerin Society, neoliberal agenda, New Urbanism, Occupy movement, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, patent troll, pattern recognition, post scarcity, postnationalism / post nation state, precariat, price stability, profit motive, quantitative easing, reshoring, Richard Florida, rising living standards, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, self-driving car, Slavoj Žižek, social web, stakhanovite, Steve Jobs, surplus humans, the built environment, The Chicago School, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, universal basic income, wages for housework, We are the 99%, women in the workforce, working poor, working-age population

State and corporate repression of the left has significantly intensified in recent decades, legal changes have made it more difficult to organise, generalised precarity has made us more insecure, and the militarisation of policing has rapidly gathered speed.1 And beyond this lies the fact that our inner lives, our social world and our built environment are organised around work and its continuation. The shift to a post-work society, much like the shift to a decarbonised economy, is not just a matter of overcoming a few elite interests. More fundamentally, it is a matter of transforming society from the ground up. An engagement with the totality of power and capital is inevitable, and we should be under no illusions about the difficulties facing such a project. If full transformational change is not immediately possible, our efforts must be directed towards cracking open those spaces of possibility that do exist and fostering better political conditions over time.

It is something embedded in human minds, social and political organisations, individual technologies and the built environment that constitutes our world.20 And, whereas the social forces of hegemony must be continually maintained, the materialised aspects of hegemony exert a force of momentum that lasts long past their initial creation.21 Once in place, infrastructures are difficult to dislodge or alter, despite changing political conditions. We are facing up to this problem now, for example, with the infrastructure built up around fossil fuels. Our economies are organised around the production, distribution and consumption of coal, oil and gas, making it immensely difficult to decarbonise the economy. The flipside of that problem, though, is that once a postcapitalist infrastructure is in place, it would be just as difficult to shift away from it, regardless of any reactionary forces. Technology and technological infrastructures therefore pose both significant hurdles for overcoming the capitalist mode of production, as well as significant potentials for securing the longevity of an alternative.

A series of emerging contemporary phenomena must be thought through carefully: for instance, the causes and effects of secular stagnation; the transformations invoked by the shift to an informational, post-scarcity economy; the changes wrought by the introduction of full automation and a universal basic income; the possible approaches to collectivising automated manufacturing and services; the progressive potentials of alternative approaches to quantitative easing; the most effective ways to decarbonise the means of production; the implications of dark pools for financial instability – and so on. Equally, research should be revived on what postcapitalism might look like in practice. Beyond a few outdated classics, very little research has been done to think through an alternative economic system – even less so in the wake of emerging technologies like additive manufacturing, self-driving vehicles and soft AI.68 What role, for instance, could non-state cryptocurrencies have?


pages: 369 words: 98,776

The God Species: Saving the Planet in the Age of Humans by Mark Lynas

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back-to-the-land, Berlin Wall, carbon footprint, clean water, Climategate, Climatic Research Unit, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, decarbonisation, dematerialisation, demographic transition, Haber-Bosch Process, ice-free Arctic, invention of the steam engine, James Watt: steam engine, megacity, meta analysis, meta-analysis, moral hazard, Negawatt, New Urbanism, oil shale / tar sands, out of africa, peak oil, planetary scale, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, Ronald Reagan, special drawing rights, Stewart Brand, University of East Anglia

It is perhaps testament to our stupidity, however, that despite decades of research and advocacy on climate, all pointing at the need to control greenhouse gas production, human emissions today continue inexorably to rise. Thankfully the technologies and strategies that humanity needs to achieve the climate boundary are today no mystery. We have all the tools necessary to begin a wide-scale decarbonization of the global economy and to achieve this at the same time as both living standards and population numbers are rising rapidly in the developing world. But environmentalism will need to change at the same time. Much of what environmentalists are calling for will either not help much or is actually thwarting progress toward solving climate change. It is time for a new—and far more pragmatic—approach that does not hold climate change hostage to a rigid ideology. 350: CURRENT EVIDENCE First we need to establish whether 350 is actually the right number and one that is supported by science.

As the climate scientist Roger Pielke, Jr., writes in his 2010 book The Climate Fix, “if there is an iron law of climate policy, it is that when policies focused on economic growth confront policies focused on emissions reductions, it is economic growth that will win out every time.” Greens may despair, but I think Pielke is right. The implication, however, is not that we are all doomed, but that any successful policy to decarbonize the global economy “must be designed such that economic growth and environmental progress go hand in hand.”54 In a related sense, although Greens often insist that energy is too cheap, this too is incorrect. Energy is actually too expensive, certainly for the 1.5 billion poor people in the world who lack access to electricity because they do not have the purchasing power to demand it. Well-fed campaigners in rich countries may fantasize romantically about happy peasants living sustainably in self-reliant African villages, but the fact is that people across the developing world are desperate to increase their economic opportunities, security, and wealth.

One suggestion, proposed by the Canadian economists Isabel Galiana and Chris Green, is for a low—say $5 per tonne—price on carbon, which would barely be noticed by consumers (and hence not attract political opposition) but could raise $150 billion globally per year for RD&D.79 An analogy might be the nuclear industry, which has to pay a small charge for each megawatt-hour of nuclear-generated electricity toward eventual decommissioning costs. The airline industry, for example, could do the same, with a small fee per passenger or flight going to a technology fund that will find ways to decarbonize the industry and so reduce its damage to the atmosphere. Galiana and Green also suggest that this carbon price should rise gradually over time, sending a forward price signal to the energy markets. Another option is to remove the trading elements from cap and trade schemes like the European Emissions Trading Scheme, shifting the system into a simple auction of carbon credits with the proceeds allocated to an independently administered energy RD&D trust fund.


pages: 415 words: 103,231

Gusher of Lies: The Dangerous Delusions of Energy Independence by Robert Bryce

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Berlin Wall, Colonization of Mars, decarbonisation, en.wikipedia.org, energy security, energy transition, financial independence, flex fuel, hydrogen economy, Just-in-time delivery, new economy, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, price stability, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Stewart Brand, Thomas L Friedman, Whole Earth Catalog, X Prize, Yom Kippur War

Over the coming decades, natural gas (CH4) consumption will increase because it is the cleanest of the fossil fuels, thanks to its C:H ratio of 1 to 4. That is, it has just 1 carbon atom for each 4 atoms of hydrogen. The inexorable decarbonization of the global economy is occurring because energy consumers are always seeking ever denser forms of energy to allow them to do ever greater and ever more precise amounts 284 GUSHER OF LIES of work. (Lasers are a prime example of this trend toward superconcentrated energy forms.) Jesse Ausubel, the director of the program for the human environment at Rockefeller University in New York City, said the trend toward decarbonization may waver for a decade or two as countries like India and China add massive amounts of new coalfired power plants, but “over the long term H gains in the mix at the expense of C, like cars replacing horses, colour TV substituting for black-and-white, or email gaining the market over hard copies sent through the post office.”84 Second, while the decarbonization trend is important, it’s just as important to realize that gas can be substituted for oil in many different applications.

The growing global supplies of gas—and the demand that’s eager to make use of those supplies—are positive trends that should be encouraged for a number of reasons. First and foremost among them is that gas is the cleanest of the fossil fuels. It emits about half as much carbon dioxide as coal and creates far fewer air pollutants.83 Environmentalists should applaud the increased use of natural gas, as it is part of the ongoing “decarbonization” of the world’s energy mix. This trend has been going on for about two centuries. And the trend can be understood from the ratio of carbon to hydrogen atoms in the most common fuels. From prehistory through, say, the 1700s and early 1800s, wood was the world’s most common fuel. Wood has a carbonto-hydrogen ratio (C:H) of 10 to 1. That is, wood has about 10 carbon atoms for every 1 hydrogen atom.

Jesse Ausubel, the director of the program for the human environment at Rockefeller University in New York City, said the trend toward decarbonization may waver for a decade or two as countries like India and China add massive amounts of new coalfired power plants, but “over the long term H gains in the mix at the expense of C, like cars replacing horses, colour TV substituting for black-and-white, or email gaining the market over hard copies sent through the post office.”84 Second, while the decarbonization trend is important, it’s just as important to realize that gas can be substituted for oil in many different applications. With some modifications, most standard automobiles can be converted to run on natural gas. Gas can be used to generate electricity and heat homes, and as a feedstock for an array of chemicals and other products. Unfortunately, gas infrastructure is more expensive than oil infrastructure. Pipelines are inherently expensive and are constrained by geography. But the booming global market for liquefied natural gas, carried aboard massive ships, as well as the advent of a less expensive technology, compressed natural gas, could make a big difference.


pages: 326 words: 48,727

Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth by Mark Hertsgaard

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Berlin Wall, business continuity plan, carbon footprint, clean water, Climategate, Climatic Research Unit, corporate governance, cuban missile crisis, decarbonisation, defense in depth, en.wikipedia.org, Fall of the Berlin Wall, food miles, megacity, Mikhail Gorbachev, mutually assured destruction, peak oil, Port of Oakland, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, smart grid, South China Sea, the built environment, transatlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, transit-oriented development, University of East Anglia, urban planning

Perhaps the biggest challenge, Van Zist said, was how to make mitigation strategies work within a growing economy: "Whatever we do to cut emissions from power plants and other single sources—and we've been fairly effective there—is being counteracted by the fact that there are more and more cars on the road, driving greater distances. And there is more aviation traffic as well. Schiphol airport is going to increase its volume by forty to fifty thousand flights a year and expand to six runways, which will make it a truly huge airport." Echoing Sips's call for systemic reform, Van Zist added that meeting the challenge of mitigation allowed for "only one option: we have to decarbonize our economies." But instead the Dutch have been slow to develop solar, wind, and other alternative energy sources. "All the visionary documents on this are okay—I've coauthored some of them—but the proof is where the rubber meets the road," sa id Van Zist. Complaining that the government has often reduced subsidies for alternative energy when short-term goals such as the Kyoto reductions appeared to be in sight, he argued, "That means the big industrial companies stop moving toward the larger goals.

Schellnhuber did not favor relying on geoengineering to solve this problem; like many scientists, he believed it would "only make things worse." Right or wrong, that assumption meant that global greenhouse gas emissions had to fall at incredible speed. To have a two-out-of-three chance of meeting the 2°C target—"worse odds than Russian Roulette," Schellnhuber wryly observed—the world's leading economies had to decarbonize completely within ten to twenty years, according to the WBGU study. In other words, they had to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 100 percent within the next two decades. Specifically, the United States had to cut its emissions by 100 percent by 2020—in other words, quit carbon entirely within ten years. Germany and other industrial nations had to do the same by 2025 to 2030. China had only until 2035, and the world as a whole had to be carbon-free by 2050.

The big surprise, though, was China. " People always think that China will benefit from the per-capita principle," Schellnhuber said. Indeed, I recalled Chinese officials lecturing me during my 1996–97 visit about the sanctity of the per-capita principle. "What do you expect us to do?" one asked rhetorically. "Go back to no heat in the winter?" But Schellnhuber explained that because China had already burned massive amounts of coal and had so many people, it had to decarbonize by 2035. Back in 2007, Chancellor Merkel surprised almost everyone when she endorsed the per-capita principle at the annual summit of the G8 nations, the only G8 leader to do so. Schellnhuber told me one reason Merkel had done so was that she was the daughter of a Protestant minister and fairness mattered to her. But now that the WBGU study had calculated the real-world implications of this moral stand, even Schellnhuber doubted that the chancellor would renew her pledge—the numbers were just too dire.


pages: 309 words: 78,361

Plenitude: The New Economics of True Wealth by Juliet B. Schor

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Asian financial crisis, big-box store, business climate, carbon footprint, cleantech, Community Supported Agriculture, credit crunch, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, decarbonisation, dematerialisation, demographic transition, deskilling, Edward Glaeser, en.wikipedia.org, Gini coefficient, global village, income inequality, income per capita, Isaac Newton, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge economy, life extension, McMansion, new economy, peak oil, pink-collar, post-industrial society, prediction markets, purchasing power parity, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, sharing economy, Simon Kuznets, single-payer health, smart grid, The Chicago School, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, transaction costs, Zipcar

Supermarket chains now label packages with carbon scores, and chains such as Marks and Spencer have signed on to carbon neutrality. In 2007 Parliament passed a major climate-change bill that mandated a 26 percent reduction below 1990 levels of greenhouse gases by 2020, and a 60 percent cut by 2050. On the other hand, the Labour government has been adamant about its commitment to growth, arguing that efficiency, clean energy, and a market for carbon will do the trick. They claim that they can decarbonize, or sever the link between emissions and GDP. The environment ministry has enacted programs on food waste and plastics use to encourage behavior change among citizens, and a variety of efforts to reduce the carbon footprint of businesses. In the academic literature, this approach is known as ecological modernization. It holds that the fundamentals of the market economy can remain intact. Green production, with eco-conscious consumers and a price for carbon, will be sufficient to solve environmental problems.

So all the work of reducing impact must be done by technology, and in sixteen years it’ll need to do twice as much as today. Reductions in carbon emitted per dollar of income under BAU will be 1.2 percent per year. That just about offsets the population increase, with no contribution to reducing emissions or to counteracting higher income. Estimates are that we’ll need 5-7 percent annual improvements in decarbonization alone, or a quadrupling of carbon productivity, to stay within the now-inadequate two degrees Celsius target. This is already far outside the range of experience. To achieve the safe 350 ppm level, improvements in technology have to be even larger. This simple arithmetic makes clear that we’ve got to address the growth of production. But greenhouse gas emissions are not all we need to fix.

John Holdren: Ehrlich and Holdren (1971). 95 more complex formulations have been developed: For different functional forms, see York, Rosa, and Dietz (2003). 95 medium scenario is that population will peak at 9.1 billion in 2050: United Nations (2009). 95 world population is growing at just under 1.2 percent per year: Central Intelligence Agency (2009). 95 Reductions in carbon emitted per dollar of income under BAU will be 1.2 percent: McKinsey and Company (2009), p. 24. 96 5-7 percent annual improvements in decarbonization alone: McKinsey & Company (2009), p. 26. See Speth (2008) for a discussion of these issues. 96 improvements in technology have to be even larger: For a new study of the economics of 350 ppm, see Ackerman et al. (2009). 96 From 1980 to 2005 . . . 30 percent on a worldwide basis: Sustainable Europe Research Institute (2009b), p. 23. Forty-five percent increase in total materials use from p. 10. 96 decoupling in North America has only been about 25 percent: Author’s calculations from Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (2008b), table on p. 40. 96 per capita annual income is already . . . $47,200: 2008 figure from the Economic report of the president (2009), table B-31, p. 321.


pages: 133 words: 36,528

Peak Car: The Future of Travel by David Metz

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autonomous vehicles, bike sharing scheme, Clayton Christensen, congestion charging, crowdsourcing, David Attenborough, decarbonisation, edge city, Edward Glaeser, Just-in-time delivery, Network effects, Richard Florida, Robert Gordon, Silicon Valley, Skype, urban sprawl, yield management, young professional

Rail is not subject to traffic congestion, although route capacity is limited by safe operational headways, and carriages with uncontrolled entry can be uncomfortably overcrowded. There is scope for adding capacity by means of longer trains, better signalling and new track. The rail network as a whole can offer travel that is speedy, reliable, safe, secure, seamless, productive, and also sustainable, when, as is largely the case, electric traction is employed and when, in time, the electricity supply system is decarbonised. There are prospects for a considerable revival of rail travel, particularly in countries where there is an existing network that can be developed. Population growth and urbanisation result in larger, denser cities whose travel needs cannot be met by road transport. To be successful they must invest in rail‑based transport. Increased urban rail use reduces the need for car ownership and use, resulting in increased demand for inter‑urban rail travel.


pages: 501 words: 134,867

A Line in the Tar Sands: Struggles for Environmental Justice by Tony Weis, Joshua Kahn Russell

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Bakken shale, bilateral investment treaty, call centre, carbon footprint, clean water, colonial exploitation, conceptual framework, corporate social responsibility, decarbonisation, Deep Water Horizon, en.wikipedia.org, energy security, energy transition, Exxon Valdez, failed state, global village, guest worker program, happiness index / gross national happiness, hydraulic fracturing, immigration reform, investor state dispute settlement, invisible hand, LNG terminal, market fundamentalism, means of production, Naomi Klein, new economy, Occupy movement, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, profit maximization, race to the bottom, smart grid, special economic zone, working poor

They have argued that this could be done through a strategy of carbon intensity (more output per unit of carbon emitted from fossil fuels burned), by “green growth” and a range of “market ecology” measures to shift consumer behaviour towards energy saving. On the other side, many Aboriginal nations and ecological and labour organizations have pushed for a transition to an “ecologically sustainable” economy built around “green” technologies, a renewable energy regime, and “green jobs” that would “de-carbonize” production processes. (For the Aboriginal nations, this also could involve reclamation, if on an entirely different foundation, of traditional territories and economies.) This could be accomplished, it is argued, through “Keynesian-style” public policies that build non-market institutions that embed and guide capitalist markets along a more sustainable and equitable growth path—in effect, an “institutional ecology.”3 For reasons of both theoretical clarity and the political injunction to address climate change, the varied strategies for “greening work” need dissection.

As noted above, this is set narrowly as retraining policies for workers as fossil fuel extraction is phased down and workers shift to indeterminate prospects elsewhere in the economy. Workers and communities adjust as the capitalist classes shift to value extraction in new “green” sectors. A more ambitious just transition would extend workers’ collective rights and point towards new socio-ecological relations21—that is, a militant rejection of the quantitative commodification of nature and life, for a transition to qualitative growth in de-carbonized and de-commodified sectors of production and work. Such an “eco-imaginary” is a rupture with the chase after “green jobs” in a thoroughly commodified society. It could inform specific interventions at the scale of workplaces and building workers’ collective capacities, such as: the incorporation of carbon-reduction strategies within collective agreements through clauses on reductions of the carbon footprint, energy committees, and adjustment plans for jobs affected by climate change; workers’ plans forged to extend best practices for carbon reduction in labour processes and between workplaces; building democratic planning capacities for plant conversion to sustain capital equipment, workers’ skills, and community infrastructure as ecologically responsible production norms are internalized; and participatory planning structures built at the level of local wards for carbon reduction and ecological clean-up in neighbourhoods.

The core left program is also strikingly carbon reducing in its implications: a sharp reduction in standard work time, to share out work and increase the time for democracy and self-management of workplaces; a shift from private to public transit in electrified systems tied to “transit justice” and “free fares”; the extension of de-commodified public spaces in terms of parks, museums, galleries, and other cultural and recreational spaces; the mass public expansion of the caring sectors; the universalization of free post-secondary education for all age groups; the dismantling of military production and mobilization of civil brigades for ecological restoration. These demands could easily be extended.26 They should be at the centre of any ecological justice movement. In practical outline, they present a possible future directly connecting a de-carbonized energy regime to quality-intensive, democratized work, and from there to the provisions of everyday life as social need. They are essential to overcoming the claims the neo-liberal period has had on our political imaginary, even in activist circles, and the claptrap of carbon markets and “greening growth.” Beyond Green Jobs An alternate agenda for the democratization of work, and over the production and supply of energy, is ecologically necessary and economically feasible.


pages: 462 words: 150,129

The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves by Matt Ridley

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23andMe, agricultural Revolution, air freight, back-to-the-land, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Bernie Madoff, British Empire, call centre, carbon footprint, charter city, clean water, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, collateralized debt obligation, colonial exploitation, colonial rule, Corn Laws, credit crunch, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, decarbonisation, dematerialisation, demographic dividend, demographic transition, double entry bookkeeping, Edward Glaeser, en.wikipedia.org, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, falling living standards, feminist movement, financial innovation, Flynn Effect, food miles, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, Hans Rosling, happiness index / gross national happiness, haute cuisine, Hernando de Soto, income inequality, income per capita, Indoor air pollution, informal economy, invention of agriculture, invisible hand, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, John Nash: game theory, joint-stock limited liability company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, Kula ring, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mutually assured destruction, Naomi Klein, Northern Rock, nuclear winter, oil shale / tar sands, out of africa, packet switching, patent troll, Pax Mongolica, Peter Thiel, phenotype, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, Productivity paradox, profit motive, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, Ray Kurzweil, rent-seeking, rising living standards, Silicon Valley, spice trade, spinning jenny, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, supervolcano, technological singularity, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, trade route, transaction costs, ultimatum game, upwardly mobile, urban sprawl, Vernor Vinge, wage slave, working poor, working-age population, Y2K, Yogi Berra

That does not make the optimists right, but the poor track record of pessimists should at least give one pause. After all, we have been here before. ‘I want to stress the urgency of the challenge,’ said Bill Clinton once: ‘This is not one of the summer movies where you can close your eyes during the scary parts.’ He was talking not about climate change but about Y2K: the possibility that all computers would crash at midnight on 31 December 1999. Decarbonising the economy In short, a warmer and richer world will be more likely to improve the well-being of both human beings and ecosystems than a cooler but poorer one. As Indur Goklany puts it, ‘neither on grounds of public health nor on ecological factors is climate change likely to be the most important problem facing the globe this century.’ The results of thirteen economic analyses of climate change, assuming consensus amounts of warming, conclude that it will either add or subtract about one year of global economic growth in the second half of the twenty-first century.

Technology Review, November/December, 56–61. pp. 344–5 ‘Once solar panels can be mass-produced at $200 per square metre and with an efficiency of 12 per cent, they could generate the equivalent of a barrel of oil for about $30’. Ian Pearson, 8.9.08: http://www.futurizon.net/blog.htm. p. 345 ‘human energy use over the past 150 years as it migrated from wood to coal to oil to gas’. Ausubel, J.H. 2003. ‘Decarbonisation: the Next 100 Years’. Lecture at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, June 2003. http://phe.rockefeller.edu/PDF_FILES/oakridge.pdf. p. 346 ‘Jesse Ausubel predicts’. Ausubel, J.H. and Waggoner, P.E. 2008. Dematerialization: variety, caution and persistence. PNAS 105:12774–9. See also: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/21/science/earth/21tier.html. p. 346 ‘carbon-rich oceanic organisms called salps’.


pages: 258 words: 83,303

Why Your World Is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller: Oil and the End of Globalization by Jeff Rubin

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air freight, banking crisis, big-box store, BRICs, carbon footprint, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, credit crunch, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, decarbonisation, energy security, food miles, hydrogen economy, illegal immigration, immigration reform, invisible hand, James Watt: steam engine, Just-in-time delivery, market clearing, megacity, North Sea oil, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, profit maximization, reserve currency, South Sea Bubble, the market place, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade liberalization

The answer to that riddle lies with disaggregating world oil consumption regionally to see where oil demand has been coming from and, just as importantly, where it has not been coming from. Regional differences aren’t just important; they are absolutely critical to understanding what has been driving global oil consumption. Beneath the surface of seemingly robust growth in world crude demand over the last decade run two very divergent trends. While one part of the world is attempting to decarbonize its economies and wean itself off oil, the rest of the world is burning oil along with other hydrocarbons at a record pace. The global average is simply the netting out of two opposite forces. Where the demand for oil is the weakest is where historically it’s been the strongest. Whereas in the past, economists would have looked at North America and Western Europe to gauge the pace of world demand, now they need to consider the bustling energy demand from developing countries to determine that pace.

Just as oil consumption has peaked in the US, so too have US greenhouse gas emissions. Ironically, the US may ultimately yet comply with the Kyoto commitments it never signed on to. Emission reductions will be mandated not by legislation or international treaties, but by soaring fuel prices at the pumps and comparable increases in the price of jet fuel. A smaller world is a less carbon-intensive world. But the developed countries have not begun to decarbonize just by traveling less. They have done it by turning their backs on the fuel that set them up as industrial powers in the first place—coal. France, for example, gets about 75 percent of its electricity from nuclear generators, while Denmark and Germany are world leaders in renewables. The mix of nuclear and hydroelectric power in the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec is particularly climate-friendly.


pages: 262 words: 83,548

The End of Growth by Jeff Rubin

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Ayatollah Khomeini, Bakken shale, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, British Empire, call centre, carbon footprint, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, decarbonisation, deglobalization, energy security, eurozone crisis, Exxon Valdez, Fall of the Berlin Wall, fiat currency, flex fuel, full employment, ghettoisation, global supply chain, Hans Island, happiness index / gross national happiness, housing crisis, hydraulic fracturing, illegal immigration, income per capita, Jane Jacobs, labour mobility, McMansion, Monroe Doctrine, moral hazard, new economy, Occupy movement, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, Ponzi scheme, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, reserve currency, Ronald Reagan, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund, The Chicago School, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, uranium enrichment, urban planning, urban sprawl, women in the workforce, working poor, Yom Kippur War

If they don’t, governments could squander billions implementing measures to help the environment that will ultimately prove unnecessary. The specter of climate change takes on a very different shape in a world of fuel abundance and robust economic growth than it does when fuel is scarce and economies are faltering. WHY EMISSIONS CONTROLS DON’T WORK To date, attempts to regulate emissions have been driven by a belief that we need to decarbonize our economies. Therefore, governments try to reduce fossil fuel consumption by putting a price on carbon emissions. Some countries do this through carbon taxes, while others try to control pollution using elaborate cap-and-trade systems, which involve shuffling around carbon credits. The rationale behind these policies is straightforward: make emitters pay for emissions and they’ll emit less.

Before that happens, however, higher energy prices are set to make emissions intensity targets even more superfluous than they are now. Indeed, triple-digit prices for oil and coal could relegate government emissions policies to the sidelines. WHERE WILL WE GET ALL THAT COAL? Higher energy prices will accomplish what politicians and environmentalists can’t: a permanent reduction in carbon emissions. Governments around the world have long thought that the path to a greener atmosphere begins with decarbonizing our energy systems—electricity generation in particular. Despite efforts to usher in more renewable power generation, however, the amount of carbon emitted per unit of electricity produced has actually increased by 6 percent globally in the last two decades. Even environmentally unfriendly coal still commands a 41 percent share of global power generation. Regardless, when it comes to reducing emissions, altering the energy mix by adding more renewable sources is a red herring.


pages: 417 words: 109,367

The End of Doom: Environmental Renewal in the Twenty-First Century by Ronald Bailey

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3D printing, additive manufacturing, agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, autonomous vehicles, Cass Sunstein, Climatic Research Unit, Commodity Super-Cycle, conceptual framework, corporate governance, credit crunch, David Attenborough, decarbonisation, dematerialisation, demographic transition, diversified portfolio, double helix, energy security, failed state, financial independence, Gary Taubes, hydraulic fracturing, income inequality, invisible hand, knowledge economy, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Naomi Klein, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, pattern recognition, peak oil, phenotype, planetary scale, price stability, profit motive, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, Stewart Brand, Tesla Model S, trade liberalization, University of East Anglia, uranium enrichment, women in the workforce, yield curve

In an April 16, 2014, article in Geophysical Research Letters, researchers sort through various climate sensitivity scenarios ranging from a low of 1.5° to a high of 6.0°C. They calculate that it would take another twenty years of temperature observations for us to be confident that climate sensitivity is on the low end and more than fifty years of data to confirm the high end of the projections. This ongoing controversy is important because lower climate sensitivity would mean that future warming will be slower, giving humanity more time to adapt and to decarbonize its energy production technologies. Higher climate sensitivity would mean the opposite. Ocean Acidification As the oceans absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, the amount of carbonic acid is increased, thus making the ocean more acidic. As noted previously, the acidity of the surface waters of the oceans has increased by about 26 percent since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

This is a Chinese menu of provisions that highlights just how much discord there is over global climate policy. For example, the draft offers several options with regard to setting a firm goal for greenhouse gas emissions cuts. Countries might agree to cut emissions to 40 to 70 percent below their 2010 levels by 2050; or cut them by 50 percent below their 1990s levels with a continued decline thereafter; or go for full decarbonization by 2050. Or rich countries could agree that their emissions will peak in 2015 and then aim for zero net emissions by 2050. The section on the financial resources to be provided to poor countries to help them to adapt to climate change and to pay for losses stemming from climate change suggests an annual floor of $100 billion in aid from rich countries; or, alternately, the agreement might not specify any amount of climate aid at all.


pages: 443 words: 112,800

The Third Industrial Revolution: How Lateral Power Is Transforming Energy, the Economy, and the World by Jeremy Rifkin

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3D printing, additive manufacturing, Albert Einstein, barriers to entry, borderless world, carbon footprint, centre right, collaborative consumption, collaborative economy, Community Supported Agriculture, corporate governance, decarbonisation, distributed generation, en.wikipedia.org, energy security, energy transition, global supply chain, hydrogen economy, income inequality, informal economy, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, job automation, knowledge economy, manufacturing employment, marginal employment, Martin Wolf, Masdar, megacity, Mikhail Gorbachev, new economy, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, open borders, peak oil, Ponzi scheme, post-oil, purchasing power parity, Ray Kurzweil, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, Skype, smart grid, smart meter, Spread Networks laid a new fibre optics cable between New York and Chicago, supply-chain management, the market place, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, transaction costs, trickle-down economics, urban planning, urban renewal, Yom Kippur War, Zipcar

Here was a man who had spent a lifetime at General Motors and was among a select few responsible for the company’s future car development, including hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. His response was quick and earnest: “Where do I sign up?” As our team finished its business in Monaco, packed up, and headed for the airport, my thoughts turned to whether the mecca that drew the rich and famous could be rebranded as the place where cutting-edge, high-tech sustainability became the new aesthetic standard for the world. “DECARBONIZING” UTRECHT If Monaco is all about play, Utrecht is all about work. Industrious by nature, entrepreneurial in spirit, and pragmatic to a fault, this small province, tucked into the hinterland of the Netherlands, is a no-nonsense place where business rules the day. The province is one of the fastest-growing regions in the European Union. Unemployment is low, the standard of living is relatively high, and the region boasts a world-class university, which makes it a critical hub in the European knowledge economy.

After the energy savings potential is quantified, the next step is to estimate the cost of retrofitting each of the structures. Once this information is available, it then becomes much clearer where the first investments should be made. With both the energy savings potential identified and the investment cost estimated, the only steps remaining are securing financing and vetting projects and proposals. The virtual, 3-D decarbonization model creates an online marketplace for energy. One of the largest barriers to residential retrofits is profitability. For this reason, energy services companies (ESCOs) mostly focus on large, commercial projects because they are more profitable, while the margin on a single house, by comparison, is very small. Energy information freely available to the public via the Internet, however, creates the potential for solutions at scale.


pages: 379 words: 108,129

An Optimist's Tour of the Future by Mark Stevenson

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23andMe, Albert Einstein, Andy Kessler, augmented reality, bank run, carbon footprint, carbon-based life, clean water, computer age, decarbonisation, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, Elon Musk, flex fuel, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Hans Rosling, Internet of things, invention of agriculture, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, Kevin Kelly, Law of Accelerating Returns, life extension, Louis Pasteur, mutually assured destruction, Naomi Klein, packet switching, peak oil, pre–internet, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, smart cities, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, strong AI, the scientific method, Wall-E, X Prize

In a 2006 paper published in Science, François-Marie Bréon at the Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environnement suggested human aerosol emissions ‘may increase cloud cover by up to five per cent, resulting in a substantial net cooling of Earth’s atmosphere.’ Indeed, one technique proposed to offset global warming is a fleet of ‘cloud seeding ships’ that will scoop up seawater and force it through a system a bit like an inkjet printer to place tiny droplets of just the right size into the air, around which clouds can form. The argument is that more clouds could temporarily offset the heating effects of global warming, giving us longer to decarbonise our economies.* We also know that some aerosols can reflect sunlight away from the planet by themselves. In 1991, the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines sent roughly twenty million tons of volcanic ash twelve miles high into the atmosphere and average global temperatures went down by about half a degree centigrade the following year. The ice across Hudson Bay melted almost a month later than normal, and polar bears, who feed and give birth on the ice, had a greater number of healthy cubs that summer (offspring dubbed ‘Pinatubo cubs’).


pages: 239 words: 68,598

The Vanishing Face of Gaia: A Final Warning by James E. Lovelock

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Ada Lovelace, butterfly effect, carbon footprint, Clapham omnibus, cognitive dissonance, continuous integration, David Attenborough, decarbonisation, discovery of DNA, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, Henri Poincaré, mandelbrot fractal, megacity, Northern Rock, oil shale / tar sands, phenotype, planetary scale, short selling, Stewart Brand, University of East Anglia

We already face the adverse consequences of a total accumulation of greenhouse gases amounting to over 430 ppm of carbon dioxide equivalent – the loss of land‐based ecosystems, the desertification of the land and ocean surfaces, and the loss of polar ice; these act together in positive feedback and probably commit the Earth to irreversible heating. There may be no alternative but the direct use of the global cooling techniques discussed in Chapter 5 on geoengineering, including an attempt to massively decarbonize the atmosphere by burying charcoal. Whether or not these efforts succeed in cooling the Earth to its previous self‐regulating interglacial state, we have to prepare for failure by adaptation. The crux of it is that there are far too many of us living as we do – Paul and Ann Ehrlich said so forty years ago in their book The Population Bomb. But we did not listen. They tended to exaggerate, but their insight about the dangers of overpopulation was right.


pages: 219 words: 61,720

American Made: Why Making Things Will Return Us to Greatness by Dan Dimicco

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2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, 3D printing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, American energy revolution, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, Bakken shale, barriers to entry, Bernie Madoff, carbon footprint, clean water, crony capitalism, currency manipulation / currency intervention, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, decarbonisation, fear of failure, full employment, Google Glasses, hydraulic fracturing, invisible hand, job automation, knowledge economy, laissez-faire capitalism, Loma Prieta earthquake, manufacturing employment, oil shale / tar sands, Ponzi scheme, profit motive, Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, smart grid, smart meter, sovereign wealth fund, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, uranium enrichment, Washington Consensus, Works Progress Administration

That would lower the price of goods Americans buy, boost our competitive advantage with other countries, and create millions of jobs in the process. What’s not to like?” But in order for that to happen, the United States needs a new energy policy. DiMicco favors an “all of the above approach” that includes other energy resources, including wind and solar, but also nuclear power. But he doesn’t believe it’s feasible to “decarbonize” the U.S. economy anytime soon. Government can encourage all of this without picking winners and losers or taxing less-favored sources of energy out of existence. Spurring energy development must go hand in hand with revitalizing American manufacturing. As DiMicco explains in chapter 10, creating real wealth is the only path back to full employment. There are some signs of a manufacturing renaissance in the United States, owing to a growing disenchantment with China and the natural gas boom here at home.

The Techno-Human Condition by Braden R. Allenby, Daniel R. Sarewitz

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airport security, augmented reality, carbon footprint, clean water, cognitive dissonance, conceptual framework, Credit Default Swap, decarbonisation, facts on the ground, friendly fire, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jane Jacobs, land tenure, life extension, Long Term Capital Management, market fundamentalism, mutually assured destruction, nuclear winter, Peter Singer: altruism, planetary scale, prediction markets, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ray Kurzweil, Silicon Valley, smart grid, stem cell, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, the built environment, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transcontinental railway, Whole Earth Catalog

We have gone from technology as a particular artifact or machine that just does its job to understanding that it emerges from social systems and thus necessarily reflects, internalizes, and often changes power relations and cultural assumptions. We recognize that social systems are in reality techno-social systems, that these systems impose certain orders of behavior on our lives about which we have little choice, and that these systems lock in paths of dependency that make a mockery of human agency-just try decarbonizing the global energy system! Techno-social systems also make possible hierarchies of expertise, influence, and exploitation-who, today, can argue with an auto mechanic? We know that technological systems are now as complex, pervasive, and incomprehensible as natural systems; in fact we know that the distinction between technological and natural systems is no longer very meaningful. We know that the dependence of modern market economies on continual growth means that we have to keep inventing and consuming new technologies, whether we really Level I and Level II Technology 33 need them or not-indeed, it is not clear what "need" means in our modern framework, Abraham Maslow to the contrary.3 Moreover, this process of continual innovation, productivity enhancement, and economic growth leads to apparently unavoidable spasms of severe unemployment and socioeconomic disruption and transformation, along with the wealth creation that seems to have become an underpinning for civil stability.


pages: 337 words: 103,273

The Great Disruption: Why the Climate Crisis Will Bring on the End of Shopping and the Birth of a New World by Paul Gilding

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airport security, Albert Einstein, BRICs, carbon footprint, clean water, cleantech, Climategate, corporate social responsibility, decarbonisation, energy security, Exxon Valdez, failed state, fear of failure, income inequality, Joseph Schumpeter, market fundamentalism, Naomi Klein, new economy, nuclear winter, oil shock, peak oil, Ponzi scheme, purchasing power parity, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, union organizing, University of East Anglia

Many analyses focus on the cost of all this change and wonder how we can afford it, especially if the economy is struggling at the time we choose to act. What they’re not taking into account is the similarly breathtaking opportunities to save money through energy efficiency, perhaps one of the most exciting areas of short-term opportunity for investors in this whole space. The IEA’s current estimates suggest that the economic benefits of energy efficiency will be significantly greater than all the costs of the investments required to start decarbonizing the energy system. Their assessment suggests that from now to 2050, the incremental investment required to reduce emissions by 50 percent is around $46 trillion, with a major focus on energy efficiency. It sounds like a lot until you consider that resulting fuel cost savings of $112 trillion delivers a net economic benefit of around $66 trillion. Even discounted at 10 percent, this means a net savings today of $8 trillion.7 So again we see that the actual action required isn’t hard or expensive, it’s the decision to get on with the job that seems to be challenging.


pages: 389 words: 98,487

The Undercover Economist: Exposing Why the Rich Are Rich, the Poor Are Poor, and Why You Can Never Buy a Decent Used Car by Tim Harford

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Albert Einstein, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, collective bargaining, congestion charging, Corn Laws, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, decarbonisation, Deng Xiaoping, Fall of the Berlin Wall, George Akerlof, invention of movable type, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, market design, Martin Wolf, moral hazard, new economy, price discrimination, Productivity paradox, race to the bottom, random walk, rent-seeking, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, sealed-bid auction, second-price auction, second-price sealed-bid, Shenzhen was a fishing village, special economic zone, spectrum auction, The Market for Lemons, Thomas Malthus, trade liberalization, Vickrey auction

This would cause no problems: the same emissions take place in the end but are delayed. If • 99 • T H E U N D E R C O V E R E C O N O M I S T it turned out that the permits were expensive, then we would have the information for an informed debate. We could ask if the costs of climate change were worse than the cost of emission reduction. But many economists believe that, like sulfur permits in California, the carbon permits would quickly reveal that decar-bonization is cheaper than we expected, and we will wonder why we took so long to start. Is the environment too important to be a moral issue? “How did you travel here today?” “I’m sorry?” I’m puzzled. Here I am, going to a panel discussion organized by an environmental charity, and a very earnest young member of staff is grilling me before I even get past the door of the lecture hall. “How did you travel here today?


pages: 471 words: 109,267

The Verdict: Did Labour Change Britain? by Polly Toynbee, David Walker

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banking crisis, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, call centre, central bank independence, congestion charging, Corn Laws, Credit Default Swap, decarbonisation, deglobalization, deindustrialization, Etonian, failed state, first-past-the-post, Frank Gehry, gender pay gap, Gini coefficient, high net worth, hiring and firing, illegal immigration, income inequality, knowledge economy, labour market flexibility, market bubble, millennium bug, North Sea oil, Northern Rock, offshore financial centre, pension reform, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, profit maximization, purchasing power parity, shareholder value, Skype, smart meter, stem cell, The Spirit Level, too big to fail, University of East Anglia, working-age population, Y2K

Labour was on course to meet its target of achieving 12 per cent growth in bus and light rail use in England by 2010, but only because the number of bus journeys was increasing in London (which accounted for 44 per cent of bus use in England). Elsewhere, bus use kept falling. A ‘carbon-conscious’ government would have joined buses, cars and trains to land use, planning and housing, both the existing stock and homes yet to be built. Instead, Labour made only desultory efforts to decarbonize new housing. From 2007 stamp duty would not be payable on new dwellings worth up to half a million that had a zero carbon rating – a standard for the building materials and use of solar panels. Two years later only twenty-four homes hitting that target were sold. On what households threw out, Labour made some progress. Here, again, it is too easy to blame the politicians. Households did not need government to tell them to recycle; consumers could insist on less packaging.


pages: 422 words: 113,525

Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto by Stewart Brand

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agricultural Revolution, back-to-the-land, biofilm, borderless world, Buckminster Fuller, business process, Cass Sunstein, clean water, Community Supported Agriculture, conceptual framework, Danny Hillis, dark matter, decarbonisation, demographic dividend, demographic transition, Elon Musk, Exxon Valdez, failed state, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, glass ceiling, Google Earth, Hans Rosling, Hernando de Soto, informal economy, interchangeable parts, invention of agriculture, invention of the steam engine, Jane Jacobs, jimmy wales, Kevin Kelly, Kibera, land tenure, M-Pesa, Marshall McLuhan, megacity, microbiome, New Urbanism, out of africa, Paul Graham, peak oil, Richard Florida, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, smart grid, stem cell, Stewart Brand, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, Thomas Malthus, University of East Anglia, uranium enrichment, urban renewal, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, working-age population, Y2K

Pronuclear public opinion in England went from below 5 percent to over 40 percent. In a reversal of previous policy, the government is planning ten new reactors to replace and add to the nineteen reactors that currently provide 20 percent of England’s electricity. Jesse Ausubel, director of the Program for the Human Environment at Rockefeller University, convened a pioneering conference on climate change back in 1979. He originated the idea of decarbonization, noting the two-hundred-year trend of humans using fuels with ever fewer carbon atoms—wood to coal to oil to gas, down to zero carbon with hydrogen and nuclear. In 2007 he published a paper in the International Journal of Nuclear Governance, Economy and Ecology in which he declared, “Nuclear energy is green. Renewables are not green.” His argument was based on footprint analysis. “As a Green,” he wrote, “I care intensely about land-sparing, about leaving land for Nature. . . .


pages: 398 words: 100,679

The Knowledge: How to Rebuild Our World From Scratch by Lewis Dartnell

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agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, clean water, Dava Sobel, decarbonisation, discovery of penicillin, Dmitri Mendeleev, global village, Haber-Bosch Process, invention of movable type, invention of radio, invention of writing, iterative process, James Watt: steam engine, John Harrison: Longitude, lone genius, nuclear winter, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, technology bubble, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, trade route

The innovation that really made possible the later stages of the Industrial Revolution was a means for easily transforming blast-furnace pig iron into steel. In terms of carbon content, steel lies in between pure wrought iron (usually less than .01 percent carbon) and brittle pig or cast iron (3–4 percent carbon): from about 0.2 percent carbon for tough steel for machine gears or structural members, to about 1.2 percent for particularly hard steel for ball bearings or the cutting tools of your lathes. So how do you decarbonize pig iron? The Bessemer converter is a giant pear-shaped bucket, lined with refractory bricks and mounted on pivots so it can be tipped. The vessel is charged with molten pig iron, and then air is pumped in through holes in the bottom, not unlike the action of a bubbling aquarium aerator. The excess carbon reacts with the oxygen and escapes as carbon dioxide gas, and other impurities are also oxidized and scrubbed out into the slag.


pages: 352 words: 104,411

Rush Hour by Iain Gately

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Albert Einstein, autonomous vehicles, Beeching cuts, blue-collar work, British Empire, business intelligence, business process, business process outsourcing, call centre, car-free, Clapham omnibus, cognitive dissonance, congestion charging, connected car, DARPA: Urban Challenge, Dean Kamen, decarbonisation, Deng Xiaoping, Detroit bankruptcy, don't be evil, Elon Musk, extreme commuting, Google bus, Henri Poincaré, Hyperloop, Jeff Bezos, low skilled workers, postnationalism / post nation state, Ralph Waldo Emerson, remote working, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, stakhanovite, Steve Jobs, telepresence, Tesla Model S, urban planning, éminence grise

Differences between projections and the truth wouldn’t have been quite so great if foreign telecommuters had been included in domestic counts. Advocates of virtual commuting overlooked the impact of globalization on their dream, and its unintended consequence of outsourcing, in the sense of sending jobs overseas. Employers in both the EU and the USA, obedient to the letter if not the spirit of pro-telework legislation, decarbonized (and gave their ex-workers more social time) by Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), i.e. relocating their call centres and sundry other corporate functions to Asia. In consequence, a Westerner looking to telecommute in their own country would be best advised to emigrate to India, Mexico, Bangladesh or some other developing nation, where literacy is high and talk is cheap. India, for example, is home to as many British telecommuters as actually live in the UK.


pages: 330 words: 91,805

Peers Inc: How People and Platforms Are Inventing the Collaborative Economy and Reinventing Capitalism by Robin Chase

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3D printing, Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, Andy Kessler, banking crisis, barriers to entry, bitcoin, blockchain, Burning Man, business climate, call centre, car-free, cloud computing, collaborative consumption, collaborative economy, collective bargaining, congestion charging, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, decarbonisation, don't be evil, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, ethereum blockchain, Ferguson, Missouri, Firefox, frictionless, Gini coefficient, hive mind, income inequality, index fund, informal economy, Internet of things, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, job satisfaction, Kickstarter, Lean Startup, Lyft, means of production, megacity, Minecraft, minimum viable product, Network effects, new economy, Oculus Rift, openstreetmap, optical character recognition, pattern recognition, peer-to-peer lending, Richard Stallman, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, Satoshi Nakamoto, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, self-driving car, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, six sigma, Skype, smart cities, smart grid, Snapchat, sovereign wealth fund, Steve Crocker, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, TaskRabbit, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Nature of the Firm, transaction costs, Turing test, Uber and Lyft, Zipcar

It would be hard for either companies or individuals to hide from a global carbon tax, particularly if the tax was collected at the point where the carbon was mined or drilled rather than at the point of use. Using the revenues from a global carbon tax to protect and reinvest in the environment, as well as provide for national basic incomes, could compensate for damage to the environment we all share. This would set up the right system of incentives for rapidly decarbonizing the global economy while giving ordinary people the economic freedom and support that they need to be genuinely productive in this new world of ours. What could be better? * * * Next up, more revolutionary ideas: how Peers Inc could democratize power. As Cory Ondrejka, former vice president of engineering at Facebook, asked me: “What is the role of corporations and governments in a world where individuals have superpowers?”


pages: 543 words: 147,357

Them And Us: Politics, Greed And Inequality - Why We Need A Fair Society by Will Hutton

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Andrei Shleifer, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, Benoit Mandelbrot, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Bretton Woods, capital controls, carbon footprint, Carmen Reinhart, Cass Sunstein, centre right, choice architecture, cloud computing, collective bargaining, conceptual framework, Corn Laws, corporate governance, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, debt deflation, decarbonisation, Deng Xiaoping, discovery of DNA, discovery of the americas, discrete time, diversification, double helix, Edward Glaeser, financial deregulation, financial innovation, financial intermediation, first-past-the-post, floating exchange rates, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, full employment, George Akerlof, Gini coefficient, global supply chain, Growth in a Time of Debt, Hyman Minsky, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, income inequality, inflation targeting, interest rate swap, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Dyson, James Watt: steam engine, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, labour market flexibility, Long Term Capital Management, Louis Pasteur, low-wage service sector, mandelbrot fractal, margin call, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, means of production, Mikhail Gorbachev, millennium bug, moral hazard, mortgage debt, new economy, Northern Rock, offshore financial centre, open economy, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price discrimination, private sector deleveraging, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, railway mania, random walk, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Richard Thaler, rising living standards, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, Rory Sutherland, shareholder value, short selling, Silicon Valley, Skype, South Sea Bubble, Steve Jobs, The Market for Lemons, the market place, The Myth of the Rational Market, the payments system, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, unpaid internship, value at risk, Washington Consensus, working poor, éminence grise

National rejuvenation demands a vibrant democracy that empowers the government of the day to take on incumbent elites and monopolists and build a powerful, legitimate national narrative. Fortunately, the new coalition government seems to appreciate this, and has already outlined its commitment to political reform. The rest of the world is confronting multiple challenges too. Growth must be progressively decarbonised to limit atmospheric concentrations of ‘CO2 equivalent’ to 450 parts per million, a level that is believed to be consistent with a global average temperature increase of about two degrees centigrade. During the 2010s the foundations will be laid of an economy and society that must burn fewer fossil fuels and generate a lower carbon footprint. A start must be made on transforming the civilisation that was built on the car, the suburb and cheap individual mobility.


pages: 504 words: 143,303

Why We Can't Afford the Rich by Andrew Sayer

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accounting loophole / creative accounting, Albert Einstein, asset-backed security, banking crisis, banks create money, Bretton Woods, British Empire, call centre, capital controls, carbon footprint, collective bargaining, corporate social responsibility, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, David Graeber, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, debt deflation, decarbonisation, declining real wages, deglobalization, deindustrialization, delayed gratification, demand response, don't be evil, Double Irish / Dutch Sandwich, en.wikipedia.org, Etonian, financial innovation, financial intermediation, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, high net worth, income inequality, investor state dispute settlement, Isaac Newton, James Dyson, job automation, Julian Assange, labour market flexibility, laissez-faire capitalism, low skilled workers, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, means of production, moral hazard, mortgage debt, neoliberal agenda, new economy, New Urbanism, Northern Rock, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, patent troll, payday loans, Plutocrats, plutocrats, predatory finance, price stability, pushing on a string, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, rent-seeking, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, short selling, sovereign wealth fund, Steve Jobs, The Nature of the Firm, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, transfer pricing, trickle-down economics, universal basic income, unpaid internship, upwardly mobile, Washington Consensus, Winter of Discontent, working poor, Yom Kippur War

At the same time fierce competition between companies to maximise profit pressures firms into producing more with a given number of employees. If they can’t keep up with rivals, they go out of business. A capitalist economy in which consumption, particularly of energy, levels off and ‘enough is enough’ is an impossibility. Green growth in the rich countries of the world is a pipe dream. The idea that once we get over the financial crisis and annual compound growth resumes at 2–3% per annum we can decarbonise the economy is absurd. Carbon-capture technology is still in the experimental phase. ‘Geoengineering’ projects, such as cloud seeding or putting giant reflectors in space or fertilising the oceans to absorb more CO2 are hugely risky, and only encourage governments to stall on CO2 reduction. So is there another way out of the double crisis? Reduced consumption: sufficiency? For the rich countries at least, not growth but zero growth or even ‘de-growth’ are likely to be the only feasible ways of cutting greenhouse gases fast enough to stop runaway global warming, and that of course would mean more modest consumption, including reduced mobility, particularly for the rich and well-off.


pages: 420 words: 124,202

The Most Powerful Idea in the World: A Story of Steam, Industry, and Invention by William Rosen

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Albert Einstein, All science is either physics or stamp collecting, barriers to entry, collective bargaining, computer age, Copley Medal, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, decarbonisation, delayed gratification, Fellow of the Royal Society, Flynn Effect, fudge factor, full employment, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Islamic Golden Age, iterative process, Jacquard loom, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, John Harrison: Longitude, Joseph Schumpeter, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, knowledge economy, moral hazard, Network effects, Peace of Westphalia, Peter Singer: altruism, QWERTY keyboard, Ralph Waldo Emerson, rent-seeking, Ronald Coase, Simon Kuznets, spinning jenny, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, transaction costs, transcontinental railway, éminence grise

This kind of iron—pig iron, supposedly named because the relatively narrow channels emerging from the much wider smelter resembled piglets suckling—is so brittle, however, that it is only useful after being poured into forms usually made of loam, or clay. Those forms could be in the shape of the final iron object, and quite a few useful items could be made from the cast iron so produced. They could also, and even more usefully, be converted into wrought iron by blowing air over heated charcoal and pig iron, which, counterintuitively, simultaneously consumed the carbon in both fuel and iron, “decarbonizing” it to the <1 percent level that permitted shaping as wrought iron (this is known as the “indirect method” for producing wrought iron). The Cistercians had been doing so from about 1300, but they were, in global terms, latecomers; Chinese iron foundries had been using these techniques two thousand years earlier. Controlling the process that melted, and therefore hardened, iron was an art form, like cooking on a woodstove without a thermostat.