The Clean Energy Train

Ecomodern Dispatches

If a majority of Americans think the country is “on the wrong track,” as The Economist reports, and if the country is veering off its democratic rails, as an upcoming study covered by The New York Times suggests, what room for hope and optimism remains in this brave new world?

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What Is To Be Done?

Trump and Ecomodernism

This is the space where I am supposed to write about what a Trump Presidency might portend for climate, energy and the environment.  At present, I don’t believe I can in good faith do so.

Our view at Breakthrough remains that macro-economic conditions, technological change, and public investment in innovation and infrastructure are the primary determinants of global emissions. At least insofar as climate change is concerned, a Trump Presidency may not be much worse than a Clinton Presidency would have been, for the simple reason that explicit climate policy has had little impact upon the trajectory of emissions pretty much anywhere in the world.

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Trump and the Environment: A Round-Up

Ecomodern Dispatches

By Alex Trembath and Emma Brush

Well, that was surprising.

Last week, those of us working in the energy and environment space joined the rest of the world in adjusting to the unexpected election of Donald Trump. Environmental forecasting is always hard, and perhaps only more so in pursuit of predicting what a Trump Administration’s environmental policies will look like.

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Climate Pragmatism in Rwanda

No-Regrets Pollution Reduction on Display in Kigali Deal

Eariler this month, the 28th Meeting of the Parties, an international negotiation among 170 countries around the world, convened in Rwanda to make a deal on phasing out hydroflurocarbons, or HFCs. HFC describes a set of compounds that are commonly used in refrigerants and air conditioners and, thus, are rapidly proliferating around the world. A replacement for chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) that the 1989 Montreal Protocol began to phase out, HFCs have an outsized impact on global warming--between 100 and 10,000 times worse per molecule than CO2, depending on the exact compound and time frame.

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Complicating the Narrative

Ecomodern Dispatches

A new poll shows Americans to be “overly optimistic” about renewables, says Vox's David Roberts. Which is of course a euphemism for misapprehension, and one that has only emerged in the American psyche as of late. No matter how recent this trend in public conception, however, does this take in fact represent a substantive shift in the environmentalist narrative? And does it do us any good?

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Breakthrough Does the Impossible

First Taste of the Meatless "Burger that Bleeds"

On an otherwise ordinary fall Monday, the staff of Breakthrough Institute did the impossible. Impossible Burger, that is.

The Silicon Valley startup Impossible Foods has started a limited release of its Impossible Burger, the meatless burger that "bleeds," at select restaurants in New York, L.A., and San Francisco. One hundred percent plant-based with ingredients including wheat, soy, and coconut oil, the Impossible Burger’s “magic ingredient” that gives it its unique meat-like quality is a protein molecule called “heme.” Heme is especially abundant in animal muscle and “is what makes meat smell, sizzle, bleed, and taste gloriously meaty,” but the team at Impossible Foods was able to extract and ferment it from plant ingredients.

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Britain’s Civilian Nuclear Program Is Not a Stealth Military Program

Lack of Evidence of a Conspiracy is Not Evidence of a Deeper Conspiracy

Last week, the New York Times published an Op-Ed by Peter Wynn Kirby, a social anthropologist at Oxford, alleging that the United Kingdom promoted the Hinkley Point C project as “a stealth initiative to bolster Britain’s nuclear deterrent.” The author’s argument is entirely dependent on a “painstaking study” authored by the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at the University of Sussex.

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Can Industrial Food Be Part of the Food Movement?

Earlier this month, Jayson Lusk, a professor of agricultural economics at Oklahoma State University, made the audacious case that “Industrial Farms Are Good for the Environment.”

Lusk explains that operating at a large scale gives farmers the opportunity to invest in technologies that both improve productivity and reduce environmental impacts, like advanced machinery that can precisely track crop yields or water use. These tools and the precision they enable is something farmers a few decades ago could only dream about. He presents statistics showing American farm productivity has risen in recent decades while environmental impacts like land use and soil erosion have decreased.

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