Five Percent: Conserve Energy

Climate Change Is Important: Energy Conservation is the First Step

November 13, 2012

Sandy, The Election, and The Fiscal Cliff: The Perfect Storm?

Category: Climate Change,Companies,Economics,Policy – Tom Harrison – 4:51 pm

I have heard more about climate change in the “big” news in the last few weeks than I think I have heard in … years.

The confluence of several big things may have presented an opportunity: the “fiscal cliff”, the hurricane Sandy, and the outcome of the 2012 election. (more…)

June 22, 2012

My City is Smart: Yes ROI, Yes Energy Efficiency Saves

Category: Climate Change,Conservation,Policy – Tom Harrison – 10:08 am

Our excellent Mayor of Newton, MA, Setti Warren cares about our city. The way he cares most is by saving money. One way he saved money was through energy efficiency programs.

These programs are for the city itself, businesses, and residents

June 7, 2010

Do We Need An Oil Spill for Climate Change Action?

Category: Climate Change,Policy – Tom Harrison – 6:18 pm

(I wrote this on May 28th, but never published. I am publishing now because I think things might have changed enough).

I have an opinion about just about everything, including opinions. Daniel Weiss did a nice post on the Climate Progress blog showing how dramatically public opinion has shifted in the month or so since the oil spill started.

In short, people don’t think offshore drilling is such a good idea any more, and they’re willing to trade off economic development for environmental protection.

In my opinion, this shows how little value there is in the opinions of people. I am not trying to be negative, or get attention by being contrarian, smug, or elitist.

Instead, I think we’re at some rather great risk of self-destruction if we keep making policy opportunistically, and avoiding discourse and action until the time is right. (more…)

April 21, 2010

Energy Prices on the Rise (Again), Oil Over $80/barrel (Again)

Category: Economics,Policy – Tom Harrison – 8:00 am

Volatile Natural Gas PricesIn the last month, oil prices have been over $80 a barrel — prices were over $86 twice, fell, and are now back on their way up.

Gasoline prices are around $2.80/gallon, up from around $2.00/gallon a year ago and rising a little each week over the last month.

Heating oil cost has risen over the year from $1.40/gallon to around $2.20/gallon.

Natural gas is also up year over year, rising from around $3.50/MMBTU to around $4.00, and volatile, closing over $7 for a few days in the winter.

However, domestic US Coal prices are about even, down a little, this year (from $2.21/MMBTU to $2.14) — I guess the energy we produce at home can be less expensive. Too bad burning coal releases about 2x the CO2 of natural gas (and a great deal more than wind and solar).

How We Respond To Energy Price Changes

But it appears that only energy prices drive our behaviors. We tend to over-react in some ways (markets, producers, consumers), yet have remarkably short memories, and seemingly weak abilities to identify coming changes.

I do understand that many people are negatively affected (more…)

April 11, 2010

Cap And Trade: My Comment Turned into a Post

Category: Climate Change,Political – Tom Harrison – 8:19 pm

As anyone reading can plainly see, I am clearly more involved in working for and writing for my new company, Energy Circle which is all about home energy efficiency than about writing here on my personal blog.

As it happens, I am continuing to respond to comments and engage in dialog with people who are reading. And given that I just spent an hour writing a response to a comment on one of my posts about cap and trade, and also because there was a related and article on climate change, cap-and-trade, and science by Paul Krugman that you should take the time to read, I figure I should create a short post for all 12 people who still follow the blog.

So there you have it. Read the article, and read and comment on my comment response!

March 21, 2010

Oil Prices over $80/bbl for last week, doubled since last year

Category: Climate Change,Energy Independence,Policy – Tom Harrison – 9:51 am

The stock market isn’t the only thing to have recovered since this time last year — in fact where stocks have increased by 48%, good old oil has doubled. Perhaps you have noticed — I paid $2.85/gallon for gas yesterday.

There are no suggestions that oil prices are going to tumble any time soon; on the contrary, gas is expected to pass $3/gallon this Spring.

Personally, my issue is climate change, but if you’re into the economy, or security, or other things, what part of this picture is unclear? (more…)

January 27, 2010

Cap and Trade Explained, Simply (Really)

Category: Climate Change,Economics – Tom Harrison – 7:46 pm

The Facts of Cap-and-Trade from Clean Energy Works on Vimeo.

Yep. It’s that simple.

June 27, 2009

Explain Cap and Trade (How ACES Will Work)

Category: Climate Change,Policy – Tom Harrison – 5:31 pm

Cap and trade seems incredibly complex, counter-intuitive, unfair, and misguided — if that’s your view, you have it about right, but the funny thing is, it will work — here’s why. The recent passage of the American Clean Energy Security act (ACES) in the House is a big milestone for cap and trade, but it will only pass the Senate if people understand what it is, and why it’s a good thing.

The first thing to know, is that the main part of cap and trade is the cap. The cap says: no more than a certain amount of CO2 can be released in a given year — major polluters are given a limit. Every year the cap gets tightened according to a predictable schedule. We are aiming for a target, and know what we have to do to get there.

The trade part is what makes things seem complicate and strange. So if I am an electricity utility executive, and I have a bunch of coal plants, I may find that I am releasing more CO2 than my limit. What makes trade cool is that if I don’t want to lay off my work force, I can decide to buy credits from another company — I can pay to pollute. Sure, it makes my costs go up, but now I have more incentive to clean up my act.

And no, it doesn’t mean we have more pollution, just more flexibility. My competitor, who had the foresight (more…)

May 16, 2009

Why Cap and Trade is Better Than a Carbon Tax

Category: Climate Change,Economics,Policy – Tom Harrison – 10:23 pm

The Times posted a very thoughtful article explaining why a carbon Cap and Trade policy is now the favored approach making its way through Congress now.

In the end, the merits of the system are mostly that it is expedient, politically and from a management perspective. No one likes a tax, even if it may be the far simpler solution to the problem. But if no one likes a tax, then it’s kind of a tough sell.

Some argue that cap and trade is just a tax wrapped in a politically tolerable icing. They’re pretty much right. (more…)

May 3, 2009

Explaining The Big Picture To Mom

Category: Climate Change,Political,Sustainability – Tom Harrison – 11:18 pm

My Mom is visiting, taking a well-deserved rest from care of my father, who is no longer able to care for himself. After a few days of catching up, I found myself unable to restrain myself from reciting my manifesto. Sorry, Mom.

Condensing the details into a big picture that makes enough sense for a smart, but not-so-technical, and not-as-young person as I is a good opportunity. Throughout my life, I have observed that I only really understand something when I am able to present it in straightforward, no-jargon and instructive manner. For example, I have taught several software development languages to novice computer users — I often learn as much as the students I have taught.

Clean Coal?

We discussed clean coal and carbon sequestration, amongst other things. The simple explanation (more…)