Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology

Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology

Alexis Madrigal

Language: English

Pages: 400

ISBN: 030681885X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Few today realize that electric cabs dominated Manhattan's streets in the 1890s; that Boise, Idaho, had a geothermal heating system in 1910; or that the first megawatt turbine in the world was built in 1941 by the son of publishing magnate G. P. Putnam--a feat that would not be duplicated for another forty years. Likewise, while many remember the oil embargo of the 1970s, few are aware that it led to a corresponding explosion in green-technology research that was only derailed when energy prices later dropped.

In other words: We've been here before. Although we may have failed, America has had the chance to put our world on a more sustainable path. Americans have, in fact, been inventing green for more than a century.

Half compendium of lost opportunities, half hopeful look toward the future, Powering the Dream tells the stories of the brilliant, often irascible inventors who foresaw our current problems, tried to invent cheap and energy renewable solutions, and drew the blueprint for a green future.

Place, Ecology and the Sacred: The Moral Geography of Sustainable Communities

















the levels of reliability required are high. If governments are going to invest in them, they have to be willing to act consistently and for many years at a time. In February 2009 the production tax credit for wind was extended for three years, and given the economic tough times of the period, this allowed credits to be converted into grants. Without the moves, which were included in Barack Obama’s stimulus package, the industry might have collapsed again. “The stimulus package essentially saved

insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” Conversely, our industrial constitution—the one that shapes our material relationships to each other and the environment—has received far less attention and ethical investigation. It has been shaped by politicians, engineers, homebuilders, and investors who only

“The Trouble with Wilderness: Or, Getting Back to the Wrong Nature.” In Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature, ed. William Cronon, 69–90. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1995. Crow, Michael M., and Gregory L. Hager. “Political Versus Technical Risk Deduction and the Failure of U.S. Synthetic Fuel Development Efforts.” Review of Policy Research 5, no. 1 (August 1985): 145–152. Crutzen, Paul. “The ‘Anthropocene’.” Earth System Science in the Anthropocene. Berlin: Springer, 2006.

beyond. Stubby office buildings clustered around small concrete ponds. Inside, the light was perfect fluorescent yellow. SERI looked more like a place where people made telemarketing calls or provided inside sales for a trucking company than the leading edge of a revolutionary solar movement. Although they had been promised a big, new campus with better research facilities, the designs were firmly stuck on the drawing board with no funds appropriated to build it. Unlike the big DOE labs, the

to the policies he helped put in place. The famous Rosenfeld effect has received detailed scrutiny in recent years. A study by the director of Stanford’s Precourt Institute for Energy Efficiency, James Sweeney, called “Deconstructing the Rosenfeld Curve” pegged the maximum contribution of California policy to 23 percent of the difference between the state and the nation.28 The rest of the Rosenfeld effect is debatably due to what Sweeney called “structural factors” like urbanization levels,

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