Why do experts always lowball clean energy projections?

Last month, Michael Noble of Fresh Energy put up a fascinating list of projections made by energy experts around 2000 or so. Suffice to say, the projections did not fare well. They were badly wrong…

What should we take from this?

The projections weren’t just off, they were way off. You can find similarly poor projections from the ’70s that underestimate the spread of energy efficiency and other demand-side technology solutions (They thought they were going to need hundreds of nuclear plants). Similarly terrible projections were also common in the early years of cell phones.

What do cell phones, energy efficiency, and renewable energy have in common? One, they are dynamic areas of technology development and market competition, which makes straight-line projections pretty useless. And two, they are distributed, with millions of loosely networked people and organizations working on them in parallel. Distributed, human-scale technologies come in small increments. They replicate quickly, so there’s more variation and competitive selection, and thus more evolution.

 

Keep reading: Grist – Why do ‘experts’ always lowball clean-energy projections?

 

 

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This is what Global Warming looks like

“This is what global warming looks like at the regional or personal level,” said Jonathan Overpeck, professor of geosciences and atmospheric sciences at the University of Arizona. “The extra heat increases the odds of worse heat waves, droughts, storms and wildfire. This is certainly what I and many other climate scientists have been warning about.”

Horrendous wildfires. Oppressive heat waves. Devastating droughts. Flooding from giant deluges. And a powerful freak wind storm called a derecho.

These are the kinds of extremes experts have predicted will come with climate change, although it’s far too early to say that is the cause. Nor will they say global warming is the reason 3,215 daily high temperature records were set in the month of June.

Scientifically linking individual weather events to climate change takes intensive study, complicated mathematics, computer models and lots of time. Sometimes it isn’t caused by global warming. Weather is always variable; freak things happen.

 

Keep readingThis Summer Is ‘What Global Warming Looks Like’

 

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Shakespeare’s Restless World – fascinating new podcast from BBC Radio 4

British Museum Director Neil MacGregor presents Shakespeare’s Restless World, a new series for Radio 4. The 20-part series looks at the world through the eyes of Shakespeare’s audience by exploring objects from that turbulent period.

Examining these objects, Neil discusses how Elizabethan playgoers understood and made sense of the unstable and rapidly changing world in which they lived. Neil asks what the plays would have meant to the public when they were first performed. He uses carefully selected objects to explore the great issues of the day that preoccupied the public and helped shape the works, and considers what they can reveal about the concerns and beliefs of Shakespearean England.

Contributing to the programmes will be Shakespeare scholars, historians and experts on witchcraft and warfare, fencing and food, luxury trade and many other topics. They discuss the issues these objects raise – everything from exploration and discovery to violence, entertainment and the plague.

Shakespeare’s Restless World – (or download in iTunes)

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