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  • Used to Be Hunted as Prey

    “It wasn’t that long ago that we used to hunt them as prey.” An urbane and well-educated 70-year-old white man I know said this to me recently when we were discussing the challenge many men face in their attempts to understand women. Freud famously and notoriously commented on this topic asking, “What does a woman want?!” While my acquaintance thought he was being facetious, his statement shocked me. It spoke to the continuing disparity between the power of men and women, a differential that is expressed physically in many circumstances. The overturning of Roe in the United States got me speculating about the core of what it is that men want from women? For a lot of guys, some form of sexual subservience is the obvious answer. Many men hate the idea and the actuality of women expressing themselves sexually as they see fit. Frequently, “manly” men think of themselves as “love machines” ready, willing, and able to have sex with any woman they find attractive in terms of what “sexy” means to that guy. In their view, women are supposed to be in the thrall of sexed-up men. The idea that women have their own sexual nature, their own way of wanting and needing sex independent of what a man might want doesn’t appeal to many/most guys, certainly not the ones who are passing these outrageous anti-female laws all over the world and in the US, particularly recently. Men are afraid of female sexuality, and there are facts that make such insecurity somewhat understandable. For example, while the research isn’t rigorous, there seems to be little doubt that well over 50% of women can have multiple orgasms in a single sexual encounter and that this capacity for sustained and intense pleasure remains intact for much of a woman’s life. On the other hand, only 10% of men in their 20s ever experience multiple orgasms[1] and the percentage of guys capable of revving up the southland more than once every couple of days declines significantly as people with penises age. Any man who’s been fortunate enough to be with a woman who is experiences multiple orgasms frequently knows that it can be mighty challenging to keep up! Once warmed up through foreplay that they find to be adequate, many women can keep at it for a very long time. Furthermore, getting turned on Monday can lead a woman to want more sex on Tuesday and Wednesday when a lot of guys feel like starting pitchers, who need a couple of days off between trips to the mound. It is noteworthy that only approximately 15% of women report having multiple orgasms, even though many more could (and maybe do in the privacy of masturbating without a man’s insecurities around to deal with). Bottom line: millions of women are unsatisfied sexually. They’re not getting the kind of sex they want as often as they want and how they want it. How are men responding to this? Increasingly, the people (mostly men) who make the laws in the United States are reacting to the sexual needs and potency of women by denying that such needs exist. Even more important, male legislators are punishing women who like sex by making it more dangerous for them to engage in intercourse. In contrast, there are no real prohibitions or penalties for men having sex. Yes, there are plenty of “people of faith” of both sexes who believe that sex has a wide range of mystical connotations and practice abstinence before marriage and sex for procreative purposes within marriage. Sounds mighty tough to me. But I think it’s fair to say most men get the message that they are supposed to be constantly hot to trot from every conceivable source from the onset of puberty till they lay us in our graves. Men are constantly presented with images and allurements of women that cannot possibly be satisfied. Raquel Welch as an example of the All-Powerful and Unattainable Seductress While the objectification of both sexes is probably on the rise, women are still much likelier to be seen as “things” to be desired and conquered than men. Recapping: it’s not enough that men have their own natural sexual appetites. These desires are constantly being stimulated. Men are essentially told to go forth and fuck as much and with as many partners as possible. Many men do just that. And most of us do so without having to face anything like the kind of risks confronting women. Yes, men transmit and get infected with sexually transmitted diseases. And, yes, relationships can be very complicated for guys. But men do not get pregnant. Men are not oppressed by laws requiring them to take pregnancies to term regardless of how the pregnancy began. Of course, some of the most vociferous official opponents of abortion and liberated female sexuality are consummate hypocrites, but they aren’t our primary concern here. It’s the garden variety guy’s casual or semi-casual sex that is most alarming. When the criticism of the sexual activity of men is compared to the extreme stigmatization that women must deal with that is most unfair. (“Boys will be boys.”) Throughout the course of most of their lives, men are encouraged to have a variety of sex partners; women not only have to deal with the possibility and consequences of getting pregnant; they are also called “whores” and “sluts” if they do the thing multiple men want them to do. Sometimes the same men who take advantage of a woman’s sexuality lead the charge to condemn the women they just had sex with. It may or may not surprise most women to learn that the kind of bragging Donald Trump did with Billy Bush about his sexual exploits and proclivities is extraordinarily commonplace. Melania Trump called this conversation “locker room talk,” but – as almost every man above the age of 50 knows for sure (and probably most of them over the age of 13 would also acknowledge) – this kind of discussion between men is in-the-car talk, having-coffee talk, hanging-out-in-bars talk, could-happen-any-and-all-the-time talk among men. I’m not a Puritan. I’m not saying that the way men behave sexually is necessarily bad or evil, although when they are chauvinistic, abusive, or immature their actions can be obnoxious and, sometimes, criminal. What I am saying is that the sexual playing field between men and women needs some serious leveling. It is time for men – especially uptight Republican men running legislative bodies and their moralizing religious allies – to acknowledge that the sexual desires and conduct of women are as legitimate as those of men. The social position and condition of women is a key concern in the Anthropocene. Male suppression of the sexual expression and freedom of women demonstrates a great fear of women as independent actors. Men have gotten so used to being the dominant gender they cannot believe that their supremacy is being challenged politically, economically, personally, and physically. The fact that women are at least equal to men in sexual potency, if not more so, threatens the identity and self-image of many men, particularly those who are used to being in the driver's seat. The sexual self-doubt of men is a key component of the authoritarianism that is surging in many locales around the world. Uptight men want strong, sexually charged-up women to be (a) under their control or (b) shut down. Stop prohibiting women from having sex if they want to! Stop layering their choosing to have pleasure if they wish with laws that constitute a legislative chastity belt! Get off their backs! Let her stand up and breathe the same air of authority as you do! [1] And the nature of those multiple orgasms by men is substantially different than it is for women, e.g. the same ejaculation might not be complete and there is another smaller ejaculation after the first one.

  • What is Saving the World Worth to You?

    A couple of days before England reported the highest temperatures in its recorded history (7/19/22), a New York Times/Siena poll delivered some very bad news to the Anthropocene: only 1% of the American population ranks climate change as the #1 problem facing America today. The climate’s 99-1 loss in the poll of public opinion stands in stark contrast with the 97+% of publishing climate scientists who are convinced that climate change is real. Most of the folks who are best informed on this topic view it as a pressing crisis. As reported by NASA and many other sources, the evidence of the climate emergency is everywhere: Global temperatures have grown steadily higher since the 1950s. They’re currently about 1° C higher than they were then. A 2° C increase in global temperature will expose 37% of the world’s population to sustained heat waves, such as the current one in Jacobabad Pakistan (population ~200K), where temperatures rose to over 100° for 51 days straight. Unabated, the continuation of present fossil consumption habits will result in a temperature rise of ~4°C, with unimaginably terrible consequences. Droughts and extreme wildfires have become a fact of life in the Western US while violent storms and precipitation pelt the East. Climate change is driving desperation and migration within and between countries. Being in the very small minority that considers climate change to be a truly pressing existential crisis is tough. There is so much that needs to be done, but there is so little will to do it. Depressing. It would make a significant difference in public opinion if events driven by global warming were simply named as such in the popular media. For example, the thermometer is expected to hit 111° F today in Phoenix AZ. The current drought in Phoenix is approaching 15 years in length. It has surpassed the worst drought in more than 110 years of official recordkeeping. Despite this fact, the digital version of today’s Arizona Republic carries no front-page information about the drought or its link to climate change. Nor is such a link to climate change made anywhere in the paper. It does carry a story about the early emergence of the yearly “wildfire season,” in which 1,400,000 acres were burned in 2020—2021. No reference is made to climate change. Ditto for a story on two private prisons losing power after a major storm causing about 2,700 prisoners to boil in 100+° heat. I am unaware of any concerted and organized campaign to demand that the reportage of life-threatening weather events by the mass media be described in climate change terms. Here’s a statement that is made repeatedly in press coverage: “While it cannot be stated with certainty that this (tornado, hurricane, forest fire, flood, drought, loss of life, tsunami, mass extinction, mass migration of desperate refugees, war, heat wave, sea level rise … nightmare) is caused by climate change, it’s the sort of thing that is correlated with the predictions made by climate scientists.” BS!!!! The specifics may vary, but the context is clear: global warming is causing extreme weather everywhere. Idiot politicians like Manchin are posturing and dithering and getting wrought up with the scandal of women having sex or the protection of the wealth of billionaires and their yachts while the planet fries. It is long past time for media outlets like the Wall Street Journal, Fox News, the Gannett Newspaper, and Xinhua News Agency which reach millions and billions to start telling the truth: we are rapidly approaching a requiem scenario for civilization and maybe for all life on our planet. Through our ignorance, rigidity, and immaturity, we are bombing ourselves back into the Stone Age. The situation reminds me of a scene near the end of one of my favorite movies, Schindler’s List. In this scene, Oskar Schindler, who saved about 1,200 Jews from being exterminated by the Nazis in Poland, arrives at a railway station where there are boxcars crammed full of men, women, and children on their way to being murdered in the death camps. Schindler, who was once a confirmed Nazi and a multimillionaire, had the extremely good fortune to find his humanity. He sacrificed all of his possessions to give comfort and life to a few hundred out of the millions who were slaughtered by a ruthless tyranny. Tragically, as the Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres, stated on July 18, 2022, short-term thinking in the Anthropocene has created the conditions that make “collective suicide” very likely. We’ve put ourselves into the boxcars Schindler hosed down. In To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus Finch described courage as “When you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyhow.” This is the position that we, the members of the 1% who have no doubt that climate change is the existential issue confronting our era have to display. What are we who know of the approach of this calamity to do to be true to ourselves? Can we prevent this self-inflicted apocalypse any more than Schindler was able to save the Jews in those boxcars? Probably not, although there might still be some very slight chance of stepping back from the eve of destruction. Should we concentrate on saving ourselves? Maybe. Should we bank on technological breakthroughs that will shift the management of Earth to artificial intelligent agents that won’t give a single damn about human sensitivities? Maybe. Should we expend our last ounce of energy pleading with the folks who are too busy worrying about today to concern themselves with the day after tomorrow for themselves, their children, and Nature? I don’t know. I do know that, if through some miracle, civilization survives for the next 200 years, this era will be recalled with horror and contempt. It will be remembered as one in which most people didn’t have the education, skill, attention, or opportunity to give a damn, and as one in which there were some who could have made a difference, but preferred to party and make war while Earth burned.

  • Welcome to the Anthropocene...

    Here we are, citizens of the Anthropocene, trying to figure this all out. The big question, of course, is "will there be time"? Watch me in this brief intro then join me as I explore this and other questions as I report from the front lines...

  • Anthropocene: A Word That Defines Our Time

    It is said that you don't know what you’re feeling until it has a name. Ours is an ever-increasingly anxious era. Plagues and calamities abound. They aren’t the only thing that’s going on, of course. Technologies of all sorts are advancing at an exponential rate. That’s exciting. It’s possible that humanity will be able to use them to deal with the threats our planet faces. But technologies can also create and amplify dangers. This is the Age of Humanity. The complicated forces impacting everything lead to our consumption of extraordinary amounts of information. So much to know! So many distractions! It’s impossible to know all that one wants or needs to know. These cognitive limits generate this epoch’s distinctive neurosis. Anthropocene is a word that defines our time. This is the Age of Humanity. All previous geological epochs have developed pretty much without having to pay too much attention to Humanity. Humanity pays a lot of attention and thinks it’s a big deal, but the Anthropocene is when it started to disturb the natural system in an extreme fashion. Given that atmospheric pollution, environmental disregard, and war are three of Humanity’s signature activities in the Anthropocene so far, the odds are pretty good that it will be the shortest of the Earth’s epochs and equally as disastrous as a bunch of meteors hitting our home simultaneously. We’re on the verge of doing to ourselves what the dinosaurs had done to them by nature. On the other hand, if Humanity takes a learning-oriented approach to the management of our situation the Anthropocene go on forever. If Humanity takes a learning-oriented approach to the management of our situation the Anthropocene goes on forever. Adventures in the Anthropocene is my report as a citizen of the Anthropocene. It will contain a variety of ideas and information. Politics, Culture, Science, Social Evolution…lots of words like that. I get obsessed with some things, e.g., the 1/6 coup attempt, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. These matters seem to me to be significant to the next direction of the Anthropocene. (At least that’s the way I rationalize various fixations to myself). My objective here is to be adequate to the job of participating while observing this era to discover what I’m discovering by writing and otherwise symbolizing it. If my stuff engages some people I get along with, so much the better.

  • Tech in the 'Cene: Robotics

    I was recently served by a robot at Brooks’ Burgers in Naples, Florida. It wasn’t quite as spiffy as this one, but it was moving toward a humanoid look. The wait staff loved it. The robot relieved them of the hassle of having to carry heavy platters and allowed them to be more engaged with customers. It was quite polite. It was approaching me as I got up to go to the washroom, but rather than run headlong right into me, as I feared it might, noticed me and came to a stop, then moved over so that I may walk by. Everyone over 30 at Brooks’ paid close attention to the technological marvel; the people 15-30 looked up, and the kids 10 and under, paid it no mind because they were too wrapped up in their hand devices to notice. According to Anthropocean Elon Musk, the Artificial Intelligence behind robotics is “dangerous.” Of course, that was in 2017 before Tesla started working on its own humanoid and Elon was still a Democratic voter. Sentient Beings? Recently, a Google Engineer, Blake Lemoine, claims he’s been interacting with a sentient robot built on LaMDA (Language Model for Dialog Applications), a proprietary Google program. In his informative overview of the Lemoine story in Innovation and Tech Today, Aron Vaughan, defines sentient as “self-awareness.” If you know you exist, you do exist. “I think, therefore I am.” If a robot knows it exists, it’s a self-aware entity. Given that Roe v. Wade was overturned today, one wonders when protections are going to be extended to this new type of being? (I’m not sure that we can call it a “lifeform,” but sentient robots are surely going to be a “something.”) Lemoine and others are already agitating for that sort of recognition and legitimacy. Will granting robots citizenship become an activists cause by 2050? 2030? Robotics is a thread of “The Singularity.” National Medal of Technology and Innovation winner, Ray Kurzweil coined the word “Singularity” to describe the explosive growth occurring in computational capacity, as computer, genetic, nanotechnology, robotic, and AI technologies are demonstrating daily. The moment that computational power equals or exceeds the ability of the human brain, people may well become the slaves to the IT devices many thought would be slaves to us! This is a depressing prospect to me, a card-carrying and aging flower child. Here I was expecting the Aquarian Age and, instead, I’m getting Robbie the Robot rolled up with The Terminator and a disembodied Her! Kurzweil was the keynote speaker at a World Future Society assembly where I was one of the leaders of a scenario workshop around 2000. He spoke to an audience of well over 1,000. He talked about his father’s death at 58 and how that had such a powerful impact on him. The younger Kurzweil was about 55 at the time of his talk. He spoke about life extension possibilities and technologies and described his daily regimen involving his consumption of something like 250 dietary supplements. He was not a One-a-Day vitamin kind of guy. Even brilliant scientists make predictions that don’t always come true. He said he’d recently seen his physician, who remarked that he didn’t look a day over 35. Being about the same age as Kurzweil, I didn’t have the same impression of Ray’s condition. I turned to my colleague and said, “He needs to get another doctor.” As far as I was concerned, he looked every bit his age. I’m not remembering the sequence of events perfectly, but I believe it was the next year that Kurzweil, who suffers from diabetes and high cholesterol, was hospitalized and nearly died. I point these recollections out because even brilliant scientists make predictions that don’t always come true. Nitpicking reservations aside, advances such as those reflected in the recent Google story provide ample evidence that something like Singularity is coming into view. For example, the size of the global robotics marketplace is expected to be well over $170bn by 2027 with personal robotics constituting approximately 30% of that volume. These powerful technology trends are very unlikely to be reversed. In the 2030 remake of “My Fair Lady,” Professor Henry Higgins may be addressing a robot when he ends the show with, “Eliza, where are my slippers!” This note is only a slight foray into a theme that will be recurring in this adventure story about the Anthropocene. Technology’s influence and capabilities are gaining strength and power constantly. As The Beatles stated at the close of A Day in the Life, “Everything is going up!” The pace of change is accelerating into hyperspeed and probably into hyperspace.

  • Buckminster Fuller Archive

    I have been reading and studying Bucky Fuller’s work since 1968. The breadth and depth of his genius and the integrity of his character have been a beacon to my mind and heart. I will be referring to his thought many times in both specific and general ways over the life of this project. Given the scope of his interests and his productivity, it is hard to say which particular publication or study best constitutes his legacy, but, as the title “Everything I Know” implies, these 42 hours of video from 1975 present a comprehensive survey of his ideas and experiences from his assertion that the tetrahedron is the fundamental building block of the universe to his meetings with many remarkable men and women to his accounts of personal accounts and analytical insights that lead him to conclude that the metaphysical is more important than the physical, that mind is a precursor to matter. It took me several years to complete my immersion in this “course,” although I’m sure that someone with better powers of concentration could get the job done more quickly. I found it useful to take notes as I went along. Of course, I had to read a couple books like Utopia or Oblivion along the way. Bucky wasn’t right about everything. For example, he was sure the the world’s population would top out at ~5 billion quite a while ago and we seem to be on our way to something much larger than that. But he was right about how to be a life long learner, and for this I am eternally grateful. I should also issue a shout out to The Internet Archive, the institution that preserved Bucky’s work in this format and has done so much to make a vast trove of knowledge across a compendium of fields available to all of us and to organize the information in a manageable fashion. Buckminster Fuller Archive DESCRIPTION During the last two weeks of January 1975 Buckminster Fuller gave an extraordinary series of lectures concerning his entire life's work. These thinking out loud lectures span 42 hours and examine in depth all of Fuller's major inventions and discoveries from the 1927 Dymaxion house, car and bathroom, through the Wichita House, geodesic domes, and tensegrity structures, as well as the contents of Synergetics. Autobiographical in parts, Fuller recounts his own personal history in the context of the history of science and industrialization. The stories behind his Dymaxion car, geodesic domes, World Game and integration of science and humanism are lucidly communicated with continuous reference to his synergetic geometry. Permeating the entire series is his unique comprehensive design approach to solving the problems of the world. Some of the topics Fuller covered in this wide ranging discourse include: architecture, design, philosophy, education, mathematics, geometry, cartography, economics, history, structure, industry, housing and engineering. Access the Collection here...

  • The Zombie Named Dixie

    White supremacy is the Confederacy's blazingly debilitating hangover. Let's find a cure! Racial and ethnic discrimination and hatred are, unfortunately, worldwide phenomena. A particularly virulent strain of white supremacy exists in the United States where a horrific civil war took the lives of approximately 23% of the white male population aged 20-24 living in the Confederate states in the years 1860-1865. The ethos that fought to keep Blacks enslaved in the US has been greatly reinvigorated by the backlash to the election of an African-American president in 2008 and the explicit racism of Trump and his followers. American white supremacy is a deeply destructive ideology that impacts the readiness to accept and be guided by science, paranoia and gun ownership, the position of women and minorities in society, and many other maladies. This anti-racism monograph constitutes my own reflections on the role that white supremacy has played in my life, why it has been allowed to persist, and some pathways by which this scourge can be treated and, possibly, eradicated. Read my short story The Zombie Dixie here.

  • A Simple Twist of Fate

    A multiplicity of alternative futures is wrapped up in every moment of the present. Strong trends create a sense of inevitability regarding the now. For example: Water occupies 70% of the Earth’s surface. The Earth revolves around the Sun. The Moon revolves around the Earth. The combined gravitational forces exerted by the Sun and Moon as the Earth rotates generate tides. These are all “givens.” These realities haven’t changed in a very, very long time. The expectation that there will be a high tide and a low tide is based on undeniably strong trends. The trends are so solid that it’s not even thought of as something that could or might change. But massive meteors striking the Earth (or the Moon) could alter this fundamental regularity and create a dramatically different present, instantaneously. Strong trend lines are sort of like an autobahn, a limited-access highway, where traffic is automatic and moving at a predictable speed. Various disruptions of the basic pattern occur, but matters return to the mean quickly when considered through the lens of a geological time frame. A distinctive feature of the Anthropocene is that many of the strong trends of the era are not yet well-defined. A distinctive feature of the Anthropocene is that many of the strong trends of the era are not yet well-defined. The on-ramps to the autobahn are designing and inventing what our limited-access highways are in going to be. While it may be true that there are many characteristics of the Anthropocene that are not yet truly known, many of the trendlines that are taking shape are deeply disconcerting. Temperatures and, therefore, climate boundaries were fairly stable during the Holocene, the 11,000-year geological era that ended around 1850. Up till then, temperatures on the Earth kept within about a 1°C range. One could depend upon hot and cold in particular regions to stay within that limit. The temperature was a predictable wave function. But, since 1850, temperatures have been going up. An inflection point occurred in 1900 and rising temperatures are rapidly accelerating. The climate influences every element of life. The extreme weather variations that are becoming commonplace are the Numero Uno Context Setter of the Anthropocene so far. Graphic: European Environmental Agency This is not a happy chart. If things keep on like this, everything is going to be in very deep doo-doo. If we Earthlings continue damaging the atmosphere, the ramp we’re creating will go nowhere. We are at an inflection point and most people are not paying attention, e.g., the activist US Supreme Court which just neutered the US Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to curb carbon emissions. It empowered many reactionary states governed by Republicans who deny the reality of climate change to continue their obstinate hostility toward science. Coincident with the climate crisis, several other inflection points are also being reached in technology, the Earth’s population carrying capacity, the interconnectedness and immediacy of contact across the globe, the stability of sexual norms, and gender relations …the list goes on. The relationship between democracies and autocracies is a trend line that is very unstable at present. It could unfold in a variety of ways. Its future will have a great impact on the prospects of the Anthropocene’s continued existence. I believe that the outcome of two present-moment dramas will exert significant influence on what the autocracy versus democracy superhighway will look like over the course of the next 20-50 years: The consequences of the January 6th insurrection investigation in the United States Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the Ukrainian resistance to it Donald Trump, his allies, and his supporters sought to overthrow the government of the United States through a violent coup on January 6th, 2021. If he and his close associates are not held accountable, the rule of law and of majority rule will become increasingly meaningless on the world stage. Raw power will become synonymous with government, as it is and has been with every dictatorship. The ascendency of minority rule is being enforced by an out-of-step Supreme Court and imposed upon America by an outmoded electoral college system that tips the scales toward the interests and values of voters from rural states, many of whom are significantly less educated than their fellow citizens from urban areas. Two of the winners in the last five presidential elections did not receive the majority of the popular votes but ascended to office through the electoral college. A third (2020) continues to be contested by the loser, despite clear evidence that he lost both the popular and the electoral college votes. Dominated by three Trump appointees, all of whom lied about their views on settled law during their confirmation hearings, and Clarence Thomas, who also lied during his confirmation hearing, the Supreme Court has increasingly become an instrument of the Republican Party. The electoral college and the Supreme Court are both pillars of American democracy. However, both trends, i.e., the meaninglessness of votes from urban states and the willingness of the Supreme Court to enforce laws and norms regarding abortion, gun regulation, and climate change (to name only three that are prominent) that only small minorities of the population agree with, are undermining the legitimacy of these institutions and creating unpredictable consequences. Will these trends continue to go uncontested by an apathetic public for whom electoral politics does not matter or will they be contested by the reinvigoration of constituencies that have neither paid attention to politics nor been reliable voters in the past? Alternatively, will mobs and organized militias, such as those that stormed the Capitol on 1/6/21, become the norms in the United States as electoral politics become completely outmoded and abandoned? Innumerable predictions are being made on these questions, but I think that the wheel of Fate is still very much in spin. Much will depend on the results of the House of Representatives investigation of the 1/6 insurrection and whether Merrick Garland’s Justice Department charges, tries, convicts, and imprisons Trump and his close associates. Doing so would surely result in riots and violence by devoted Trumpians, including those who make a lot of money off his brand and look forward to doing so again in the future. Being willing to confront and put down this rage would go a long way toward re-establishing accountability and the rule of law not only in the United States but also in every society where the democratic governance structure either holds sway or is seen as desirable. It would also indicate that the world’s most prominent democracy has come to its senses and would, therefore, start to take a much more consistently sane approach to the massive problems created by the climate crisis, the changing conditions of employment created by the burgeoning role of technology, the resetting of norms between men and women and other dynamics in rapid motion during this inflection point period. Not doing so essentially guarantees that the political autobahn presently under construction will be one of authoritarianism and alienation. Police state and surveillance tactics and manipulations such as those envisioned by Orwell in 1984 (and presently being enforced in Xi’s China) will become normative. In this instance, the Anthropocene will be a very short period, geologically. This dystopian period will culminate in environmental collapse and God only knows what will follow. They’d better be happy Or at least conforming! Source: China Daily; credit: Reuters Conditions in Ukraine present a similar picture of the struggle between democracy and autocracy, law and might. Volodymyr Zelensky and his people are waging an incredibly courageous struggle against the brutal villainy of Vladimir Putin and his Russian supporters. As with the effort to bring Trumpism to justice, it is not at all clear at this moment how the battle will turn out. Again, many pundits and everyday people are sure of the outcome, but no one really knows. World War III may have already begun, although the acceleration of the conflict is moving slowly, as it did in 1939 when Hitler invaded Poland. Or, the Russian advance may run out of steam, resulting in victory for Ukraine at some point and the removal of Russian troops from Ukrainian lands. If Trump and Trumpism avoid justice and if Putin’s campaign to destroy Ukraine’s independence are both successful, the deep cynicism that many – and perhaps, especially, the young – feel will harden into dangerous nihilism with frightening and dispiriting results accompanied by a great deal of violence. If, on the other hand, they both lose, there will be a significant upsurge in hope and political activism in support of democracy and the rule of law worldwide. Not enough to overcome the eco-anxiety caused by climate change and other factors, but important. If Trump loses and Putin wins, the prospects for WWIII and Russia’s collapse increase, especially if the Republican Party is deeply discredited in the United States and a young and charismatic Center-Left wins the Presidency in 2024. If Putin loses and Trump wins, the United States will slide further into isolationism and a Fortress America mentality, Europe will have to face a wounded and adrift Russia with greatly diminished American support, China’s dictatorship will become more cemented, isolationism and nationalism will advance, and the United States will likely withdraw from the United Nations. Alliances will be based more on transactionalism than on shared values and trust. Uncertainty, complexity, and the prospect of interminable chaos are characteristic of the Anthropocene at this point in its evolution, and that may always be so. It is important to do everything we can to create positive possibilities and avoid political regression. The climate crisis worsens every day and needs to be addressed with maturity and resolve. What kind of superhighway do we want to have?

  • Leading Organizations in the Field of Alternative Energy

    This report also publishes soon in the Security and Sustainability Guide. I believe that the Guide is one of the indispensable tools that every Anthropocene should carry in her or his backpack. The objective of the report is to provide an overview of developments in the burgeoning and incredibly important field of renewable and alternative energy. If our species has any prospects for maintaining anything like the presence of robust life on planet earth, it must absolutely make a transition away from carbon-based energy. This report gives us hope because it identifies scores of organizations and many thousands of people are doing everything they can to get us off of greenhouse gas emitting fuels. I will be revising this report every six months. While fossil fuels continue to dominate energy production and consumption, the press of climate change has made it abundantly clear that the ecological costs of greenhouse gas-emitting power sources make them unsustainable. In response to this ever-more serious climate crisis, there has been an explosion of interest in non-polluting clean energy. This Quick Look surveys a broad range of activities in the fields of renewable and alternative energy. Renewable and alternative energy endeavors constitute a very large landscape. The sheer volume of these activities is encouraging because it demonstrates that when public concerns finally generate the political will to act on the massive, planetary scale that is necessary, the technologies and conceptual frameworks are in place to achieve the extraordinary economic and political effort that will be needed achieve the transition to a non-polluting form of energy. This is not to say that the change from fossil fuels to clean energy sources will be an easy or seamless one nor that there will not be intensive competition between organizations and technologies seeking to capitalize on market opportunities and the multitude of emergencies that are already accompanying climate change. There will most assuredly be intense conflicts and hostility. The path forward to a new energy economy is rich in opportunity, but it is also going to be confusing and contentious. There are several important limitations to this overview of organizational actors. First, there are so many thousands of players on the field that important elements of the story will inevitably be left out and many details of the organizations described will not be included. Further, neither nuclear power nor ethanol– both controversial clean energy sources – are not foci here. Nor are the multitude of financial organizations whose primary activity is the funding of the clear energy activity or the thousands of private sector actors who are engaged in on-the-ground innovation pushing the field forward. Finally, as the sociologist, Erving Goffman, made clear in The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (New York: Doubleday, 1959), every organization has a front stage and a backstage. The players in a performance demonstrate the drama that they want them to see and so do most if not all organizations. But organizational outcomes are ultimately dominated and determined by what happens backstage. Thus, the descriptions provided here should all be considered with a degree of skepticism. For example, the bureaucratic machinations characterizing life inside all of these organizations are not going to be immediately accessible through this QuickLook. However, limitations aside, we believe that this QuickLook will give the reader a sufficient guide to alternative energy territory to understand the lay of the land and to make decisions on where to begin and/or where to go next within it. If we can identify the organizations that are leading the shaping the general contours of this burgeoning field, we shall have done our job. The structure of this review is to move from government and quasi-government agencies focused primarily on the science and technology of renewable and alternative energy to independent NGOs that assess and evaluate the overall developments in the field to those trade associations focused on the field’s professional and commercial activities. Government Departments and Quasi-Government Agencies The governments of many nation-states support basic scientific research into renewable and alternative energy and the invention of technologies related to them. 1. The United States Department of Energy’s Office of Science (1942, Washington) With origins in the Manhattan Project, the Office of Science is the lead Federal agency supporting scientific research for energy. Office of Science-supported researchers have made key scientific advances related to solar energy, bioenergy, solid-state lighting, and batteries, among many other areas of energy. In 2021, the Office of Science received $7B in funding. It has requested $7.4B in funding for fiscal 2022. The proposed Office of Clean Energy Demonstration is seeking $400M in funding for 2022. It is seeking $500M for the Advanced Research Projects Agency (Energy) in 2022 and $200M for Advanced Research Projects Agency (Climate). Fusion Energy Sciences is one of a multitude of research activities supported by the US Department of Energy. The mission of the Fusion Energy Sciences (FES) program is to expand the fundamental understanding of matter at very high temperatures and densities and to build the scientific foundation needed to develop a fusion energy source. This is accomplished through the study of plasma, the fourth state of matter, and how it interacts with its surroundings. It is hoped that at some juncture, fusion research will harness the power of the sun for a variety of purposes, including clean energy. The 2022 fiscal year request for this program is $675M. The Joint Center for Energy Storage Research Batteries and Energy Storage Hub (JCESR) is another example of the work of the Department of Energy’s Office of Science. The JCESR seeks to deliver transformative materials for batteries – including cathodes, anodes, electrolytes, and interfaces. JCESR is divided into five thrusts dealing with the most important materials and phenomena of energy storage: Liquid Solvation Science, Solid Solvation Science, Flowable Redoxmer Science, Charge Transfer at Dynamic Interfaces, and Science of Material Complexity. The JCESR is seeking $25M in funding for fiscal 2022. 2. The International Energy Agency (1974, Paris) Created in the aftermath of the 1974 energy crisis, the governing board of the IEA is composed of energy ministers or their senior representatives from 30 member countries. With a budget of $31M and a staff of approximately 500, the IEA recommends policies that enhance the reliability, affordability, and sustainability of energy. It examines and tracks the full spectrum of policy and technology issues including renewables, oil, gas, and coal supply and demand, energy efficiency, clean energy technologies, electricity systems and markets, access to energy, and demand-side management. Elements of its renewable portfolio include bioenergy; carbon capture, utilization, and storage; electric vehicles; energy storage; fuel economy; heating; hydrogen; hydropower; lighting; methane abatement; smart grids; solar; trucks and buses; fusion; geothermal and wind. It issues annual or bi-annual reports on each of these topics. The IEA’s Technology Collaboration Program supports the work of independent, international groups of over 6,000 experts from 55 countries representing nearly 300 public and private organizations that “enable governments and industries to work on a variety of energy technologies in support of the global transition to a cleaner energy future.” 3. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (1991, Golden CO) NREL is a laboratory of the United States Department of Energy that is focused on fundamental science, clean energy technologies, and integrated energy systems. It had a budget of $545M in 2020 and a staff of approximately 2,700. All of its programmatic activities (Renewable Power, Sustainable Transportation, Energy Efficiency, Energy Systems Integration, Chemistry and Nano-Science, Computational Science, Energy Analysis, Energy Storage, and Materials Science) advance clean energy. Its National Bioenergy Center (NBC) works to advance and develop innovative and cost-effective solutions that move the production of biofuels, bioproducts, biochemicals, and bioenergy to market. Its Photovoltaic Research Center focuses on boosting solar cell conversion efficiencies; lowering the cost of solar cells, modules, and systems; and improving the reliability of PV components and systems. Its National Wind Technology Center maintains an open-source information portal primarily for the benefit of the U.S. government and organizations that collaborate with the Department of Energy's Wind and Water Power Technologies Office. NREL maintains 16 research programs. It published more than 2,150 scientific and technical studies in 2021 alone. 4. Clean Energy Ministerial (No Location, 2009) The CEM was initiated by Obama’s Secretary of Energy, Stephen Chu. It brings together ministers with responsibility for clean energy technologies from the world’s major economies as well as ministers from a select number of smaller countries. The 28 countries and the European Commission that are members of the CEM account for about 81 percent of global clean energy investments and 83 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. In 2021, CEM’s activities addressed 22 specific foci across six domains: Power; Transport; Industry; Buildings; Cross-Sectoral; and Enabling Environment. CEM’s "distributed leadership" model results in any government interested in furthering a substantive idea on clean energy technology identifying partners and moving ahead with an effort. The CEM believes that it is currently the only regular meeting of energy ministers at which they exclusively discuss clean energy. The Ministerial sponsors 17 specific renewable energy initiatives, such as The Long-term Scenarios for the Clean Transition (LTES) Initiative, which aims to promote the improved use of long-term model-based energy scenarios to support and accelerate the energy transition among CEM countries. It published or endorsed 37 reports and analyses in 2021, e.g., Hydrogen in North-Western Europe: A vision toward 2030 (85p). 5. Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (1983, DC) The Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP) is a global knowledge and technical assistance program established in 1983 and administered by the World Bank to help low and middle-income countries reduce poverty and boost growth through sustainable energy solutions. ESMAP’s work covers 6 major areas - Energy Access, Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy, Energy Subsidy Reform, Knowledge Hub, as well as Governance, Markets & Planning. During the period of July 2013 to June 2020, ESMAP completed 661 Activities with a total grant amount of more than $320 million. The mission of ESMAP is to support the UN Sustainable Development Goal #7, i.e., “to insure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.” 6. International Renewable Energy Agency (2009; Masdar City, United Arab Emirates) IRENA is the only UN agency dedicated to the promotion of 100% renewable energy worldwide, including bioenergy, geothermal, hydropower, ocean, solar, and wind energy. More than 180 countries are engaged in and with the Agency. Its efforts encompass Annual reviews of renewable energy employment; Renewable energy capacity statistics; Renewable energy cost studies; county-by-country Renewables Readiness Assessments; The Global Atlas, which maps resource potential by source and by location; Renewable energy benefits studies; a roadmap to double renewable energy use worldwide by 2030; Renewable energy technology briefs; regional energy planning; and project development tools like the Project Navigator, the Sustainable Energy Marketplace and the IRENA/ADFD Project Facility. 7. Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership [REEEP] (2004; Paris) With a network of more than 1,500 experts, REEEP collects, consolidates, and synthesizes renewable energy data to provide clear and reliable information on what is happening in real-time. In addition to collecting and organizing knowledge, REEEP creates contexts in which debates bring together government, the private sector, civil society, research, and academia intended to spur the renewable energy transition. Reports are published annually and periodically on: the global status of renewables, renewables in cities, renewable status by world regions, the prospects for various elements of the renewable landscape in the future, and assorted themes, e.g., “Civil Power for Grids”. 8. Fusion Energy Sciences (ND, Washington) The FES is a division within the US Department of Energy. Its mission is to expand the fundamental understanding of matter at very high temperatures and densities and to build the scientific foundation needed to develop a fusion energy source. This is accomplished through the study of plasma, the fourth state of matter, and how it interacts with its surroundings. Funding for the totality of the program in 2021 was $672M. 9. EurObserv'ER (1999, Paris) The Observatory of Renewable Energies in France is the coordinator of Observ'ER. It works with five other partners: ECN (The Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands), IEO (EC BREC Institute of Renewable Energetic Ltd) in Warsaw, the RENAC (Renewables Academy AG) in Berlin, FS (Frankfurt School of Finance and Management) and IJS (Institut Jozef Stefan) in Slovenia. It monitors and reports on: Photovoltaics; Wind; Solid Biofuels; Ocean Energy; Solar Thermal and Concentrated Solar Power; Biogas; Biofuels; Heat Pumps; and Renewable Municipal Waste. 10. European Renewable Energy Research Centres Agency (1991, Brussels) 5 research centers from 16 European countries give EUREC a wide-angle lens with which to understand renewable research and development on the Continent. Full members have seats in Member states of the European Union. Renewable energy technologies represented include wind, biomass, small hydro, marine, geothermal, photovoltaics, solar thermal electricity, and solar thermal heating and cooling. Technologies supporting the advancement of renewable energy, such as energy efficiency, storage, distribution, and integration, and studies of the social and economic impact of new forms of energy are also foci. Independent Research Centers 11. Energy Watch Group (2006, Berlin) Founded by its current president, Hans-Josef Fell, who was a member of the German Parliament in 2006, EWG provides scientific analyses and studies, political advice. 15 distinguished scientists and an international group of 19 parliamentarians under the direction of. Energy Watch describes itself as an independent think-and-do-tank comprised of a network of researchers and parliamentarians and maintaining partnerships with leading universities and research institutes. EWG is thinks of itself as a a watchdog on mainstream international agencies: “Zero-emission technologies and especially the field of renewable energy need much more political advocacy in order to withstand the political influence of the conventional energy sector. Until today, policies are often shaped by international organizations and governments heavily influenced by the conventional energy industry that profits from the status quo. The powerful fossil and nuclear industries often use science as a tool to serve their own interests, leading to an intentional underestimation of the growth potential of renewable energy and its manifold opportunities for our economy, society, and environment.” Its free “Divestment Ticker” stays up-to-date with the latest developments in the global fossil fuel divestment movement. 12. Rocky Mountain Institute (1982, Boulder CO) With a budget of over $61M and a staff of 300+ working on four continents, RMI focuses on decarbonizing energy systems through, market-based change in vulnerable geographies to align with a 1.5°C future and address the climate crisis. RMI adheres to a “natural capitalism” framework. “Natural capital” refers to the earth’s natural resources and the ecological systems that provide vital life-support services to society and all living things. RMNI asserts that nature’s services are of immense economic value; some are literally priceless since they have no known substitutes. However, Many current business practices do not value these assets—which is rising with their scarcity. The resulting degradation of natural capital by the wasteful use of resources such as energy, materials, water, fiber, and topsoil must cease. RMI’s global programs focus on: breakthrough technologies (e.g., “green” steel); carbon-free buildings; carbon-free electricity; carbon-free mobility; decarbonizing China; decarbonizing 7 specific industries (e.g. flaring); climate intelligence; the Global South; decarbonizing India; industrial decarbonization strategy; urban energy systems; and supporting decarbonization in the US. 13. Interstate Renewable Energy Council (1982; Latham, New York) Although it is a relatively small organization, IREC has an impressive track record of supporting advances in renewable energy, electric grid modernization, and energy efficiency via workforce development strategies, local clean energy solutions, and regulatory engagement. In 2021, IREC merged with The Solar Foundation, a national nonprofit that has led the advancement of solar energy and solar-compatible technologies since 1977. Here is an example of its Technical Assistance Program that supports local-level engagement with regulatory authorities: IREC partners with the U.S. Department of Energy, through initiatives like Building a Technically Reliable Interconnection Evolution for Storage (BATRIES), to provide technical support and guidance that informs efforts to advance solar, storage, and other clean energy technologies. IREC leads the SolSmart program, which has offered no-cost technical assistance to help more than 400 communities encourage solar energy growth. 14. World Council for Renewable Energy (2001; Germany) This World Council is an independent global network of NGOs, companies, and scientific institutes in the fields of renewable energy, environmental protection, and development aid. Asserting that the existing World Energy Council is too biased toward the interest of the nuclear and fossil energy industry, the WCRE’s objective is to give an independent voice to Renewable Energy in the global energy discussion. WCRE states that it was the main driving force behind the establishment of an International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), described elsewhere in this QuickLook. In addition to IRENA, the Council’s partners include European Association for Renewable Energy (EUROSOLAR), REN21, Global 100%RE, American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE), and GBEP - Global Bioenergy Partnership. Several of these organizations are also described in this QuickLook. Its committee of chairpersons includes distinguished figures in the renewable energy field, such as its general chairperson, Prof. Peter Droege, who is the president of Eurosolar and the Director of Liechtenstein Institute for Strategic Development. 15. Eurosolar (1988, Bonn) Eurosolar operates “Independent of political parties, institutions, companies and interest groups.” EUROSOLAR has supported the introduction of the German Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG), which requires electric utilities to obtain a minimum of 25 percent of their electricity from renewable sources like wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, and biomass by 2025. The consistent implementation and further development of this act are being actively pursued with the demand for a New Energy Market Order for a decentralized energy transition. The association has sections in 13 countries Germany, Bulgaria, Denmark, Georgia, Italy, Luxembourg, Austria, Russia, Spain, Czech Republic, Turkey, Ukraine, and Hungary. Eurosolar has approximately 2,500 members. Its Scientific Committee organizes an annual International Renewable Energy Storage Conference (IRES). It publishes Eurosolar Times and operates EurosolarTV. 16. Environmental and Energy Study Institute [EESI] (1984, Washington; EESI grew out of a bipartisan and bicameral Congressional caucus formed in 1975 by then-Congressmen Dick Ottinger (D-NY), John Heinz (R-PA), and John Seiberling (D-Ohio), and Gilbert Gude (R-MD). EESI is an educational resource, a catalyst for policymakers, and an information conduit between federal, state, and local stakeholders. A broad range of topics, including renewable energy, are addressed. Renewable energy foci include bioenergy, geothermal, hydrogen fuel cells, solar, hydropower, and wind. An annual EESI Congressional Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency EXPO and Policy Forum is an example of EESI’s work. Total assets amount to approximately $5M. University Research Centers Innumerable universities are engaged in renewable and alternative research activities and offer programs of study in these fields. Many of them receive funding from various federal and national authorities, e.g. the Department of Energy and the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) in the United States. With over 280 gigawatts of wind power – the most in the world -- Chinese schools are obviously deeply engaged in alternative energy inquiry; however, it is difficult to garner a great deal of information about their efforts without a command of Mandarin. We’ve sampled a few of these institutions to highlight the scope of alternative energy research at universities globally, but we’re confident that we have not covered this rich arena fully. 17. European Energy Research Alliance (2008, Brussels) EERA is the largest energy research community in Europe. It is a membership-based, non-profit association that, at present, has 250 universities and public research centers in 30 countries as members. Joint program areas include Advanced Materials and Processes for Energy Applications (AMPEA); Bioenergy; Carbon Capture and Storage; Concentrated Solar Power; Digitalization for Energy; Economic, Environmental and Social Impacts of the Energy Transition (e3s); Energy Efficiency in Industrial Processes; Energy Storage; Energy System Integration; Fuel Cells and Hydrogen; Geothermal; Hydropower; Nuclear Materials; Ocean Energy; Photovoltaics; Smart Cities; Smart Grids; Wind. In the absence of an annual report, EERA’s exact budget is difficult to establish. It’s probably in the range of $100M. 18. Tokyo University’s Integrated Research Center for Sustainable Energy and Materials Institute of Industrial Science (2016, Tokyo) The center has ten principal investigators and addresses four research activities: Materials Recycling/Design of Resources/ Substances/ Materials Flow and Process Control; Base Engineering for a Low Energy Consumption Society; Materials Engineering for Maximized Utilization of Resources/Substances; Cooperation with Industry 19. Tsinghua-BP Clean Energy Research and Education Center (2003, Tsiinghua) The Center was opened by Academician Gu Binglin, the president of Tsinghua University, and Tony Blair, who was the Prime Minister of UK at that time. It received a one-time donation of 400,000 US$ from BP for the foundation. Designed to achieve an integrated energy strategy for China by focusing on energy technology, energy system, energy strategy, and energy policy. 20. University of Victoria Institute for Integrated Energy Systems (1989, Victoria, British Columbia) The Institute is engaged in research concerning: strategic clean technologies, electrification and system integration, built environment, energy-economy-policy modeling, and integrated planning for water-energy-land systems. It analyzes these issues through the lenses of their criticality, the human dimensions of energy, and the education and training needed to achieve high-impact outcomes. It works closely with industry, not-for-profits, and government. In 2021, there were nine journal publications were based on research at the Institute. 21. University of Sheffield Energy Institute (ND, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England) With 84 faculty working in 7 individual facilities associated with the Institute (e.g., the Center for Sustainable Aviation Fuels Innovation) and another 215 faculty in its network, Sheffield makes a legitimate claim to having one of the largest energy research teams in Europe. Renewable energy research foci include electricity storage; nuclear; circular economy; wind; hydrogen and solar. 22. Oxford Energy (ND, Oxford England) This organization is part of the Oxford Networks for the Environment. Approximately 200 senior researchers are wholly or partly related to the university’s Energy Institute, which has many large industrial and academic partners, Research arenas include Bioenergy; Demand and Efficiency; Developing Countries; Economics, Policies and Politics; Electricity Networks; Marine; Solar; Storage, and Transport. Oxford is consistently ranked in the Top 10 of the world’s universities; so, this its Network for the Environment is a superlative program. Top Ranked US University Alternative Research Centers Climate change is an intensely charged and divisive topic in the United States. The leader of one of the country’s two major political parties vocally denies the existence of a crisis that virtually all climate scientists agree is pressing down on our planet. According to a 2021 poll by the Pew Research Center’s Only 45% of Americans who identify as conservatives would be willing to make “a lot of/some” changes in lifestyle to adjust to climate change while 95% who define themselves as liberals would be willing to do so. Although clean energy consumption is increasing in America, it still lags far behind the use of fossil fuels in electricity generation, transportation, the built environment, etc. Ironically, renewable energy research activity at American universities is both a long-standing and currently burgeoning field. The United States National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) funds many of these efforts. It is beyond the scope of this report to do justice to the myriad research efforts at American universities pushing renewable and alternative energy forward. In what is assuredly an inadequate effort, what we will do here is provide a brief description of this work at America’s premier technology institution where climate change alternatives to fossil are a prominent and consuming focus. 23. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1861, Cambridge MA) MIT Energy Initiative, begun in 2006, supports hundreds of research projects across the Institute. Its Future Energy Systems is “an industry research consortium providing insights on how best to navigate the energy transition based on multisectoral analyses of emerging technologies, changing policies, and evolving economics.” Current renewable energy project areas include: New England Renewables and Canadian Hydropower; the globally focused Sustainable Energy System Analysis Modelling Environment; Remarkable Materials; Carbon Pricing; Removing CO2 from Power Plant Exhaust; Quantum Dot Materials; The Future of Solar Energy; and Solar Photovoltaic Technologies. MITE's founding members are all fossil fuel multinationals (ENI, Exxon, and Shell). This may explain why there are many alternative energy initiatives at the Institute that aren’t under MITei’s umbrella. For example, the Chemistry Department is exploring a light-harvesting protein that could be useful for synthesizing pharmaceuticals or converting waste products into biofuels. The Engineering Department (ranked #3 worldwide) also conducts extensive research related to clean energy technologies. Trade Associations A wide array of trade organizations populate the renewable and alternative energy space. In general, trade associations are an admixture of high-quality professional development activities, networking, and places where friends and colleagues gather to have fun, gossip and argue. A representative set of these associations across the spectrum of renewable and alternative energy efforts is presented here. 24. AlgaeBiomass Organization (2008, Preston MN) Promotes the development of viable commercial markets for renewable and sustainable commodities derived from algae to impact food consumption, livestock feed, and power. Focuses on: microalgae, seaweed, supporting biomass policy initiatives, Approximately 100 members, including 5 national laboratories and the Seaweed Hub. Annual budget: approximately $600K 25. American Council on Renewable Energy [ACORE] (2001, DC) ACORE describes itself as the “focal point for collaborative advocacy across the renewable energy sector, supported by members spanning renewable energy technologies and constituencies, including developers, manufacturers, top financial institutions, major corporate renewable energy buyers, grid technology providers, utilities, professional service firms, academic institutions, and allied nonprofit groups.” ACORE believes that its members account for over two-thirds of annual U.S. renewable energy capacity growth. ACORE has many large corporate members and banks, e.g., Exxon and Goldman Sachs. Through its Macro Grid Initiative, the Association publishes many reports and analyses, e.g., “How Transmission Planning & Cost Allocation Processes Are Inhibiting Wind & Solar Development In SPP, MISO, & PJM” (March 2021, 41p and appendices). Total yearly expenditures are in excess of $3.25M. 26. American Clean Power Association (2021; Washington) More than 800 companies across the “clean power” sector belong to this Association, which has an annual budget of approximately $25M. ACP succeeded the American Wind Energy Association, and wind appears to be its primary, if not singular focus. The association represents wind power project developers, equipment suppliers, services providers, parts manufacturers, utilities, researchers, and others involved in the wind industry. Its membership includes developers, engineers, the workers. It issues many reports and studies, e.g., the Clean Energy Labor Supply Report. The ACP Portal is available to members. 27. Global Wind Energy Council (2005, Brussels) The Global Wind Energy Council is the international trade association for the wind power industry. It claims to represent 98% of global installed wind power capacity, including many of the most prominent names in the field, e.g., Vestas and Iberdrola. Its members are the leading turbine manufacturers, developers, suppliers, and service providers from around the world. It publishes many reports, e.g., “An Ocean of Potential: Recommendations for Offshore Wind Development in India (6p)” 28. International Hydropower Association (1995, London) Its members operate in more than 120 countries. They include “the world's leading hydropower developers, operators and manufacturers, as well as organizations involved in research, policy, planning and financing hydropower.” Issued 25 publications in 2021, e.g., “How-to Guide on Hydropower and,Indigenous Peoples (91p).” Its expenditures in 2020 amounted to $1.75M. 29. International Solar Energy Society (1954 Freiburg, Germany) ISES has members in more than 110 countries, global contacts and partners in over 50 countries with thousands of associate members, and almost 100 company and institutional members throughout the world. Young ISES, a network of students and young professional ISES members, is now connecting young solar professionals worldwide. The Society’s board is broadly international. Launched Solar Energy Advances journal in 2021. 30. World Bioenergy Association (2009, Stockholm) The mission of the association is to “promote the increasing utilization of bioenergy globally in an efficient and sustainable way and to support the business environment for the bioenergy companies.” The association's members include bioenergy organizations, institutions, companies, and individuals. Membership is primarily European, although New Zealand and Indonesia are both represented. Publishes reports, positions papers, and, irregularly, Bioenergy Magazine. Financial data is available only on request. 31. Geothermal Rising (1972, Mount Laurel NJ) While geothermal rising is a small organization, it asserts that it is the oldest geothermal association. It hosts 75 videos in the geothermal field, e.g., Retrofit of Mature Marginal Oilfields in the Peruvian Jungle into Geothermal. The Geothermal Rising Industry Directory is a comprehensive listing of geothermal services or equipment providers - not limited to the organization’s membership alone. 32. Clean Energy States Alliance [CESA] (2002, Montpelier VT, USA) CESA sees itself as a leading bipartisan US coalition of state energy organizations committed to the advancement and the rapid expansion of clean energy technologies. Programs include Building Decarbonization; Clean Energy Finance; Energy Storage; Renewable Energy Grid Integration; Solar; and Wind. Issued 17 reports in 2021, e.g., Community Outreach and Solar Equity: A Guide for States on Collaborating with Community-Based Organizations (39p). Its 2020 budget was $1,5M. 33. Center for Sustainable Energy (1996, San Diego) The Center for Sustainable Energy [CSE] is a nonprofit energy program administration and advisory services organization. Works on decarbonization with federal, state, and local governments; utilities and electricity providers; policymakers and regulators; educational institutions; businesses; and community-based organizations. Utilizes software-enabled services to engage in program design and administration, engagement and outreach, demonstration and validation, reporting and analysis. Project example: The Big-Box Efficiency Project (Walmart) to achieve at least a 20% reduction in electricity consumption. Budget: approximately $300M/year. 34. Solar Cookers International (1987, Sacramento) Solar Cookers International improves human and environmental health by supporting the expansion of effective carbon-free solar cooking in world regions of greatest need. “Over 7.7 billion solar-cooked meals and counting!” SCI engages in Advocacy, Capacity Building, and Research. Research tools include 400 designs and 90 historic cooker plans. Budget: Approximately $600K/year. 35. Solar Energy Industries Association [SEIA] (1974, Washington) SEIA is attempting to create the framework for solar to achieve 30% of U.S. electricity generation by 2030. SEIA works with its 1,000 member companies and other strategic partners for policies that create solar jobs in every community and shape fair market rules that promote competition and the growth of reliable, low-cost solar power. Publishes a variety of information relative to the solar industry, e.g., the Major Solar Projects List is a database of all ground-mounted solar projects, 1 MW and above, that are either operating, under construction or under development. Annual budget: approximately $14M. 36. Civil Society Institute (ND, Newtonville MA) Focused on microgrids to expand and integrate distributed renewable energy sources. Research and education efforts prioritize the support of democratic institutions and citizen involvement in solving problems. Does bi-partisan opinion polling on views related to clean energy in the United States. Annual budget: approximately $1M 37. WindEurope (1982, Brussels) With 400+ companies headquartered in over 35 countries, WindEurope seeks to coordinate and participate in EU-funded projects relevant to wind industry priorities. Projects and topics include grid infrastructure, offshore supply chain cost reduction, permitting, social acceptance, design of 10 – 20 MW offshore wind turbine,s and other market uptake topics. Produces the European wind supply chain map; informs European wind policy through the Technology & Innovation Platform on Wind Energy. Holds an annual conference. Issued 9 thematic reports in 2021, e.g., Wind energy digitalization towards 2030. Leading corporate members pay approximately $575M to join. 38. World Wind Energy Association (2001, Bonn) WWEA is an international non-profit with more than 600 members in around 100 countries. Promote deployment of wind energy technology; supports communication of wind energy actors; influence national governments and international organizations; encourages international technology transfer. Examples of WWEA’s reach: 27 categories of membership; 11 members in Africa; 8 in Latin America; 79 in Asia. Holds an annual World Wind Energy Conference. 39. Fusion Energy Association (2018, Washington) The Fusion Industry Association is composed of private companies working to commercialize fusion power. While its website is unimpressive, the Association apparently advocates effectively for policies that would accelerate the race to fusion energy and closely tracks fusion industry news in the US. 60 members and affiliates contribute approximately $5M annually to the Association. 40. Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Energy Assn (1989, Washington) The Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Energy Association (FCHEA) represents over seventy-five companies and organizations that are advancing innovative, clean, safe, and reliable energy technologies. It has issued 26 reports since 2011, with the Roadmap to a U.S. Hydrogen Economy being the most recent (89p). Six staff members. Budget (2019): $1.6M 41. International Geothermal Association, (1988, Den Haag, Netherlands) IGA is “the world’s largest and unique International Geothermal Association that promotes and contributes to the geothermal development worldwide.” Its 2023 World Geothermal Congress will be held in Beijing. Current projects include The Oil and Gas to Geothermal Connection; Collaboration with the German Corporation for International Cooperation regarding geothermal in Central America; and the GeoFutures Facility with an initial focus on Kenya and Ethiopia. Conclusion It is something of a contradiction to assert that this relatively detailed compilation of a wide range of organizations in the renewable and alternative energy fields is only an introduction to the level of international activity characterizing this space, but we believe that this is an accurate assessment. The International Energy Agency’s World Energy Investment 2021 estimates that $750,000,000,000 was invested in clean energy technologies and efficiency worldwide. That is approximately the GDP of Turkey. The IEA went on to state that this investment: "remains far below what is required in climate-driven scenarios. Clean energy investment would need to double in the 2020s to maintain temperatures well below a 2°C rise and more than triple in order to keep the door open for a 1.5°C stabilization. Moving to a climate-aligned energy pathway hinges on a broad range of government actions, including attention to the financial architecture that can accelerate direct investments in market-ready solutions and promote innovation in early-stage technologies. As emphasized in the new IEA Roadmap to Net Zero by 2050, policies need to drive a historic surge in clean energy investment this decade." In other words, an investment the size of Italy’s yearly GDP needs to be made annually to address the climate crisis. That is one mighty large economic sector, and there is no question that this attempt to map the outline of the important actors in this domain has inevitably fallen short. But it was and is informative. It is also the case that this is somewhat of a “let a thousand flowers bloom” stage in the development of the political economy of the renewable and alternative energy arena. Intensive competition between the various kinds of new energy sources is nascent and will most assuredly be part of the future. Elon Musk’s dismissal of hydrogen as a fuel that can compete with his battery-based vehicles is an example of the sort of rivalry between energy sources we can expect to emerge in full force by 2030. We have not picked any favorites here, although there are clearly technologies that are currently in the lead, e.g., solar and wind. That may all change depending on a variety of factors, e.g., technological innovation, political coalitions, resource availability, etc. So, we are left looking at an extremely dynamic playing field with many highly committed and intelligent players in the game. It’s exciting. It’s evolving. It’s a positive step evolutionarily for humanity and for Earth. Note: Below is a set of European trade organizations and associations whose activities overlap with other organizations referenced above. AEBIOM (European Biomass Association) Bioenergy Europe is the voice of European bioenergy. It aims to develop a sustainable bioenergy market based on fair business conditions. Founded in 1990, Bioenergy Europe is a non-profit, Brussels-based international organization bringing together 42 associations and 135 companies, as well as academia and research institutes from across Europe. EGEC (European Geothermal Energy Council) Based in Brussels, we work with our members on policy, market intelligence, and communication, providing a link between the industry and European institutions. More than 120 members from 28 countries, EPIA (European Photovoltaic Industry Association) 40 national associations are members of SolarPower Europe. We work together to understand the development of each individual solar market, share best practices, and coordinate national and European advocacy activities. EREF (European Renewable Energies Federation). EREF is the European federation of national renewable energy associations from across EU Member States, representing all renewable energy sectors. Solar Heat Europe Solar Heat Europe is the voice of the solar heat industry, actively promoting the use of solar thermal technology for renewable heating and cooling in Europe. With around 50 members in Europe, the organization represents directly or indirectly over 90% of the industry across the value chain. EUBIA (European Biomass Industry Association) European Biomass Research Network (EUBREN) consists of a selection of universities and research centres across Europe. Its efforts consist of promoting and supporting new industry-oriented initiatives in cooperation with investors, and small and large private enterprises. Further Reading

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    Recently, I posted this message for "Elders for Sound Democracy". This is the message of the moment, the urgent news that all of us should be alarmed by: America's Democracy is Under Attack. Fight With Your VOTE!

  • Elvis, Orgasm and Social Change

    The Security and Sustainability Guide, at present, describes the activities of over 3,000 organizations that are dedicated in one way or another to the development of a saner approach the management of Spaceship Earth.[1] The Guide details many threats and opportunities facing the world system and identifies hundreds of organizations that seek to address each of them. Many of the conditions of the Anthropocene are grave. Much/most of humanity is not paying adequate attention to these trends. A variety of forces detailed in The Guide – inadequate education and dysfunction of the educational system, war, pressing financial concerns, an information glut worth of distractions, etc. -- keep billions of people focused on the short term. Many/most of the organizations identified and studied in The Guide seek to bring about change in social conditions and public attention to address these planetary pressures. Social change is often described as a slow, iterative process. Full civil rights for people of color in the United States have yet to be achieved, for example, even after the passage of 400 years’ worth of servitude and struggle, Constitutional amendments and widespread statements of support for equality. But I did live through a moment in history that belies the frame of social change as a plodding process. One particular two-year period gives me hope when I think about the possibilities of achieving the rapid changes so desperately needed in this tumultuous era. I was nine years old and living in the segregated South in 1954. The color lines were strictly enforced in Louisville KY as they were anywhere south of the Mason-Dixon line. Here’s a representative Florida Jim Crow law dating to 1865, which was on the books for quite a while: Negroes or mulattoes who intruded into any railroad car reserved for white persons to be found guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, sentenced to stand in the pillory for one hour, or to be whipped, not exceeding 39 stripes, or both, at the discretion of the jury. Whites faced the same penalty for entering a car reserved for persons of color. Given that African Americans constituted approximately 40% of the Southern population in 1870 and as much as 20% in 1960, strict separation of the races was difficult to achieve. The integration of technological advances and the expansion of the entertainment industry made the wall between white and black in the music industry ever thinner and thinner as the 20th century progressed. Many black musicians, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Louis (“Satchmo”) Armstrong, Nat King Cole, the Mills Brothers, Lionel Hampton, etc., etc., were widely popular with white audiences, especially outside of the South. In the South itself, “race music, including the Urban Blues, Rhythm and Blues, Swing, Gospel and Dixieland” had a broad following among Blacks and attracted white fans as well. Many factors, e.g., Truman’s executive order integrating the military in 1948 and the overturning of legal segregation in the public schools in 1954, set the scene for widescale cultural change. A great deal of tinder was being strewn across this stage of history. Elvis was the spark. In 1953, an 18-year-old truck driver from Tupelo MS made a birthday acetate for his mother, Grace, in Memphis’ Sun Records. Sun recorded Black artists like Howlin’ Wolf, Junior Parker, and Rufus Thomas. Famously, the white owner of Sun, Sam Phillips, was looking for “a white man who had the Negro sound.” His secretary, Marion Keisker, was the first to record Elvis. She heard something in his voice and delivery that convinced her that Presley had the chops that Phillips was looking for. And the rest is history. By 1956, Elvis had become the first rock ‘n’ roll superstar. As the game changer, the innovator, he was and remains unique, singular. I saw him the day before my 12th birthday in 1956, at the Armory in Louisville, along with about 8,000 other people. That show was a formative experience that changed my life. It showed me what freedom looked like and how it affected people, me included. Seeing him move his body so sensually ignited sexual yearnings in millions of people, especially white people. Elvis’ pelvis took a wrecking ball to Victorian prohibitions. If Elvis was only a white entertainer who manifested the energy of Black R&B and gospel singers and musicians, he wouldn’t have become anywhere near as massively popular as he was. He could also deliver! He was a helluva singer and performer. That the ugly, money-grubbing, capitalist pig, “Colonel” Tom Parker did all he could to squeeze every ounce of originality and integrity out of Presley as an artist was and is very sad. But he could not take away the star’s enduring power and joie de vivre. Of course, Presley didn’t sponsor or author particular pieces of social legislation. In fact, his musical material wasn’t particularly controversial, even saccharine. But his uninhibited and authentic white working-class persona was sensational. It was a radical, non-conforming way to be that encountered sterile and hypocritical sexual norms in particular. Presley became the most famous man on the planet, and he is likely to remain an eternal cultural icon as long as there is recorded history. Looking back on his life as a teenager, the renowned actor, Martin Sheen, describes Presley’s impact: “We worshipped him! He was the first artist who boys and girls loved just the same, just as much. He rose so high, so far, so fast. He changed everything! He changed the entire culture!” Elvis was a cultural orgasm. All this pent-up and forbidden societal desire to Shake, Rattle, and Roll got released into the mainstream of American life by this excitable boy. Millions of teenagers worldwide decided it was time "to move it and to groove it.” I could argue that the cultural world we’re living in is largely the afterglow of Elvis stirring and emancipating a passion that had been too long denied and denigrated. And it all happened in two years. That toothpaste called Elvis has never been put back in the tube. So, what does the first Rock Star have to do with the rate of social change demanded by the Anthropocene? A lot! The Anthropocene needs cultural “educators” of Elvis’ power today. I use the word "educators" deliberately because he taught an entire generation something important about how and what to feel. He informed the inner life and the lived expression of billions of people. Elvis was a citizen of the Anthropocene. But I am aware of no person, group, or movement comparable to him on the 'Cene at present. There are many strong players on the political scene that influence hundreds of thousands of people, e.g., Greta Thunberg and Al Gore. There are and have been charismatic citizens of the 'Cene with great economic power that influence taste and markets, e.g., Elon Musk and Steve Jobs. And, of course, there are some exciting artists and musicians, e.g., Billie Eilish, who capture the imagination of many, and so on. But there is no central galvanizing figure who embodies the zeitgeist in a way that can take us to the next level. Spaceship Earth desperately yearns to achieve the lift-off velocity necessary to escape the nihilistic inevitability created by an increasingly dystopian present. To address the condition of the Anthropocene, our "now" needs to get past our past and take the consciousness of the planet to a deeper and more comprehensive kind of knowing. Once again, the stage of history is set for an even bigger kind of astonishing transformation than the one Elvis ignited. An infinity of futures resides in every second. Good rockin’ is available every night. The moment when great change is possible is always now. [1] This term was originally coined by Henry George in 1879 in Progress and Poverty. Bucky Fuller widely popularized the term in 1968 in his important and readable Operating Manual to Spaceship Earth.

  • You Don't Own Me!

    Leslie Gore’s megahit, “You Don’t Own Me,” has been viewed more than 60,000,000 times on YouTube. Here’s some of her advice many parents ought to take to heart: You don’t own me I’m not just one of your many toys Don’t tell me what to do Don’t tell me what to say Don’t put me on display I’m young, and I love to be young I’m free and I love to be free Nurturing children to follow their true calling is our job. We’ve got to live our values in a way that helps them have their own. Demanding that they think and feel the way we do backfires. Ours is an ever-increasingly complicated era. There are many rights and many wrongs and lots of gray in between. To navigate the 21st-century children need to think critically. They need to learn, articulate, and express what they really feel, rather than simply parroting their parents’ list of do’s and don’ts. Rigid, fused families that cling obsessively to whatever religion, politics, and/or tradition won’t cut it today or tomorrow. A strong family is both a wonderful and a limiting context for learning. The role of education is both to make it clear why some family values make sense and to expose children to information, ideas, and horizons that are beyond those present in any family. Compassionate, informed, and skilled teachers are a great family’s best friends. We don’t own our kids. We’re their stewards, not their bosses.

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