I just got back from the Aspen Environmental Forum and there’s a lot to share. The only thing more depressing than mulling National Geographic’s presentation about the oil sands of northern Alberta (50 square miles of tailings ponds) was watching “Extreme Ice.” The haunting film by James Balog depicts how quickly the world’s glaciers are disappearing, with the Columbia Glacier in Alaska receding an astounding half mile a year. His footage of ice shelf melt on Greenland is beyond extraordinary.
A heated plenary with barbs galore involving James Rogers from Duke Energy, Elizabeth Cheney from Shell, Randy Udall the resource efficiency advocate, and Chris Flavin from WorldWatch both entertained and frustrated. The dubious highlight? Udall asking Rogers how he could sleep at night and, without missing a beat, Rogers answering, “Lunesta .” Clearly Rogers asked if Lunesta was right for him! On the optimistic side, Daniel Nocera from MIT seems genuinely excited by his breakthrough on low cost hydrolysis, the critical stumbling point to the mass proliferation of affordable fuel cells.
Don’t get me going on the curious choices for the Aspen Institute Energy and the Environment Awards — (more…)