For 200 years, the world has progressively lightened its energy diet by favoring hydrogen atoms over carbon in our hydrocarbon stew. Energy technologies succeed when economies of scale form part of their conditions of evolution. Like computers, to grow larger, the energy system must now shrink in size and cost. The successful decarbonization of the energy system, the key to the alleviation of numerous environmental problems, will ultimately depend on the use of pure hydrogen fuel produced from sources and processes that are carbon-free. Rapid evolution of the energy system along its current trajectory, combined with cultural change, can avert many environmental dangers.
Science has effectively alarmed many people about the chances human activities are harming Earth’s climate. More importantly, science and engineering can lessen worries about climate change. Technology can make adapting to climate change, offsetting emissions, and preventing emissions cheap and effective. The trick is easing in the changes when the technologies turn over, operating at the point where old things are substituted anyway. Hope is a better companion than fear.
The PHE studies long-term trajectories in the energy system and means to improve its performance. We analyze ways to reduce the carbon intensity of energy systems in order to lessen fears and lift hopes about climate.
In December 2018 we had the satisfaction of learning that some of our early work contributed to the advances for which William Nordhaus earned the 2018 Nobel Memorial prize in the economics of climate change.
About the icon – Atmospheric cloud vortex
Publications about Energy and Climate
Quantifying forest change in the European Union [external link]. Pp. E13-4 in Nature vol. 592, 2021 Forest.
Carbon benefits from Forest Transitions promoting biomass expansions and thickening (PDF). Global Change Biology 26 (10): 1-6, 2020 Forest transition, Carbon sequestration.
Density: Key to Fake and True News About Energy and Environment (PDF). 2017 Presented at a meeting of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, Next 100 Years of Global Energy Use: Resources, Impacts and Economics, Houston Convention Center, 4 April 2017. Published in AAPG’s Search and Discovery, as contribution #70272, 28 June 2017.
Power Density and the Nuclear Opportunity (PDF). Pp. 11pp. in Program for the Human Environment 2015 Adapted from the keynote address to the Nuclear Power Council Electric Power Research Institute Atlanta, Georgia 3 September 2015.
Potential Implications for Future Energy Systems (PDF). Chapter 1 (pp. 10–26) in Frozen Heat: UNEP Global Outlook on Methane Gas Hydrates, Volume Two, . United Nations Environment Programme, GRID-Arendal, 2014.
Cars and Civilization (PDF). The Breakthrough Journal 2014 This article was originally delivered as part of the William and Myrtle Harris Lectureship in Science and Civilization, at the California Institute of Technology on 30 April 2014 and appeared under the title "The Need for Speed: Four Basic Instincts Have Determined Human Mobility" in the Journal of the Breakthrough Institute July 14, 2014..
Self-sinking capsules to investigate Earth’s interior and dispose of radioactive waste (PDF). Seminar Presentation 26 July 2011, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Program of Study in Geophysical Fluid Dynamics. 2011.
Generations of methane (PDF) [external link]. EPRI J vol. Summer, 2010 methane, hydrogen.
Natural gas and the jack rabbit (PDF). Representative American Speeches 2008-2009 - The Reference Shelf, . 81 (6): 2009 Natural gas.
Renewable and nuclear heresies (PDF). Int J Nucl Governance, Econ Ecol 1 (3): 229–243, 2007 nuclear, renewable, decarbonization, electricity, environmental impact, energy, nuclear power.
The future environment for the energy business (PDF). Pp. 487–495 in APPEA Journal vol. Part 2, 2007 energy, energy business, decarbonization, ZEPPs, green strategy, carbon dioxide hydrogen, co2.
Global Warming and the Industrial System (PDF). Pp. 11pp in International relations and security network (ISN) Energy and the Environment Series 2007.
Big green energy machines (PDF). The Industrial Physicist 10 (5): 20–24, 2004 Energy, electric power, zepp, zero emissions power plant, carbon dioxide, co2, liquid hydrogen.
Where is Energy Going? (PDF). The Industrial Physicist 6 (1): 16–19, 2000 The essay had appeared in Italian in the special millennial edition of the Italian financial newspaper, Il Sole/24 Ore, on 17 November 1999; also in Italian as Benvenuti nel millennio nuclear, pp.163-168 in Duemila: Verso una societa aperta, M. Moussanet, ed., Il Sole 24 Ore, Milano, 2000. Energy, natural gas, nuclear, climate, emissions, carbon dioxide, co2, decarbonization.
Productivity, Electricity, Science: Powering a Green Future (PDF). The Electricity Journal 9 (3): 54–60, 1996 energy, electric power.
Technical Progress and Climatic Change Energy Policy 23 (4/5): 411–416, 1995 Also pp. 501-512 inÂ Integrated Assessment of Mitigation, Impacts, and Adaptation to Climate Change, N Nakicenovic, WD Nordhaus, R Richels, and FL Toth (eds), International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Laxenburg, Austria, 1994. climate, energy, natural gas, decarbonization, hydrogen, carbon dioxide, co2.
Mitigation and Adaptation for Climate Change: Answers and Questions The Bridge 23 (3): 15–30, 1993 Also pp. 557-584 in Costs, Impacts, and Benefits of CO2 Mitigation, Y. Kaya, N. Nakicenovic, W.D. Nordhaus, and F.L. Toth, eds., International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Laxenburg, Austria, 1993. climate, energy, carbon dioxide, decarbonization.
Social and institutional barriers to reducing CO2 emissions (PDF). Pp. 513-533 in Limiting the Greenhouse Effect, G Pearman (ed), Wiley, Chichester 1992.
A Second Look at the Impacts of Climate Change (PDF). Pp. 210–221 in American Scientist vol. 79, 1991 climate, energy, natural gas, decarbonization, hydrogen, carbon dioxide, co2.
Does Climate Still Matter? Pp. 649–652 in Nature vol. 350, 1991 innovations, technology, climate adaptation, climate impact, climatic shifts, population, consumption, agriculture.
Energy and Environment: The Light Path Pp. 181–188 in Energy Systems and Policy vol. 15, 1991 Energy, natural gas, nuclear, climate, emissions, carbon dioxide, co2, decarbonization, dematerialization, hydrogen.
Hydrogen and the Green Wave (PDF). The Bridge 20 (1): 17–22, 1990.
Carbon Dioxide Emissions in a Methane Economy (PDF). Pp. 245–263 in Climatic Change vol. 12, 1988 Energy, electric power, natural gas, carbon dioxide, co2, hydrogen.
Future uses of fossil fuels: A global view of related emissions and depositions (PDF). Pp. 1-15 in Organic Geochemistry vol. 10, 1986 energy uses, fossil fuels, environment, emission, deposition, sulphur, nitrogen.
Climate Impact Assessment [external link]. Pp. 625 in SCOPE, . vol. 27, 1985
Climate Impact Assessment – Studies of the Interaction of Climate and Society SCOPE 27 (PDF). Pp. 625 pp. in Climate Impact Assessment, SCOPE 27, . 1985
The Ogallala aquifer and carbon dioxide: Comparison and convergence. (PDF). Pp. 123-131 in Environmental Conservation vol. 11, 1984.
A review of estimates of future carbon dioxide emissions in Changing climate: Report of the carbon dioxide assessment committee [external link]. National Academy Press, Washington DC 1983 climate, decarbonization, hydrogen, carbon dioxide, co2.
Historical Note [on the issue of Carbon Dioxide and Climate Change], in Changing climate: Report of the carbon dioxide assessment committee, annex 2 (PDF). National Academy Press, Washington D.C 1983 climate, decarbonization, hydrogen, carbon dioxide, co2.
A framework for scenario generation for CO2 gaming (PDF) [external link]. Pp. 49 in IIASA Working Paper vol. WP-81-034, 1981 climate, energy, decarbonization, hydrogen, carbon dioxide, co2.
Estimating the future input of fossil fuel CO2 into the atmosphere by simulation gaming [external link]. Pp. 29 in IIASA Working Paper vol. WP-81-107, 1981 climate, decarbonization, hydrogen, carbon dioxide, co2.
Carbon and climate gaming [external link]. Pp. 19 in IIASA Working Paper vol. WP-80-152, 1980 climate, energy, decarbonization, hydrogen, carbon dioxide, co2, games.
Climatic change and the carbon wealth of nations [external link]. Pp. 54pp in IIASA Working Paper 80-075 1980 Climate.
CO2: an introduction and possible board games (PDF) [external link]. Pp. 34 in IIASA Working Paper vol. WP-80-153, 1980 climate, energy, decarbonization, hydrogen, carbon dioxide, co2, games.
Climatic constraints and human activities: Introduction and overview [external link]. IIASA Working Paper 80-091. Ps. 1-12 in Climatic Constraints and Human Activities, JH Ausubel and AK Biswas (eds.), Pergamon, Oxford, 1980. Climate.
Economics in the air: an introduction to economic issues of the atmosphere and climate [external link]. IIASA Working Paper 80-092. Published as pp. 13-59 in Climatic Constraints and Human Activities, JH Ausubel and AK Biswas (eds.), Pergamon, Oxford, 1980 Climate, economy, energy, decarbonization, hydrogen, carbon dioxide, co2.
Executive Summary and Synthesis chapter in Changing climate: Report of the carbon dioxide assessment committee (PDF). National Academy Press, Washington D.C 1983.