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Jerry Nguyen hung out with 8 people.Liz Neeley, Maggie Koerth-Baker, Mary Mangan, Kristina Visscher, Steven Polunsky, mike moran, Cris Noble, and Omri Schwarz
SciLingual Hangout with Maggie Koerth-Baker
Jerry Nguyen and 8 others participated
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Maggie Koerth-Baker's profile photoOmri Schwarz's profile photoLiz Neeley's profile photoKristina Visscher's profile photo
20 comments
 
'fessing up, had to google the hypnotoad...
 
If you're watching, please hit the +1 so that we know you're there! :D
 
Electricity was discussed when we were planning high-speed rail in Texas.
 
What are your ideas about public transportation infrastructure reform?
 
My gas and electric company were eager to help me make conservation changes, and they even put me on TV :)

But there are issues with that here because so many people are renters, and there's no way for them to pressure landlords to make these changes.
 
Thanks for answering my question?! (It's shy-b'ner. No worries. Everybody screws it up.)
 
One of the things I find frightening is the large amount of chatter out there that responds to this issue with identity politics (we're Americand! we drive!), paranoia, and just sheer opposition to anything new. It's a source of trouble even around Boston (my own suburb of Boston has a backlog of road repair that we can't afford to address, and the issue has caused near brawls at a few city hall hearings). Have you encountered much of this researching the issue for your book?
 
damn -- here was my question:For an individual, (of course it's going to be slightly different for everyone) but in general, what do you see as the most influential action someone could take?
Some ideas for actions, I'm interested in your thoughts on: 1)Infrastructure really seems to be the way to go -- but one member of the public isn't going to have an enormous impact on infrastructure. We can lobby for things, though.
I'm particularly interested in the relationship of lobbying to identity politics, as Omri's question touched on.

2) Individuals may have a somewhat larger effect on our office environment. Do you know about what proportion of wasted energy is office based?
 
That was great--the problem seems daunting, but it also seems like some smart people are looking at it in real ways. So it's encouraging too.
 
So, thanks to my underpowered machine, I annoyedd y'all and got to hear +Maggie Koerth-Baker sampled like her answer to my question was being played on a turntable by a hiphop MC. So I'm going back to the Youtube to hear it. :-)

+Maggie Koerth-Baker , if you want to look at Europe for a followup book, look also at the transportation infrastructure, not just the power grid. One of the places I got to visit there was Tyrol. What's noteworthy about that area is that they have severe flash flood danger. And to cope with it, they keep their roads narrow. As in two way, one lane. When you meet oncoming traffic on local roads, you have to slow down to under 10MPH, shift halfway off the road to the right, make sure the oncoming driver is doing the same, and then drive on. Only the highways are two lanes, and the region's autobahn is only two lanes each way.

As a result, Tyroleans live like hippies even though they are quite conservative. They walk everywhere, including in the rural parts. You'll also note that in the region, the narrow roads and walking paths are what the houses face, and what leads to the local amenities. The highways, however, are a back alley that nothing faces. I have no idea how to introduce infrastructure work to the US that would have similar effects.
 
Thanks, +Steven Polunsky! I hope that Baker (my husband) was helpful. I wish I had some better ideas on how to dramatically shorten the payback period for generation-side investments, but that's a real toughie.

One quick thought: Baker was talking about how the price of electricity is an artificial price -- because utilities are allowed to pick a price that lets them pay back their investments and make a profit. When people talk about FITs (Feed-In Tariffs), like what they have in Germany, what they're really talking about is offering small-scale electricity generators the same deal. Whoever owns a large power plant is paid enough for their electricity that they can make a profit on their investment. FITs make sure that whoever owns a solar panel or a small wind power installation gets the same playing field. They can be a really cost effective way to increase renewable generation. The ones in Germany have dramatically increased the amount of renewable energy in that country and only increased the per-household electricity cost by something like $3.50 a month. So for the price of a Big Mac they get a lot more wind and solar. Seems like a fair trade off to me. NREL has a lot of good research on FITs. I recommend checking them out!
 
Please thank him for me, I have some good ideas to follow up on now.
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