84 episodes

Explaining the key scientific ideas, technologies, and policies relevant to the global climate crisis. Visit climatenow.com for more information and our video series.

Climate Now James Lawler

    • Science
    • 4.8 • 21 Ratings

Explaining the key scientific ideas, technologies, and policies relevant to the global climate crisis. Visit climatenow.com for more information and our video series.

    How to fix the clean energy bottleneck

    How to fix the clean energy bottleneck

    In 2021, U.S. President Biden signed an executive order with the directive to achieve 100% carbon-pollution free electricity in the United States by 2030. The goal is certainly achievable: currently wind and solar are the cheapest forms of electricity generation, the installed capacity of utility-scale solar and wind has increased more than 2000% in the last 15 years, and there are already 1.3 terawatts (TW) of clean energy generation + storage projects seeking to connect to the grid, roughly enough for the grid to reach 80% zero-carbon electricity. But it is one thing to plan clean energy generation facilities, and another to build and connect those facilities into the national power grid, which is done with the oversight of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
    FERC is required to regulate the interstate transmission of natural gas, oil, an electricity, which means they work to ensure that a hypothetical wind project in Iowa transmitting electricity to Chicago, Illinois follows all federal and state permitting requirements along its entire path. That gets complicated, and currently those 1.3 TW of clean energy projects are sitting in a backlog that is taking several years to process. Neil Chatterjee, Chairman of FERC in 2017 and again from 2018-2020, joined Climate Now to explain why getting new clean power connected to the grid is so difficult, how the process can be streamlined, and why that is so critical to reaching the U.S.’s climate goals. Stay tuned!


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    • 31 min
    Farm to stable CO2 storage

    Farm to stable CO2 storage

    The agricultural sector produces about a tenth of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, and while most of that comes from livestock (about 2/3), emissions from crop production still total about 2.2 billion metric tons of CO2-equivalent. Interestingly, we only actually use about half of what we grow: this is not because of food waste (its own issue), but because more than half of any crop is residue: the stems, shells, husks and anything else left behind at the end of a crop harvest.
    Charm Industrial is a new company with a plan to convert those crop residues (~ half a billion tons in the US alone) from a source of greenhouse gas emissions to a sink. Crop residues are usually left on harvested fields to decompose (or are burned), partially restoring the soils, and partially returning all the CO2 they absorbed during the growing season to the atmosphere. Charm plans to harvest those residues and convert them into bio-oil and biochar. The biochar returns to the soils for restoration; the bio-oil can be buried for CO2 sequestration or replace fossil-derived fuels. Climate Now sat down with Charm CEO and Co-founder Peter Reinhardt, to discuss how their technology works, and why interest is growing in this approach to carbon removal.



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    • 29 min
    Inside the DOE: Understanding the role of the US Department of Energy in the energy transition

    Inside the DOE: Understanding the role of the US Department of Energy in the energy transition

    “We've built an entire industrial economy around a set of energy sources, and we're now thinking about diversifying way beyond that. And that's a big set of changes.” What will it take to diversify our energy economy, and how do we actually do it? That is the remit of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), according to Kate Gordon, senior advisor to the U.S. Secretary of Energy.
    In this week's podcast, Ms. Gordon joins us to discuss how the DOE is structured today; how they’re working with states, local governments, and tribes to reduce energy consumption and support an equitable clean energy economy and the new industries that come with it - like hydrogen and carbon removal; and what major pieces of legislation are driving the DOE’s energy transition work - and how.


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    • 30 min
    Breaking the link between how much we consume and economic growth

    Breaking the link between how much we consume and economic growth

    The carbon footprint of stuff
    For the last two centuries, continuous economic growth (the increase in the quantity and quality of the economic goods and services that a society produces, per capita) has been recognized as the critical driver in the drastic global decrease in extreme poverty. 
    The problem is, an ever-increasing "quantity and quality of economic goods and services" - in the current economy at least - requires ever increasing consumption of raw materials: minerals, water, energy, trees, soil. And consumption has its own price. In addition to myriad environmental and biodiversity impacts, an estimated 45% of global greenhouse emissions come from the extraction of raw materials and the production of goods: the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the products we use.
    So is it possible to break the link between decreasing poverty and increasing consumption? Climate Now sat down with two experts on 'the circular economy' - an idea that hinges on eliminating waste from the production process, circulating products and materials instead of disposing of them at their end of life, and engaging in practices that preserve or regenerate natural resources. Dr. Ke Wang, project leader for the World Resource Institutes' Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy (PACE), and Laura Wittig, Founder and CEO of Brightly, a consumer services company with a mission of scaling sustainable consumerism, joined us to explain what needs to happen to create a more circular economy - from the scale of global economies all the way down to the individual consumer.  
    Key Questions:
    How can we be more sustainable in what we produce and how we use goods and materials? Can waste be recycled or repurposed to generate a near closed-loop system? How can consumers make a difference in their daily lives?Follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram.

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    • 26 min
    An interview with the scientist who achieved fusion ignition

    An interview with the scientist who achieved fusion ignition

    Last week, LLNL's National Ignition Facility successfully 'ignited' a nuclear fusion reaction equivalent to what takes place in the sun: the conversion of hydrogen to helium + energy. In a first, the experiment produced more energy than was needed to initiate the reaction. While the experiment lasted only fractions of a second, it proved what had been hypothesized since the 1960’s: that lasers can be used to induce energy-generating fusion in a laboratory setting. The enormity of this achievement is that it brings the possibility of cheap, clean and safe nuclear fusion energy one step closer to reality. Joined by guest hosts Julio Friedman and Darren Hau, Climate Now sat down with Dr. Annie Kritcher, the principal designer for the successful fusion experiment, to discuss what they have accomplished, why it was so significant, and what the National Ignition Facility will be focusing on next in their work to make nuclear fusion a viable energy source.
    Key Questions:
    What was the experiment that was performed, and why was it’s success so significant?What are the next set of challenges to address in developing nuclear fusion as a clean energy source?Follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram.

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    Visit our website for all of our content and sources for each episode.

    • 34 min
    What lies beneath? Efficient heating and cooling.

    What lies beneath? Efficient heating and cooling.

    Can Earth’s geothermal heat warm - and cool - your home?
    The hottest day ever recorded on Earth was on July 10, 1913. Thermometers in California’s Death Valley measured 134oF. The coldest day ever recorded on land (not on an Antarctic ice sheet) was in the tiny Siberian settlement of Oymyakon, which got as cold as -90oF on February 6, 1933. But anyone standing in either of these locations, on these days of extreme hot and cold, were a mere 30 feet away from much more reasonable temperatures - about 50-60oF. They only needed to dig down. Bedrock is not a very good conductor of heat, and as such - even when atmospheric temperatures fluctuate wildly, geothermal temperatures - the temperature of the subsurface - remains relatively constant.
    Climate Now sat down with Kathy Hannun, co-founder and president of Dandelion Energy to learn how geothermal heat pumps take advantage of stable subsurface temperatures to produce highly efficient and low-cost heating and cooling systems for buildings.  Stay tuned to find out how these systems work, why they are likely the most efficient way of controlling indoor climates, what obstacles are slowing the wholesale conversion of furnaces and air conditioning units to geothermal heat pumps, and how those obstacles can be addressed.
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    Visit our website for all of our content and sources for each episode.

    • 32 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
21 Ratings

21 Ratings

Michael Tobiasz ,

Highly recommend this podcast!

Great podcast! Climate Now does an excellent job of explaining complex climate issues in a way that inspires action at every level. If we know more, we can do more. Climate Now is really informative on how we can all play a part in protecting our planet.

Eleanora Evens ,

Great experts great questions

This podcast goes so in depth with experts it’s almost like I got to interview them myself. Especially love the policy and business lenses.

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