The S-Curve of technology advancement is explained in my new video, by Tony Seba and Jonathan Koomey, both energy experts. But the idea is not a new one. See below video.

Harvard Business Review:

Many people suggest that rates of new product introduction and adoption are speeding up, but is it really, across the board? The answer seems to be yes. An automobile industry trade consultant, for instance, observes that “Today, a typical automotive design cycle is approximately 24 to 36 months, which is much faster than the 60-month life cycle from five years ago.”  The chart below, created by Nicholas Felton of the New York Times, shows how long it took various categories of product, from electricity to the Internet, to achieve different penetration levels in US households.  It took decades for the telephone to reach 50% of households, beginning before 1900.  It took five years or less for cellphones to accomplish the same penetration in 1990.  As you can see from the chart, innovations introduced more recently are being adopted more quickly.  By analogy, firms with competitive advantages in those areas will need to move faster to capture those opportunities that present themselves.


Above, CNBC on Tesla and other’s aggressive moves in energy storage.

Below, Jonathan Koomey on how batteries are competing with natural gas, first by disrupting expensive “peaking units” – exactly the path solar followed 10 years ago.

Jennifer Rubin in The Washington Post:

No one should be confused as to the inadequacy of the Republicans’ latest counteroffer on the American Jobs Plan. Sure, it had a top-line number of $928 billion. But as the New York Times explains: “Senate Republicans on Thursday proposed spending less that one seventh of what President Biden has requested in his expansive $1.7 trillion infrastructure initiative, countering with $257 billion in new funding for roads, bridges and other public works.”

President Biden was nevertheless respectful toward Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), the lead Republican negotiator on the infrastructure bill. White House press secretary Jen Psaki in a written statement used the most mild language imaginable in response. After praising Capito’s work, Psaki explained in a written statement:[W]e remain concerned that their plan still provides no substantial new funds for critical job-creating needs, such as fixing our veterans’ hospitals, building modern rail systems, repairing our transit systems, removing dangerous lead pipes, and powering America’s leadership in a job-creating clean energy economy, among other things. Lastly, we are concerned that the proposal on how to pay for the plan remains unclear: we are worried that major cuts in COVID relief funds could imperil pending aid to small businesses, restaurants and rural hospitals using this money to get back on their feet after the crush of the pandemic.

Why so gentle when Republicans have done so little? There are a few reasons.

First, Biden and his team truly believe that the process is the point. Cordial dealings — even if unsuccessful — improve his ability to make gains, albeit down the road. Even if the negotiations fail, Capito will be a critical player on jobs, climate change, infrastructure, housing and more.

Second, on the same day that Capito issued the counteroffer, the Senate reached cloture on the Endless Frontier Act, a significant piece of legislation aimed at U.S. competitiveness. White House aides say this bill contains R&D investments for both the National Science Foundation and Energy Department totaling almost $100 billion. (Less than the $180 billion included in the American Jobs Plan, but still significant.)

The Endless Frontier Act also has new investments in manufacturing capacity, including support for regional technology hubs, Manufacturing USA and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership. These total about $14 billion, which is roughly equivalent to what Biden had in the American Jobs Plan for these items.

Read the rest of this entry »

Above, Ford advert appropriates the hyper-loop, heavily identified with Elon Musk and Tesla, in their messaging.

Last week Ford rolled out the new F-150 pickup EV.

This week, the Auto major announced aggressive targets for EVs – 40 percent of sales by 2030.
Total acknowledgement of the ongoing light speed shift – but is it enough?

Advance orders of the F-150 are over 70,000 as of May 26, a week after the announcement. Orders for the Tesla Cybertruck passed a million this week.

““If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” – Henry David Thoreau

60 Years after JFK fired the starting gun for America’s race to the Moon, Joe Biden has sounded the clarion call for the race to lead the 21st century.
“We’re in a race to see who wins the 21st Century,” the President said today in Cleveland, with a ringing justification for his aggressive plan for sustainable infrastructure.

In researching this month’s Yale Climate Connections video, I spoke to a number of researchers, most notably, former Berkeley Lab researcher, now author, Jonathan Koomey PhD, as well as Tony Seba, whose videos I’ve posted here several times. The model I was looking at was JFK’s bold pledge.

JFK’s moon announcement was greeted with a significant amount of skepticism. While well informed researchers felt the venture was technically do-able, much of the technology to get it done had simply not been engineered, or even invented, yet.
That is not the case today.
Koomey argues below that getting started is the most powerful step, as each success creates new opportunities that could not have existed before. A notable example is how the plummeting cost of renewable energy, sparked by massive support and deployment here in the US, but also China, Germany, Spain and elsewhere.

Below, Koomey and Seba on the power of exponential technological growth.

Read the rest of this entry »

Yesterday seemed historic in hammering home the urgency of climate action to Big Oil Boardrooms.


A Dutch court on Wednesday ordered Royal Dutch Shell to cut its carbon emissions by net 45% by 2030 compared to 2019 levels in a landmark case brought by climate activism groups, which hailed the decision as a victory for the planet.

The Hague District Court ruled that the Anglo-Dutch energy giant has a duty of care to reduce emissions and that its current reduction plans were not concrete enough.

The decision could set a precedent for similar cases against polluting multinationals around the world. Activists gathered outside the courtroom erupted into cheers as the decision was read out loud.

“The climate won today,” said Roger Cox, a lawyer for the Dutch arm of Friends of the Earth, which was one of the organizations behind the case.

“This ruling will change the world. Worldwide, people are in the starting blocks to take legal action against oil companies following our example,” Cox added.

The Hague court did not say how Royal Dutch Shell should achieve the ordered cutback, saying the energy giant’s parent company “has complete freedom in how it meets its reduction obligation and in shaping the Shell group’s corporate policy.”

In a written reaction, Shell said it expects to appeal the “disappointing court decision.”

Read the rest of this entry »

On this day, 60 years ago, May 25, 1961, John Kennedy challenged America to put a man on the moon before the end of that decade.

Though the technologies needed to achieve that goal had only been envisioned, not yet built, bold expert engineers thought the goal was within reach, and that the alternative, of ceding Cold War technological supremacy to the Soviet Union, was not acceptable.

Similarly today, President Biden has set goals for climate action that some feel are too optimistic. In our case the technologies needed are fully available already, with more improvements sure to come.

Climate denying scientist Steven Koonin, a darling of the Wall Street Journal editorial page, has a new book of standard climate denial memes, that the right wing media has been pushing.

Senior Scientist Ben Santer has cut his long term connections with Lawrence Livermore National Lab in response to a speaking invite the lab extended to Koonin.

Above, from my 2017 conversation with Santer, he describes the bogus “Red Team-Blue Team” exercise that Koonin organized under the auspices of the American Physical Society, supposedly to review the Society’s position on climate science.

Santer is, with Jim Hansen, and a few others, among the most honored and respected experts in Atmospheric physics, and has a history of extreme courage and tenacity in defending the emerging science of climate over the past 3 decades.


Ben Santer, one of the nation’s leading climate scientists, said he is cutting ties with a prestigious government-funded laboratory over its plans to invite a scientist who has spread climate denial to speak in a seminar.

Santer’s work has shaped much of climate science for the past 25 years. His work studying the “fingerprints” of climate change have informed decades of research and he was the author of a seminal sentence in a crucial 1995 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report that said the science showed “a discernible human influence on global climate.” 

On Monday, Santer, who is affiliated with the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, sent out an emailed statement viewed by Earther and first published by the Union of Concerned Scientists in protest of a planned LLNL seminar with Steve Koonin, a well-known climate denier whose new book on how climate science is “unsettled” has attracted widespread praise from right-wing media and condemnation from basically everyone else.

In his statement, Santer didn’t mince words, alleging that Koonin is “not an authoritative voice on climate science” and that LLNL management had not adequately responded to Santer’s concerns about the seminar, which was scheduled to be held on May 27.

“Writing and releasing this statement may be viewed by some as an act of disloyalty,” Santer wrote. “I do not see it that way. I chose to remain loyal to the climate science we have performed at LLNL for over three decades. I do not intend to remain silent while the credibility and integrity of this research is challenged.”

(Earther has reached out to LLNL for comment)

Scientific American:

Steven Koonin, a former undersecretary for science of the Department of Energy in the Obama administration, but more recently considered for an advisory post to Scott Pruitt when he was administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, has published a new book. Released on May 4 and entitled Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn’t, and Why It Matters, its major theme is that the science about the Earth’s climate is anything but settled. He argues that pundits and politicians and most of the population who feel otherwise are victims of what he has publicly called “consensus science.”

Read the rest of this entry »