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John Mott-Smith

Per Capita: Letters to the future

I’ve been writing this column now for nine years. I named it “Per Capita Davis” because, at its core, it’s about what we can do as individuals to help prevent or at least mitigate the biggest calamity facing the human race — global warming, the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to a level […]

Per Capita Davis: Change is on the horizon

The Paris climate change talks begin Nov. 30 and continue through Dec. 11. The build-up to these talks has been marked by increasing apprehension, with many scientists and others stating flatly that this may be the planet’s last good chance to avoid the worst of the predicted adverse effects of global warming. World leaders, despite […]

Per Capita Davis: What’s old is new again

When I first came to Davis in 1979, there was a lot going on in what I thought to be a sleepy little town. I arrived here to attend graduate school after undergraduate years first at UC Berkeley and then at UC Santa Cruz. Admittedly, I brought with me more than a little smugness about […]

September 03, 2015 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Per Capita Davis: Little things add up

MONEY IN THE BANK: Everyone knows that increased energy efficiency is like money in the bank, but did you know that it takes a lot of energy to put money in the bank, or take it out? I’m always amazed at how thorough the state and federal governments are at finding opportunities to reduce wasted […]

August 20, 2015 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Per Capita Davis: Houses, cars and batteries, oh my!

So, this is the third column in a row about storage of electricity. Recapping the first two, storage is important because as we increase the amount of electricity produced from solar and wind, the “intermittency” of electricity produced by those two technologies — due to clouds, lack of wind or whatever — means we need […]

August 06, 2015 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Per Capita Davis: The battery bonanza

This is the second of three (I think) columns on the topic of energy storage; specifically, electrical energy storage. Why so much time spent on a seemingly mundane topic like energy storage? One reason is that energy storage is a necessary partner with development of photovoltaic (PV) and wind energy: These sources of energy are […]

July 16, 2015 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Per Capita Davis: Energy storage, the next big thing

I admit to being torn about what to write about for this column. The pope’s recent encyclical is very tempting: I have long been of the belief that some form of shift in our collective moral compass is necessary to accompany whatever technological pathway we tread on our way to a climate solution. But that […]

July 02, 2015 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Per Capita Davis: Things are looking up

So far 2015 is turning out to be a very good year in terms of my optimism (or hope) that perhaps the world is coming to its senses and paying attention to the seriousness of climate change. With apologies to Rod Serling, I offer the following for your consideration, “Little Changes Make Big Change.” THE […]

June 18, 2015 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Per Capita Davis: The Magic Kingdom sets an example

When I was a kid, and even later, if you wanted to demean something as half-baked, infantile, silly or just not cool enough, all you had to say was “that’s Mickey Mouse.” Case closed. But recent news out of the Magic Kingdom may require an adjustment to respond to what appears to be a significant […]

June 04, 2015 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Per Capita Davis: Our energy sources are getting cleaner

There’s so much going on it’s hard to know where to start. It seems that energy efficiency, renewables and sustainability are bursting out all over the globe. Consider the following recent developments. Bloomberg Business conducts an annual New Energy Finance summit, and at this year’s event presented an analysis that indicates the world has reached […]

May 21, 2015 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Per Capita Davis: A shout-out to Cool Davis

On Earth Day last month, Cool Davis announced awards to several local residents in two categories: Climate Solutions and Eco-Heroes. I couldn’t really tell what the distinction was between the two categories; everything seemed important. The honorees included people of national and even international reputation (Dan Sperling, Dick Bourne), a person of small and local notoriety […]

May 07, 2015 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Per Capita Davis: A gusher of water conservation news

Water is essential for life, and we have historically treated it as if there’s an endless supply. Population steadily increases while the amount of available water pretty much stays the same, except when there is a drought, and then there is less, and the full spectrum of complications over who gets how much water come […]

April 16, 2015 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Per Capita Davis: Nuggets of news from the mailbox

One of the things I really like about writing this column is that people send me stuff, mostly interesting developments of which I might not otherwise be aware. This column features a couple of examples of such messages I’ve received recently. Roger, who knows I spent most of my summers as a boy in the […]

April 02, 2015 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Per Capita Davis: Green power list is impressive

“99 Percent Just Won’t Do” was a line from a song, the name of which I don’t remember, sung by an artist I also can’t recall. It was a long time ago. The intention of the line was that in love one needs 100-percent commitment, and anything less than that just won’t do. The Environmental […]

March 19, 2015 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,
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