John Mott-Smith

Per Capita Davis: The power of policies and regulations

There’s a lot new under the sun, so to speak, with reason to be optimistic that investments in research and new technology that have been made over the past several years are going to soon pay off big for energy efficiency and solar photovoltaics. Much of the progress has been facilitated by policies and regulations […]

January 15, 2015 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Per Capita Davis: Energy savings, under the radar

Sometimes, the discussion about greenhouse gas emissions and climate change gets stuck on policy issues, such as treaties, laws, regulations and stuff like that. This can be gloomy business, since it seems as if policymakers are either stuck, in denial, or not acting fast enough; all of which may be true. But it is also […]

January 02, 2015 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Per Capita Davis: Time to stop fooling around

I use the last column of each year to sum up, in my own mind, the progress, or lack thereof, we’re making to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change. As in past years, the first measuring stick is the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Data from the National Oceanic and […]

December 18, 2014 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Per Capita Davis: Progress for renewables

As dismal as things can sometimes seem in terms of our energy future, it’s worth checking in occasionally with positive news, stuff that isn’t found on the front pages or on the evening news. I’d throw in social media, too, but to be honest, even though a significant portion of the population gets its news […]

December 04, 2014 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Per Capita Davis: News from the funny papers

The last column was somewhat sobering, so I thought I’d start this one out with news from the funny papers. A recent cartoon pictured a factory, labeled “U.N. Climate Summit,” with smokestacks spewing what appears to be black smoke into the air. Upon closer inspection, however, the smoke is not smoke at all, instead the […]

November 20, 2014 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Per Capita Davis: When push comes to shove

Perhaps this is not true for everyone, but it has been an article of faith (and hope) for me that the consequence of delaying action now to curb emissions would be the necessity for future actions, be they laws or regulations, to be stronger. The assumption is that at some point we would reach a point […]

November 06, 2014 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Per Capita Davis: Stamp out global warming

I confess: I still go to the library to look things up, have a land line in the house, and use snail mail to pay bills and (gasp) correspond with friends. I have always thought that the U.S. Postal Service was one of the greatest deals ever. For pennies (OK, now it’s dimes) I can […]

October 16, 2014 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Per Capita: Tales from the back burner

I collect pieces of information that I find interesting on the topic of climate change. Many of them don’t make it into a column of their own; instead they get stuck on a “back burner.” This column, and the next, bring these forward. Numbers in the news It’s been 22 years since world leaders gathered […]

October 02, 2014 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Per Capita Davis: What to think

A longtime friend recently sent me an article by the renowned author and thinker Noam Chomsky titled “The End of History.” The article argues that the adverse effects of climate change will effectively put an end to 10,000 years of civilization on the planet. My friend asked what I thought about this. My reply was […]

September 18, 2014 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Per Capita Davis: Paso Fino and Dalhart, Texas

Re=purposing vacant land: Done right, increased density via infill development can be a boon to residents by creating the conditions for neighborhood-oriented businesses within walking or biking distance. But if there aren’t businesses within a reasonable walking distance, then increasing density in suburban settings really only increases car traffic: more greenhouse gas emissions instead of […]

September 04, 2014 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Per Capita Davis: The village roundabout is a cautionary tale

In my last column I argued that “sustainability,” unlike “taxes,” is not a four-letter word. Apparently I was wrong, at least insofar as some in the city of Placerville are concerned. Along comes a story in my morning newspaper that planners in that burg have proposed roundabouts as traffic improvements in their downtown. The rationale […]

August 21, 2014 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Per Capita Davis: Sustainability is not a four-letter word

This column has, at various times, struggled with the question of whether individual action or broad governmental policies and regulations represent the best path to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Of course, it’s a false premise that we have to choose one or the other. We need both. But the interplay between the two continues to […]

August 07, 2014 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Per Capita Davis: Turning away from fossil fuels on a dime

The movement to persuade institutional investors to “divest” their portfolios of stocks of corporations primarily engaged in producing or combusting fossil fuels is picking up steam. The World Council of Churches, representing nearly 600 million churchgoers in more than 150 countries, voted to divest its own holdings and to encourage all of its member churches to do […]

July 17, 2014 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Per Capita Davis: Hummingbirds and elephants

“Per Capita Davis” has been the title of this column for nearly six years. It was born out of my perception that individuals acting together would be the main motor for achieving greenhouse gas reductions. Sometimes I have my doubts. Sometimes it seems the problem is too huge, that no matter what we do as […]

July 03, 2014 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

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