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John Mott-Smith

Per Capita Davis: ‘The fierce urgency of now’

Martin Luther King, speaking about the Vietnam War and inequities associated with it, said: “We are faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late.” The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate […]

October 03, 2013 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Per Capita Davis: Lots of little things

This column is to pass along unrelated news items from small and random sources that the mainstream media may have missed. * We could use one of these: San Francisco celebrated Bike to Work Day last May with the installation of a digital bike counter. This kiosk-like device records the number of bikes passing by […]

September 19, 2013 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Per Capita Davis: Things to feel grumpy about

When it comes to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change, there are some things that make me angry. But there are a whole raft of little things that by themselves aren’t a big enough deal to get angry over but which I find irritating. This column is about some of those things that make me […]

September 05, 2013 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Per Capita Davis: Weird science may save us all

Somewhere deep in our hearts, I think we all fundamentally believe this climate change stuff is going to turn out OK; we will have some adverse effects but humanity will dodge the bullet and things won’t be as bad as we fear. We may not be optimistic about the future but we are hopeful and, […]

August 15, 2013 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Per Capita Davis: Snippets of energy news

Back in the old days, when you went to the movies, theaters often would show a double feature, and these two movies would be preceded by a cartoon and a newsreel. The double feature is long gone, as is the cartoon, and the newsreel has been replaced with about 20 minutes of previews of coming […]

August 01, 2013 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Per Capita Davis: The power of leadership in moving us forward

A conversation I often have with myself is whether it’s more effective for someone concerned about climate change to focus on “upstream” policies and actions or to instead encourage and incite individual actions. By “upstream,” I mean policies such as increasing mpg standards for vehicles. This is basically a top-down approach and doesn’t require any […]

July 18, 2013 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Per Capita Davis: Obama takes the lead on climate challenge

It was back in 1990 when Bruce Springsteen first sang the song “57 Channels (And Nothin’ On).” I remember when it came out. I thought it was both hilarious and true. So much garbage on TV. I feel much the same way today, except that now, if one is willing to pay for them, there […]

July 05, 2013 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Per Capita Davis: Let’s keep carbon offsets in Davis

There is a problem with writing a 900-word column: it’s not possible to say everything on a given topic, especially if one is wordy like I tend to be, in a single column. Still, my last column on the carbon costs of air travel did sort of “land” (so to speak) with an abrupt thud. […]

June 20, 2013 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Per Capita Davis: Airline travel poses a dilemma

A couple of decades ago, OK, four, back in 1972 when I was an English major in college, having decided on that course of study mainly because classes didn’t usually start before noon, which was really about the time I was eating breakfast, a friend of mine had declared his major in biology. When I […]

June 06, 2013 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Per Capita Davis: Breaking the record

We humans love data. We keep track of all kinds of stuff. How much rain did we get, is it more or less than “normal?” When was the last time a left-handed batter hit three home runs in a single game? And we like to know the most of everything, what is the “record” for […]

May 16, 2013 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Per Capita Davis: Portland proclaims its superiority

I’m on vacation, and when I travel I try to disconnect from the connections of my regular life in Davis. Someday I should write a column about what that daily life is like. Many friends know I retired from working for the state back in 2007, but I’m not the most chatty person in the […]

May 02, 2013 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Per Capita Davis: Impractical and uneconomical?

Driving down Interstate 5,  motorists are accompanied by a view of the California Aqueduct, part of the several hundred-mile network of canals that make up the Central Valley Project that plumbs the state of California. I’ve always wondered if these canals would be a potential location for solar panels — modules that span the canal, […]

April 18, 2013 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Per Capita Davis: The road not traveled

The last column was (in part) about how important it is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles if we are to reach our emission reduction target of 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. On average, cars put about a pound of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere for every mile driven, and all of […]

April 04, 2013 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Per Capita Davis: The toughest nut to crack

The toughest nut to crack: Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is, in some ways, painless and invisible to most of us. Others are doing it for us. If Congress raises miles-per-gallon standards for vehicles, we may or may not pay more for a car (we will pay less for gas), but in terms of our day-to-day […]

March 21, 2013 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,
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