'Alternative' energy and less energy

Stephane Blais
An unidentified watercourse is seen in Nemaska, James Bay region in Northern Quebec on October 25, 2022. File photo by The Canadian Press/Stephane Blais

Feb. 8, 2023

About one million square kilometres of Quebec is covered by boreal forest, roughly 70 per cent of the entire province. In the north, where ecosystems are less likely to have been altered by human activity, those forests have been accumulating and sequestering immense quantities of carbon for centuries.

Barry Saxifrage
Illustration by Ata Ojani for Canada's National Observer

Feb. 8, 2023

More than a billion tonnes of climate pollution pours out American tailpipes every year. For scale, that's more than the combined emissions from the 100 least-polluting nations.

Ending this gargantuan climate pollution disaster will require a sharp increase in new lithium extraction to build the zero-emission alternatives — battery electric vehicles. A new report by the University of California, Davis and the Climate and Community Project (CCP) reveals just how much more lithium will be needed.

Oliver Milman
The plummeting cost of energy has been supercharged by last year’s Inflation Reduction Act. Photograph: Tannen Maury/EPA

Jan. 30, 2023

It is cheaper to build solar panels or cluster of wind turbines and connect them to the grid than to keep operating coal plants

Coal in the US is now being economically outmatched by renewables to such an extent that it’s more expensive for 99% of the country’s coal-fired power plants to keep running than it is to build an entirely new solar or wind energy operation nearby, a new analysis has found.

Phil Gasper
A Planet to Win

Website editor: An interesting interview

Winter 2023 (New Politics Vol. XIX No. 2, Whole Number 74)

An Interview with Alyssa Battistoni

Alyssa Battistoni teaches political theory at Barnard College. She is the co-author of A Planet to Win: Why We Need a Green New Deal (Verso 2019) and is currently writing a book titled Free Gifts: Capitalism and the Politics of Nature. Phil Gasper spoke with Alyssa on behalf of the New Politics editorial board on November 4, 2022.

Daniel Yergin
Refinery - Katja Buchholz/Getty Images

Jan. 23, 2023

Given the scale and complexity of the transition away from hydrocarbons, some worry that economic analysis has been given short shrift in the policy planning process. A clear-eyed assessment of the transition's prospects requires a deeper understanding of at least four major challenges.

Erin Blakemore
At least 73 green steel projects are in progress, researchers say. But zero-emission steel production is not a done deal yet. (iStock)

Jan. 28, 2023

Cars. Toasters. Paper clips. The buildings we live in and the machines we use rely on one of the most polluting industries on Earth: steel. Production of the iron-based alloy is responsible for some 7 to 9 percentof human-caused carbon dioxide emissions. But according to a new analysis, committing to zero-emission steel will also require committing to less steel overall.


Amanda Follett Hosgood
Iris Energy’s Prince George bitcoin mining operation, which opened in September, sits on 12 acres of land near the Fraser River. The facility employs about 15 people and draws 50 megawatts of electricity. Photo provided by Iris Energy.

Jan. 19, 2023

Cryptocurrency operations have been taking up residence in forestry towns. Amidst a turbulent market, the province is hitting pause.

When most people think about bitcoin, they likely think of a shiny new tech industry that operates somewhere in “the cloud.”

Nina Lakhani
Joe Biden at the GM Factory Zero in Detroit, Michigan, in November 2021. Photograph: Dominick Sokotoff/REX/Shutterstock

Jan. 24, 2023

By 2050 electric vehicles could require huge amounts of lithium for their batteries, causing damaging expansions of mining

The US’s transition to electric vehicles could require three times as much lithium as is currently produced for the entire global market, causing needless water shortages, Indigenous land grabs, and ecosystem destruction inside and outside its borders, new research finds.

Thea Riofrancos, Alissa Kendall, Kristi K. Dayemo, Matthew Haugen, Kira Mcdonald, Batul Hassan, Margaret Slattery, Xan Lillehei
lithium triangle

Jan. 2023


“ Reducing demand for lithium by increasing the lithium efficiency of the transportation sector will be an essential strategy to improve the sector’s prospects for timely decarbonization while protecting ecosystems and meeting the demands of global justice.”



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