Jim Hickey

Posts by This Writer

9 years 6 months ago

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Today, "Everything is for sale" is neither a euphemism nor much of an understatement," which one may view as a promotion of efficiency, as in, "My Lord! We can make fuel out of sh**; now that's a natural gas." Diesel Fuel, as noted in the film "Fuel" that we reviewed a while back, was waste for the first decades of the oil era, until Rudolph Diesel invented his famous engine.

Coal usage byproducts have induced an entire meta-industry of CUB products reputed to be environmentally safe. Our roads consist of stuff once noxious and impossible to get rid of(...


9 years 6 months ago

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"My future's so bright, I have to wear shades," quips a once popular song's 'tag line.' One can understand such a bon mot in at least two ways, of course--the rosy satisfaction and swell sweetness of human invention's creation of social ease, on the one hand; a scorched, fusion and fission-fueled nightmare, socially totalitarian and environmentally monstrous, on the other. The tension between these two possibilities accounts for much of my work.

Day by day, of course, at the most a small fraction...


9 years 6 months ago

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Whatever one's opinions in regard to Peak Oil, renewable energy, or the possibility of understanding contemporary contradictions in the political economy of power, those who read these pages might nod that seeing things in relation to each other is ever so sensible, such that we might ponder what are the parameters of sustainable business in a richly satisfying way. That said, in this week of recalling planes flying into buildings, a couple of points are apt to make.

These ideas revolve around a...


9 years 6 months ago

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As the week of the ninth anniversary of the 'end of the world as we knew it' and the 117th Labor Day unfolds, more than ever we might agree that uncertainty rules everything, at least if we get deeper than the surface, as these posts that have generally addressed some aspect of renewable energy have made clear. In the conversations that matter the most, arguably nothing matters more than keeping in mind a certain skepticism and doubt.

I mention this because today's offering concerns the...


9 years 7 months ago

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In these pages, I am always going off in many directions at once; my article on renewable energy networks (WNC-REI) is a good example. All of my writing tends toward such a decision to complicate matters for my readers, much to their chagrin in many cases.

I do this on purpose. My sense is that, now more than ever, simple approaches to the complex difficulties confronting us are almost pointless. I am therefore a practitioner of 'Depth Textuality,' in which I seek, as much as possible given limited time and resources, to investigate and present the multisidedness of whatever particular phenomenon or process is under scrutiny.

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9 years 7 months ago

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"Remember your humanity, and forget the rest" resonates over the half century since the first Pugwash Conference on Science and World Affairs (Pugwash) came to pass as a result of eleven eminent scientists, an upwelling of support for a nuclear free world from communities around the globe, and a visionary industrialist who in many ways stands as a model of sustainable business thinking. On the other hand, all of these good intentions may be powerless in the face of a flawed model for implementing the hoped for beneficence.

We ignore history, these echoes from a generation or...


9 years 7 months ago

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Simple stories, even about a topic such as renewable energy, can certainly be a hoot. Unfortunately, at best they represent distortions of reality. Thus, even when a straightforward theme--such as social class bias and attendant social disparities in the case of Western Michigan's recent experiences with wind power, seems appropriate to a story, the intrepid researcher and reader must look deeper.

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9 years 7 months ago

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In these reports that I have filed about energy matters, a key notion has been the need for an integrative approach to the various factors that any examination of energy must entail. Something very different from such integration is the standard operational routine today.

For the most part, solar engineers are not conversant with micro hydro installers, for instance. Distinct categories are the rule. No particular specialty is likely to be engaging in regular conversation with the materials scientists, physicists, biologists, sociologists, or other 'anti-natural philosopers' who find themselves mixed up with their own, always decidedly defined and different, aspects of energy's socio-political-economic manifestations, let alone with nuclear engineers and...


9 years 7 months ago

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Models will remain thematically important here; almost every essay will ask a reader to ponder and fondle some sort of template for action, reflection, conversation, and such, especially in the energy realm. However, today's posting, in particular, involves listening to a couple of women who have some powerful messages to deliver, but whose subtext--the message behind the message--is probably as critical as, or even more crucial than, their primary ideas.

The upfront points first of all concern reorientation: away from militarism and...


9 years 7 months ago

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The United States of America, from sea to shining sea, seems generally big enough to encompass 'the hopes and fears of all the years.' Thus far, JustMeans readers and others who have perused these paragraphs spilling forth have encountered U.S. citizens working, with the exception of Greg Palast, in their homeland. Today's story takes us for the first time abroad.

If we recall that the search for models has remained an important theme of these meandering yarns about energy and people and society, then we will see that today's effort fits right in. The United Nations...


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