"The U.S. Department of State is pleased to announce that Dr. Daniel M. Kammen, Professor and Founding Director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley, will be the 2012-2013 Fulbright NEXUS Lead Scholar. Dr. Kammen will lead a group of up to 20 Department of State-sponsored Fulbright scholars from across the Western Hemisphere, including the United States, who will spend one year addressing public policy challenges through international exchanges, seminars, and collaborative research. The scholars will focus on three primary areas—science, technology and innovation; entrepreneurship; and sustainable energy—with a particular focus on climate change adaptation technologies.
Dr. Kammen, who received his doctorate in physics from Harvard University, played a key role in developing the interdisciplinary Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy Program at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University before joining the faculty at the University of California, Berkeley. He was a Coordinating Lead Author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation (2009 – 2011) and was named the first Clean Energy Fellow to the Americas in 2010.
Transportation: the California model
In “California’s Pioneering Transportation Strategy” (Issues, Winter 2012), two of its leading lights, Professor Daniel Sperling and California Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols, highlight many of the key aspects of why it is not only possible, but logical, for California, which “only” emits about 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions, to set aggressive local goals to protect the climate.
U.S. Navy veteran Elmer Rankin, 71, has a failing heart, prostate cancer and arthritis that keeps him in a wheelchair. Last year, Rankin, who survives on his Social Security checks, could no longer afford the mounting costs to heat his home and power the oxygen tank he uses every night. He turned down the heat and got so cold that he wound up in the hospital.
Fortunately, while Rankin's health remains precarious, today he's no longer scrambling to pay for power. Thanks to rooftop solar panels - paid for with a California subsidy - Rankin's monthly energy bill has dropped from an average of $250 to less than $22. Last month he paid just $1.09. On sunny afternoons, he likes to sit and watch his electricity meter run backward.
"Solar power didn't just save me money - it saved my life," he says.
Like clouds temporarily blocking the sun, the continuing partisan debate about Solyndra - the Fremont solar power firm that went bankrupt last year despite a $528 million federal loan guarantee - has obscured the more important story taking place in the solar energy field: Clean, renewable solar power is rapidly becoming a mainstream, affordable U.S. energy option - and a boon to our overall economy.