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under 10 minutes
Earth: The Operator's Manual
Hosted by award-winning geoscientist Richard Alley, funded by the NSF, and shown on PBS, this video explains fossil fuels and their relationship to our warming climate, then shifts its attention to our many options for sustainable energy. The project's excellent website also offers two sequels, "Powering the Planet," which explores new energy initiatives around the world, and "Energy Quest USA," which does the same for the United States.
(54 minutes, 2011)

Burn: An Energy Journal
Alex Chadwick, American Public Media
These radio reportage podcasts consider post-Fukushima nuclear power, the hunt for oil, experimental cars, batteries, political complications, and other energy topics. The series homepage also offers an interesting collection of responses to this question: If you had just one minute to talk about energy with the president, what would you say?
(4 hours total, 2 of which can be downloaded in shorter segments, 2012)

For longer, more thorough, older-but-still-accurate videos about energy solutions and green buildings, see our archive

articles & essays
Clean Energy Technologies Threaten to Overwhelm the Grid. Here's How it Can Adapt.
David Roberts, Vox, December 2018
This long, thorough, complicated but readable article walks us through the current structure of our power grid, examines what is inadequate about it for this century's needs, and considers how best to restructure that grid as part of an effective and efficient transition to a renewable energy system.

Homo Electric
Angus Hervey, Future Crunch, December 2018
A friendly and educational three-part dive into our current and future energy systems, this is the result of a 4-month "quest to figure out what's happening with the global clean energy revolution." The link here is to Part I, where you can find links to the rest.

Climate Change Policy Can Be Overwhelming. Here's a Guide to the Policies that Work.
David Roberts, Vox, November 2018
Part book discussion and part interview, this is a very informative and encouraging look at the practical effectiveness of various energy policies in reducing carbon as quickly as possible. Vox energy guru Roberts talks to Hal Harvey about his new book, Designing Climate Solutions: A Policy Guide for Low-Carbon Energy.

Can the World Kick its Fossil-Fuel Addition Fast Enough?
Jeff Tollefson, Nature, April 2018
If you're interested, but not expert, in what's going on in the energy world, you might feel yourself to be riding a roller-coaster of optimism (yes, there is lots and lots of new carbon-free energy) and pessimism (no, we're still stuck in fossil fuels as time runs out). This informative and readable article explains how both responses are realistic.

Power Companies Have Resisted Climate Policy. Now It Might Be their Only Hope
David Roberts, Vox, March 2018
What might happen to our power utility companies as we shift away from fossil fuels? This interesting piece lays out some ways they might actually thrive.

Meet the Retired Furniture Maker Fighting for Climate Justice‒and Coal Miners’ Future‒in West Virginia
Greta Moran, Pacific Standard, July 2018
An inspiring story of an individual taking action not just to lower carbon emissions but to help the miners whose jobs will be lost as we shift to carbon-free energy. This piece is alert to the connections among daily life, economics, political activism, and climate justice.

Can We Learn from Europe's Approach to Laid-off Coal Miners?
Joshua Zaffos, High Country News, April 2016
Interesting piece about the contrasting fates of American and German coal miners who lose their jobs. Germans, in short, have a much better safety net, funded by higher taxes. Americans are largely left on their own, at least until we figure something out that's much better than what we currently offer.

How Big a Deal Was Congress Extending the Renewable Energy Tax Credits?
A Very, Very Big Deal.

David Roberts, Vox, January 2016
What difference will it make to the future of wind and solar energy that associated tax credits got extended at the end of 2015? Here is a clear explanation, and it is good news.

African Lights: Microgrids are Bringing Power to Rural Kenya
Fred Pearce, Yale Environment 360, October 2015
A very interesting story about village-scale microgrids (with smart metering) in sometimes quite remote parts of Kenya‒and how they improve on roof-top solar panels. Also see the story in the same magazine by David Ferris about similar microgrids in India.

Four Trends Driving Profitable Climate Protection
Amory B. Lovins, Forbes, September 2015
Amory Lovins, the chief scientist (and co-founder) of the Rocky Mountain Institute, has long been an optimistic proponent of clean, renewable energy and its potential for profitable businesses. This piece from Forbes is an update on the world's progress on this front. Lovins has done numerous interesting TED talks on this and related topics, too; they are easy to find on the web.

Things Most of Us Don't Know about Fossil Fuels
The Guardian, 2015
As part of their extensive climate reporting, The Guardian has looked into some of the biggest players in the fossil fuel world, and what they have found is not pretty. Their website includes stories about Shell, Peabody, BP, and Schlumberger. Other related stories cover topics such as the taxpayer subsidies in the US and Australia for coal production.

Exxon‒The Road Not Taken
Neela Banerjee, Lisa Song and David Hasemyer, Inside Climate News, September 2015
Ever wonder what Exxon really knew about fossil fuels and global climate disruption‒and when they knew it? Turns out they knew a lot, a long time ago, and from their own scientists, well before they turned their considerable resources to deceiving the public. (For a response from ExxonMobil's Richard Keil, click here.) This thorough, multi-part series, based on eight months of investigation into primary sources, raises, for some, the question whether the fossil fuel industry is guilty‒like the tobacco industry‒of racketeering, as outlined here by reporter Dana Nuccitelli in The Guardian. For another deeply-researched story, this one about Exxon's relations with its shareholders on climate change resolutions, see Inside Climate News's Climate Accountability Project.

Power to the People: Why the Rise of Green Energy Makes Utility Companies Nervous
Bill McKibben, The New Yorker, June 2015
From a forward-looking company in Vermont to a recalcitrant one in Arizona, American utility companies don't yet know how to cope with the rapid transition underway to distributed solar power. This informative, interesting, and heartening article is a good reminder that McKibben was a journalist before he became a climate activist.

Home Solar Panels: Pros, Cons, and Hidden Costs
Graham Shorr, Expertise, May 2015
A very helpful introduction to the choices we have for adding solar power to our homes, either by leasing or by buying.

Energy Efficiency: The Desirable, All-Natural (and Extremely Hard) Way to Light an Office
David Ferris, EnergyWire, March 2015
An interesting story about the challenges and rewards of lighting office buildings with sunlight.

Your Brain on Energy
Chris Mooney, The Washington Post, January 2015
Look at efforts to stop wasting energy in the context of behavioral science, and what do you see? This is the topic of Mooney's typically thorough, engaging, and thought-provoking three-part series: first, "The next energy revolution won't be in wind or solar. It will be in our brains"; second, "Why 50 million smart meters still haven't fixed America's energy habits"; and three, "The best way to get conservatives to save energy is to stop the environmentalist preaching."

Africa's Quiet Solar Revolution
Lorena Galliot, The Christian Science Monitor, January 2015
Encouraging story about new start-ups working to distribute transformative, small-scale, "pay-as-you-go" solar electricity to Tanzania and elsewhere in Africa, illustrating the possibility that such projects can leapfrog over large-scale fossil-fuel energy systems just as cell phones did over land-based phone grids.

Climate Mission Impossible: Scientists Say Fossil Fuels Must Go Untapped
Christina Nunez, National Geographic, January 2015
Clear summary and discussion of a study just published in Nature that looks at the high proportion of known fossil fuel reserves we must leave untouched if we are to keep global warming from reaching dangerous levels‒and where these fuels are. The study was done by scientists at University College London's Institute for Sustainable Resources (UCL).

Sun and Wind Alter Global Landscape, Leaving Utilities Behind
Justin Gillis, New York Times, September 2014
An excellent story about the alterations underway in electricity generation, focused on the global effects of Germany's aggressive move to renewables.

Carbon Capture and Storage: Realistic? Or not?
It's easy to be confused about "clean coal," the idea that we might (on a large scale) capture CO2 at coal plants and store (sequester) it underground. Here are three very good overview articles about the potential and complications of this possible technology: Michelle Nijhuis, National Geographic (2014); Tom Zeller, Huffington Post (2013); and David Biello, Yale Environment 360 (2014).

The Emerging Power of Microgrids
Justin Gerdes, Ensia, July 2014
Very good piece on the trend towards community-scaled microgrids, with attention to their benefits in stability, security, and ability to accommodate more renewable energy sources.

World's Energy Systems Vulnerable to Climate Impacts, Report Warns
Fiona Harvey, The Guardian, June 2014
This is a quick introduction to a report issued by the World Energy Council, the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, Cambridge Judge Business School, and the European Climate Foundation, called Climate Change‒Implications for the Energy Sector. The report's website includes an infographic that includes impacts, adaptations, emission reduction options, and policy frameworks for a variety of energy sources.

Shining Cities: At the Forefront of America's Solar Energy Revolution
Environment California Research & Policy Center, April 2014
Encouraging report on the growth (and benefits) of solar energy in American cities, including information about policies that have helped this development. This website has a good summary, a link to the full PDF report, and links to other energy and climate reports from this research center.

Unconventional Oil and Gas Will Fry Climate: ExxonMobil Report
Barry Saxifrage, Vancouver Observer, January 2014
Saxifrage connects some important dots in this post by combining the forecasts in ExxonMobil's global energy report ("The Outlook for Energy: A View to 2040") with the scenarios of the International Energy Agency. He concludes that ExxonMobil expects (as does BP) that we'll burn enough fossil fuels to warm the planet by 4°C‒a level that the World Bank calls "devastating."

Mark Ruffalo Wants You To Imagine a 100 Percent Clean Energy Future
Chris Mooney and Indre Viskontas, Grist, January 2014
This short piece describes an hour-long Inquiring Minds podcast featuring actor/writer/director/producer Ruffalo's project of imagining a totally carbon-free energy system in the US, including state-specific transition plans, beginning with New York. Links to the podcast and other resources connected to this project.

18 Fun Renewable Energy Charts From NREL Director Dan Arvizu & Ren21's Renewables 2013 Global Status Report
Clean Technica, November 2013
For current information about the state of and potential for renewable energy, see this blog entry, which presents interesting and encouraging charts. Good links, too.

Debunking the Renewables "Disinformation Campaign"
Amory Lovins, Rocky Mountain Institute, July 2013
This excellent piece about the pervasive pattern of inaccurate and misleading news coverage of the economic benefits (and other aspects) of renewable energy should serve as a heads-up for news readers everywhere.

Beyond Fossil Fuels
New York Times
"Articles in this series examine innovative attempts to reduce the world's dependence on coal, oil and other carbon-intensive fuels, and the challenges faced." Interesting and thought-provoking pieces that range from a kitchen table in Kansas to military convoys in Afghanistan.

The Power Grid May Determine Whether We Can Kick Our Carbon Habit
Jonathan Thompson, High Country News, May 2013
A comprehensive look at the way the electrical grid operates‒and sometimes fails‒in the context of history and the future of renewables. For a related story about the links between power failures and severe weather (with a link to a Department of Energy report about the vulnerability of the grid), click here.

For the Birds (and the Bats): 8 Ways Wind Power Companies Are Trying to Prevent Deadly Collisions
Roger Drouin, Grist, January 2013
"Hundreds of thousands of birds and bats are killed by wind turbines in the U.S. each year, including some protected species such as the golden eagle and the Indiana bat. That's only a small fraction of the hundreds of millions killed by buildings, pesticides, fossil-fuel power plants, and other human causes, but it's still worrying ‒ especially as wind power is experiencing record growth." This story covers some ways of shrinking those numbers and offers good links to more information on how birds are killed by various aspects of modern life.

Africa's Quiet Solar Revolution
Lorena Galliot, The Christian Science Monitor, January 2015
Encouraging story about new start-ups working to distribute transformative, small-scale, "pay-as-you-go" solar electricity to Tanzania and elsewhere in Africa, illustrating the possibility that such projects can leapfrog over large-scale fossil-fuel energy systems just as cell phones did over land-based phone grids.

Clean Energy Ministerial: Accelerating the Global Clean Energy Transition
This website represents a multinational "forum to promote policies and share best practices to accelerate the global transition to clean energy." The work is wide-ranging-and encouraging to read about.

Eleven Maps that Explain Energy in America
Brad Plumer, Vox, July 2015
A fascinating look at the 2015 energy infrastructure in the U.S.: coal, oil, gas, nuclear, solar, wind, transmission lines . . . with attention paid to what has been changing recently and why. Culled from a mapping tool from the Energy Information Administration.

The Great Energy Challenge
National Geographic
This lively website includes a personal energy meter, a light bulb savings calculator, global maps of energy use and fossil-fuel subsidies, quizzes, blogs, energy stories, and an archive.

Clean Economy Wire
This subset of (the Pulitzer Prize winning) InsideClimate News collects stories about clean energy economic development. A good one-stop shop for this sort of information.

National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)
This is the US government's main research location for energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies, and it offers a rich website. One good place to start on the link above (the Energy Analysis page) is at "News" (on the left) and the archived newsletters, which offer many links. The links under "Science & Technology" are also likely to be of wide interest and usefulness.

Clean Energy Innovation Analysis by google.org
Easy-to-use interactive site about the effects of clean energy innovations on the economy, with links to more data.

Clean and Renewable Energy (for Homes & Businesses)
Colorado State University Extension
An excellent one-stop source offering a wealth of practical information about clean energy technologies: high-quality links, factsheets, data, worksheets, calculators, how-to instructions, information on rebates and incentives, and more‒on conservation, biofuels, geothermal, small hydropower, solar, wind, for both homes and businesses. Centered in, but in no way limited to, Colorado.

Climate 2030: A National Blueprint for a Clean Energy Economy
Union of Concerned Scientists, May 2009
This extensive, detailed, and readable analysis offers recommendations for jumpstarting the transition to a low-carbon economy while saving money for every region and household. Thoroughly researched and peer-reviewed; extensive references; useful for both lay-persons and professionals.

Teaching Climate/Energy Law & Policy
Wil Burns, Johns Hopkins University
Run by the Associate Director of the Master in Energy Policy and Climate program at Johns Hopkins, this site (a blog, with extensive links) supports "those engaged in the teaching of law and policy courses focused on climate change and energy (primarily at the university, graduate and law school levels) by discussing pedagogy in this field, as well as sharing relevant resources and analysis of key issues. The scope of discussion includes scientific, political and legal issues pertinent to addressing climate change and energy production."

CLEAN: The Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network
This extensive website is a key resource for anyone who teaches climate science, climate change, or energy awareness to students from grade 6 through college. It offers "Digital resources . . . reviewed by educators and scientists, and annotated and aligned with standards and benchmarks"‒and a lively online community of people working to increase public climate literacy.

Stabilization Wedges Game
For a good way to highlight the policies that would be needed to mobilize a variety of low-carbon technologies and the political interests that would be involved in any such discussions, try this "team-based exercise that teaches players about the scale of the greenhouse gas problem, plus technologies that already exist to dramatically reduce our carbon emissions and get us off the path toward dramatic and damaging climate change." It's based on the work done by Robert Socolow and Stephen Pacala (of the Carbon Mitigation Initiative at Princeton).

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