The Breakthrough Institute

The Breakthrough Institute The Breakthrough Institute is a pioneering research institute changing how people think about energy and the environment.
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The Good Food Institute
05/12/2020
The Good Food Institute

The Good Food Institute

The Breakthrough Institute is echoing GFI's call for federal support to ensure the U.S. remains a world leader in the bourgeoning alt-protein sector! Their report outlines the "significant economic and environmental benefits" of alternative protein R&D and production:

Before COVID-19, we were starting to see early signs of the shift from fossil-fueled to electric-powered cars. Though th...
05/08/2020

Before COVID-19, we were starting to see early signs of the shift from fossil-fueled to electric-powered cars. Though they're still less than 1% of the US vehicle market, in recent years we've seen growth at an average annual rate of 30%.

The pandemic has deflated expectations, but federal investment in more charging stations could help economic recovery while *also* getting us closer to more permanent clear skies.

More here: https://thebreakthrough.org/articles/ev-charging-infrastructure

Yes, global CO2 emissions will drop this year. But at what cost?
05/07/2020

Yes, global CO2 emissions will drop this year. But at what cost?

How can we safely reopen? Testing, Tracing, and Supported Isolation.We're excited to sign on to a new #HowWeReopen repor...
05/05/2020

How can we safely reopen? Testing, Tracing, and Supported Isolation.

We're excited to sign on to a new #HowWeReopen report from the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University. It's a clear, 4-phase roadmap for opening the economy by summer, including steps that make us more pandemic-resilient for generations to come.

Join us in a webinar on Thursday at 8:30am PT / 11:30am ET, featuring authors Danielle Allen, Anne-Marie Slaughter, and Ted Nordhaus, moderated by David Wallace-Wells. Register here: https://thebreakthrough.org/events/safely-reopening-the-american-economy

Yes, global CO2 emissions will drop this year. But at what cost?We calculate that each ton of carbon reduced in 2020 wil...
04/30/2020

Yes, global CO2 emissions will drop this year. But at what cost?

We calculate that each ton of carbon reduced in 2020 will come at the cost of $1,750 in reduced economic activity. This is much more expensive than clean energy technologies available today.

To affect global warming, we must reduce *cumulative* emissions. In other words, long-term, sustainable, effective climate action requires more clean energy — not shrinking the economy.

thebreakthrough.org/issues/energy/covid-co2-drop

For the first time, both renewables and nuclear will likely generate more electricity in the US than coal.New: our team'...
04/29/2020

For the first time, both renewables and nuclear will likely generate more electricity in the US than coal.

New: our team's analysis on the latest Energy Information Agency forecasts.

thebreakthrough.org/issues/energy/covid-coal-decline

The environmental community has been trying to reconcile coronavirus with grander narratives — the virus is nature’s rev...
04/27/2020

The environmental community has been trying to reconcile coronavirus with grander narratives — the virus is nature’s revenge, and so on. There’s no doubt that human activity is implicated in the COVID crisis. But we should acknowledge the underlying Anthropocene anxiety that drives these big stories, and how it obscures the path toward practical solutions. The idea that all environmental problems are fundamentally one is more paralyzing than it is helpful.

More here: thebreakthrough.org/issues/energy/anthropocene-anxiety

04/23/2020
A global food system is a less vulnerable system

Has COVID-19 revealed vulnerabilities in our global food system? Definitely. Does this mean that global is inherently less resilient than local? Definitely not.

International trade is a safety net when local shocks happen. When it comes to food security, redundancy is key.

Caroline explains.

Today marks 50 years since the first Earth Day, and environmental leaders like Alice Waters and Michael Pollan continue ...
04/22/2020

Today marks 50 years since the first Earth Day, and environmental leaders like Alice Waters and Michael Pollan continue to advocate for many of the same lifestyle changes that activists were encouraging back then: shop local and organic, avoid processed foods, support alternatives to the conventional food system.

But technological advances have come a long way, and these kinds of solutions oversimplify sustainability. This year, we're celebrating human ingenuity. Here's our take on what "Ecomodern Eating" looks like: http://ow.ly/PQ6k50zlUzG

04/21/2020
How We Reopen

A bipartisan team of experts agree on the three steps we need to fully reopen the economy by June: testing, tracing, and supported isolation.

New from the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University with The Breakthrough Institute, Rockefeller Foundation, New America, Third Way, and others.

https://youtu.be/HhRQxk9QA-o

A bipartisan group of experts in every field have agreed on a plan for #HowWeReopen. We CAN do this! Check out the report: https://ethics.harvard.edu/covid-r...

How can we recover *and* decarbonize? Start with the low-hanging fruit.This moment is a huge opportunity for lower-carbo...
04/16/2020

How can we recover *and* decarbonize? Start with the low-hanging fruit.

This moment is a huge opportunity for lower-carbon technologies and infrastructure, and in our new policy memo, we outline opportunities for federal policy that have already gained bipartisan support.

Find the list here: thebreakthrough.org/articles/low-hanging-fruit

We're hosting a webinar on how to reset the economy in a way that supports long-term growth, new job creation, and decar...
04/14/2020

We're hosting a webinar on how to reset the economy in a way that supports long-term growth, new job creation, and decarbonization. Featuring Breakthrough's Lauren Anderson, The Atlantic's Robinson Meyer, and National Wildlife Federation's Collin O'Mara.

*This Thursday, 1pm PT / 4pm ET*

Space is limited, so register here: http://bit.ly/thebti-webinar

The development of wild lands shrinks wildlife habitats, bringing wildlife, like bats, into closer proximity to human se...
04/13/2020
To Combat Pandemics, Intensify Agriculture

The development of wild lands shrinks wildlife habitats, bringing wildlife, like bats, into closer proximity to human settlements. This is a major factor in disease outbreaks. To prevent future pandemics, we must prevent land-use changes. One of the best ways to do that is to grow more food on less land.

New from our food & ag team: https://thebreakthrough.org/issues/food/zoonosis

The most important factor in the development of new zoonotic diseases is land-use change.

For a greener stimulus bill, Ted Nordhaus & Alex Trembath argue for major investments in infrastructure and key industri...
04/08/2020
It's the Economy, Stupid

For a greener stimulus bill, Ted Nordhaus & Alex Trembath argue for major investments in infrastructure and key industries, not the usual laundry lists of tax credits, mandates, and regulations. Focus on what to build — not what to stop.

http://ow.ly/b9T150z9mwV

Environmental advocates might want to consider whether this sort of interest group politicking is really what the present moment demands.

The COVID-19 pandemic is unfolding rapidly, demanding all of our attention. Climate change unfolds slowly, over decades....
04/07/2020
Why the COVID-19 Response Is No Model for Climate Action

The COVID-19 pandemic is unfolding rapidly, demanding all of our attention. Climate change unfolds slowly, over decades. We should be cautious in equating the two.

http://ow.ly/sUP550z8fcG

The parallels between the COVID-19 crisis and climate change are obvious. But those parallels mostly reveal just how different the two challenges are.

We use twice as much land for pasture as we do for growing crops.That's bad news: it threatens biodiversity; worsens cli...
06/17/2019

We use twice as much land for pasture as we do for growing crops.

That's bad news: it threatens biodiversity; worsens climate change.

Here's the good news: global pasture has peaked and declined in the last 20 years.

New Breakthrough report out today: bit.ly/BTI_pasture

Our new illustrated guide to nitrogen pollution.bit.ly/BTI_nitrogen
05/08/2019

Our new illustrated guide to nitrogen pollution.

bit.ly/BTI_nitrogen

Impossible Foods is getting a lot of attention lately, and we're here for it. Changing people's diets is really hard, an...
04/29/2019

Impossible Foods is getting a lot of attention lately, and we're here for it. Changing people's diets is really hard, and beef's environmental footprint is really large.

But one crucial question remains: does it taste as good as it looks? Breakthrough staff reviews: https://thebreakthrough.org/issues/food/impossible-burger-review

As the national debate around the Green New Deal continues — with no end, or meaningful legislation, in sight — states h...
04/19/2019

As the national debate around the Green New Deal continues — with no end, or meaningful legislation, in sight — states have been quietly forging ahead on climate.

The latest from Jameson McBride on how to elevate state climate policy: https://thebreakthrough.org/issues/energy/state-climate-policy

The problem of energy poverty is widely acknowledged. About one billion people have little to no access to electricity, ...
03/15/2019

The problem of energy poverty is widely acknowledged. About one billion people have little to no access to electricity, and many more lack the financial means to consume electricity at levels that might support a developed-country standard of living. To support countries that have yet to attain meaningful, country-wide electrification, we should look to history for lessons on how it was achieved. In our newest report, we look at five examples of successful universal electrification: the United States, Mexico, Brazil, Thailand, and China.

The Road More Traveled: Case Studies in Universal Electrification. Read it here: https://thebreakthrough.org/articles/the-road-more-traveled

In the newest Breakthrough Journal, food writer Felisa Rogers documents the impacts of the global boom in artisanal mezc...
02/25/2019

In the newest Breakthrough Journal, food writer Felisa Rogers documents the impacts of the global boom in artisanal mezcal on Mexico’s environment and communities. Exoticism and uniqueness may have established the market for high-end mezcal, but cultivation and a move toward standardization are the only things that will save it.

Bad Liquor: How Marketing Primitivism Threatens Mexico's Environment and Rural Communities

https://thebreakthrough.org/journal/no-10-winter-2019/bad-liquor

Why is it so hard to find an affordable home in the San Francisco Bay Area? Is it possible for housing to be both afford...
02/11/2019

Why is it so hard to find an affordable home in the San Francisco Bay Area? Is it possible for housing to be both affordable and a wealth generator? And what do vomiting anarchists and burrowing owls have to do with it, anyway? Kim-Mai Cutler, one of the leading voices in urban policy, takes a deep, historical dive into how we got into this mess. She touches on everything from tech jobs to population growth, wildfires to tax codes, systemic racial inequalities to the inheritance of home ownership.

Tune in to our latest podcast episode: https://bit.ly/2UX4kkF

We are thrilled to announce the newest (10th!) issue of the Breakthrough Journal, out today. The theme: Eco-Identity Pol...
02/06/2019

We are thrilled to announce the newest (10th!) issue of the Breakthrough Journal, out today. The theme: Eco-Identity Politics. By examining everything from artisanal mezcal to school gardens, human housing reserves to ranching in the American West, our contributors explore what it means to be an environmentalist in a modern society.

Find all the essays, poems, cartoons, reviews, responses, and (new this year!) a data visualization here: thebreakthrough.org/journal/no-10-winter-2019

As the President of the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, George Sparks always has better science communication on the ...
01/29/2019

As the President of the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, George Sparks always has better science communication on the mind. Up first: a new definition of science – one with a lowercase “s.” We tend to think of science as a cerebral, individual activity, like chess; really, it’s more like rugby: a messy team sport. For better public policy, we need a transparent triad between journalists, policymakers, and scientists: ripe with honesty, centered around values, and grounded in better relationships.

New podcast episode: https://bit.ly/2HCCybg

We often think of progress and failure as mutually exclusive. Hannah Ritchie says otherwise: there can be single catastr...
01/14/2019

We often think of progress and failure as mutually exclusive. Hannah Ritchie says otherwise: there can be single catastrophic events within larger narratives of human progress. At Our World in Data, Hannah couches data-driven analyses into big-picture stories, making OWID the go-to reference on basic global trends. She finds compatibility between narratives of human destruction and human progress, always motivated by the thought that the world could be a really good place.

Look for the Breakthrough Dialogues on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or whatever your preferred platform.

Season 2 of the Breakthrough Dialogues premieres on Monday, starting with data wiz Hannah Ritchie of Our World in Data. ...
01/10/2019

Season 2 of the Breakthrough Dialogues premieres on Monday, starting with data wiz Hannah Ritchie of Our World in Data.

The Breakthrough Dialogues takes everything we love about our events — the productive disagreement, the direct engagement with interdisciplinary experts, the thoughtful questions that move beyond tribalism and into more constructive spaces — and wraps it all up into concise conversations. Upcoming episodes include everything from land sparing to science education, African energy systems to San Francisco urban planning.

Catch up on Season 1 while you wait: https://breakthroughdialogues.org/episodes

It’s no coincidence that the fastest decarbonization rates have occurred in centralized, state-dominated energy systems....
12/19/2018

It’s no coincidence that the fastest decarbonization rates have occurred in centralized, state-dominated energy systems. The Green New Deal proposed by Rep.-elect Ocasio-Cortez seems to be the sort of climate "Medicare for All" we've been looking for — but it consists of relatively traditional, Obama-era market-oriented policies.

Jameson McBride's latest: The Green New Deal and the Legacy of Public Power.

https://thebreakthrough.org/issues/energy/the-green-new-deal-and-the-legacy-of-public-power

12/13/2018
thebreakthrough.org - revamped

Friendly to screens of any size, organized by research area, and easy to engage with: the new thebreakthrough.org.

Check us out! thebreakthrough.org
12/13/2018

Check us out! thebreakthrough.org

A #GivingTuesday read: where climate philanthropy has been, and where it needs to go next, from Rachel Pritzker and Ted ...
11/27/2018
A Bigger Tent: Where Climate Philanthropy Needs to Go Next

A #GivingTuesday read: where climate philanthropy has been, and where it needs to go next, from Rachel Pritzker and Ted Nordhaus: https://www.insidephilanthropy.com/home/2018/6/13/a-bigger-tent-where-climate-philanthropy-needs-to-go-next

Guest contributors Rachel Pritzker and Ted Nordhaus argue that green funders need to invest in a much wider array of organizations and approaches if they hope to move the needle on climate change.

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I think Breakthrough Institute is running under some pressure and they have not adequate skills and expertise to judge environmental problems independently
To Jessica Lovering, Breakthrough Dear Madam, In continuation to my earlier message, I like to inform you that a nuclear power unit is only 28% efficient. That means they reject 72% of their heat generated in nuclear reactor into environment and this much heat is directly heating the atmosphere and environment. Hence this nuclear power plant can not run in sustainable manner. With running of this plant , environment will go on heating. This plant is not emitting carbon dioxide that is all right, but it is emitting water vapor from their cooling tower and this is a green house gas responsible for global warming. And since they are non-technical they are saying water vapor is not a GHG. They have engaged false reporters to publish their fake claim for public awareness, but very few people/public know this fact. They have planned to install additional capacities of nuclear power throughout the world to cool the present hot earth for ongoing extreme heating of the earth as a solution. But to everybody's surprise, it will be seen that the temperature of earth is/will be rising in stead of falling. It will happen and their fake reporters and they themselves will be punished/ blamed for their lack of knowledge and expertise. Thanks and regards Radhashyam Muduli Bhubaneswar, India Engineer/ Scientist 02/04/2020
To Jessica Lovering,Breakthrough Dear Madam, From your writings and declarations on Energy Policy,I came to know that you have taken nuclear power as green and renewable energy. Nuclear power is carbon free but not green/renewable energy for it is not sustainable. That means with its use and application, it will not maintain the environment in good stead and is degrading the environment by heating it. A nuclear power plant warms environment more than a same capacity fossil fuel fired thermal power plant. The scientist dominated organisation with less technical know how, they are claiming like this from inception and due to low cost of nuclear power, few influential states have allowed them to continue operation. As such nuclear power is a global warmer and it should not be allowed to continue their operation/business. To our greatest surprise, they have planned to add extra nuclear power capacities to cool earth, but it will end in heating the present hot earth. The details of these I shall write in my next letter. Please convey your email ID to [email protected] Thanks and regards Radhashyam Muduli Bhubaneswar, India Engineer/Scientist 02/04/2020
Because the albedo/atmosphere reflect 30% of the incoming solar energy the earth is cooler with that albedo/atmosphere than without. Without an atmosphere the earth would receive 30% more kJ/h becoming a barren rock much like the moon, hot^3 on the lit side, cold^3 on the dark. This observation is easily confirmed by comparisons with the moon as Nikolov, Kramm suggest and UCLA Diviner mission observes. This refutes the RGHE theory which postulates just the opposite, that the earth sans atmosphere would be a -430 F ball of ice or 288 K w/ - 255 K w/o = 33 C cooler. (Rubbish!) Because of the non-radiative heat transfer processes of the contiguous participating atmospheric molecules, 396 W/m^2 of BB LWIR upwelling from the surface is not possible. As I demonstrate in the grand science tradition of performing experiments: https://principia-scientific.org/debunking-the-greenhouse-gas-theory-with-a-boiling-water-pot/ Without the 396 W/m^2 upwelling LWIR there is no net 333 W/m^2 for the GHGs to "trap", "back" radiate or warm anything anywhere. There is no radiative greenhouse effect and the non-existent GHGs do not "warm" the terrestrial surface.
Forget 'net zero'! 'Absolute Zero' for all of humanity's energy needs from nuclear power and hydrogen [even much of the air travel] - and the absolute minimum environmental footprint possible: --------------------//---------------------- Just sent the email below to Dr Finkel. Don't know if I'll get a reply. Going to put in as a comment on the video too [if it lets me]: -----------------------//------------------------- Subject: Dr. Alan Finkel AO | Energy: Australia's national hydrogen strategy Dear Dr Finkel, The subject matter is the title of your recent YouTube 'ceda' presentation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96oqkFkJADc At 2:32 in, you explain that nuclear power is not available in the Australian 'zero-emissions tool kit'. Further in, you describe the scale of hydrogen production envisioned and concentrate on solar power as the simple means of explaining the electricity capacity needed to produce the 30 million tonnes of H2 exports. 900 GW of solar at the typical Australian 25% capacity factor, will give you the 1,980 TWh per year necessary. This would be equivalent to 4091 Bungala-sized Solar Power Projects, with a capital cost of A$1,913 billion, occupying 33,000 km2 with a lifespan of 30 years. In view of the fact that your video presentation appears on the CEDA News YouTube channel [ceda: committee for economic development of australia], would you know if the burgeoning developments in advanced nuclear reactors figure in the Committee's forward planning? For example, do you think they are aware of the COD for GE-Hitachi's 300 MW [Small Modular Reactor] nuclear power plant [npp], the BWRX-300, has recently been pulled forward from 2030 to 2028. This implies that in the early years of the 2030s, this npp will be available at the NOAK capital cost of A$890 million. That's A$890 million for a 300 MW npp, operating at 90% capacity factor, generating 24/7, low-carbon electricity for a 60 year design life. 837 BWRX-300s, maybe grouped onto 100 or so sites, would have a capital cost of A$745 billion. Bearing in mind all of that solar capacity would have to be built a second time to generate for 60 years, the total capital cost of solar power would be A$3,826 million, which is >5X the capital cost of the npp alternative. Developing Australia economically by foisting upon the tax and bill-paying public, a low-carbon energy technology, with >5X the capital cost of advanced npps, takes the money out of their pockets to pay for lifestyle decisions of their own choices, in order to pay a lot more to take a hot shower, boil the kettle, or run the car. At 81 years old, and the UK's No.1 BWRX-300 supporter, I hang on to the hope I will see the breakers thrown on that FOAK. And in the meanwhile, I'll be pushing all I can to promote it in a facebook group page [new members always welcome] and in the blogosphere: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1032713003519847/ https://bwrx-300-nuclear-uk.blogspot.com/ It would be really good to know what you think . Kind regards,
OMG how can this ever be happening? The CCC in full flow with their Government-targeted crap. Please HELP! HELP! Anybody who can, please have a dig at these morons!!!!!!!!!!! Just put this on their facebook link to the announcement: -------------------------------//------------------------------- "...A decade ago we said, “decarbonise electricity generation, then electrify the economy where you can – there is a cost, but it’s worth it”. It turns out we were very right about that strategy; but pleasingly wrong about the cost. The key technologies – wind, solar, batteries – globally have fallen in price, to become cost competitive in some cases with fossil-fuelled systems...........But it is equally true that ten years ago, the CCC were overly optimistic about cost falls in some other technologies – nuclear for example..." These morons at the CCC are manifestly pro-renewables/anti nuclear and under a cloud of dubious integrity with recent revelations about Lord Deben, its Chair. Their weasel-words about the cost competitiveness of renewables can be shown up for what it is by the simplest of arithmetic an 11 year old child could do. And their nasty dig at the cost of nuclear demonstrates a complete ignorance, or the wilfull ignoring, of burgeoning developments in advanced nuclear power reactors. In 15 years time the GE-Hitachi, BWRX-300 Small Modular Reactor [SMR] will be available. It is a uniquely simple and therefore cost effective nuclear power reactor at an overnight cost of $2000/kW, which is a quarter of the cost of Hinkley and competitive to gas. If 100% of the 340 TWh of electricity the UK uses every year were to be supplied by wind and solar, it is likely we would not be prepared to put up with the landscape desecration the Germans accept. So a reasonably 'permutation' might be 10% solar, 30% onshore wind and 60% offshore wind. It will never be truly emissions' free because renewables will forever require fossil-fuelled backup. This would cost £527 billion to cover generation for 60 years - the design life of a nuclear power plant. 340 TWh of 24/7 electricity, requiring no fossil-fuelled backup could be supplied by BWRX-300s for a cost of £65 billion. True zero-emissions electricity for 60 years at 1/8th of the cost. But as significant to Claire Perry should be the ruling in the USA that the Emergency Planning Zone [EPZ] for SMRs can be at the boundary fence of their tiny sites. This is what James Conca recently said: "...the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission just agreed that any emergencies that could possibly occur at a small modular nuclear power plant probably won’t even get past the fence..........No need to come up with huge evacuation plans for nearby cities or anyone living near the plant, like we did for older plants. You can just stand there at the fence and watch what’s going on..." SMRs can be sited near centres of population. The BWRX-300 has a rating of 900 MW thermal and plenty of potential to supply much of the heating and hot water to buildings - 40% of UK energy use - when used as a Combined Heating& Power [CHP] plant. A cost-effective solution to one of the Government's worst energy headaches, with an infrastructure cost nowhere near that of a 100% renewables [electricity only] UK. If there's a God up there, to which most of the politicians, genuinely or otherwise, pay lip service, please put a force field around the Department of BEIS and Parliament, so nothing from the CCC can get through. For the simple cost figures: https://bwrx-300-nuclear-uk.blogspot.com/2019/03/butwhat-about-100-low-carbon.html For the insane comment from Chris Stark about batteries - "...globally have fallen in price..." - just have a look at this: https://bwrx-300-nuclear-uk.blogspot.com/2019/03/just-4-windless-days-in-100-wind-and.html ------------------------------------------//------------------------------------- https://www.theccc.org.uk/2019/03/19/chris-stark-towards-net-zero/