Nuclear plant

5 Articles To Read This Week (and Why) – 3/29/17

Last week I featured Middlebury, intolerance, and Charles Murray. Article number 4 this week will continue that theme, this time with Wellesley and Laura Kipnis. But before we get to that, let’s pivot to a subject that is no less controversial or important—but more about the economic world than the academic. Energy. There have been several interesting articles to feature this week on energy, carbon, new technology. Putting aside the current administration’s quixotic quest to resuscitate coal, which is probably America’s dirtiest fuel source, I wanted to share an article about nuclear and one about lithium. Both may play a crucial role in America’s energy future, not to mention the world’s. And both are right in the middle of the debate about a post-carbon society.

1.The Future of Energy

This article from Vox is a deeply insightful, sober, and at times encouraging overview of the issues around one of the most important sources of carbon-free power that we have—nuclear. Nuclear is not just carbon-free, its footprint, in many respects, is also smaller than solar or wind. But the fears around it are significant and undiminished since Fukushima. Two of the more prominent voices in it are the founders of the Breakthrough Institute (Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger, who has since founded his own think tank Environmental Progress). Rarely will you find a better overview.

Read Here: Nuclear Power is Dying. Can Radical innovation Save It?

Next up is an article from Bloomberg BusinessWeek about lithium. Critical to new battery technology like those used in Tesla cars, lithium is the new black gold of the 21st century, or could be. And the global rush to mine the stuff continues unabated. Of course, this is one reason why Musk put his new Gigifactory in Reno.

Read here: The Great Nevada Lithium Rush

2. Immigration and Labor

Ever since the election, journalists have descended on Pennsylvania like jackals, desperate to explain the source of Trump’s victory. Not all of these articles are enlightening, but this one I found particularly interesting as it delves into one subculture, Russian immigrants in their adopted home of Philly.

Read here: Why Philly’s Russians are Crazy for Trump

Read more…

5 Articles to Read This Week (and Why)

1. Free Speech and College Campuses

The theme of this week is what happened at Middlebury College recently. It’s worth reflecting on for anyone who believes deeply in a free exchange of ideas on college campuses. I had a chance last year to spend a weekend in a small group that included Charles Murray. He is a serious scholar, very frustrated with the Republican Party, a passionate advocate of a Universal Basic Income, vociferously anti-Trump, and highly concerned about the “elite bubble” that has contributed to America “coming apart.” I’m sure I disagree with Murray on many, many things, but the caricatured portrayal of him by some students and teachers at Middlebury was painful and ill-conceived—some apparently came to their conclusions without even reading his work. He certainly ain’t Milo. But beyond Murray, too many liberal college campuses are struggling with the “liberal” part these days. And for those of us trying to overcome the increasing hyper-partisan polarization in our country, let’s just say this wasn’t the best moment for the spirit of that work.

Here are NYU scholar Jonathan Haidt and NY Times columnist Frank Bruni speaking about the issue on Charlie Rose. Lots of great points made in this one, but Bruni’s “helicopter parent producing a bubble-wrapped kid” might be one of the best.

Read more…