Thursday, February 12, 2015

On Global Divestment Day: A Chicago Theory of Risk Management

Mother Nature Says "Divest!"
(So do Black and Scholes.)
Tomorrow is Global Divestment Day.

There will be activities in Chicago.

To mark the day, I dredged up my memory of financial principals to respond to an article in The Wall Street Journal with these words:

The reason university (and other) investment offices should divest from fossil fuel stocks is: they provide overly-large exposure to risk. Raising awareness of this is the real point of Global Divestment Day. 

 (See "The Feel-Good Folly of Fossil-Fuel Valuation" on the Scarry Thoughts blog.)

Chicago is the home of sophisticated financial analysis. It's time for us to lead the conversation about the true shape of the coming economy.

Related posts

What was striking to me was that, despite the U of C's reputation as a center of economic research and thinking and teaching, all four of the panelists appeared singularly uninterested in the central economic problem of the climate crisis: how will the supply and demand of goods and services change as a result of society's understanding of the climate crisis? and how will the market react to signals about such changes?

(See EXTRA! Climate Economics Confound U of C Profs! )

Oil companies are valued by the market based on their reserves. The problem with this approach is that the total reserves claimed by the oil companies is FIVE TIMES what can possibly be burned without driving up the temperature of the atmosphere up by a catastrophic amount and, as McKibben puts it, "breaking the planet." How can the value of oil companies be a function of reserves that can never be used?

(See The REALLY Big Short: The Jig is Up with Oil Companies)

The planning that is under way for 2015 clearly envisions the connections between multiple issues -- nuclear disarmament, clean (non-nuclear) energy, and climate -- and a need to involve everyone who cares about these issues.

(See #NoNukesTuesday: Disarmament? Clean Power? Climate? All three?

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Feb 3 and 5 - Renewable Energy Town Halls in Evanston and Wilmette

Participate in town halls on renewable energy with leading experts February 3, 2015, in Wilmette and February 5, 2015, in Evanston. Both events are sponsored by Chicago Area Peace Action:

We Need Your Help.

Enable Illinois to reduce our dependence on dirty and dangerous sources of energy and transition to clean renewable energy.

The devastating impacts of climate change are now happening at a faster rate than previously projected. No new positive legislative actions are projected to come from Congress in the near future. Aggressive state energy strategies in support of EPA carbon standards are our best hope for reducing climate change.

These renewable energy plans along with continued energy efficiency actions will enable Illinois to take a leadership role in reducing carbon pollution and by so doing become a model for other states as they take aggressive actions to slow the dangerous impacts of climate change.

Illinois is heavily dependent on coal and nuclear power to provide energy. Over 86% of power plant energy in Illinois comes from these two sources. As you might expect, the utility providers of this energy are strongly opposed to plans for renewable energy. Even worse, they are now trying to convince our elected representatives to further increase the subsidies they receive.

Add your voice in support of moving away from coal and nuclear power and into an abundant supply of clean renewable energy for Illinois.

Both events are free but there is limited seating at both locations. Please RSVP if you are planning to attend.

Contact Jack Kelly, Pres. Emeritus Chicago Area Peace Action

Contact Dave Kraft, Founder Nuclear Energy Information Service 773.342.7650


Feb. 3rd event in Wilmette:
1242 Wilmette Ave.
Tuesday February 3rd
7:00 to 8:30pm

February 5th event in Evanston:
1703 Orrington Ave.
Thursday February 5th
7:00 to 8:30pm

Related posts

A recent report says that four major U.S. corporations are facilitating the adoption of solar panels by their employees. Can we make it work in Chicago?

(See Can Chicago Corporations Make Solar Energy an Employee Benefit? )

It's not immediately obvious how Chicago and Illinois can move quickly to get electricity in a zero-carbon manner.  But here are a few initial thoughts . . . and wind is part of the answer . . . .

(See What If Chicago Started to "Think Different" About Electricity? )

According to the Chicago-based Nuclear Energy Information Service, "Illinois is by far the most nuclear state in the United States . . . . Illinois was also home to the first commercial power reactor . . . one of the first commercial power reactors to close prematurely . . . . ComEd’s two large PWR reactors in Zion, IL also had to close prematurely . . . . We also have the first and only commercial storage facility for high level waste . . . Besides the 3 plants which closed prematurely, Illinois currently has eleven operating nukes – far more than any other state . . . etc. etc."

(See Chicago, IL: Zero Carbon AND Zero Nuclear! )

Related links

February 5, 2015: "If Illinois wants to meet President Barack Obama's mandate to curb carbon dioxide pollution by 30 percent by 2030, it should invest heavily in energy efficiency and renewable energy," in "Coalition urges Illinois to boost energy goals," by Julie Wernau in the Chicago Tribune.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Zero-Carbon Living: Are SRO-type Housing Options One Solution?

One of the things that makes cities highly efficient and ecological is dense housing.

Chicago has thrived, in part, by offering a range of city housing types.

Housing options give shape to consumption habits.

Housing budgets force other choices related to willingness (or lack of willingness) to pursue new avenues -- e.g. education, new careers, starting a business.

Belray Apartments - supportive housing by a Mercy Housing
"The Belray Apartments were originally built in the 1920s and
were acquired and renovated by Mercy Housing in 1996."
I'm particularly interested in the way all these factors have come together historically in the form of resident hotels. Resident hotels (principally SROs - single room occupancy rentals) were abundant at one time in Chicago, but have disappeared rapidly in recent years. There is controversy today about whether SROs will continue to be available to Chicago residents.

This is important today for two reasons. First, there is a growing recognition that SROs are a lifeline for some members of our community who have extremely limited housing options. In just the last week, we've seen city government formalize rules seek to slow uncontrolled closure or conversion of SROs. (See "Aldermen pass SRO preservation law" by Mary Ellen Podmolik in the Chicago Tribune, November 12, 2014.)

Second, SROs and similar housing options can be foundational to building a zero carbon Chicago.

Here are some thoughts on how these factors work together.

Living Downtown: The History of
Residential Hotels in the United
by Paul Groth
Proximity to downtown

One of the principal benefits of SRO-type housing options is that they allow people to live in the downtown area at an affordable price.

This, in turn, has several benefits:

* the participation of the residents in the life of the city (e.g. enjoying cultural events, patronizing restaurants and other businesses) enriches the overall city environment

* residents are available to work in city businesses

* proximity to downtown means transportation costs can be cut or eliminated; mass transit can be used almost exclusively

Small space

Most SRO-type housing involves small spaces. This is "green" in three ways:

* smaller spaces consume less materials to build (which is especially valuable in green buildings with higher up-front costs);

* less energy consumption per person for heating, cooling, lighting; and

* smaller spaces subtly (and not so subtly) discourage the unending accumulation of "stuff"

Micro-apartment in Tokyo (photo: Noritaki Minami)
(See more in "Tokyo Micro Apartment Photographs Capture
The Beginning Of 'Tiny Home' Movement (PHOTOS)"

on Huffington Post)
This last-mentioned factor is especially profound in our STUFF! STUFF! STUFF! -dominated culture. A theme throughout the Zero Carbon Chicago blog is the challenge to fundamentally dial down our consumption habits.

Moreover, the limitations on solely-controlled space, and the use of shared space:

* encourage residents to get out into the community outside their building; and

* encourage residents to engage in community with each other.

Financial flexibility

SRO-type housing tends to be low in cost, and usually doesn't require leases or big deposits.  This is extremely important for certain lifestyles:

* as mentioned above, people pursuing new avenues -- e.g. education, new careers, starting a business;

* people on fixed and/or extremely limited incomes

Chicago: Harold and Margot Schiff Residence
(aka Near North Apartments or Mercy SRO)
A Murphy/Jahn Architecture project
(photo: Doug Snower) 
(More at "SRO’s at the Cutting Edge of
Small Space Movement"
Community benefits

When people in a community have options to live a diverse range of lifestyles, there are associated benefits for the richness and robustness of the entire community -- economic and otherwise.

And, I would submit, it is equally valuable to the community to know that it is acting responsibly and hospitably to welcome everyone to live in the community -- even those who face financial challenges.

When the community starts to value SRO-type housing, it comes possible to think about truly beautiful design solutions that residents and non-residents alike can enjoy!

I'm feel confident that SRO-type housing has a big future in Chicago. I'll use this space to accumulate links to stories about how SRO-type housing can contribute to making Chicago a "zero carbon" model!

Related posts

I thought about Chagall's mural "The Four Seasons." It is located at Monroe and Dearborn, in the plaza of Chase Bank -- what some of us remember as 1st National Bank of Chicago.  I love it not just because it's beautiful, and because I so often have the opportunity to walk by it on my walks through that beautiful neighborhood, but also because of memories.

(See The Human Scale in Chicago )

Renaissance Social Services, Inc., which manages several buildings in and near Logan Square, is ready to purchase and rehab the Milshire as affordable, supportive housing if the building is put on the market.

(See Tuesday September 23 - "Logan Square for All" Rally on the Logan Square Ecumenical Alliance website)

I came by my fascination with the benefits of small-scale housing and dense development -- and my believe in its possibilities for our future -- early on.

(See O Canada! (We'll always have "Expo" . . . . on the Scarry Thoughts blog)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Chicago, IL: Zero Carbon AND Zero Nuclear!

Just about every day when I open the newspaper, I see a full page ad from an interest group called "Nuclear Matters" suggesting that -- Good News! -- we have the solution to global warming and it's good, old nuclear energy!

Nuclear Matters lobbying campaign

It's very important -- for people in general, and for people who live in the Chicago area in particular -- to understand how vital it is at this moment to stand up against the possible resurgence of the nuclear energy industry.

"Nucleonics": Science is our friend

I was a high school student in the '70s, and was very proud to be able to not only study physics as a junior in high school, but to take an special advanced course called "Nucleonics" -- focusing on nuclear physics -- when I was a senior.  The course had been designed by a wonderful teacher in our school, Gertrude M. Clarke.

"Nucleonics" required us to do something very challenging: use the tools of science, including math and statistics, to understand phenomena that we couldn't see. This included labs involving the measurement of low-level alpha and beta emissions, as well as thorough study of the issues involved in epidemiology of radiation-induced sickness and disease.  My final project in the "Nucleonics" course involved measuring resistance to gamma radiation over the course of several generations of fruit flies.

Henry Moore, Nuclear Energy
This bronze sculpture on the campus of the University
of Chicago stands on the spot above Chicago Pile 1,
where Enrico Fermi and colleagues carried out the world's
first successful atomic chain reaction in December, 1942.
(Image from Philosophy of Science Portal)

Today I live in Chicago and from time to time traverse the spot where the very first atomic chain reaction was carried out by Enrico Fermi and his colleagues --  an event that was of tremendous interest to any student of "Nucleonics." When I look at the Henry Moore sculpture on that spot, I wonder if we as a society have really come very far in our understanding of the issues since that time.

Reflecting back over the years, what seems to me to be most significant about what I learned in "Nucleonics" is that there may be abundant scientific information on radiation and its effects, but of equal or greater importance is the difficulty that the vast majority of people have in visualizing what this information really means in their lives.

Illinois' special status: Nuclear Energy U.S.A.

Didn't know you were surrounded, did ya?
Chicago area nuclear plants (NEIS)
A case in point: according to the Chicago-based Nuclear Energy Information Service, "Illinois is by far the most nuclear state in the United States . . . . Illinois was also home to the first commercial power reactor . . . one of the first commercial power reactors to close prematurely . . . . ComEd’s two large PWR reactors in Zion, IL also had to close prematurely . . . . We also have the first and only commercial storage facility for high level waste . . . Besides the 3 plants which closed prematurely, Illinois currently has eleven operating nukes – far more than any other state . . . etc. etc."

Does the average person living in Chicago have any idea about the degree to which they are surrounded by nuclear plants here?

In recent days there was a release at a nuclear facility in southern Illinois. (See "Metropolis Radiation Site Emergency — Leak of Toxic Uranium Hexafluoride")

Chicago people need to know what we're up against. The company that calls the shots on energy in our neck of the woods, Exelon, has been trumpeting its role as a nuclear energy operator. (See "Exelon, politics and Illinois' low-carbon future" by Julie Wernau in the Chicago Tribune, August 15, 2014: "'What Exelon is suggesting here is, put all your eggs in the nuclear basket and just trust Exelon,' [said] Lee Davis, executive vice president and regional president for NRG Energy's east region" ) Put that together with the "Nuclear Matters" lobbying effort, and its clear that people in Illinois are going to continue to be exposed to more, not less, nuclear plant risk. Unless we do something about it.

"Our Whole World": The Magnitude of the Risk

I was a college student in 1979 when the partial meltdown at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant occurred.

I'm embarrassed to say that my clearest memory of that time was a comedy skit on Saturday Night Live. ("President Jimmy Carter (on call-in show): Hmm. Sounds to me a lot like a Pepsi Syndrome. Were there any soft drinks in the control room?") I'm coming to realize that often comedy is used to cover our distress about the direst emergencies in our society.

Map of radiation levels in 1996 around Chernobyl
(map scale is about 300 miles across)
I was a young father attending to a new baby boy when the Chernobyl meltdown occurred.  I think the vast majority of people in the U.S. failed to grasp the magnitude of that disaster, though it wasn't lost on people in Europe (especially Germany).

I recently watched a short film called The Door that made me realize, "My city could become off-limits -- a ghost town -- if there was a nuclear accident here!" (I strongly recommend this film for anyone who is having trouble imagining the potential impact of radiation on their own life.)

Today, right now, people in Japan continue to cope with the radiation release that occurred when the Fukushima nuclear plant melted down. It is startling that people in the U.S. can disregard this experience!

In 2011 and 2012 there were a pair of excellent conferences held at the University of Chicago -- The Atomic Age -- that illuminated the connections between all these issues.  The Atomic Age's website has an ongoing archive of related information.

Despite all the available information, people have a very difficult time properly assessing the risk to which they, themselves, are exposed!

People who are part of the movement to create a "Zero Carbon Chicago" also need to be part of the movement to safely put Illinois' nuclear era behind us.

Related posts

It's not immediately obvious how Chicago and Illinois can move quickly to get electricity in a zero-carbon (and zero nuclear) manner.  But here are a few initial thoughts . . .

(See What If Chicago Started to "Think Different" About Electricity? on the Zero Carbon Chicago website)

There is a great deal of expertise in our society in assessing -- and insuring against -- risk. (At least of a certain kind.) At the same time, we all have personal experience of the prevalence of "risky behavior." I wonder if we need to do more to try to imagine the true consequences of our most risky behavior  . . . .

(See Stop engaging in risky behavior on the Scarry Thoughts blog)

Soon, Kazashi was able to visit the U.S. again, and we had the opportunity to renew our friendship. He told me about his work: "When I obtained a position at a university, it turned out to be in Hiroshima," I remember Kazashi telling me. "So it was very natural that I became connected with the peace movement. I became a peace worker." His work has included going to  Iraq to investigate depleted uranium contamination

(See Obama in Japan: How About a Pivot Toward Peacemaking? on the Scarry Thoughts blog)

Other related links

October 29, 2014 - "Exelon behind pro-nuclear website in Illinois" by Julie Wernau in the Chicago Tribune: "Exelon Corp. has stepped up lobbying in its effort to have state legislators reward the company's six nuclear plants in Illinois for producing electric power without emitting greenhouse gases. Three of the plants could be closed because of competition from cheaper forms of generating power."

Friday, October 24, 2014

Can Chicago Corporations Make Solar Energy an Employee Benefit?

Solar panel installation on a California residence
(see "Home Solar Power Discounts Are Worker Perk in New Program" )
A recent report says that four major corporations are facilitating the adoption of solar panels by their employees. "The program, offered through Geostellar, an online marketer of solar systems, will be available to more than 100,000 employees and will include options for their friends and families in the United States and parts of Canada." (See "Home Solar Power Discounts Are Worker Perk in New Program" by Diane Cardwell in The New York Times, October 22, 2014) The four companies are Cisco Systems, 3M, Kimberly-Clark and National Geographic.

Nice list.

(So where are the Chicago companies?)

Herewith four suggestions for Chicago area companies that should get on the bandwagon and offer the Geostellar program -- or one like it -- to their employees.

The Gypsum Construction Handbook

I've long thought USG should make its next move in solar panels.

USG -- i.e. U.S. Gypsum -- produces sheet rock. They pretty much wrote the book on modern construction using panels of pre-fabricated board. And USG is very good at mammoth production on a global scale and at moving the product through the distribution change to the point of installation.

Substitute solar panels for wall panels and -- voila! -- a reinvigorated business for the 21st century!

(The company has already converted one of its plants in California to solar energy -- in "Plaster City," naturally.)

Next step: encourage the company's employees to get with the program.


Walgreens in Evanston - solar, solar, solar
Walgreens opened a  prototype "green" store in Evanston a year ago. (See "Walgreens Debuts Nation’s First Net Zero Energy Retail Store in Evanston, Ill.")

It's high time Walgreens made its next move.

Besides, Walgreens needs a good PR move to counter the laudable move by competitor CVS to stop selling cigarettes. (Not to mention some unpleasant PR about the company's tax domicile this past summer.)

United Airlines

United Airlines is in a tough business, climate crisis amelioration-wise. It's hard to run an airline without burning tons of fossil fuels -- and that's not going to change any time soon.

But United can help offset the harm it does burning jet fuel. It is already working on several steps. It could take a giant leap by encouraging its employees to go solar.


McDonald's restaurant in Australia goes solar
I live next door to a McDonald's store and I eat something there at least once a day. So I'm very alert to the continuous effort the corporation must make to keep its name in front of the public in a positive way, and to encourage patronage.

What better way than some sort of program that builds on the famous trade dress of McDonald's restaurants' red-and-yellow roofs?

Who knows - by the time McDonald's gets done encouraging its franchisees and employees to go solar, it may find itself in the business of promoting solar to its retail customers, too! (Solar Monopoly®, anyone?)

A challenge and an opportunity

Insolation: Whr/sq m per day
Chicago receives about 3,500 Whr/sq m per day
(sourced at coyoteblog)
Chicago is not in a great location for electricity generation from solar panels.

In fact, as the map at right shows, Chicago is just over the edge into the really disadvantageous, low-insolation portion of the continental U.S.

But look at it another way: if we can make it here, we can make it anywhere, right?

Clearly, some visionary people -- from the corporate sponsors, from a benefit facilitator such as Geostellar, and from local government -- need to come together at the table . . . .

Related posts

The U.S. could take a lesson from the "command economy" in China about government setting a bold new direction in using alternative energy.

(See #chinaEARTHusa -- Solar Panels at the Crux on the Scarry Thoughts blog)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Chicago: Center of the Great Lakes Ecopolis

Several years, it occurred to me that the REALLY big opportunity in the Chicago area - from the standpoint of the long term, taking into account future developments - is for real estate and related development that connects up communities throughout the Great Lakes area.

The Great Lakes: Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Lake Huron,
Lake Erie, Lake Ontario (Image: NASA)

As I became more deeply aware of the treasure that we have in the Great Lakes, and the way that so much of the Great Lakes coast is underused -- relative to other places in the world where people clamor for the chance to be near the water -- it seemed more and more to me that the future lies in connecting up the urban areas that ring the lakes.

Chicago: Lake Michigan meets megapolis
(These thoughts were partly influenced by time I spent volunteering with the Alliance for the Great Lakes, partly by long hours spent traveling to see my daughter in northern Michigan, partly by my time spent earlier in my life at the New Jersey shore, and partly by daily proximity to Chicago's lakefront.)

For instance, imagine if the benefits that Chicago has enjoyed through the stewardship of its lakefront could be extended to all of the cities and other communities that adjoin Lake Michigan and the other Great Lakes.  Imagine if there was high quality public transit that enabled people to enjoy traveling between all of the communities on the lakes - preferably providing beautiful views of the lakes in the course of the rides.

Those of us who live in Chicago tend to be focused on how amazing it is to have a metropolis next to the water.

Of course, another whole part of the Great Lakes experience is spectacular natural settings.

The unique strength of our Great Lakes communities, of course, is that they combine access to abundant fresh water with relative stable shorelines. This is at a time when many otherwise desirable communities face water shortages and/or the threat of rising sea levels.

Point Betsie

I was reminded of this by a news story ("Portland Will Still Be Cool, but Anchorage May Be the Place to Be: On a Warmer Planet, Which Cities Will Be Safest?" by Jennifer A. Kingson in The New York Times, September 23, 2014) reporting on analysis by Climate Central and others. The story suggests (with a slight hint that the reporter finds this ironic) that Minneapolis, Milwaukee, and even Detroit are likely to be highly preferable locations in the years ahead.

Considering how close all of these places are to each other, why don't we link them up for maximum synergy?

Midwest High Speed Rail Association vision for tiers of Midwest rail service

So here's what I suggest we should be thinking about next:

(1) How can a high quality rail network (including high-speed rail) be used to successfully connect this "Great Lakes Ecopolis"?

(2) A network that encompasses the Great Lakes necessarily includes Canadian cities. We should be talking to (and learning from) our neighbors.

(3) Every state has an economic development office. Are the offices of the states that surround the Great Lakes talking with each other about how the Great Lakes region can put its best foot forward?

Related posts

Some people in high places are starting to take the climate crisis seriously, as least as it relates to the New York metropolitan area.
But when all is said and done, the impression one gets from current plans is that our leaders believe, "We can construct our way out of this."

(See NYC + H2O = Uh-oh! on Scarry Thoughts)

A bit more about the odds of holding back the ocean ... from an old New Jersey boy ....

(See NJ Sense and Wising Up to the Climate Crisis on Scarry Thoughts)

What if we had a massive region in the heart of the country pushing back against the war-crazed conventional wisdom of "more weapons," "more consumption," and "more destruction of the environment"?

(See Another Modest Proposal: A Green, Demilitarized Midwest! on Scarry Thoughts)

Other related links

September 24, 2014 - "E.P.A. Unveils Second Phase of Plan to Reverse Great Lakes Damage" by Michael Wines in The New York Times: The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Action Plan II "will include a new attempt to buffer the lakes against the effects of climate change. It will require, for example, that new wetlands include plants that can thrive in warmer temperatures."

Friday, September 19, 2014

Should Chicago Lead the Charge on Batteries for Electric Cars?

In light of the confluence of events -- including the awarding of a MacArthur "genius" grant to a Chicago technologist, the recent news about a big electric car initiative in Nevada, and the giant climate march taking place in New York City tomorrow -- it seems like an appropriate time to make a modest proposal.

Right goal, wrong strategy

Tesla Motors recently announced that it has selected Nevada as the location for a massive production facility for batteries for electric cars.

TESLA "Gigafactory"
50 GWh in annual battery production by 2020,
Enough for 500,000 Tesla cars
Powered by renewable energy
Net zero energy factory

A cursory review of the press coverage of this initiative indicates that analysts, while acknowledging that some kind of high quality, low weight battery will be very important to the transition to electric cars, feel that Tesla is not being ambitious enough about their strategy. Instead of seizing the opportunity to push toward a breakthrough technology in energy storage -- one that would significantly improve performance of electric cars, thereby encouraging far greater user adoption -- they are merely trying to make their batteries a little cheaper by building a big facility and achieving economy of scale. (Not incidentally, part of that strategy is to demand incentives from the host state.)

(See, for instance, "Richard Florida Slams Tesla's Nevada Battery Factory Deal" in Business Insider.)

Perhaps the opportunity remains for other players, in other locations, to make a truly strategic play in energy storage for electric cars?

Nanotechnology: could it be the key?

The announcement of this year's crop of MacArthur Foundation genius award winners included several Chicago-area recipients, including Northwestern University professor Mark C. Hersam. Hersam is an expert in nanomaterials.

This reminded me of something I was thinking about after hearing about the Tesla deal but before (honestly!) the MacArthur announcement: If you really wanted to produce some breakthrough batteries for the next generation electric cars, you would use some really advanced nanotech.

(See "How can nanotechnology improve batteries?"on

This is just a hunch, mind you, but perhaps a single walled carbon nanotube
forest -- like the one shown in the scanning electron micrograph above --
could be of assistance? (More at "Challenging the consensus on nanotube
on the Chemistry World website.)

By the way, the Chicago area -- and particularly Northwestern University -- is an important center of nanotechnology research and development. For instance, read about the International Institute for Nanotechnology at NU. They're sponsoring an international nanotechnology symposium on Thursday, October 9, 2014 in Evanston.

"It's the cars, stupid!"

In thinking about what Chicago would focus on at the time of the NYC Climate March, I  previously suggested that we would benefit from attending to the contribution that car traffic makes to the climate crisis, and to alternatives such as rail.

Consistent with that suggestion, and recognizing that we need ecological forms of automobile transport as well as rail, I propose that Chicago make a concerted push to become the focus of the electric car business.

Not incidentally, Chicago is well-positioned geographically for automotive business. While the auto production landscape has been changing rapidly both within the U.S. and globally, the map below from a 2005 Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago report gives a sense of the relative geographic distribution of the companies in the auto supply chain.

Concentration of automotive parts suppliers in the U.S. Midwest.
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago

So . . . what are you waiting for, Chicago? How about grabbin' a stake in the electric car biz?

Related posts

Chicago and its surrounding region have so much going for it . . . but it's a dinosaur when it comes to moving beyond automobile transportation. We have decent mass transit within the city itself, but the mass transit in the Northern Illinois region needs to be much better managed.

(See A Modest Proposal for September 20-21: "It's the cars, stupid!" )

What if we had a massive region in the heart of the country pushing back against the war-crazed conventional wisdom of "more weapons," "more consumption," and "more destruction of the environment"?

(See Another Modest Proposal: A Green, Demilitarized Midwest! on Scarry Thoughts)

Other related links

October 28, 2014 - "Argonne battery roadshow aims to connect with industry" by Julie Wernau in the Chicago Tribune: "[W]hen scientists told automakers they planned to build a battery that would allow an electric vehicle to travel 500 miles on a charge, companies told them what they really wanted was a much cheaper battery that could propel a vehicle 80 miles on a charge. Such a breakthrough would allow plug-in extended range hybrid vehicles that switch to gasoline after a battery runs out to be reduced in price by more than $10,000."