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The Road to Now

Bob Crawford (The Avett Brothers) & Dr. Ben Sawyer (MTSU History) share conversations with great thinkers from a variety of backgrounds – historians, artists, legal scholars, political figures and more –who help us uncover the many roads that run between past and present. For more information, visit TheRoadToNow.com If you'd like to support our work, join us on Patreon: Patreon.com/TheRoadToNow
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Now displaying: July, 2017
Jul 31, 2017

Oil is one of the oldest fuel sources known to man. Its impact on the world is not simple; while it has powered the vehicles that have made human mobility possible, it has also propped up some of the most repressive regimes in recent history. In the last installment of our four-part history of energy series, we speak to journalist and author Paul Roberts to discuss the complex role that oil has played in shaping the industrialized world, and the costs/benefits that oil has as an energy source in the 21st century.

Paul Roberts is a journalist and author who covers energy and technology. His work has appeared in many publications including Rolling Stone, Harpers, and the Washington Post. His book The End of Oil (2004), examines the history of petroleum and its impact on the world.

For more on The Road to Now, please visit our website: www.theroadtonow.com

Jul 24, 2017

When most Americans think of sustainable technology, they think of Jimmy Carter's solar panels or the windmills that are beginning to pop up across the country. But so-called "sustainable" or "green" energy has a history that can be traced back to the 19th century. In this episode of The Road to Now, Alexis Madrigal explains sustainable energy's deep roots in American history, and discusses the viability of green energy as an alternative to coal, oil, and solar energy production in the 21st century. 

Alexis Madrigal is technology correspondent at The Atlantic and Editor-at-Large at Fusion. His 2009 book, Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology was published by Da Capo Press in 2011. 

For more on this episode and all others, visit our website: www.theroadtonow.com

 

Jul 17, 2017

Since August 6, 1945, when the Enola Gay dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, the world has been aware of the awesome force that nuclear science could unleash. Using that force for energy production proved that nuclear technology could improve our lives, but nuclear energy has had a hard time shaking its association with destruction, and the catastrophes at Three Mile Island (1979), Chernobyl (1986) & Fukushima (2011), have only heightened public concern over the safety of nuclear power.

 In other words, nuclear power has a bad rap. But does it deserve it?

 Not according to scientists Jim Clarke and Steve Krahn of Vanderbilt University. Both men have distinguished careers working in nuclear energy that have spanned half the history of nuclear power. In this episode of The Road to Now, Jim and Steve break down the risks and rewards of using nuclear energy, and argue that the public response to Three Mile Island and other spectacular events may have led us to poor conclusions about how we produce energy. They also remind us that nuclear energy produces no carbon, which makes it particularly valuable in the age of global warming.

 Dr. Jim Clarke is Professor of the Practice of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Vanderbilt University. Jim has served as an advisor to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and is currently on the NRC Advisory Committee for Reactor Safeguards and its subcommittee on Radiation Protection and Nuclear Materials. He has over 35 years of professional experience with approximately 150 publications and presentations.

 Dr. Steven Krahn is Professor of the Practice of Nuclear Environmental Engineering in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Vanderbilt University. He has more than 30 years of experience in his field and previously served in the U. S. Department of Energy as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Safety & Security in the Office of Environmental Management.

 Both guests highly recommend that you visit the US Energy Information Administration website (eia.gov) for accurate and updated information on energy production in the United States.

For links to more readings on this topic (they gave us a lot for this episode!) and more about The Road to Now, please visit our website: www.theroadtonow.com.

 

 

 

Jul 10, 2017

In our first episode of the second season of The Road to Now, Bob and Ben speak with Dr. Chuck Keeney about the history of coal in the United States. Chuck explains the ways that the coal industry has shaped not only the physical landscape of mining towns, but also, through lobbying efforts and information campaigns, the way we understand our nation’s history. Chuck is uniquely qualified to tell the story of coal; not only does he hold a PhD in history from West Virginia University, he is the great-grandson of coal miner and labor organizer Frank Keeney, who was part of The Battle of Blair Mountain.

(The Battle of Blair Mountain was a 1921 shootout between coal miners and the coal companies that was the largest domestic insurrection since the Civil War. If you want to know more, it’s all in this episode.)

Chuck Keeney was featured in the 2017 NatGeo Documentary From the Ashes, which was directed by Michael Bonfiglio. We highly recommend you take the time to watch this outstanding documentary!

For more on The Road to Now, please visit our website: www.theroadtonow.com.

 

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