Farming While Black, Turning Your Bike Into an E-Bike, Paris–City of Bikes? India’s Green Energy Saviors

by | Nov 9, 2021 | Podcasts, The Climate Daily

Must read, “Farming while Black,” plus two billionaires battle to become India’s green energy savior. Turning your bike into an e-bike, and Paris, city of bikes?



Two of the world’s richest businessmen are engaged in an “green arms” race to shape India’s climate future. Mukesh Ambani and Gautam Adani owe their fortunes to carbon. Apparently, in a mea culpa to the planet, both have turned to hydrogen —to open a pathway to decarbonized economic growth in the world’s second most populous nation.

Ambani owes his top spot on Asia’s rich list to Gujarat’s Jamnagar, host to the world’s largest oil-refining complex. Ambani is setting up four new factories, one each for solar panels, batteries, green hydrogen and fuel cells.

His flagship Reliance Industries Ltd. has so far spent $1.2 billion on acquisitions and partnerships. Ambani is late to the game, but intent on catching up. Before Ambani entered the green-energy race in June, Adani was crushing it. For years, the Adani Group mined coal, produced coal-fired power at large plants like Mundra in Gujarat and berthed coal vessels at his vast network of ports.

But in the past three years, the second-richest Asian has swiftly  assembled a 20 gigawatt solar, wind and hybrid electricity portfolio. While both Ambani and Adani are heavily invested in solar, the climate and topographic reality of India is more robust, all-weather renewable energy sources are required.

With blockbuster commitments, both billionaires are promising to tap into India’s renewed interest in hydrogen, articulated in August under a vague National Hydrogen Mission. For all its potential uses and cost advantages, how Ambani and Adani duke it out on hydrogen will decide if a relatively poor, populous country can contribute to saving the planet — without surrendering its shot at better living standards.

DEEPER DIVE: NDTV, Bloomberg, Business-Standard



Climate change is going to affect all aspects of life, including food security. That’s why taking the time to read Leah Penniman’s seminal work, Farming While Black matters to us. Penniman is the founder and co-executive director of Soul Fire Farm in upstate NY, dedicated to ending racism and injustice in our food system. Of farming, Penniman said,

I never imagined that I would become a farmer. In my teenage years, as my race consciousness evolved, I got the message loud and clear that Black activists were concerned with gun violence, housing discrimination, and education reform, while white folks were concerned with organic farming and environmental conservation. Fortunately, my ancestors had other plans…Something profound and magical happened to me as I learned to plant, tend, and harvest.”

The poet Ross Gay calls her book “a remarkably thorough―and beautiful!―handbook for successful farming, with step-by-step instructions on how to acquire land, how to restore land, how to keep seed, and so on. If this book were only that, it would be one of the best on the subject. But this book is not only that. Farming While Black shows us how we might repair our relationships with the land, which, given as we ARE the land, means repairing our relationships to ourselves.”

Malik Yakini, Executive Director of Detroit Black Community Food Security Network says of Farming While Black, “Small farms that grow food using sustainable, regenerative practices and foster an understanding of our sacred relationship to the Earth are necessary if humanity is to survive. This book makes an important contribution to the growing body of literature on Black farming and foodways. It affirms our sacred relationship to the Earth and calls for us to move beyond the extractive mindset that guides conventional agriculture and, all too often, organic agriculture as well.

Leah Penniman is a winner of the 2019 James Beard Foundation Leadership Award, too.

DEEPER DIVE: Farming While Black,, NPR, James Beard Award


I’ve long said the best way to get people to drive EVs is to convert existing cars to electric, not make people buy new ones. That’s because there are about 1 billion motor vehicles in use on the planet, so making everybody buy a new EV–well that’s gonna take until well past 2030.

For short commutes, another way to coax people into EVs is to get them hooked on electric bikes. Well guess what, it’s been estimated there are about a billion bikes out there, too! So same problem, making a billion people buy new e-bikes just ain’t gonna cut it in time.

That’s why I love this new product. It’s called CLIP. It’s a friction-drive motor that easily attaches to the front wheel of almost any adult bike. And according to its website, the friction drive “delivers power on-demand to make any urban commute as easy as the breeze.”

I don’t know how easy a breeze is, but I can tell you it’s a ‘bicycle which drives itself” thanks to a nifty adaptation to technology that’s over a century old. John W. Lambert invented the friction drive transmission for his automobile. That really didn’t take off. But the concept was most widely adopted to the VeloSolex bicycle. The former is a ….and the latter sold almost 8 million units between 1946 and 1988.

So what is the CLIP and why does it matter to us? It’s a nine lb. device that clips onto a bicycle’s front wheel and will electrically power or assist in the pedaling of a bicycle for up to 15 miles. The CLIP can then be quickly removed, plugged in at your desk and fully recharged in under an hour.

And at under $400, the CLIP costs far less then high quality, entry level e-bike. So, if you’re looking for an e-bike experience without ditching your favorite two-wheeler, the CLIP is for you.

DEEPER DIVE: Keeler Curve Prize, CLIP, VeloSolex, Lambert Drive, Lane Motor Museum



We just reported on how CLIP could quickly turn bike-owning car commuters into biking commuters, simply because it requires only buying an e-assist add-on, not a whole new e-bike. That solves one problem. Another challenge is making cities more bikeable. 

Well Paris, France is promising to do just that. Its mayor, Anne Hidalgo, has made a push for a more bike-friendly Paris central to her bid for the presidency. She won mayoral re-election based upon a campaign of a bikeable, cleaner city.

She believes in “a Paris that breathes, a Paris that is more agreeable to live in, a more caring city that leaves no one by the wayside.”

According to the plan, about $200 million of new spending is earmarked for infrastructure, including plans for major bike routes across the city and into surrounding suburbs, and additional measures to make crossings and key entry points into inner Paris safer for cyclists.

Said David Belliard, deputy mayor in charge of urban transformation, in a recent interview, “Our target is to make our city 100 percent bikeable.” Hidalgo has already overseen a $180 million expenditure on an initial biking plan, calling this the start of a “revolution” for the capital.

Many parts of that plan were rapidly expanded during the COVID-19 pandemic. Hidalgo took advantage of the fact that many commuters shunned public transport for fear of infection. As part of the new plan, those cycling paths, sometimes hastily built to meet sudden demand, will be made permanent and secure.

Some flashpoints will get dedicated paths for cyclists and pedestrians completely separate from any car traffic. By 2026 the Parisian network of safe cycling paths is to total 180 kilometres (112 miles). Cyclists will be allowed to use one-way streets against oncoming car traffic on another 390 kilometres (275 miles) of streets. 

DEEPER DIVE: France24, Grist,