In praise of MIT Technology Review

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Anyone who spends enough time reading clean tech websites knows there is often a general format to a story: get a hold of a press release about some new technology, and hype it up some more. Reading through the pages of something like Clean Technica you could easily imagine that every business doing anything green will be and is a success. Yet, most of them aren’t. This kind of uncritical reporting is the norm, for there are one too many true believers writing this stuff.

A notable exception is MIT Technology Review, a rare example of critical clean tech journalism, and one that offers a willingness to consider failures as well as successes. Here is Kevin Bullis today on Exxon’s lack of success with algae-based biofuels:

In 2009, ExxonMobil announced that it would pay Craig Venter’s Synthetic Genomics up to $300 million to develop algae-based fuels.

How did the project go? Not too well, to judge from that latest press release from Synthetic Genomics.

And I have to like this rather enjoyable conclusion:

According to the new press release, the original project did have some value: “Over the nearly four years working together the companies gained considerable knowledge about the challenges in developing economical and scalable algae biofuels. SGI also made significant strides in understanding algae genetics, growth characteristics, and enhancements to algae to improve algal biomass and lipid productivities.” It did not, apparently, figure out how to make cheap fuel.

That kind of to the point, no bullshit writing is just what clean tech journalism needs. So, add it to your Twitter or RSS feed, and I believe you will be rewarded.