Joe JordanDecember 18, 2017
The Future of Solar Energy
Director, Sky Power Institute
Joe Jordan, Director of Sky Power Institute, coined the phrase Sky Power! in the 1980’s, when he was working at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California in the Atmospheric Sciences Division. Joe established his sky-power.org domain and launched the Sky Power Institute website in the 1990’s.
Joe worked at NASA for over two decades, providing programming support for principal investigators who are among the world leaders in atmospheric sciences, including Dr. Chris McKay, Dr. Brian Toon, and Dr. Carol Stoker. Some of Joe’s most engaging projects during his tenure at NASA were the Hubble Space Telescope design, the Kuiper Airborne Observatory (KAO), SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory for Infared Astronomy), the Mars Project at SETI, computational studies of the atmospheric microphysics involved in the stratospheric ozone depletion problem, as well as atmospheric modeling and mission flight support for ongoing investigations of global climate change. The Ozone Hole Research under Dr. Toon led to discovery of the “smoking gun” of ozone depletion and, ultimately, to the passage of the Montreal Protocol, considered by many to be the finest example of international cooperation in human history. Joe was honored to be included as a co-author of a number of papers with Dr. Toon on the chemistry of stratospheric ozone depletion.
Joe served on the international Airborne Arctic Stratospheric Expedition to the north pole in the winter of 1988-89. Other projects during his years at NASA include investigations of aerosols in Titan’s atmosphere, development of multispectral geophysical image processing software in support of the Airborne Sensor Facility, calculations in support of development of a Large Deployable Reflector (LDR) orbiting submillimeter telescope, and network simulations for application to the communications environment on-board the planned space station. His research includes use of artificial-intelligence software to search for new types of infrared astronomical objects from satellite observational databases; the search for extrasolar planets; supernova shockwave calculations; and airborne earth/ocean/atmosphere imaging analysis. With the SETI Institute, Joe has done analysis and color-correction of images sent from the surface of Mars by the Pathfinder/Sojourner lander/rover.
During Joe’s tenure at NASA on the Climate Change research, he became increasingly dissatisfied with the disparity between the consensus of the scientific community regarding Climate Change and the public perception of the issue. Having had first-hand experience of the enormously successful resolution of the ozone depletion problem, he determined to help bridge the media gap between scientific consensus and public perception of Global Climate Change. He began speaking publicly about the issue, and soon was much in demand. The focus of Joe’s talks shifted from an explanation of the problem of climate change to an exploration of the solutions. Today, he works full time as a consultant, teacher, trainer and public speaker, telling the world about Sky Power and the potential of solar and renewable energy to solve our economic problems and meet all of our energy needs, while curbing the impending crisis of global climate chaos.
Throughout his career, Joe has pursued an interest in science education. He has served as a teacher of observational field physics and astronomy for many public and private educational organizations, including the University of California at Santa Cruz, Cabrillo College, the University of Missouri, The Santa Cruz Natural History Association, Lyceum of Santa Clara Valley, the Santa Cruz County Office of Education, Sierra Pacific Educational Adventures, the Sequoia Natural History Association, Rancho del Oso State Park, Mt. Tamalpais Interpretive Association, and the California Academy of Sciences. Joe has taught science, math, environmental studies, physics, and solar/renewable energy in K-12 classrooms, high schools, colleges and universities. He has delivered his Sky Power curriculum to teachers and administrators across the country, focusing on renewable/efficient energy and its scientific background (both the environmental need and the technological opportunities). He has been a presenter and keynote speaker at a wide range of workshops, seminars and conferences. He has developed and taught numerous professional level renewable energy training programs, and currently teaches at University of California, San Jose State and Cabrillo College.
Joe is an affiliate of ASES (American Solar Energy Society), NCSEA (Northern California Solar Energy Association), and CARET (Consortium for Advancing Renewable Energy Technologies). He serves on the Board of Directors of Ecology Action of Santa Cruz, and has served on the Santa Cruz City Public Works and Transportation Commissions. He is responsible for the first solar installation on a school and on a government building in the county, and continues to actively pursue ways he can help facilitate wider applications of renewables in the public as well as the private sphere.
Joe has always been interested in radio. He broadcast his own show, “Looking Sideways at Science” from the Oberlin College campus in the late 1960’s. Over the years, he has been a frequent guest on radio and TV. Joe has also contributed as a science writer to a number of science radio shows, including the “Field Notes” series on radio station KUSP-FM in Santa Cruz — a program about science, technology, public affairs, and everyday personal experiences of nature. He and the other members of the “Field Notes” production team were awarded the Peabody/Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Award for Excellence for a piece they wrote and produced, which was aired nationally on “The DNA Files”. The radio piece, (linked below) “Genetics & Astrobiology: Life: How to Make a Cosmic Omelet”, tells the story of microbes living in Yellowstone hot springs and their possibly close genetic connection to the earliest life forms on this planet. In 2011, Joe presented a TEDx talk in Santa Cruz. A selection of Joe’s media content is available here.