Is the Pope right on climate change?
January 2, 2016 11:26 AM - Robert N. Stavins, Albert Pratt Professor of Business and Government; Member of the Board; Director, Harvard Project on Climate Agreements
Last June, Pope Francis released his much-anticipated encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si’, which received tremendous praise from diverse quarters. The same day, Coral Davenport, writing in the New York Times, noted that the papal encyclical "is as much an indictment of the global economic order as it is an argument for the world to confront climate change." Ms. Davenport quoted me (accurately) as saying that elements of the encyclical were unfortunately "out of step with the thinking and the work of informed policy analysts around the world." In this column, I will elaborate.
First of all, the Pope is to be commended for taking global climate change seriously, and for drawing more world attention to the issue. There is much about the encyclical that is commendable, but where it drifts into matters of public policy, I fear that it is — unfortunately — not helpful.
The long encyclical ignores the causes of global climate change: it is an externality, an unintended negative consequence of otherwise meritorious activity by producers producing the goods and services people want, and consumers using those goods and services. That is why the problem exists in the first place. There may well be ethical dimensions of the problem, but it is much more than a simple consequence of some immoral actions by corrupt capitalists. The document also ignores the global commons nature of the problem, which is why international cooperation is necessary.
Wind power on the rise in U.S.
December 22, 2015 07:22 AM - Jeff Brady, NPR
The U.S. wind power industry is celebrating after reaching a new milestone in November: 70 gigawatts (GW) of generating capacity.
"That's enough to power about 19 million homes," says Michael Goggin, senior director of research at the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).
Space weather and the potential impacts on our infrastructures
December 19, 2015 07:10 AM - EUROPEAN COMMISSION JOINT RESEARCH CENTRE vie EurekAlert
The JRC has been looking into the risks of space weather impact on critical infrastructures. A new report explores the rail sector's vulnerability and the potential impacts, in particular through interdependencies with other infrastructures. Awareness among operators and regulators worldwide is currently limited and vulnerabilities across the rail sector need to be identified, authors say.
Solar activity affects the space environment surrounding the Earth. This so-called space weather can disrupt and damage critical infrastructure in space and on the ground, including satellites, aviation, road and marine transport, banking and power grids. Society relies on these infrastructures and services, which have become inter- dependent and are therefore more vulnerable to space weather.
Carmakers Are Ahead Of Emissions Standards
December 18, 2015 07:11 AM - Bill Chappell, NPR
Fuel economy is at record highs and carmakers have surpassed strict greenhouse gas emissions standards for the third straight year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, which released a pair of annual reports about the U.S. fleet of cars and trucks Wednesday.
Overall, fuel economy for vehicles in the U.S. did not budge from last year's record high of 24.3 miles per gallon, the EPA says. The figure includes a new high of 20.4 mpg for trucks, vans and SUVs from model year 2014.
African nations to phase out lead in paint by 2020
December 16, 2015 07:26 AM - Ochieng Ogodo, SciDevNet
African countries have agreed to cooperate in setting limits for use of lead in paints with a view to phasing it out by 2020. This is because of its dangers to human beings, especially to children, and the environment.
Top 10 Renewable Energy Producing States
December 14, 2015 07:17 AM - Gina-Marie Cheeseman , Triple Pundit
The U.S. has a chance to be a leader in renewable energy deployment given its sheer size and resources. And some states are leading the way. Olivet Nazarene University’s engineering department ranked the top 10 green states in terms of renewable energy. How does your state stack up? Did it make the list? Read on to find out.
Epson paper-recycling printer coming soon
December 14, 2015 06:42 AM - Leon Kaye , Triple Pundit
Printing boarding passes is sooooo 2005. Seriously, does anyone still print? My handy HP all-in-one printer collects more dust than print jobs. While it is true that most paper comes from managed forests, most of us just do not really have the need to print — a trend the paper industry, including the Paper and Packaging Board, whines about endlessly.
But sometimes we do need to print — for example, editing is easier for me to do on paper than staring at that laptop screen. And as an office tactic, distributing handouts at a meeting is a way to keep those rude colleagues’ eyes on the whiteboard and hands off their smartphones.
From Toilet to Tap
December 7, 2015 07:23 AM - Leon Kaye, Triple Pundit
The rainfall and snowpack so far this autumn have been encouraging, but the stubborn reality is that California is still mired in drought. While farmers from Bakersfield to Fresno to Redding are screaming about water quotas, California residents say they are doing what they can, from pulling out grass lawns to capturing what little rainwater exists.
Global food system faces threats from climate change
December 4, 2015 07:14 AM - UCAR
Climate change is likely to have far-reaching impacts on food security throughout the world, especially for the poor and those living in tropical regions, according to a new international report that includes three co-authors from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).
Fixing Food Deserts
December 1, 2015 07:30 AM - Joi Sears, Triple Pundit
Food deserts, vast expanses of urban and rural areas that are void of fresh fruit and veggies, are a growing epidemic — affecting more than 23.5 million people nationwide. Disproportionately affecting occupants of poor, low-income neighborhoods, food deserts are the result of a lack of access to healthy food.