Sustainability Science
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Sustainability Science
How might we keep the lights on, water flowing, and natural world vaguely intact? It starts with grabbing innovative ideas/examples to help kick down our limits and inspire a more sustainable world. We implement with rigorous science backed by hard data.
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What China's successful reforestation program means for the rest of the world

What China's successful reforestation program means for the rest of the world | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
China is growing a lot of trees: Here's why that news might not be as great you might think
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Agreement on Best Practices for Drone Use | UAV Expert News

Agreement on Best Practices for Drone Use | UAV Expert News | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Agreement on Best Practices for Drone Use MULTI-STAKEHOLDER GROUP FINALIZES AGREEMENT ON  BEST PRACTICES FOR DRONE USE Washington, DC – Today, a wide range of privacy groups and industry stakeholders participating in the National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA) Multi-Stakeholder process concerning privacy, transparency, and accountability issues regarding commercial and private use of unmanned aircraft …
PIRatE Lab's insight:
These are all common sense steps that many of us already follow, but it is good to have a clear document we can point to with community support.
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Good news for the only place on Earth where tigers, rhinos, orangutans and elephants live together

Good news for the only place on Earth where tigers, rhinos, orangutans and elephants live together | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
The Leuser ecosystem in northern Sumatra is home to some of the world's rarest and best-loved animals. Thanks to a new government moratorium on land clearing, conservationists have enjoyed a big win.
PIRatE Lab's insight:
Some positive news that shows we can make conservation efforts work, even for tough problems.
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Resettling the First American ‘Climate Refugees’

Resettling the First American ‘Climate Refugees’ | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
A $48 million grant for Isle de Jean Charles, La., is the first allocation of federal tax dollars to move an entire community struggling with the effects of climate change. In January, the Department of Housing and Urban Development announced grants totaling $1 billion in 13 states to help communities adapt to climate change, by building stronger levees, dams and drain.Empty description
PIRatE Lab's insight:
I wouldn't say these are the "first" but rather a harbinger of what is coming.
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Development banks threaten to unleash an infrastructure tsunami on the environment

Development banks threaten to unleash an infrastructure tsunami on the environment | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Big new investors such as the Asian Infrastructure Development Bank are key players in a worldwide infrastructure, and that could be bad news for the environment.
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Montreal wants a complete ban on plastic water bottles

Montreal wants a complete ban on plastic water bottles | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
But local bottled water reps complain their healthy beverage is being singled out.
PIRatE Lab's insight:
Go Montreal!
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Bart Haynes's curator insight, March 15, 8:46 PM
Go Montreal!
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After Texas stopped funding Planned Parenthood, low-income women had more babies

After Texas stopped funding Planned Parenthood, low-income women had more babies | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
The state of Texas’ sustained campaign against Planned Parenthood and other family planning clinics affiliated with abortion providers appears to have led to an increase in births among low-income women who lost access to affordable and effective birth control, a new study says.The analysis, published...
PIRatE Lab's insight:

A valuable data point in the debate about access to women's health providers.  Often we have shown reduced mortality, greater reproductive space, etc. when women are provided access to family planning resources.  We have far fewer examples showing the consequences of removing such resources once they have been established.  

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ExxonMobil Investigated for Possible Climate Change Deception

ExxonMobil Investigated for Possible Climate Change Deception | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Lipstick on a Pig? It appears to be no coincidence that ExxonMobil has recently released a new series of beautiful and very slick TV and online ads implying that they are all about innovation and v…
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Oil industry’s spending surged as it fought California climate bill

Oil industry’s spending surged as it fought California climate bill | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Oil companies who succeeded in weakening a California climate change bill massively increased their lobbying spending during the final chunk of the Legislature’s calendar, shelling out nearly $11 million to persuade lawmakers and to run a media campaign.

A centerpiece of Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative Democrats’ agenda, Senate Bill 350 became the target of a fierce opposition campaign from oil companies that targeted Democrats considered politically vulnerable and warned about gas rationing. In the end, bill backers succumbed, removing a provision that would have mandated a 50 percent cut in petroleum usage.

Newly filed lobbying disclosures illuminate the scope of the industry’s blitz from the start of the July to the end of September, a period that encompasses the frantic final stretch of the legislative session.

A pair of industry associations and a handful of oil companies combined to spend $10.7 million in the third quarter.

Via pdeppisch
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Utilities seek to destroy rooftop solar in California

Utilities seek to destroy rooftop solar in California | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Tired of growing electricity bills, Miguel Espinoza decided to turn to the sun, rather than the grid, for power.
PIRatE Lab's insight:

The notion of de-incentivizing rooftop solar is beyond insane.  To be sure there are additional challenges for power utilities, but distributed, renewable electricity generation is a social good that should be supported and expanded.  Not have the legs cut out from underneath it.

 

See also:

 

http://www.utilitydive.com/news/whats-solar-worth-inside-arizona-utilities-push-to-reform-net-metering-r/399706/

 

http://www.pv-magazine.com/news/details/beitrag/new-jersey-expands-limit-on-net-metered-solar-while-nevada-keeps-cap_100020602/#axzz3mxLPJbzo

 

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B Team Leaders Call for Net-Zero Greenhouse-Gas Emissions by 2050 - The B Team

B Team Leaders Call for Net-Zero Greenhouse-Gas Emissions by 2050 - The B Team | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Geneva, 5th February, 2015 – Today, Leaders of The B Team running some of the world’s largest companies, called upon world leaders to commit to a global goal of net-zero greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions by 2050 – and urged business leaders to match this ambition by committing to bold long-term targets. The B Team’s ambition builds on recent talks …
PIRatE Lab's insight:

Using information in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report, the 2014 United Nations Environment Programme’s Emissions Gap Report, and other scientific literature, a new briefing note from Climate Analytics details timeframes for that goal. For a 66 percent likelihood of avoiding 2 degrees of warming by century’s end, GHG emissions would have to be 40–70 percent below 2010 levels by 2050 and would need to reach zero some time between 2080 and 2100, but energy and industry emissions of CO2 would have to reach zero no later than 2075 and perhaps as soon as 2060.

At the outset of the Geneva talks, The B Team, a group of leaders from the business and nonprofit sectors founded by Sir Richard Branson, referenced the 66 percent chance in endorsing a net zero emissions goal: “The B Team view a 1-in-3 chance of failure as an unreasonable risk scenario carrying significant cost implications, strengthening the business case for achieving net-zero GHG emissions by 2050.”

"Momentum is already growing in finance, business and political circles for a net zero goal," wrote Mary Robinson, the United Nations Secretary General's special envoy on climate change, in the foreword to The Business Case for Adopting the Long-Term Goal for Net Zero Emissions, a report published by Track0.org.

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▶ Keystone XL needs a one-two punch

President Obama says he'll veto the latest attempt by Congress to push through the Keystone XL pipeline but he hasn't yet committed to rejecting this dangero...
PIRatE Lab's insight:

I found this a very interesting piece of PR.  Engaging and effective use of visuals with essentially a budget of zero.

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Social impacts of carbon emissions on economic growth warrant stringent mitigation policy

Social impacts of carbon emissions on economic growth warrant stringent mitigation policy | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Integrated assessment models estimate the impact of climate change on current economic output, but not on its rate of growth. This study modifies a standard integrated assessment model to allow climate change to directly affect gross GDP growth rates. Results show that climate change significantly slows down GDP growth in poor regions but not in rich countries, with implications for the level of near-term mitigation.
PIRatE Lab's insight:

The social cost of carbon (SCC) or the economic damage caused by a ton of carbon dioxide emissions—which the United States uses to guide energy regulations and, potentially, future mitigation policies—is $37 per ton according to a recent U.S. government study or, according to a new study by Stanford researchers published this week in the journal Nature Climate Change, six times that value.


The Stanford scientists say the current pricing models fail to reflect all the economic damage each ton of CO2 causes and that a higher value on that damage could change policy.


“If the social cost of carbon is higher, many more mitigation measures will pass a cost-benefit analysis,” said study co-author Delavane Diaz. “Because carbon emissions are so harmful to society, even costly means of reducing emissions would be worthwhile.”


“For 20 years now, the models have assumed that climate change can't affect the basic growth rate of the economy,” said study coauthor Frances Moore. “But a number of new studies suggest this may not be true. If climate change affects not only a country’s economic output but also its growth, then that has a permanent effect that accumulates over time, leading to a much higher social cost of carbon.”


But William Pizer, a faculty fellow at Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions who has worked on andrecommended regular updating of the SCC estimate, questioned the methodology of the Stanford analysis, pointing out that it relied on the impact on national economies of short-term temperature spikes rather than on long-term trends that might reveal permanent economic reductions.

 

“To me, it just seems like it has to be an overestimate,” Pizer said of the Stanford result of $220 (subscription required). “I think it's great they're doing this,” he added. “I just think this is another data point that someone needs to weigh as they're trying to figure out what the right social cost of carbon is. But this isn't like a definitive new answer.”

 

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California's climate change agency just approved a $500 million plan — but there's no money for it

California's climate change agency just approved a $500 million plan — but there's no money for it | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
On Thursday morning, the state's climate change agency is scheduled to vote on a $500 million spending plan -- including electric vehicle subsidies -- even though the state budget has no money in it
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In defense of the reasonable Republican — Culture War Dispatches — Medium

In defense of the reasonable Republican - Culture War Dispatches - Medium
A much-shared article is a conservative cry for mature political discourse
PIRatE Lab's insight:
While not about "sustainability" per se, I think this article makes several good points.  And points relative to an effect improvement of our current situation: civility and comity.  Before we can move forward on the myriad of problems, we need to be able to actually dialog and interact and debate with one another.  Too often we get bogged down in the stupid political coverage or the raging rift that some prefer to widen with every day.  There is another way.  It is called "being an adult" and hearing one another before jumping in with our our opinions.
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Pope, World Bank and Google demand tougher climate policies | Climate Home - climate change news

Pope, World Bank and Google demand tougher climate policies | Climate Home - climate change news | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Governments, religious leaders and business talk up the Paris Agreement on climate change, but record temperatures hint at huge ambition deficit
PIRatE Lab's insight:
Governments, religious leaders and business talk up the Paris Agreement on climate change, but record temperatures hint at huge ambition deficit. The World Bank, IMF and OECD coalesced around a challenge to price 50% of carbon emissions by 2050. That initiative was backed by the leaders of six countries: Germany, France, Canada, China, Ethiopia and Mexico.
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The US is dropping bombs quicker than it can make them

The US is dropping bombs quicker than it can make them | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
The Pentagon’s stockpile of air-to-ground munitions has suffered an unexpected dip — and it may take a long time to restore it.
PIRatE Lab's insight:
I am not so naive as to say "if we weren't spending all this money on bombs, we could have free education" and so forth.  I know this is not a reality: people's propensity to spend money on things is not necessarily a substitutable commodity as some amongst us would have you believe (people donate for tigers...not tiger salamanders).

But one must ask the question: is such high spending and even"denting" of our American armaments pipeline a desirous thing?  Bombs that START AT $25,000 each and go as high as $1,000,000 per shot seems to signal a seriously disturbed state of affairs.  Again, while not sustainability per se, this story certainly seems at least indicative of our current national priorities and the systems for funneling money and time into "important" things.

This is great fodder for discussions of the definition of "sustainability"...in the broadest possible sense.
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Are you paying too much for a rooftop solar system?

Are you paying too much for a rooftop solar system? | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
If you're thinking about pulling the trigger on a rooftop residential solar system, don't be afraid to drive a hard bargain with an installer. "There's so much competition, there's no reason not to get better deals," said Ryan Willemsen, founder and chief executive of the start-up Solar t
PIRatE Lab's insight:
Price comparisons for installed residential solar in California.
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Here’s What Happened to the Exxon-funded EU Think Tanks After It Pledged Not To Fund Climate Denial

Here’s What Happened to the Exxon-funded EU Think Tanks After It Pledged Not To Fund Climate Denial | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it

This is the second part of DeSmog UK’s series mapping Exxon’s ties to EU think tanks and lobby groups. Here we explore what happened to Exxon’s EU think tank ties after it pledged to stop funding climate denial.


Via Garry Rogers
PIRatE Lab's insight:

Interesting that some of the European "think" tanks seem to be folding and/or having a much harder time getting started.  Contrast this to the situation in the mid-1990s.

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Garry Rogers's curator insight, February 12, 12:51 PM

More details for this ongoing story.

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Is the era of dam-building over? Backers of several major projects say it shouldn't be

Is the era of dam-building over? Backers of several major projects say it shouldn't be | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
This tranquil ranching valley lies 15 miles west of the Sacramento River. A one-lane bridge spans a dried-up creek at the valley entrance. But when Jeff Sutton stands there, he imagines water, lots of it.
Never mind that talk of flooding the Antelope Valley north of Sacramento and turning it into...
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Stung by Keystone reversal, Canadian province doubles down on renewable energy

Stung by Keystone reversal, Canadian province doubles down on renewable energy | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
After getting a “major wake-up call” from the U.S. government in its rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline project, the leader of the Canadian province of Alberta announced an aggressive climate-change plan Sunday that sets emission limits for the oil sands and begins the transition from coal to renewable electricity sources.
PIRatE Lab's insight:

Wow.  To be sure a press conference is not a policy and words are much cheaper than action.  But for the first time in a decade, the central government ministries and provincial offices in Canada (save for Quebec, which has been pushing this for a while) seem to actually be taking climate change seriously.

 

Let's congratulate our Canadian friends for taking this action.

 

Fingers crossed that this isn't just a collection of empty promises. 

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Power line opponents give renewables their Keystone moment

Power line opponents give renewables their Keystone moment | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Dave Ulery was set to build his "forever home" on his family's 26-acre property near the Ozark mountain foothills in Arkansas when a knock on the door heralded trouble. The visitor represented Clean Line Energy Partners LLC, a Texas company established to build transmission lines for carrying wind and solar power. The news "put us in limbo," says Ulery, a 34-year-old construction business owner who since that day has been a vocal opponent of Clean Energy's proposed power corridor.
PIRatE Lab's insight:

NIMBY is alive and well!

 

This is yet another argument for moving to decentralized ("rooftop") power generation.  While this will never cover the full amount of our power needs, it will go a massive way down the road to a lower-impact system of power generation and supply.  And along the way it will solve a bunch of these contentious issues as well.

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Obama says climate change is real, despite what skeptics say

Obama says climate change is real, despite what skeptics say | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama Saturday (Aug. 29 pressed the case for urgent action to combat climate change, while defending his administration from criticism by environmental critics unhappy with its approval of Shell's plan to drill off Alaska's coast. "I share...
PIRatE Lab's insight:

How you say "Climate Change is real" but also approve greater extraction of fossil fuels is unclear to me.

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2015 California Policy and Regulatory Preview | JD Supra

The California Air Resources Board (ARB or Board) workload skyrocketed in the fall of 2006 with the passage of AB 32. By any definition, that was a BIG year in the world of climate...
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Should tackling climate change trump protecting nature?

Should tackling climate change trump protecting nature? | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Miles King: Planners have given the green light for a solar farm at Rampisham Down, a SSSI in West Dorset. But stopping biodiversity loss is as important as stopping global warming
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