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.
Curated by PIRatE Lab
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Hotter Years, More Fires

Hotter Years, More Fires | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
The average number of large wildfires burning across the Western U.S. each year has tripled from the 1970s to the 2010s.
PIRatE Lab's insight:
Surprise, surprise.  More variable and intense swings in fire-prone weather looking into the future.  
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Burlington flood: Cities face 'new breed' of storms, climatologist says

Burlington flood: Cities face 'new breed' of storms, climatologist says | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Canadians are facing a ';new breed' of storms, and governments should change the way they plan for the kind of wild weather that caused a flash flood in Burlington, Ontario, Canada. And not only in Canada. All around the world, infrastructure is aging and breaking down. We need to take into consideration the new climate and look for innovations like green roofs, porous pavements and storm management solutions like the various and complementary water solutions at BetterWorldSolutions.
PIRatE Lab's insight:

This is increasingly a problem for our coastal zone worldwide.  And beyond the coastal zone as well.  Just this week we saw flooding outside the Arizona Cardinal's stadium in September and the greatest single day rain event in Nevada history.  While we are always cognizant of not wanting to confound "weather" with "climate," it should be clear to just about everyone that our infrastructure and hardened infrastructure is increasingly not up to the task of 21st century natural hazards.

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Oil, coal and gas disasters that are costing us all

Oil, coal and gas disasters that are costing us all | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Accidents happen. But when they involve toxic chemicals and combustible substances, those accidents can cost a fortune.
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New Poll: Most Republicans Want To Regulate Carbon Pollution

New Poll: Most Republicans Want To Regulate Carbon Pollution | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
And the vast majority of Americans believe the U.S. should take action to reduce global warming, regardless of any perceived cost to the economy.
PIRatE Lab's insight:

Eventually, everyone sees reality.  The question is how quickly will this happen.

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The onrushing wave

The onrushing wave | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it

Previous technological innovation has always delivered more long-run employment, not less. But things can change


Via Szabolcs Kósa
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Christian Verstraete's curator insight, February 3, 2014 1:33 AM

Technology Innovation and jobs.

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American State Litter Scorecard

American State Litter Scorecard | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
"AMERICAN STATE LITTER SCORECARD" Monthly Website--"LIKE" on FACEBOOK! Litter breeds diseases, harms HUMANS & WILDLIFE. 800+ Americans DIE from debris-litter vehicle crashes each year.
PIRatE Lab's insight:

Wow!  A direct, measureable death rate from trash!

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Americans are finally taking climate change seriously. Here is why that might not last.

Americans are finally taking climate change seriously. Here is why that might not last. | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Polling shows that voters' commitment to combating global warming is very much conditional
PIRatE Lab's insight:

A big new poll has raised some optimism that public opinion on climate change is finally catching up to the science. But the poll is a welcome reflection that more and more people understand the seriousness of the climate threat, some caution is merited — for two important reasons. Among the adults polled by The New York Times, Stanford University, and Resources for the Future in January, a healthy majority — 78 percent — think global warming will be a serious problem for the United States (44 percent very serious; 34 percent somewhat serious). Even among Tea Party supporters, 59 percent put themselves in one of the "serious" camps.  As the poll breakdown shows, even though people more clearly recognize that climate change will be a problem, they still consider the threat something that will happen to "other" people, either those living in foreign countries or future generations. When asked if climate change will hurt them personally, more people are likely to say "a little" or "not at all" than "a great deal" or "a lot."  This persistent view that the worst effects are far into the future is not necessarily inaccurate. As reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and World Bank indicate, even at current rates, the worst effects manifest themselves at temperature levels that we will only begin reaching at midcentury, even under a business-as-usual (no policy changes) scenario. However, because the effects of climate change are cumulative, and the transitions needed to prevent the worst effects involve large-scale changes to our economy, it is precisely now that action is needed. And even if the worst effects are still a generation away, there are still many effects that we are seeing right now.

The Risky Business Project, co-chaired by Michael Bloomberg, Henry Paulson, and Tom Steyer, is dedicated to demonstrating that while climate change is having immediate economic effects, for business as well as nations, time is still on our side. Doing something now, they argue, would be more effective and less expensive than doing something later, as investments and policy changes made today will pay much bigger dividends than waiting to play catch-up. 

That the public is still slow to realize this underscores the flaws in how the risks and benefits are being communicated.

Which brings us to the next problem: how to go about doing what is necessary. This challenge is entirely separate from convincing folks climate change is a threat, and the results are less than encouraging.

An overwhelming number of respondents (80 percent) think the government should give tax breaks to companies that use more renewable energy. (To put this in perspective, a modified version of this idea is one of the two main components of Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott's climate change plan — which is much maligned.) Nearly as many (78 percent) would support a federally mandated limit on greenhouse gas emissions, which is the closest analog to the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan. 

Unfortunately, far fewer people said that they would tolerate an increase to their electric bills, or an increase to the gas tax to discourage emissions from transportation (a large slice of the American greenhouse gas footprint). This suggests that public tolerance for policies on climate change are household cost sensitive in a way that is not true for policies that are perceived to affect individual companies.

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Malthus, Marx, and Modern Growth - Kenneth Rogoff identifies several obstacles to keeping living standards on an upward trajectory

Malthus, Marx, and Modern Growth - Kenneth Rogoff identifies several obstacles to keeping living standards on an upward trajectory | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it

The promise that each generation will be better off than the last is a fundamental tenet of modern society. By and large, most advanced economies have fulfilled this promise, with living standards rising over recent generations, despite setbacks from wars and financial crises. In the developing world, too, the vast majority of people have started to experience sustained improvement in living standards and are rapidly developing similar growth expectations. But will future generations, particularly in advanced economies, realize such expectations? Though the likely answer is yes, the downside risks seem higher than they did a few decades ago.


Via Szabolcs Kósa
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Nuclear leaks bill will be paid by taxpayer

Nuclear leaks bill will be paid by taxpayer | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Private contractors not liable for accidents during decommissioning

Via pdeppisch
PIRatE Lab's insight:

A central issue with nuclear power (for most of the history of this technology) has been aspects unrelated to the direct "day to day" operation of the routine plant/power generation. 

 

These include insurance and liability, disposal of the waste (although with the half lives of these radionuclides, "disposal" should both be in quotes and denoted as a clear euphemism), and ultimately the opportunity costs of not pursuing other technologies such as fusion, next gen solar, OTEC, etc.

 

As with all energy, there are often numerous downsides.  I wish we could be honest with regards to all forms of energy generation/utilization.

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Duke Energy Coal Ash Spill in North Carolina Pollutes Dan River, Test Results Differ on Toxicity

Duke Energy Coal Ash Spill in North Carolina Pollutes Dan River, Test Results Differ on Toxicity | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Groups are battling over just how toxic the Dan River's waters have become.
PIRatE Lab's insight:

Mmmmmmmm.....coal ash.

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Science's flood failings a 'scandal'

Science's flood failings a 'scandal' | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it

Questions about the link between flooding in the UK and climate change could be answered within two years, according to a leading scientist.  Prof Myles Allen from Oxford University said the only thing holding back the work was the lack of investment.

 

Around £10m a year would provide a real time attribution system on the role of humans in extreme weather.  He said it was a "scandal" that the public should be denied clarity on this issue.

Scientists are notoriously cautious about linking single weather events, such as the recent storms and flooding in the UK, to rising global temperatures.


The public is paying that money in the name of doing something about climate change, they deserve to know what climate change is doing to them”
Prof Myles AllenOxford University Researchers can discern a human fingerprint in extreme weather, but it has required huge amounts of computing power to calculate all the possible outcomes.
PIRatE Lab's insight:

We are now seeing a similar pattern; 1) following a significant natural disaster, folks are now primed to at least discuss a possible tie-in with  climate change, but they 2) take their cue from researchers who note that we can't definitively say if  event A is directly attributable to a changed climate, this leads some to then 3) get upset and say "how can you say that?  It is obvious..." and others to say "you can never tell: ask the scientists."

 

With the rising number of disasters (especially in the coastal zone) a separate way to investigate this is to look for a pattern in these extreme events themselves.  For example, NOAA now has a database of weather-related "billion dollar events."  This certainly seems an area worthy of spending some additional funds.  At the risk of a scientist asking for more money for science (a pox in some regions, I know), having a better understanding of the relationships to a changing climate is/would be a good thing.

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Supply chain risk: what companies need to know

Supply chain risk: what companies need to know | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it

Via EcoVadis
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EcoVadis's curator insight, October 10, 2013 4:11 AM

a very good summary article on Supply Chain Risk, from Mattel to Foxxcon to Nasa