The Grid: Energy, Resources, Environment, Sustainability | Bloomberg

Chicago River Flowing Backwards Would Be Least of Concerns

The headlines were alarming: "Drought Could Reverse Flow of Chicago River," hailed the website of WLS-TV, the local ABC News affiliate. "Ongoing Drought Could Send the Chicago River Flowing in Reverse," read Smithsonian magazine's normally sedate web pages. 

It turns out, a backwards flow may be the least of the river’s concerns.  

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One of the Biggest Unknowns in the Unfolding Keystone XL Debate -- One of the biggest unknowns in the unfolding Keystone XL debate is the role the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency might play.

Because the Canada-to-Nebraska oil pipeline crosses an international border, the State Department, not the EPA, will decide whether to give the project the federal permit it needs. But the EPA will weigh in during the review, and its opinion will carry new weight now that the Obama administration has vowed to make climate change a national priority.

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Water Risk to Business Is No Small Drip

The Water Threat to Business is No Small Drip

At the World Economic Forum in Davos last week, I was struck by how often the issue of water risk was raised by business executives. As the global economic turmoil is receding, many CEOs and global leaders are turning to other threats—and water is high on the list. For the second year in a row, water crises were named among the top four global risks at the WEF. 

It’s easy to see why. More than 1.2 billion people already face water scarcity. By 2025, two-thirds of the world population will experience water stress. That’s largely due to population increase and climate change, but also behavior patterns: Water use grew twice as fast as population growth in the 20th century. The “food-water-energy nexus” was one of the top four megatrends to watch in the recently released Global Trends 2030 report by the U.S. National Intelligence Council. 

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Populated U.S. Coasts Found Most Vulnerable to Climate Change

Bloomberg BNA -- U.S. coasts are highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change such as sea-level rise, erosion, storms, and flooding, especially in the populated, low-lying areas along the Gulf of Mexico and the mid-Atlantic, according to a report released Jan. 28 by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Geological Survey.

Sea-level rise and storm surge flooding pose significant threats to energy, water, and transportation infrastructure, which, in turn, endanger public health, safety, and jobs in coastal areas, according to Coastal Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerabilities: a Technical Input to the 2013 National Climate Assessment.

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John Kerry Says He'll Control Keystone XL Review -- Sen. John Kerry made it clear Thursday that he will play a pivotal role in deciding the fate of the Keystone XL pipeline if he is confirmed as secretary of state.

“I’ll make the appropriate judgments about it,” he said, referring to the State Department’s ongoing review of the 1,200-mile tar sands oil pipeline. “There are specific standards that have to be met with respect to that review, and I’m going to review those standards and make sure they’re complete.”

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Fracking the Marcellus Shale Upstate New York

“This is not a place we should be delivering water on trucks.”

Sean Ono Lennon, the musician and son of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, was holding a mic, but he wasn't singing. He was addressing about 30 passengers from the front of a bus driving through wooded, snow-dusted northeastern Pennsylvania. Josh Fox, director of the 2010 documentary Gasland, sat in the front row, looking up at Lennon from under his signature New York Yankees cap. Ono was four rows back, her gray fedora tilted starboard.

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With more than half of the world’s population now urban, cities are natural venues for business, government and community efforts to identify key economic drivers of the early 21st century. Cities have the scale to effect real environmental change and -- in many cases unlike their national governments -- the political will to do so.

Singapore has become an internationally recognized leader among global cities, for its forward-looking policy goals and strong execution. The southeast Asian city-state was found to be literally in a class by itself (pdf) -- “Well Above Average” -- of the 22 Asian cities analyzed by the Economist Intelligence Unit for the Siemens Green City Index. PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP ranked it the world’s leader in transportation and infrastructure in its Cities of Opportunity, 2012 report. Bloomberg editors and reporters took in the Singapore experiment firsthand in December, at the Bloomberg Businessweek Global Green Summit. Bloomberg New Energy Finance just published a conference overview in its Results Book (pdf).

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Six Top Environment Stories to Watch in 2013

Indonesian Coal Mining

As we enter 2013, there are signs of growth and economic advancement around the world. The global middle class is booming. More people are moving into cities. And the quality of life for millions is improving at an unprecedented pace.

Yet, there are also stark warnings of mounting pressures on natural resources and the climate. Consider: 2012 was the hottest year on record  for the continental United States. There have been 36 consecutive years  in which global temperatures have been above normal. Carbon dioxide emissions are on the rise – last year the world added about 3 percent more carbon emissions to the atmosphere. All of these pressures are bringing more climate impacts: droughts, wildfires, rising seas, and intense storms. 

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Behind China's Roaring Solar Industry

Wednesday, Bloomberg reported that Chinese solar stocks had soared based on market expectations that demand in China for alternative energy will increase given the Chinese government's increasing solar capacity targets. Earlier this week, China's National Energy Administration announced its intention to add 10 gigawatts of solar power capacity in 2013, more than twice its current level. According to Barron's and others, China has already begun implementing its ambitious plan to increase installations. It previously approved the Golden Sun initiative for the first half of this year and committed prodigious amounts of government cash to the sector.

China has also begun offering subsidies for rooftop solar projects. These aren't controversial production-side subsidies (of the kind that have been challenged as contravening international trade agreements) but rather incentivizing domestic subsidies intended to help Chinese citizens and organizations to purchase solar systems at an affordable price. This week, the share price of Trina Solar Ltd. the nation's third-biggest maker of solar panels, jumped to the highest level in five months even as that of LDK Solar Co. rallied 7.7 percent.

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Wind Turbines in Ohio

A year-old energy-industry organization released a report today that describes a global clean-energy market of more than $1 trillion and how businesses in the United States can get a bigger piece of it. 

Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) has set out with lofty goals and a staff of 20 to help U.S. businesses sort through the expanding opportunities they face today in generating, selling and buying electricity and fuel. The San Francisco-based group has opened chapters in seven states and one in New England, as it tries to rewire professional networks to make it easier for businesses to educate themselves, develop policy and share data. Think of it as a Chamber of Commerce for energy sources cleaner than coal or oil. 

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About The Grid

Nations and companies face rising competition for strategic resources — energy, food, water, materials — and the technologies that make best use of them. That's sustainability. It's about the 21st-century race for wealth, health and long-term security, across the global grid.

Analyses or commentary in this blog are the views of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bloomberg News.

Eric Roston, Editor

Tom Randall, Deputy Editor

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