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

Federal Drilling Panel May Disband Even as Concerns Mount

Shell Arctic Drill Ship -- A committee that advises the federal government on how to make offshore oil drilling safer could be disbanded next month, even as the recent grounding of a Shell rig in Alaska is drawing new attention to the dangers of deepwater drilling.

The Ocean Energy Safety Advisory Committee (OESC), an advisory panel to the Department of Interior, was created after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill to gather input from a variety of stakeholders about the government's drilling policies. The 15-member panel—composed of government officials, academics, industry representatives and environmentalists—will meet today and Thursday for what could be its last meeting.

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Sustainability Indicator: 40% of Proxies Go Green

40 Percent

Today's sustainability indicator, 40 percent, is the proportion of shareholder resolutions last year that pertained to environmental and social concerns. That's up from 30 percent during the prior proxy season.  

Recent indicators: 

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Mark Lynas

When protesters threatened to uproot a plot of genetically modified wheat at a British government-funded agricultural research station in May, the backlash was swift and unmistakable. Many commentators, including liberals, condemned the would-be vandals—and the environmentalists who supported the stunt. Was the anti-biotech movement, which had already convinced politicians and the public in Europe to steer clear of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), losing its punch?

The question surfaced again in the fall, when California voters rejected a proposal to label foods that contained genetically modified ingredients. Around the same time, a French researcher and longtime GMO opponent published a peer-reviewed paper arguing that rats fed GM-corn developed cancerous tumors. The scientific community roundly assailed the study for faulty design and methodology. Today, the paper has no credibility, except within the feverish ranks of conspiracy-fearing activists, who are convinced that Monsanto -- and GM-crops -- represent a dangerous threat to agriculture and public health.

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Colorado River Shrinking

The Colorado River could lose 10 percent of its volume in the next few decades from rising temperatures and higher demand. Such a change would be enough to throw off the West's precarious balance of water-use agreements that allow Denver, Tucson, Los Angeles and California's Imperial Valley to draw from the same basin.

"It may not sound like a phenomenally large amount except the water and the river is already over-allocated," said Richard Seager, a climate scientist at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and lead author of a new study in the journal Nature Climate Change.

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Antarctic Warming Rate Surprises Scientists: Today's Pic

West Antarctica Warming at Higher Rate that Previously Thought

The ice sheet covering West Antarctica has warmed twice as fast as expected -- 4.3 degrees Fahrenheit (2.4 degrees Celsius) since 1958, according to a study published this week in the journal Nature Geoscience. That's three times the average rise in global temperatures of about 0.8 degrees Celsius since the early 20th century. 

Glaciers and rock outcrops in Marie Byrd Land, West Antarctica during an IceBridge flight on Oct. 17, 2011 from NASA’s DC-8 aircraft.

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What Do You Call Most of the S&P 500?

Hey, What Do You Call Most of the S&P 500?

Sometimes ideas mix together in the email inbox like gin and olives – unrelated items that when brought together just make sense. Today’s example: two messages that, as one, describe what was arguably one of the most important shifts in business in 2012.  

The first take comes in the form of the Atlantic Wire’s “Year in Review: An A-to-Z Guide to 2012’s Worst Words.” Among the most detested? “Sustainable.” Their explanation: “Sustainable is the kind of word that ends up being co-opted and used by everyone to the point where it means nothing (See: Organic).” 

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The President Speaks the Truth -- and It Kind of Stings

Every once in a while a politician accidentally tells the truth, and then fails to recognize it. 

President Barack Obama committed truth Wednesday at a press conference announcing his assignment of Vice President Joe Biden to an intensive month-long effort to craft a policy response to the Sandy Hook horror. "This is not some Washington commission," Obama said. "This is not something where folks are going to be studying the issue for six months and publishing a report that gets read and then pushed aside."

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Global Warming Experts Should Think More About the Cold War

1968's Non-Proliferation Treaty Signing

Every year the United Nations convenes diplomats from more than 190 nations to negotiate a climate change treaty, and in many years negotiators go home with little more than the promise of another annual meeting.

After the failure of the 18th such event earlier this month in Doha, diplomats and organizers should focus less on the UN exercise than on combing history for a more suitable model. 

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Andrew Winston's Top 10 Sustainable Business Stories of 2012

Hurricane Sandy Builds Momentum Off the S.E. United States

It's time once again to try and summarize the last 12 months in a handy list. But before I dive in, some quick thoughts.It was an odd year for green business, and it began with some mixed signals about how far companies were coming on sustainability. A GreenBiz report indicated that progress had slowed or even regressed, but MIT and BCG also declared that sustainability had reached a "tipping point" with more companies putting sustainability "on the management agenda."

In reality, both views were right. Corporate sustainability lost some of its sexiness from previous years, as it grew more entrenched in day-to-day business. Some parts of the agenda — eco-efficiency and resource conservation for example — are widely accepted now, and it's rare to find a big-company CEO who doesn't have sustainability on his or her radar.

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Keystone XL Will Not Use Most Advanced Spill Protection -- In 1998, activists in Austin, Texas filed a lawsuit to protect their local aquifer from a proposed gasoline pipeline. By the time the project was built, the operator had been forced to add $60 million in safety features, including sensor cables that could detect leaks as small as three gallons a day. Some say the Longhorn pipeline is the safest pipeline in Texas, or perhaps the nation.

Now a much larger pipeline—the Keystone XL—is being proposed across the Ogallala/High Plains aquifer, one of the nation's most important sources of drinking and irrigation water. Yet none of the major features that protect Austin's much smaller aquifer are included in the plan. In fact, they haven't even been discussed.

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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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