Sustainability Blog - The Grid
Editors Note: A previous version of this story stated that Enbridge's Line 5 carries tar-sands oil, known as diluted bitumen, or dilbit. It does not, according to Enbridge spokesman Larry Springer.
InsideClimateNews.org -- Two aging oil and natural gas pipelines running under the sparkling waters of the Straits of Mackinac in northern Michigan are time bombs that could devastate the upper Great Lakes if they rupture, according to a report issued today by the National Wildlife Federation.
People living near natural gas wells in Pennsylvania say drilling has triggered respiratory problems, fatigue, severe headaches and skin rashes, according to a study from Earthworks, a Washington-based environmental group.
The findings come from a survey released today of 108 residents in 14 Pennsylvania counties. Since 2009, more than 5,000 wells have been drilled in Pennsylvania’s portion of the Marcellus Shale using hydraulic fracturing. This process requires sending millions of gallons of chemically treated water and sand underground to break shale rock and free trapped gas.
Danish economist Bjorn Lomborg rose to prominence following the publication in 1998 of The Skeptical Environmentalist. He has since angered many global warming activists by arguing that the climate fight has wrongly focused on cutting carbon pollution rather than investing in research and development of new technologies.
An adjunct professor at Copenhagen Business School, he's also the director of the Copenhagen Consensus, an economic analysis group that studies how governments and philanthropists should spend aid and development money. I caught up with him when he visited London this month to talk about fracking, renewable energy and organic food.
Cross-posted from the Bloomberg.com daily newsletter "The Market Now." Click here to subscribe.
The great natural wealth of Russia has long been a magnet for Western businesses that see the pot of gold over the rainbow and figure that somehow they’ll find the path there. That hasn’t always gone so well.
InsideClimateNews.org -- Power plant operators are shuttering aging coal facilities at record rates—a trend presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his supporters pin squarely on EPA air pollution rules.
"People in the coal industry feel like it's getting crushed by your policies," Romney told Obama during the first debate. "Stop the War on Coal. Fire Obama" signs dot lawns in coal-producing swing states, and Twitter is full of posts commenting on the "war on coal" refrain.
World Resources Institute -- When it comes to coal consumption, no other nation comes close to China. The country reigns as the world’s largest coal user, burning almost half of the global total each year. About 70 percent of China’s total energy consumption and nearly 80 percent of its electricity production come from coal, and its recent shift from being a historical net coal exporter to the world’s largest net coal importer took only three years.
China’s great thirst for coal is undeniably troubling from a sustainable development standpoint. However, the situation may be changing. I recently joined three other experts to speak at a Congressional briefing entitled, “Why China Is Acting on Clean Energy: Successes, Challenges, and Implications for U.S. Policy.”While my fellow speakers spoke about the progress of clean energy development in China, I sought to explain how the growing constraints on coal development are acting as one factor pushing China to move more aggressively towards clean energy.
Pull a book about food security off a shelf and it’s likely to be an academic treatise or sentimental rant shaped by developed-nation biases. Lost among numbing statistics or chest-thumping screeds -- Monsanto is evil! Particularly in Africa! -- are the stories of individuals who suffer. Also lost: genuine promise that their lives can improve.
Enter Roger Thurow, a veteran reporter who covered two-dozen African nations over 20 years for the Wall Street Journal. His new book, The Last Hunger Season: A Year in an African Farm Community on the Brink of Change, brings welcome clarity and humanity to what can be a complex topic fractured by decades-old either-or propositions: Is trade with developing nations better than direct foreign aid? Is acceptance of aid an acquiescence into a kind of neo-colonialism? Once aid is given, is it ever possible to grow past it so it isn't needed anymore?
InsideClimateNews.org -- The hidden, long-term effects of the 2010 pipeline accident that spilled more than a million gallons of heavy Canadian crude oil into Michigan's Kalamazoo River became public last week when the EPA revealed that large amounts of oil are still accumulating in three areas of the river.
The problem is so serious that the EPA is asking Enbridge Inc., the Canadian pipeline operator, to dredge approximately 100 acres of the river. During the original cleanup effort, dredging was limited to just 25 acres because the EPA wanted to avoid destroying the river's natural ecology. The additional work could take up to a year and add tens of millions of dollars to a cleanup that has already cost Enbridge $809 million.
Fortune magazine polled businessmen about their responsibilities beyond the balance sheet. The questions are more charming and verbose than most posed by contemporary pollsters. They also offer a nice snapshot of how business media tackled what we now call "sustainability":
A few years ago it was frequently said that businessmen ought to acquire a 'social consciousness.' What was usually meant was that businessmen were responsible for the consequences of their actions in a sphere somewhat wider than that covered by their profit-and-loss statements. Do you think that businessmen should recognize such responsibilities and do their best to fulfill them?
China, the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases linked to climate change, may create the impetus for a global carbon market as it begins pilot trading programs, according to the Climate Institute.
“China’s emerging schemes can dovetail with other global schemes as a stepping stone towards a global climate change agreement by 2015,” John Connor, chief executive officer of the Sydney-based institute that commissioned a report released today, said in an e-mailed statement.