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

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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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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Success Breeds Slowdown for U.S. Gas Boom: Federal Reserve

Natural Gas Drilling

The U.S. natural gas boom has eased up slightly, a temporary victim of its own success. The trillions of cubic feet of the fuel trapped in shale rock formations is too cheap right now to make more businesses want to drill.

A report today from the Federal Reserve shows production of oil and gas wells fell 1.2 percent in November, the fifth consecutive decline. The monthly measure hasn’t dropped that many times in a row since the recession was wrapping up in 2009.

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Antarctic Drillers Seek Clues to Life Two Miles Below Ice

Antarctic Drill Site

A British-led team of researchers is racing against time and the elements as they drill through 3.2 kilometers of Antarctic ice to search for new forms of life on Earth.

Lake Ellsworth is a body of liquid water trapped between ice and bedrock 3.2 kilometers (2 miles) beneath the surface of Antarctica. One of more than 350 known sub-glacial Antarctic lakes, it’s been isolated from the terrestrial biosphere for at least several hundred thousand years. The operation, which has an 8 million pound (almost $13 million) budget and is using about 100 tons of equipment, is designed to help scientists better understand the ecological limits that can support life and make discoveries about the frozen continent's past climate.

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Tree-Saving Climate Negotiators Sacrifice 2 Million Pages

When 17,600 representatives from 194 nations criss-cross the globe to fight climate change, they make themselves vulnerable to certain charges of hypocrisy: How much fuel did they burn to get there? What about the carbon pollution from all the hotel air conditioners? How big, really, is the anti-global-warming footprint? 

There’s one barb that’s lost its edge this year: paper consumption. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon is on a mission to make the global body paperless by 2015. The efforts are saving hundreds of trees at this year’s climate treaty talks in Doha, Qatar, while creating headaches for many of the envoys.

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'Epic Battle' Pits Investors Against What’s Important 

‘Epic Battle’ Pits Investors Against What’s Important

Here’s the crux of the sustainability dilemma: What researchers and nonprofits deem “important” to the long-term health of companies doesn’t coincide with information that investors consider “material." That’s how one investment professional described the current “epic battle” to our company, SustainAbility, in an interview for the latest edition of our "Rate the Raters" research, The Investor View

There’s a wide gap between what investors say is important and what they do with their money. For example, more than 1,000 investors, managing more than $30 trillion in assets, have signed on to the United Nations’ Principles for Responsible Investment. Yet a recent study by US SIF reports that just 11 percent of all investments under professional management in the U.S. qualify as “sustainable.” The number is growing, but 89 percent of U.S. investors are making decisions based mainly on more narrow, traditional considerations. 

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The Importance of Hearth

Generosity, philanthropy, community and love all affect flavor. This is why our mother’s roast beef tastes better. It's why we we wait on absurd lines during free cone day at Ben & Jerry’s. It's why we can stomach bad food at good weddings.*

And this is why, in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy -- which left scores without heat, hot water and electricity -- I like to think we’re rightly being drawn toward restaurants that don’t simply serve good food (of which there’s a surfeit), but rather toward restaurants that are linchpins of our society, that give back to those who are down on their luck.

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Hazardous Air Pollutants Detected Near Fracking Sites -- For years, the controversy over natural gas drilling has focused on the water and air quality problems linked to hydraulic fracturing, the process where chemicals are blasted deep underground to release tightly bound natural gas deposits.

But a new study reports that a set of chemicals called non-methane hydrocarbons, or NMHCs, is found in the air near drilling sites even when fracking isn't in progress.

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Entrepreneurs Turn 900-Year-Old German Abbey into Clean-Energy Icon

Abbey church of St. Peter, Black Forest, Germany (Sankt Peter im Schwarzwald, Germany) — The Abbey of St. Peter in the Black Forest has had its ups and downs since its founding in 1090. It burned to the ground in 1238. It was rebuilt, only to be destroyed by fire in 1437, establishing a pattern that would be repeated for several centuries. In 1727, after it went up in flames yet again, citizens of this close-knit mountain village decided to try something different. They built a new church from blocks of fireproof sandstone, creating an imposing structure that still dominates their postcard-perfect village.

Today, the Abbey is known as one of Germany's most exquisite Baroque buildings. What isn't widely known is that it's also a vivid example of Germany's recent Energiewende and how the energy revolution was built from the bottom up.

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Germany's Clean Energy Transforms Industrial City of Hamburg

Germany's Clean Energy Shift Transformed Hamburg (Hamburg, Germany) -- It was late morning when I stepped out of my hotel lobby and into the jostle of Kirchenallee Street in Hamburg's city center. I checked my watch, jotted down the time in my notebook and set out for the nearest subway station (U-Bahn in German).

The sidewalks were packed with people enjoying the glorious spring weather on May Day, a public holiday similar to Labor Day in the United States. When I arrived at a stairway beneath a large "U," I checked the time. The walk from my hotel to Hauptbahnhof Süd station had taken one minute and 30 seconds. Seven minutes later I was on a subway car speeding smoothly south.

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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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