It is estimated over 10 million beehives been wiped out since 2007, as part of a phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder. Two Congressional Democrats have co-sponsored new legislation called the Save America’s Pollinators Act of 2013 to take emergency action to save the remaining bees in the U.S., and in turn, the U.S. food supply.
Allan Savory created the holistic management philosophy and practice and is the Founder and President of the Savory Institute. The Savory Institute team has deep expertise in land management, livestock management, business development, social entrepreneurship and environmental issues.
John Doerr warns that carbon-dioxide-sputtering, gas-powered capitalism will destroy us all, and that going green may be the “biggest economic opportunity of the 21st century.” So Kleiner Perkins has invested $200 million in so-called greentech, a combination of startups that are pioneering alternative energy, waste remediation and other schemes to prevent the coming environmental calamity. But Doerr is afraid that it might be too little, too late.
David Keith has worked near the interface between climate science, energy technology and public policy for twenty years. He took first prize in Canada’s national physics prize exam, won MIT’s prize for excellence in experimental physics, and was listed as one of TIME magazine’s Heroes of the Environment 2009. David’s serves as the Gordon McKay Professor of Applied Physics in the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and Professor of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School.
As Secretary of State under President Ronald Reagan, George Shultz helped negotiate the most successful global environmental treaty to date: the Montreal Protocol, which phased out the use of chlorofluorocarbons and other ozone-depleting chemicals. Few modern Republican politicians favor such environmental effort, or even believe climate change is happening or that humanity could be primarily responsible for it.
As a subjective metric, quality can mean different things to different stakeholders, while of donor countries, recipients and institutional actors may place quality across a broad spectrum of objectives. This subjectivity makes the assessment of the quality of climate finance contributions a useful and necessary exercise, but one that has many challenges.
Scientists say that the release of large amounts of methane from thawing permafrost in the Arctic could have huge economic impacts for the world. The researchers estimate that the climate effects of the release of this gas could cost $60 trillion (£39 trillion), roughly the size of the global economy in 2012.
A sense of fairness is universal among humans, but people often differ about exactly what fairness requires in a specific situation. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the debate over the need to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in order to avoid dangerous climate change.
A new study finds that if temperatures go up by just one degree Celcius, sea levels will eventually—as ice sheet melt over the next 2,000 years—rise 2.3 meters. If temperature goes up 2 °C, oceans will rise 4.8 meters. If the planet warms by 4 °C, which is within the IPCC range of estimates, they will eventually rise by 9 meters, on average, and up to 12 meters in some parts of the world.
The future of our planet depends on the world economy’s rapid transition to “green growth” – modes of production based on clean technologies that significantly reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Yet carbon remains badly mispriced, owing to fossil-fuel subsidies and the absence of tax revenues needed to address the global externalities of climate change.
Mr Tercek is at the forefront of a new, businesslike sort of environmentalism, which is changing the way companies and governments view nature. Regulation is often needed to create markets for nature’s bounty to be traded on, and it may not be forthcoming. But that is no reason to damn the approach. Once the business case for greenery is accepted, the results are often stunning.
Powerful earthquakes thousands of miles away can trigger swarms of minor quakes near wastewater-injection wells like those used in oil and gas recovery sometimes followed months later by quakes big enough to destroy buildings. The discovery threatens to make hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” even more controversial.
Obama’s injunction to “divest” was, pretty clearly, a signal to the thousands of college students who have been manning the barricades for nearly a year now, urging their colleges to rid their endowments of stock in fossil-fuel companies as a way of forcing climate change higher on the national political agenda.
Obama has promised to deploy almost every green weapon at his disposal, from better insulation in public buildings to loan guarantees for clean energy. To engage the enemy as quickly as possible, he is relying solely on authority already granted to him by Congress, but even if the rules survive in court, a future administration could reverse them.
A Human and a grain of rice may not, at first glance, look like cousins. And yet we share a quarter of our genes with that fine plant. The genes we share with rice—or rhinos or reef coral—are among the most striking signs of our common heritage. All animals, plants, and fungi share an ancestor that lived about 1.6 billion years ago. Every lineage that descended from that progenitor retains parts of its original genome, embodying one of evolution’s key principles: If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. Since evolution has conserved so many genes, exploring the genomes of other species can shed light on genes involved in human biology and disease. Even yeast has something to tell us about ourselves.
The right thing in climate policy for all the big countries is a carbon tax, which is simpler and less vulnerable to fluctuations in emissions than cap-and-trade schemes. Current environmental policies will not keep the rise in global temperatures to below 2°C—the maximum that most climate scientists think safe. A carbon tax, if stiff enough, could.
As UK officials tout GMO foods as ‘safe’ compared to organic crops, results of a long-term, peer-reviewed study conducted by a group of scientists led by Dr Judy Carman of the Institute of Health and Environmental Research in Australia proves that GMO are anything but ‘safe.’ Pigs and cows fed on the rather common diet of GMO corn and soy have suffered digestive and reproductive disorders – human digestive tract is very similar to that of pigs.
In rejecting Keystone, President Obama would not solve the underlying problem, which is consumption. Nor would he halt exploitation of the tar sands. But he would put a brake on the process. Once Keystone is built, there will be no putting the tar back in the sands. The pipeline isn’t inevitable, and it shouldn’t be treated as such. It’s just another step on the march to disaster.
The servers at the innocuously titled Utah Data Facility will have the capacity to store 100 years worth of the worldwide communications, phones and emails, but the ill-examined ecological impacts of the site, and other smaller but similar NSA data hording facilities like it, is far from sustainable.
The story of the microbiome—the community of tiny organisms that coexist symbiotically with people and other animals—gets weirder every day. Until now that story, which has emerged over the past few years, has seemed one of friendly collaboration. The story’s latest chapter describes a deal between the animal host and viruses, and bacteria are the targets.
International airlines have agreed for the first time to global curbs on their greenhouse gas emissions – but fell well short of the measures to combat climate change that green campaigners had demanded – they did not agree to a global limit on greenhouse gas emissions from air travel, or detail how governments should implement a market-based mechanism to cover all airlines.
Pricing carbon to reduce emissions and tackle global warming is moribund in Congress for now, but not elsewhere. A new World Bank report finds that more than 40 national governments and 20 sub-national governments have either put in place carbon-pricing schemes or are planning one for the years ahead.
In China, transport-based GHG emissions are expected to four-fold increase from 2004 to 2030, mainly due to rising demand for road freight transport. A GEF/World Bank project supports the demonstrations of green trucks, a more efficient model of freight transport that can contribute to reducing GHG emissions and to improving air quality.
The potential risks of genetically modified fish escaping into the wild have been highlighted in a new study. The hybrid fish that resulted from the study out-compete both GM salmon and wild salmon. The study highlights the potential ecological consequences of genetically modified fish getting into the wild.
The rise in the surface temperature of earth has been markedly slower over the last 15 years than in the 20 years before that. That lull in warming has occurred as greenhouse gases have accumulated in the atmosphere at a record pace. This current plateau will end at some point, and a new era of rapid global warming will begin.
Food waste in America is a problem that has grown by 50 percent since the 1970s. Today, as much as 40 percent of food produced in America is thrown away. Decomposing food releases methane, a greenhouse gas that is more than 20 times as effective at trapping atmospheric heat than carbon.
A team of genetic engineers reports it has developed an inexpensive process that uses fungus to convert raw materials such as straw and sawdust into a productive biofuel. The previous process was prohibitively expensive since the molecular switch required stimulation from a pure substance worth 60 times more than gold.
Relentlessly rising greenhouse-gas emissions, and the fear that the earth might enter a climate emergency from which there would be no return, have prompted many climate scientists to conclude that we urgently need a Plan B: geoengineering. But is it wise to try to play God with the climate?
Scientists at the British Antarctic Survey have been working with a host of international collaborators to present the most detailed map yet of Antarctica’s landmass. Bedmap2 reveals a landscape of mountain ranges and plains cut by gorges and valleys much deeper than previously seen. The Bedmap2 project is about more than making a map of the landscape. The data we’ve put together on the height and thickness of the ice and the shape of the landscape below are fundamental to modelling the behaviour of the ice sheet in the future. This matters because in some places, ice along the edges of Antarctica is being lost rapidly to the sea, driving up sea level. Knowing how much the sea will rise is of global importance, and these maps are a step towards that goal.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is the U.S. Department of Energy’s primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL develops technologies and practices, advances science and engineering, and transfers knowledge and innovations to address the nation’s energy and environmental goals.
The human body is an elaborate vessel optimized for the growth and spread of our microbial inhabitants. This has large implications for human and microbial health, which turn out to be inextricably linked. The implications of what has already been learned – for our sense of self, for our definition of health and for our attitude toward bacteria in general – are difficult to overstate.
Infrastructure such as roads and bridges, wastewater systems, and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) centers are vulnerable to changes in the climate. Changes in precipitation and sea levels, as well as increased intensity and frequency of extreme events, are projected to impact infrastructure in a variety of ways.
James Gustave “Gus” Speth joined the faculty at Vermont Law School in 2010. Throughout his career, Professor Speth has provided leadership and entrepreneurial initiatives to many task forces and committees whose roles have been to combat environmental degradation. He is the author, co-author or editor of books, including “The Bridge at the Edge of the World: Capitalism, the Environment, and Crossing from Crisis to Sustainability”.
Hoping to give new meaning to the term “natural light,” a small group of biotechnology hobbyists and entrepreneurs has started a project to develop plants that glow, potentially leading the way for trees that can replace electric streetlamps and potted flowers luminous enough to read by. They have attracted more than $250,000 in pledges in about two weeks on the Web site Kickstarter.
The Explorers Club is an international multidisciplinary professional society dedicated to the advancement of field research and the ideal that it is vital to preserve the instinct to explore. The Explorers Club promotes the scientific exploration of land, sea, air, and space by supporting research and education in the physical, natural and biological sciences, and serves as a meeting point and unifying force for explorers and scientists worldwide.
The Climate and Development Knowledge Network supports decision-makers in designing and delivering climate compatible development. We do this by combining research, advisory services and knowledge management in support of locally owned and managed policy processes. We hold strongly to the ideals of human development and environmental sustainability.
The GEF IW:Science Synthesis Report, brings together the findings and efforts of the IW System Type Working Groups (Groundwater, Lakes, Rivers, Land-based Pollution Sources and, Large Marine Ecosystems and the Open Ocean). This report provides a global perspective on the state of challenges and pressures facing transboundary water systems, both freshwater and marine.
Climate change has been a key factor in the rise and fall of societies and states from prehistory to the recent fighting in the Sudanese state of Darfur. The ways in which cultures have met the climate challenge provide object lessons for how the modern world can handle the new security threats posed by unprecedented global warming.
The failure to make much progress at the UN Climate Change Conference in Doha, Qatar this winter was yet another reminder that the world might soon face extreme climate shifts. In response, it is becoming increasingly likely that governments will adopt risky strategies, known as “geoengineering,” to rapidly cool the planet.
Scientists estimate that the average acidity of surface ocean waters worldwide is now about 30% higher than before the Industrial Revolution. The researchers forecast major changes in the marine ecosystem, but say there is huge uncertainty over what those changes will be.
Green Depot is the nation’s leading supplier of environmentally friendly building products, services and home solutions. Green Depot’s mission is to make green building products readily accessible, affordable and gratifying so that sustainable practices can easily be adopted into standard construction operations.
Over the past 15 years air temperatures at the Earth’s surface have been flat while greenhouse-gas emissions have continued to soar and yet the five-year mean global temperature has been flat for a decade. Despite all the work on sensitivity, no one really knows how the climate would react if temperatures rose by as much as 4°C. Hardly reassuring.
For consumers, homebuilders, and companies that want to feel confident that their buildings are made with environmentally friendly materials, it can be hard to know what building materials to use. Seizing on this lack of information in the market, and consumer interest in sustainability, Sarah Beatty started Green Depot.
To run his coal trains, Buffet needs to seize land from a bunch of Montana cowboys. The coal industry will ignore global warming. But a federal agency charged with weighing the environmental consequences of a coal-carrying railroad should do better. So should America’s most admired investor.
Without nitrogen, the machinery of photosynthesis cannot function. Corn, wheat, and rice, the crops on which humanity depends for survival, are among the most nitrogen hungry of all plants. Yet, runaway nitrogen is suffocating wildlife in lakes and estuaries, contaminating groundwater, and even warming the globe’s climate.
A line of Mini Coopers, each attached to the regional power grid by a thick cable plugged in where a gasoline filler pipe used to be, no longer just draws energy. The power now flows two ways between the cars and the electric grid, as the cars inject and suck power in tiny jolts, and get paid for it.
For the past three years, we’ve compiled an annual review of natural disasters, highlighting not only overall trends for the year but drawing out lessons to prepare for future disasters. Given the fact that the frequency, intensity and unpredictability of natural disasters is expected to increase as a result of climate change, it is more important than ever that we learn from the past.
The solar era has begun: the industry is booming, prices are dropping, and solar energy at last seems poised to help topple the climate-altering dominance of fossil fuels. But bringing it to the masses won’t be as simple as just soaking up the sun. Electric companies and solar developers are watching Hawaii.
Many of the scaffolds that have already been commercialised for wound repair, bone grafts and surgical aids are comparatively simple. Moving to the next generation of scaffolds for the delivery of drugs, cells and eventually genes will require extensive safety testing and lengthy clinical trials.
Many analysts predict that climate change and development in high-risk zones will only increase those costs as sea levels rise and weather becomes more extreme. So there’s plenty of incentive to prevent and reduce losses, and a massive opportunity for those with ideas of how to go about doing so.
The notion of bringing extinct species back to life has hovered at the boundary between reality and science fiction for more than two decades. De-extinction is now within reach. The species theoretically capable of being revived all disappeared while humanity was rapidly climbing toward world domination.
William McDonough is a globally recognized leader in sustainable development. Trained as an architect, McDonough’s interests and influence range widely, and he works at scales from the global to the molecular. McDonough received the Presidential Award for Sustainable Development, and the first U.S. EPA Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award.
The World Resources Institute focuses on the intersection of the environment and socio-economic development. We go beyond research to put ideas into action, working globally with governments, business, and civil society to build transformative solutions that protect the earth and improve people’s lives.
Venom is nature’s most efficient killer, but top medicines for heart disease and diabetes have been derived from venom. New treatments for autoimmune diseases, cancer, and pain could be available within a decade. There could be upwards of 20 million venom toxins waiting to be screened. Venom has opened up whole new avenues of pharmacology.
President Barack Obama’s promise to attack climate change is likely to light a fire under federal agencies slow to comply with a mandate to cut energy use – which could be very good news for companies that specialize in systems that save power. Major efficiency companies have been working to develop project proposals.
The International Renewable Energy Agency is an intergovernmental organisation that supports countries in their transition to a sustainable energy future, and serves as the principal platform for international cooperation, and a repository of policy, technology, resource and financial knowledge on renewable energy.
TYRES are remarkable pieces of engineering. They contain rubber-like polymers, layers of steel braiding and textile reinforcements, all of which improve performance and cut fuel consumption. Now Pirelli is manufacturing fuel-saving tyres that are greener still by extracting one of their ingredients from rice husks.
If EU policies work as intended, electricity from renewables will gradually take a larger share of overall generation. But at the moment, EU energy policy is boosting usage of the most polluting fuel, increasing carbon emissions, damaging the creditworthiness of utilities and diverting investment into energy projects elsewhere.
Critics counts air conditioning as more a curse than a miracle. Cooling buildings and vehicles pumps out almost half a billion tonnes of carbon dioxide annually. Between 1995 and 2004 the proportion of homes in Chinese cities with air conditioning rose from 8% to 70%.
Chicago claims to have the densest network of charging stations for electric vehicles, and to be home to more wind-farm companies than any city in America. The state is spending up to $3.2 billion on modernising the electrical grid in Illinois. It has also put aside $72.5m to invest in new smart-grid technology.
Russia has coasted on an oil legacy inherited from Soviet days. Much of the oil still in the ground will be more difficult and costly to find and produce. As expenses go up, profit margins will decline. At the same time, the oil industry will have to spend more of its remaining profits on its own renewal.
Far beneath the ground, Yasuní, Ecuador, harbors a treasure that poses an urgent challenge to the precious web of life on the surface: hundreds of millions of barrels of untapped Amazon crude. President Rafael Correa has offered to leave indefinitely untouched an estimated 850 million barrels of oil, but the international response to the initiative has been tepid.
By venting methane into the atmosphere, the lakes are amplifying the global warming that created them: Methane is a potent greenhouse gas. Carbon dioxide is the main one, because the atmosphere holds 200 times as much of it. But a given amount of methane traps at least 25 times as much heat…
Governments around the world have been investing in plans to “climate-proof” their cities against weather-related calamities. Even if we managed to stop increasing global carbon emissions tomorrow, we would probably experience several centuries of additional warming, rising sea levels, and more frequent dangerous weather events.
For most of the past several millennia, Flevoland, a province which sits more or less at the center of the Netherlands, lay at the bottom of an inlet of the North Sea. Now, Flevoland is home to the Oostvaardersplassen, a wilderness that was also constructed, Genesis-like, from the mud.
Rewilding Europe is a conservation vision for Europe, with wild nature and natural processes as key elements, where rewilding is applicable to any type of landscape or level of protection. It is an initiative by WWF Netherlands, ARK Nature, Wild Wonders of Europe and Conservation Capital.
2012 was the hottest year ever recorded in the contiguous United States. 34,008 daily high records were set at weather stations across the country. 10 warmest years on record all fell within the past 15 years. 11 disasters in 2012 have exceeded $1 billion in damages, with Hurricane Sandy likely to exceed $60bn.
The world has been so preoccupied with the man-made catastrophes of subprime mortgages and sovereign debt that it may not have noticed how much economic mayhem nature has wreaked. With earthquakes in Japan and New Zealand, floods in Thailand and Australia and tornadoes in America, last year was the costliest on record for natural disasters.
The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity is an international initiative to draw attention to the economic benefits of biodiversity, the costs of biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation, and to draw together expertise from science, economics and policy to enable practical actions moving forward.
Jared Diamond is a professor of geography and physiology at the University of California, a MacArthur Fellow, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Medal of Science. He is author of the books: Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies; and Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed.
Sir Martin Rees is the UK’s Astronomer Royal, Master of Trinity College, and Emeritus Prof. of Cosmology and Astrophysics at the University of Cambridge. He is the author of the book: Our Final Hour: How Terror, Error, and Environmental Disaster Threaten Humankind’s Future In This Century.
Biologist Edward O. Wilson is University Research Professor Emeritus at Harvard University, and author of the books: The Creation: An Appeal to Save Life on Earth; The Future of Life; and The Diversity of Life, which describes how man is in the process of causing the “sixth extinction”.
Since 2003, Worldchanging has brought together a global network of independent journalists, designers and thinkers to cover the world’s most innovative solutions to the planet’s problems, and inspire readers around the world with stories of new tools, models and ideas for building a bright green future.
The Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment is a research centre at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). Its mission is to be a world-leading centre for policy-relevant research, teaching and training in climate change and the environment.
Our vision is to leave a sustainable world for future generations. Today’s society faces unprecedented challenges. Dwindling natural resources, declining economies, a rapidly changing climate and other threats require that all of us begin working together to reach common solutions.
Swiss Re has been a strong advocate of cuts in greenhouse gas emissions for over twenty years. Swiss Re provides innovative climate solutions, and is well positioned to play a major role in driving forward the low-carbon economy and in shaping climate-resilient development.
Aimed at the insurance industry, government, and the wider public, the objectives of the GA’s climate-linked research have been to identify and analyse issues of specific relevance to the insurance industry, as well as external challenges to be addressed at the political, educational and social levels.
Established in 1892, the Sierra Club is the most influential grassroots environmental organization in the US. It has developed a set of initiatives that will help cut emissions, create clean economy, and protect our natural heritage, communities, and country from the consequences of climate change.
Rainforest Action Network envisions a world where each generation sustains healthy forests, where the rights of all communities are respected, and where corporate profits never come at the expense of people or the planet. Our campaigns seek to push companies to balance profits with principles.
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations. It is the UN system’s authoritative voice on the state and behaviour of the Earth’s atmosphere, its interaction with the oceans, the climate it produces and the resulting distribution of water resources.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was established to provide the world with a clear scientific view on the current state of knowledge in climate change and its potential environmental and socio-economic impacts. The IPCC’s work is policy-relevant, yet policy-neutral, never policy-prescriptive.
Since 1863, the National Academy of Sciences has provided advice on the scientific and technological issues that frequently affect policy decisions. National Research Council reports have led to some of the most significant and lasting improvements in the health, education, and welfare of all Americans.
For 50 years, WWF has been protecting the future of nature. WWF’s unique way of working combines global reach with a foundation in science, involves action at every level from local to global, and ensures the delivery of innovative solutions that meet the needs of both people and nature.
Project Syndicate provides commentaries written by heads of state and government and leading opinion-makers from business, academia, and civil society on subjects ranging from the effects of global warming to energy security, green economic growth, and adaptation to climate change.