Tractor trailers go about six miles on a gallon of diesel, a number that has barely budged since the 1970’s. This shocked me the first time I heard it, and I imagine that many of you have the same reaction. After all, so many other products—passenger cars, light bulbs, refrigerators—are so much more efficient now, why not trucks? The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. Read More
June 19th, 2015
June 18th, 2015
When you work for the Union of Concerned Scientists, you learn quickly that we walk the walk when it comes to caring for the environment. Our offices are all energy efficient. We not only recycle our paper products but compost our leftovers at lunch. And every month feels like “Bike to Work Month.” Above all, we believe it’s important to follow our own advice.
So in 2013, when our Board of Directors realized that our investment portfolio included some holdings in fossil fuel companies, we knew we had to act. Read More
June 11th, 2015
In my first year at UCS, I learned that several extraordinary individuals have left unmistakable and enduring marks on this organization. James “Jay” Fay, a long-time member of the UCS Board of Directors, was one of them. He died last week at age 91. Read More
May 27th, 2015
I don’t usually go to trade association conferences. I’m not a big fan of the back patting, the bland “inspirational” speeches, or the exhibit booths populated by eager salespeople.
But when I was invited to speak on federal policy at the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) conference in Orlando this week, I put all that aside.
I’m glad I did. Read More
Knock, Knock, Knockin’ on McDonald’s Door: How UCS and Others Helped Secure Deforestation-Free Palm Oil Commitments
April 21st, 2015
Making social and political change sometimes feels like walking down a long corridor and knocking on door after door; there is no way of knowing in advance which will open, and many turn out to be locked. But if you keep knocking long, hard, and creatively enough, a door will eventually spring open, and if you seize that moment, you can make the change you seek. Read More
March 23rd, 2015
The United States stands at an energy crossroads. Coal-fired power plants generated about half of our electricity as recently as 2007, but are now being retired at a record rate due to age, cost, and the need to cut carbon pollution. Aging nuclear power plants, which generate about twenty percent of our electricity, are also heading towards retirement, and few new plants are being built.
What will replace them? There are two paths forward. Read More
March 10th, 2015
According to Margo Oge, a former high-ranking official of the EPA, the future of climate-friendly transportation is filled with potential: driverless cars that pick you up “on demand,” car batteries that also help power your home, next generation vehicles that get the equivalent of 243 mpg—the equivalent of 10 gallons of gas to get from Los Angeles to New York City. In her new book Driving the Future, Oge shares an inspiring vision of our transportation future, and as the head of the Office of Transportation and Air Quality at the Environmental Protection Agency for more than 18 years, she knows as much as anyone about what this future looks like and how to get there. Read More
February 9th, 2015
We all take calculated risks, and justifiably so, when we judge the benefits of our action to outweigh the risks. I ride a bike to work when I can, for example. Sure, there’s a risk of injury but, to me, it is outweighed by the health, economic, and environmental benefits.
But the picture changes when we take risks with no real benefits. And when our political leaders do this, we have a duty to speak out and demand change. Read More
December 12th, 2014
Earlier this month, when EPA proposed a new health-protective air quality standard for the pollutants that form “ozone,” some critics predictably pounced on it as another example of a long string of “job-killing EPA regulations.” Yet last week, we learned that the U.S. economy created about 320,000 new jobs in November, and average wages are starting to rise as the labor market tightens.
If you spot some dissonance here, you’re not alone. The claim that EPA regulations kill jobs is belied by the record. Read More
December 1st, 2014
With the historic climate march in New York, and pledges by the world’s three largest emitters—China, the United States, and the 28 countries of the European Union—to cap or cut emissions, I’m already on record as suggesting that the fall of 2014 could be a turning point in the international effort to address global warming.
The momentum seems to be building. Read More