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China’s Not So Silent Spring: Can One Video Save China’s Environment?

Chinese New Year, also called the Spring Festival (春节), is a time each year when hundreds of millions of Chinese travel home to reunite with family and friends. Observers routinely note it is the largest human migration event on the planet.

This year, on the Sunday before returning to work from Spring Festival, an equally impressive number of Chinese downloaded an explosive on-line exposé on Chinese air pollution produced by former CCTV reporter Chai Jing. The film, called “Under the Dome,” is not the first Chinese effort to document the country’s growing environmental problems, but it is the first to generate this much interest. Read More

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Rep. Grijalva’s Requests and the Real Problem with Conflict of Interest Disclosure

On Tuesday, Arizona’s U.S. representative Raul Grijalva asked seven academics for their sources of funding and earlier drafts of testimony they have delivered before congressional committees. Since then, many have debated whether the requests cross the line into harassment or witch hunts or McCarthyism. Lost in the discussion around whether the requests are too broad is a bigger question to address: Why don’t we already know who funds the work of those who testify before Congress? Read More

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5 Reasons Why Colorado Should Increase—Not Roll Back—Its Renewable Energy Standard

UPDATE: (March 3, 11 a.m.): Good news! Yesterday, the Colorado House of Representative’s State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee voted against the proposed rollback of the state’s renewable energy standard, effectively killing SB 44 for the 2015 legislative session. This is yet another defeat for fossil fuel interests who do not want to compete with renewables on a more level playing field.

On February 5th, state Senate Republicans passed a bill to roll back Colorado’s renewable energy standard (RES), which has helped make the state a national leader in clean energy. Rolling back the RES is precisely the wrong direction for Colorado to go at this time. In addition to providing important benefits to Colorado’s economy, increasing renewable energy use is one of the most cost-effective strategies for complying with the EPA’s proposed power plant carbon standards. Read More

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Stormy Seas, Rising Risks: New Analysis Shows Undisclosed Climate Change Impacts at Oil Refineries

Ten miles outside New Orleans stands a two-million barrels per day oil refinery, surrounded by the Meraux, Louisiana community. On low-lying ground along the Gulf coast, an elaborate network of pipes and smoke stacks looms beyond double-wide trailers, rows of single-family homes, and a playground. By 2050, the refinery and surrounding areas could be underwater, given intermediate sea level rise estimates. But this won’t be the first time the refinery has seen high water levels. Read More

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What Kinds of Scrutiny of Scientists are Legitimate?

This morning, Rep. Raul Grijalva sent letters to seven universities seeking documents related to academics who have testified before Congress on climate change. The requests come in the wake of revelations over the weekend that the Smithsonian Institution agreed not to disclose payments from the Southern Company, a major utility, to fund and review the work of Smithsonian aerospace engineer Willie Soon. As all of the researchers in question have been critical of mainstream climate science, some are wondering if Rep. Grijalva’s requests can be considered a witch hunt. So is it? Read More

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Willie Soon’s Failure to Disclose Industry Funding for Contrarian Climate Research is Another Reason to Support Transparency

My first job in science communication was as an “Explainer” in the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. The program helps visitors – particularly students – understand the forces of flight. Our uniforms included red polo shirts that said “The Explainer Program” on the front and had the name of the company that sponsored the program – Cessna Aircraft – on the sleeve.

I recall this old uniform because the Smithsonian is under scrutiny for an entirely different type of sponsorship that was hidden from public view. Read More

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USA Today Gets it Wrong – The Benefits of EVs Are Real

USA Today recently published a misleading opinion article on electric vehicles. The author, Bjorn Lomborg, claims that electric car benefits are “just myths” repeating many arguments he has made before and to which we at UCS have responded. Through a combination of cherry-picking data, bizarre assumptions and just plain false information, the author asserts that electric vehicles (EVs) produce more air pollution and similar global warming compared to efficient gasoline cars today and dismisses the potential to clean-up the nation’s electricity grid in the future.

Our own analysis shows the opposite. EVs do in fact provide climate benefits today, and electric vehicles powered by a cleaner electricity grid are a key strategy in cutting our nation’s oil consumption and reducing the threat of climate change. Read More

Categories: Fossil Fuels, Vehicles  

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What Snow and the U.S. Army Tell Us About Coal vs. Renewable Energy

Winter has a way of showing what engineers describe as margins for error, and contingencies or unexpected events. When the snow on the road makes your car slide before coming to a stop, you lower your driving speed and increase the distance between you and the car in front of you. Read More

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Shell Promises Climate Risk Disclosure to Shareholders, but What About Its Political Spending?

Yesterday, Royal Dutch Shell made headlines when it announced it would respond to shareholder demands for better consideration and disclosure of the company’s risks from climate change. The move was welcomed by shareholders and activists looking to see Shell better incorporate climate change and its impacts into its business model. Read More

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An Opportunity to Protect Our Drinking Water: Overseeing Fracking and Closing Loopholes

As we’ve discussed here before, the federal government has played a limited role thus far in the regulation and oversight of hydraulic fracturing, leaving states and municipalities to manage a large and fast-paced industry. Today, members of the Senate have a chance to allow the EPA to better protect water resources in oil and gas development across the country. Read More

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