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[Due to the increasing size of the archives, each topic page now contains only the prior 365 days of content. Access to older stories is now solely through the Monthly Archive pages or the site search function.]

Study identifies social policy as important factor in national environmental performance

November 19, 2012

Theoretical flowchart linking SP to HREP. * Indicates motivation to act environmentally for the benefit of the valued object: other human beings (voting and political actions). Credit: ACS, Kerret and Shvartzvald. Click to enlarge.

A country’s social policy (SP) plays an important role in explaining differences in the environmental performance (EP) of countries, according to a new study by Dorit Kerret and Renana Shvartzvald at Tel-Aviv University.

The paper, published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, tries to unravel factors that explain national differences in EP by using quantitative data to examine factors affecting the EP of a broad sample of country-wide data. To avoid the variability of performance measures encountered by previous studies, Kerret and Shvartzvald proposed three categories of EP indicators: human-related EP (HREP) (related to environmental health harm); ecology-related EP (EREP); and global-related EP (GREP). They used the EP Index (EPI) as a measure of outcomes.

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World Bank report examines likely impacts and risks associated with a 4 °C global warming within this century

A new report commissioned by the World Bank, and prepared by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and Climate Analytics, provides a snapshot of recent scientific literature and new analyses of likely impacts and risks that would be associated with a 4 °C global warming within this century. The report—Turn Down the Heat—attempts to outline a range of risks, focusing on developing countries and especially the poor.

The report is not a comprehensive scientific assessment, the authors note; one such is slated to be forthcoming from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2013–14 in its Fifth Assessment Report. The World Bank report focused on developing countries, while recognizing that developed countries are also vulnerable and at serious risk of major damages from climate change.

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SwRI to demonstrate use of electric vehicles as part of emergency power microgrid under US Army SPIDERS program

November 14, 2012


Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) is a member of a team that was recently awarded a $7-million contract from the US Army Corps of Engineers to demonstrate integration of electric vehicles, generators and solar arrays to supply emergency power for Fort Carson, Colo.

The project is part of a Joint Capability Technology Demonstration (JCTD) called the Smart Power Infrastructure Demonstration for Energy Reliability and Security (SPIDERS)—a joint effort between the US Departments of Defense, Energy and Homeland Security. SPIDERS aims to create a resilient, more reliable microgrid designed to protect against extended power outages caused by natural disasters, accidents or attacks—and, ultimately, to enhance electric power surety for national security.

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NYU-BMW i report explores future urban mobility; sustainability and resilience

November 13, 2012

A new study released by BMW i and New York University (NYU) finds that, in the coming years and decades, fundamental changes in the demographic makeup of cities will profoundly alter the way people travel.

This report, prepared by the Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management at NYU’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service with the assistance of Appleseed, a New York City-based consulting firm, examines several aspects of the challenge of urban mobility in the twenty-first century: the growth of the world’s urban population, and changes in the characteristics of that population; emerging patterns of urban mobility; and changes in technology design and connectivity.

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NRC releases report on potential for climate change to pose or to alter security risks for the US over next decade

November 11, 2012

A schematic model showing the links between climate events and outcomes of national security concern, highlighting the roles of exposure and vulnerability. The shaded area corresponds to the event-exposure-vulnerability model form the IPCC. Source: NRC. Click to enlarge.

The National Research Council of the US has released a report examining the potential for climate change to pose or to alter security risks for the United States over the next ten years. The report, the outcome of a study requested by the US intelligence community from the NRC in 2010, offers recommendations to improve understanding of the links between climate and security; monitoring and analysis of the factors linking climate change to security risks; and the ability to anticipate potential security risks arising from climate phenomena.

The report focuses on social and political stresses outside the United States, and on security risks that might arise from situations in which climate-related events have consequences that exceed the capacity of affected populations to cope and respond. It also emphasizes climate-driven security risks that call for action within the coming decade either to anticipate or to respond to security threats.

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