Day: September 10, 2014

Does Responsible Consumption Benefit Companies More Than Consumers?

Read the full story in Fast Company.

Hybrid cars. Energy-efficient lightbulbs. Fair trade coffee. There are all sorts of products nowadays that promise to solve environmental and social problems. We’re in an era of “responsible consumption” where companies sell us goods that do better by the planet and make us feel better about our place on it. But do they make any meaningful difference?

Not according to a new paper by Markus Giesler and Ela Veresiu, two researchers at York University’s Schulich School of Business, in Canada. They argue that responsible consumption subtly shifts responsibility for big problems to consumers, leaving corporations free to continue as usual. Meanwhile, the people who should be changing the game–government and regulators–are left to one side.

Are parabens and phthalates harmful in makeup and lotions?

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

Should you worry about the chemicals in your makeup, lotion, shaving cream, soap and shampoo? The answer is a clear maybe.

Should scientists handle retractions differently?

Read the full post from MIT.

It is one of the highest-profile cases of scientific fraud in memory: In 2005, South Korean researcher Woo-Suk Hwang and colleagues made international news by claiming that they had produced embryonic stem cells from a cloned human embryo using nuclear transfer. But within a year, the work had been debunked, soon followed by findings of fraud. South Korea put a moratorium on stem-cell research funding. Some scientists abandoned or reduced their work in the field.

But the case is not so simple: By 2007, other stem-cell researchers had found that the debunked research contained a few solid findings amid the false claims. While prior stem-cell findings remained intact, it took time to rebuild support for the field.

Now a study by MIT scholars quantifies the fallout for scientists whose fields suffer high-profile retractions, with a twist: Even valid older research, when intellectually related to a retracted study, loses credibility — especially if the retracted paper involves malfeasance. The fallout from a retraction does not land solely on the scientists who are at fault, but on people in the field more broadly.

CO2 levels in atmosphere rising at dramatically faster rate, U.N. report warns

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

Levels of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere rose at a record-shattering pace last year, a new report shows, a surge that surprised scientists and spurred fears of an accelerated warming of the planet in decades to come.

The Weather Channel released a video bringing some of the most dire predictions to life with a weather report from September 23, 2050, which features some familiar faces (including Jim Cantore).

More Than Half Of North American Birds In Trouble Thanks To Climate Change

Read the full story in the Huffington Post.

As the world gets warmer, the Baltimore oriole will no longer be found in Maryland. The Mississippi kite will move north, east and pretty much out of its namesake state. And the California gull will mostly be a summer stranger to the Golden State.

Those are among the conclusions in a new National Audubon Society report that looks at the potential effects of global warming on birds by the year 2080.

Webinar: Greening Your Lab

Tuesday, September 16, 2014 11am-noon
Register at

Representatives from Harvard University and Worcester Polytechnic Institute will discuss various ways in which they have worked towards reducing the energy impact of labs on campus.

GreenerU recognizes that there are many barriers to achieving sustainability in labs. In order to create a lasting impact, it is important for colleges and universities to tackle these issues with an integrated plan that addresses both technological and behavioral change.  Our speakers will discuss different ways to achieve this goal.

By joining our webinar, you will learn about different techniques used by GreenerU at WPI and methods used by Harvard University  to address lab sustainability through:

  • Managing laboratory ventilation and comfort
  • Lab equipment operation and configuration
  • Engaging lab users to maximize results
  • Managing implementation in active lab buildings

Preparing Our Communities for Climate Impacts: Recommendations for Federal Action

Read the full story and download the report from the Georgetown Climate Center.

 The Georgetown Climate Center released 100 recommendations today to improve federal programs that could be used to prepare for climate change. The new report will inform the White House State, Local and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience.

The report, Preparing Our Communities for Climate Impacts: Recommendations for Federal Action, draws from a series of workshops with leading federal, state and local officials and builds upon lessons learned post-disaster in New Orleans (following Hurricane Katrina), New York (following Hurricane Sandy) and Vermont (after Hurricane Irene). The report identifies more than 30 federal programs, initiatives and laws that can be used to prepare for extreme events such as storms, floods and heat waves as well as rising seas.

Post Toledo crisis, a different approach needed for Great Lakes [Commentary]

Read the full commentary at Great Lakes Echo.

An old management cliché is that no one was ever fired for hiring IBM. But the tried and true route that once served corporate America also doesn’t serve Great Lakes advocates.

Green Growth: A U.S. Program for Controlling Climate Change and Expanding Job Opportunities

Read the full story and download the report from the Center for American Progress.

The question for policymakers, and all other citizens, is no longer whether humans are changing our climate. The question now is, how we can stabilize an already-changing climate in a way that promotes economic prosperity? While recently established domestic policies have made strides toward a lower carbon future, such measures are stepping stones. They prescribe the initial path but will not lead to the final goal of achieving the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions necessary to help stabilize global temperatures. Effectively mitigating climate change requires identifying exactly how the United States will transform its energy economy to attain international goals to help protect our climate.

This report quantifies the level of investment required for the United States to align emissions reductions with international goals in an economically beneficial and technically feasible manner. The specific emissions-reduction goal we explore in this study is what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, has proposed for the world as a whole: reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent from 2005 levels by 2035. To do its part to meet this goal, the United States must reduce its carbon dioxide emissions from energy-based sources by 40 percent, to 3,200 million metric tons, or mmt, over roughly the next 20 years. The proposals in this report put the United States on this track to effectively mitigate global climate change.

The report covers three areas of analysis. It first describes the need for a substantial new wave of mostly private investment in advanced energy technology and higher performing buildings, as well as significant public and private investment needed to build dramatically more efficient infrastructure. Second, it outlines how the United States can and must reduce its use of fossil fuels by 40 percent within the next 20 years, as the window of opportunity to stabilize our changing climate is small and closing rapidly. Third, the report shows that stabilizing the climate requires bold actions that we term the PERI-CAP scenario. In addition to this analysis, the report outlines flexible policy options that can be utilized to take the needed actions. Notably, the report finds that this investment agenda will not only protect our climate but will also generate 2.7 million net new jobs.

Smog in India Damaged Enough Crops to Feed 94 Million, Study Says

Read the full (short) post at Yale Environment360.

Ground-level ozone, the main component of smog, damaged 6.7 million tons of Indian crops worth an estimated $1.3 billion in a single year, according to a new study published in Geophysical Research Letters.

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