US government reveals big changes to open-access policy

Read the full story in Nature.

The new policy recommends that federal agencies ensure that research from their grant recipients is made available in a public repository without delay after publication…

In theory, focusing on public repositories that can house the accepted, peer-reviewed versions of papers allows journals to continue charging institutions subscription fees and keeping final papers behind a paywall. In practice, eliminating the 12-month delay before US research is made open might change that, if publishers fear losing subscription income. “This will help accelerate the momentum toward flipping the system to where journals are fully open access,” says Lisa Hinchliffe, a librarian at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign.

It’s unclear whether US funding agencies or libraries would offer to increase their help for researchers who need to cover the up-front per-paper fees for OA publishing in most journals. A separate OSTP analysis on the economics of the US public-access policy, also released on 25 August, notes that the NIH and National Science Foundation (NSF) currently cover these costs. The OSTP estimates that such publication charges amount to about 0.5% of the NIH research budget at present. But research libraries pay much more: their expenditure on public access ranges from 0.2% to 11% of their budgets.

Kiley expects an ecosystem of mixed business models to emerge: some journals will adopt models that avoid charging authors per-paper fees, such as bulk contracts with libraries.

First-of-its-kind solar tower brews jet fuel from water and CO2

Read the full story in Anthropocene Magazine.

Using sunlight, along with carbon dioxide and water vapor captured from air, a new solar tower can produce kerosene suitable for fueling airplanes. The system, details of which have been published in the journal Joule, is the first to be successfully demonstrated in the field at a large scale.

Doctors advocate for treating obesity as an environmental problem

Read the full story at Environmental Health News.

Doctors are beginning to incorporate obesogen science into their treatment of patients, but face barriers to making the practice widespread.

Alaska Airlines makes significant investment in sustainable aviation fuel

Read the full story at Environment + Energy Leader.

Alaska Airlines announced today it has finalized an agreement with biofuel company Gevo Inc., to purchase its most significant sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) offtake commitment to date – 185 million gallons of SAF over five years starting in 2026. This agreement was developed alongside others in the oneworld alliance.

USDA sees climate change included in farm, export programs

Read the full story at Food Business News.

The US Department of Agriculture will continue to push climate change as a policy issue in farm and export programs, Department officials said in comments at the 37th International Sweetener Symposium held Aug. 1 in Vail.

Samsung will let you fix your own phone, if you dare

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

Samsung said this week that customers who want to try their hands at fixing gadgets can now buy genuine smartphone and tablets parts from repair resource website iFixit, as well as from Samsung’s Experience stores across the country.

The push to make at least some of its gadgets more easily repairable comes amid a broader national conversation about the right to fix the products we buy, spurred mostly by heightened scrutiny from the Federal Trade Commission beginning last year. Since then, Apple launched a self-service repair program of its own, while Google partnered with iFixit to offer tools and genuine parts to would-be tinkerers.

But like some of those other self-service programs, Samsung’s approach comes with a few quirks.

Green and growth — can we have both?

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

Sustainability in the private sector is closely allied to green growth. But is the notion that growth can go green just another chapter in Greta Thunberg’s fairy tales of eternal economic growth? Or is it the manual we must follow to build a livable planet and functioning economy? 

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development positions green growth as “fostering economic growth, while ensuring that natural assets continue to provide the resources and services on which our well-being relies.” Public perceptions aside, science deals not with proof but with evidence. As such, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has been as unequivocal as it can be about the targets we have to hit to stay within the planetary boundaries that house our intertwined relationship with those “assets and services.”

Unfortunately, we’re crossing the thresholds within which humanity can continue to develop, thrive and survive considerably faster than we’re decoupling economic growth from ecological damage. It’s a hard case to make that we’ve delivered on matching green with growth.

My Economist subscription is no stand-in for an economics degree, but I’d like to take a quick look at green growth — what it’s built on, what it has, or has not, afforded us and whether we should shift the window of discourse to get a better view on where growth meets green.  

Finding your match in the carbon economy

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

The Department of Energy’s new Carbon Matchmaker tool is an important resource to jumpstart the burgeoning carbon economy. The interactive map acts as a coordination tool, helping carbon dioxide capturers, users, removers and storers find each other. The map helps visualize the current supply chain for carbon across a region and allows the companies to identify the most fruitful carbon management partnerships near them. 

Electronics are built with death dates. Let’s not keep them a secret.

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

Our analysis of 14 popular consumer devices found most could stop working in 3 to 4 years because of irreplaceable batteries. Here’s how we get the tech industry to design products that last longer — and do less damage to the environment.

Saving e-waste scraps

Read the full story from Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Momentum Technologies have piloted an industrial-scale process for recycling valuable materials in the millions of tons of e-waste generated annually in the United States.