How the Waste Industry Can Lead on Climate Change

Read the full story at Waste360.

Our inefficiencies in tackling global climate change stem partly from a problem of timing. As a species, we’re predisposed to buy now and pay later, which doesn’t lend itself to long-term problem solving. We measure the impacts of carbon dioxide over centuries while our politics run on four-year cycles.

But our luck may be changing for the better: New science shows our inclination toward short-term actions could actually be a hidden strength because not all greenhouse gas emissions are created equal—some are fast and furious in their impacts while others are slow but steady. Our industry is poised to be front and center in the new short-term climate revolution.

Don’t Believe the “Job Killer” Hype: Decades of Economic Research Show that Environmental Regulations are Good for the Economy

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When Donald Trump announced that he had picked billionaire investor Carl Icahn as a special adviser on regulation, he said that Icahn would be a “leader in helping American entrepreneurs shed job-killing regulations that stifle economic growth.” And there it is again. The perennial bogeyman. The mythological notion that regulations are bad for jobs and the economy has been repeatedly debunked, but it keeps coming back. This report reviews the evidence, and shows, once again, that there is no truth to the idea of “job-killing” regulations. In fact, decades of economic research demonstrate that the economic impact of environmental regulations has been overwhelmingly positive.

Environmental Groups Say California’s Climate Program Has Not Helped Them

Read the full story from NPR.

In the Wilmington neighborhood of Los Angeles, residential streets dead end at oil refineries. Diesel trucks crawl through, carrying containers from nearby ports. Longtime resident Magali Sanchez Hall says the pollution from all that has taken a toll, right on the street where she lives.

“The people that live here, the mother died of cancer,” she says, pointing to a modest one-story home. “The people that live here, three people died of cancer.”

The state’s own research finds people in Wilmington are about twice as likely to get cancer as the average person in greater Los Angeles. That’s mostly due to diesel fumes, but also the toxic chemicals that mix with the greenhouse gas emissions of refineries.

Sanchez Hall wipes her finger across the hood of a car and holds it up. “Black dust,” she says.

Given all this, you might think Sanchez Hall would be excited about California’s so-called cap-and-trade program, which aims to get polluting companies, like the refineries here, to reduce emissions. But she and others say the state’s signature climate change program is failing them.

How untreated water is making our kids sick: FSU researcher explores possible climate change link

Read the full story from Florida State University.

A Florida State University researcher has drawn a link between the impact of climate change and untreated drinking water on the rate of gastrointestinal illness in children.

Assistant Professor of Geography Chris Uejio has published a first-of-its-kind study, “Drinking-water treatment, climate change, and childhood gastrointestinal illness projections for northern Wisconsin (USA) communities drinking untreated groundwater,” in the Hydrogeology Journal. The study explores the benefits of additional drinking water treatment compared to the risks created by climate change. 

NSF funding opportunity: Energy for Sustainability

Proposal window: October 1, 2017 – October 20, 2017
For more information: https://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=505339

The Energy for Sustainability program is part of the Chemical Process Systems cluster, which includes also 1) Catalysis; 2) Process Separations; and 3) Process Systems, Reaction Engineering, and Molecular Thermodynamics.

The goal of the Energy for Sustainability program is to support fundamental engineering research that will enable innovative processes for the sustainable production of electricity and fuels, and for energy storage. Processes for sustainable energy production must be environmentally benign, reduce greenhouse gas production, and utilize renewable resources. Research projects that stress molecular level understanding of phenomena that directly impacts key barriers to improved system level performance (e.g. energy efficiency, product yield, process intensification) are encouraged. Proposed research should be inspired by the need for economic and impactful conversion processes. All proposals should include in the project description, how the proposed work, if successful, will improve process realization and economic feasibility and compare the proposed work against current state-of-the-art. Highly integrated multidisciplinary projects are encouraged.

Current topics of interest are the following:

Electrochemical Energy Systems:

Radically new battery systems or breakthroughs based on existing systems can move the U.S. more rapidly toward a more sustainable transportation future. The focus is on high-energy density and high-power density batteries suitable for transportation and renewable energy storage applications. Advanced systems such as lithium-air, sodium-ion, as well as lithium-ion electrochemical energy storage are appropriate. Work on commercially available systems such as lead-acid and nickel-metal hydride batteries will not be considered by this program.

Advanced fuel cell systems with advanced components for propulsion for transportation are considered. Novel systems with non-commercial components are appropriate; emphasis is still placed on fundamental understanding of the key barriers to improved system level performance. Flow batteries for energy storage applications are appropriate. Similarly emphasis should be placed on fundamental understanding of the reaction and transport phenomena that impacts system performance. Photocatalytic or photoelectrochemical processes for the splitting of water into H2 gas, or for the reduction of CO2 to liquid or gaseous fuels are appropriate. Emphasis should be placed on fundamental molecular level understanding of key barriers that impact system level performance.

Organic Photovoltaics:

Low-Cost, environmentally benign photovoltaic (PV) solar electricity projects are considered. The program emphasis is for fundamental research on innovative processes for the fabrication and theory-based characterization of future organic PV devices (OPVs). Devices of interest include polymer and small molecule organic photovoltaics or dye sensitized photovoltaics for electricity generation.

Referrals to other programs within NSF:

  • Proposals that focus on thermal management of energy storage devices and systems should be submitted to the Thermal Transport Processes Program (CBET 1406).
  • Proposals that focus on thermal catalytic or thermal noncatalytic biomass conversion and advanced biofuels from lignocellulosic biomass should be directed to the Process Systems, Reaction Engineering and Molecular Thermodynamics (PRM) (CBET 1403)
  • Proposals related to the combustion of biomass, gasification, or the production of synthesis gas (syngas) should be sent to Combustion and Fire Systems (CBET 1407).
  • Proposals that focus on the fundamentals of catalysis for biomass conversion should be submitted to Catalysis (CBET 1401).
  • Proposals that focus on the biological production of fuels or electricity (e.g. biocatalysis, metabolic engineering, synthetic biology in the context of bioenergy, biological fermentations) should be directed to the Cellular and Biochemical Engineering program (CBET 1491).
  • Proposals that focus on improving device and system performance of primarily inorganic and hybrid PV technologies may be considered in other ENG programs including the Division of Electrical, Communications, and Cyber Systems. PV materials proposals that focus on the material science may be considered in the Division of Materials Research of the Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences.
  • Proposals that focus on the generation of thermal energy by solar radiation may be considered by Thermal Transport Processes (CBET 1406).

The duration of unsolicited awards is typically one to three years.  The typical award size for the program is $100,000 per year. Collaborative proposals that include a strong multi-disciplinary component are typically $150,000 per year. Proposals requesting a substantially higher amount than this, without prior consultation with the Program Director, may be returned without review.

Contact:
Carol Read
National Science Foundation
cread@nsf.gov
Phone: (703) 292-2418

NSF funding opportunity: Environmental Sustainability

Proposal window: October 1, 2017 – October 20, 2017
For more information: https://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=505338

The Environmental Sustainability program is part of the Environmental Engineering and Sustainability cluster, which includes also 1) Environmental Engineering; and 2) Biological and Environmental Interactions of Nanoscale Materials.

The goal of the Environmental Sustainability program is to promote sustainable engineered systems that support human well-being and that are also compatible with sustaining natural (environmental) systems. These systems provide ecological services vital for human survival. Research efforts supported by the program typically consider long time horizons and may incorporate contributions from the social sciences and ethics. The program supports engineering research that seeks to balance society’s need to provide ecological protection and maintain stable economic conditions.

There are four principal general research areas that are supported:

  • Industrial Ecology: Topics of interest in Industrial Ecology include advancements in modeling such as life cycle assessment, materials flow analysis, input/output economic models, and novel metrics for measuring sustainable systems. Innovations in industrial ecology are encouraged.
  • Green Engineering: Research is encouraged to advance the sustainability of manufacturing processes, green buildings, and infrastructure. Many programs in the Engineering Directorate support research in environmentally benign manufacturing or chemical processes. The Environmental Sustainability program supports research that would affect more than one chemical or manufacturing process or that takes a systems or holistic approach to green engineering for infrastructure or green buildings. Improvements in distribution and collection systems that will advance smart growth strategies and ameliorate effects of growth are research areas that are supported by Environmental Sustainability. Innovations in management of storm water, recycling and reuse of drinking water, and other green engineering techniques to support sustainability may also be fruitful areas for research. NOTE: Water treatment proposals are to be submitted to the CBET Environmental Engineering program (1440), NOT the Environmental Sustainability program (7643).
  • Ecological Engineering: Topics should focus on the engineering aspects of restoring ecological function to natural systems. Engineering research in the enhancement of natural capital to foster sustainable development is encouraged.
  • Earth Systems Engineering: Earth systems engineering considers aspects of large scale engineering research that involve mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions, adaptation to climate change, and other global scale concerns.

All proposed research should be driven by engineering principles, and be presented explicitly in an environmental sustainability context. Proposals should include involvement in engineering research of at least one graduate student, as well as undergraduates. Incorporation of aspects of social, behavioral, and economic sciences is welcomed. Innovative proposals outside the scope of the four core areas mentioned above may be considered. However, prior to submission, it is recommended that the PI contact the Program Director to avoid the possibility of the proposal being returned without review. For proposals that call for research to be done outside of the United States, an explanation must be presented of the potential benefit of the research for the United States.

The duration of unsolicited awards is generally one to three years. The typical award size for the program is around $100,000 per year. Proposals requesting a substantially higher amount than this, without prior consultation with the Program Director, may be returned without review.

Contact:
Bruce Hamilton
National Science Foundation
(703) 292-7066
bhamilto@nsf.gov

In Vancouver, a Climate Program That’s All About the Neighbors

Read the full story at CityLab.

For all the work that goes into building climate action plans, cities often run up against one problem: Many well-meaning residents are stuck in the same old habits, unsure of how to make meaningful change.

In Vancouver, the solution is starting small. About two and a half years ago, some residents in the Riley Park neighborhood wanted to put the city’s Greenest City Action Plan to work in their community. With support from Evergreen and a grant from the city, they created the Green Bloc initiative and set an ambitious goal: to decrease the carbon footprint of participating households by 25 percent.