December 19, 2014

12:00 PM | Top 10 Techs that Exploded in 2014
Check out ten technologies from 2014 that never let up the entire year.

December 18, 2014

9:48 PM | Computational clues into the structure of a promising energy conversion catalyst (J. Physical Chemistry)
By Tien Nguyen, Department of Chemistry Hydrogen fuel is a promising source of clean energy that can be produced by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen gas with the help of a catalyst, a material that can speed up the process. Although most known catalysts are inefficient, one called iron-doped nickel oxide is promising but […]
9:26 PM | UN Climate Negotiators Ink Deal in Lima
Negotiators have reached a deal at United Nations (UN) talks in Peru, setting the stage for a global climate pact in Paris in December 2015. The agreement, dubbed the Lima Call for Climate Action, for the first time in history commits every nation to reducing its rate of greenhouse gas emissions. “As a text, it’s not perfect…
5:54 PM | A Chat on New York’s Shale Gas Ban with Anti-Fracking Superhero Mark Ruffalo
A chat with anti-fracking campaigner and movie star Mark Ruffalo on on Gov. Cuomo's shale gas ban.

December 17, 2014

10:11 PM | With Unresolved Health Risks and Few Signs of an Economic Boon, Cuomo to Ban Gas Fracking
A look at the mix of economic, political and environmental factors that prompted Gov. Cuomo to bar fracking.
10:00 PM | New York State Bans Fracking
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he would ban hydraulic fracking in New York State, citing health concerns about the controversial oil and gas drilling technique.
5:57 PM | Paths to Decarbonization: A Live Twitter Q&A
@UNSDSN is hosting a live Twitter Q&A on Friday, Dec. 19, from 1-2 p.m. EST with Jim Williams, chief scientist at Energy and Environmental Economics Inc. and lead author on the U.S. Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project report. You can send in your questions before and during the live chat on Twitter or Facebook by using #USDDPP.
1:46 PM | Study: Reduced emissions from electric cars could prevent thousands of deaths
When compared with gasoline-powered cars, vehicles fueled with electricity from renewable sources could cut air pollution-related deaths by 70 percent, according to a new study, which noted that air pollution is the country’s greatest environmental health threat.
1:44 PM | Rocky Mountain Institute and Carbon War Room Join Forces
Today Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), brain-child of famed energy thinker Amory Lovins, and Carbon War Room (CWR), the five-year old climate change outfit of Sir Richard Branson, merged to create a... -- Read more on

December 16, 2014

2:00 PM | Is nuclear power key to biodiversity?
The discussion surrounding the future of our energy supply tends to focus on carbon emissions. This is logical and probably the right way to look at things, given that climate change caused by those carbon emissions is the backdrop for virtually every other environmental (and geopolitical, and health, and economic, and so on) issue we
12:46 AM | December 14, 2014: Survive The Horrors of WWII With the Hero of “Unbroken,” Chase Water Down the Colorado River and More
This week on National Geographic Weekend, join host Boyd Matson and his guests as they decide survival over summit glory in Myanmar, remain "Unbroken" with the hero of Angelina Jolie's newest film, spill the secrets of Southern cuisine, track Berlin's booming boar population, dodge los malditos on the rejuvenated Colorado River, teach kids to value the environment in school, paddle 2,000 miles to protect pristine wilderness, learn the forces that move Sarajevo's society, and tap into nature's […]

December 15, 2014

11:35 PM | In Climate Talks, Soft is the New Hard – and That’s a Good Thing
Why the soft approach in the Lima climate talks is the only approach.
11:15 PM | The new climate denialism: More carbon dioxide is a good thing
For years, the fossil-fuel industries have been telling us that global warming is a hoax based on junk science. But now these industries are floating a new argument: They’re admitting that human use of coal, oil and gas is causing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to rise — but they’re saying this is a good thing. Continue reading →
8:00 PM | Conservation Scientists Say Nuclear Energy Is Necessary For Biodiversity
Leading conservationists from around the world have called for environmental lobbyists to stop blocking nuclear energy in defiance of the science consensus. It's clean, it's green, and it's needed to mitigate climate change and protect biodiversity. In an open letter to environmentalists, over 60 scientists ask the environmental community to "weigh up the pros and cons of different energy sources using objective evidence and pragmatic trade-offs, rather than simply relying on idealistic […]
6:00 PM | Denmark Makes Land Grab for North Pole
Denmark makes a claim to contested, energy-rich territory around the North Pole by submitting data to the UN which it says demonstrates the area is an extension of its continental shelf.

December 14, 2014

5:47 PM | Sulfur hydride blows away previous critical temperature limits for conventional superconductivity
Superconductivity, the phenomenon in which a material conducts electrons without resistance, is the tantalizing theoretical mystery of condensed matter physics attracting some of the greatest minds in the field.  Now, some incredible news has come out of the Max Planck … Continue reading →

A. P. Drozdov, M. I. Eremets & I. A. Troyan (2014). Conventional superconductivity at 190 K at high pressures, arXiv, arXiv:


December 10, 2014

11:23 PM | New with the old: 40 percent solar cell efficiency using traditional photovoltaic materials
Writing a dissertation really cuts down on available blogging time, but I couldn’t pass up a quick post about this!  Headlines abound about a new solar cell breakthrough in efficiency found by a University of New South Wales research group … Continue reading →
6:41 PM | New Studies Close in on Methane Leaks and Bolster Calls for Strong E.P.A. Rules
A new study finds specific, addressable sources of much of the methane leakage associated with gas drilling.
2:31 PM | DNews: Solar Panel Tech Hits Huge Efficiency Milestone
While fossil fuel energy represents the most common class of power generation, solar power just made a big leap forward, hitting 46 percent efficiency. Trace runs down the details and sees how the breakthrough stacks up against other power systems.

December 09, 2014

1:06 PM | Moving Toward A Cheaper, Better Catalyst For Hydrogen Production
Hydrogen could be an important source of clean energy, and the cleanest way to produce hydrogen gas is to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. But the catalyst currently used to facilitate this water-splitting reaction is platinum. And that’s a problem.

December 08, 2014

11:40 PM | Solar cell efficiency is nearing 50%.
Solar cell efficiency is nearing 50%. Australian scientists have set a new record by converting more than 40% of sunlight that hits solar panels into electricity. These panels could eventually be mounted on roofs, which current have a 15-18% efficiency rate. And in Germany, scientists converted 46% of light into electricity in a lab, a new record for PVC efficiency. Read more...

December 05, 2014

10:30 PM | Old Laptop Batteries Get New Life Providing Energy To Poor
A group of scientists in India have developed a way to recycle discarded lithium-ion laptop batteries into easily charged sources of light and power. Researchers in…
9:45 PM | The Soft Path to a Climate Agreement, From Lima to Paris
As long ago as 1991, there were calls to pursue "soft," not binding, steps toward a global climate treaty. Talks are progressing now because this shift has occurred.
2:42 PM | Geology and the Autumn Statement
So George Osborne donned the ceremonial red briefcase on wednesday and took to the helm in the House of Commons (rather inconsiderately while I was in Brussels and couldn’t follow the news…) to deliver the Autumn Statement, one of the two statements that the HM Treasury makes each year to Parliament upon publication of economic forecasts (the other being the Budget which is normally announced in March-time). Statements in the run up to wednesday suggested that Science and […]

December 04, 2014

9:55 PM | Optimism at UN Climate Change Conference
At the 2014 United Nations Climate Change Conference twentieth Conference of the Parties, known as COP20, in Lima, Peru, delegates from more than 190 nations are hashing out details of an international agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions and curb permanent damage caused by global warming. Those details will set the stage for next December’s…
12:48 AM | The Effects of Cheap Oil: Russia’s Economy Has Shrunk to the Size of Korea’s or Spain’s
Monday was a very bad day for the already-struggling Russian economy. The rouble (Russia’s currency) suffered its largest single-day decline since 1998, losing 9% of its value in a matter of hours. The drop was a response to yet another fall in the price of oil, which now sits at a five-year low of $67.50/barrel. It’s been a long series of bad news for the Russian economy lately. Since Russia annexed Crimea during the Ukrainian uprising in March, the United States and

December 03, 2014

4:47 PM | Spring 2015 Undergraduate Research Assistant Opportunities
The Earth Institute will offer six research assistant opportunities for undergraduate students during the spring 2015 semester. Undergraduates from Columbia and Barnard will be able to serve as research assistants on research projects related to sustainable development and the environment with distinguished faculty and researchers at the cutting edge of this burgeoning field. While research assistant positions at Columbia are generally awarded to graduate students, this program instead aims […]
3:42 PM | Matching Funds Boost Contributions Made through Dec. 31
The Earth Institute will benefit this holiday season from matching gift funds from a dedicated Earth Institute donor, making your contribution all the more valuable. Thanks to the generosity of Betsee Parker, all contributions will be matched dollar for dollar up to $300,000 for contributions to the Earth Institute this holiday season. There’s no better time [...]

December 02, 2014

3:59 PM | Report from Fort McMurray, the Heart of Canada’s Oil Sands Development
EDMONTON – It is 7 a.m. and I am on bus with a group of sleepy students from the University of Alberta on our way up to Fort McMurray, the heart of oil sands extraction in Alberta, a western province of Canada. Soft conversations drift across the bus. It is still dark outside and many of the students…
3:56 AM | Australia should export more ideas and fewer greenhouse emissions
As a global energy superpower, Australia can and should play a significant role in ensuring that its exports contribute as few greenhouse emissions as possible. Exporting ideas, technologies and solutions can play an important part in achieving this outcome.
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