Contribution by: Emily Chan, 16′
There has always been controversy within the US over investing in renewable energy sources. For instance, a portion of Obama’s alternative energy investments has ended up declaring bankruptcy. Though only calculated to have a “failure rate of about 8%,” the other companies which did fail, such as Solyndra, created a politically unfavorable climate for future investments into renewable energy sources. The focus for reelection for politicians in the US has shifted attention away from renewable energy sources and has taken us to the point where other countries have surpassed the US (who was previously number 1) in the market for green energy. In recent green market headlines, China has finally reclaimed their spot as number 1 in green energy investments. A Yahoo finance article noted how “Green investments in China in 2012 rose 20% to $65 billion while they fell 37% in the U.S. to just under $36 billion.”
Divergent investment opportunities and specific government policies have caused this significant difference in investment amounts. China has enacted long term goals, which give incentive to investors since China will mostly likely follow through due to their increasing pollution problems. Meanwhile, the US has disjointed policies, without an umbrella federal policy for reducing emissions. Only a select amount of states have issued any explicit goals, leaving investors questioning the future for the US green market. As Phyllis Cuttino, director of the clean energy program at Pew explains: “When a country has a strong target and a consistent policy, investors will go invest.”
Perhaps what the US needs is a bipartisan renewable energy investment plan, one that puts the responsibility on not only the federal government but also state governments to invest in renewable energy. That way, each state can find the energy system most effective for their location. Google has an interesting method that puts the power of investment into a level even more localized than state governments- the consumer’s hands. Martin LeMonica in the MIT Technology Review explains how Google has planned for “utilities own renewable energy projects and customers have the option to purchase a portion of their energy production.” In that sense, the increased cost of the new type of energy production is placed directly on the buyer, and this increases the individual’s responsibilities in terms of responsible energy production.
We can try a top down or bottom up approach, both are not mutually exclusive. Yet, to enact these policies takes the right timing and funding. For now, now that the election season is over, we can finally focus on how we can invest for the future.
Of course, this mine comes with its own hazards; radon dust (uranium decays into radon) can cause serious lung problems, particularly if worker safety isn’t a top priority. While upon first glance, the Namib desert appears completely dead, its delicate ecosystem is actually home to a huge variety of endemic species, which the mine does threaten to some extent. And of course, there is no way to ensure that the uranium that comes from this mine will be used in safe nuclear power plants or that the waste resulting from these plants will be stored safely as it decays into the future, well past the lifetime of the human race.
Contribution by: Maya Wilcher, 16′
This past November, Peru placed a ten year ban on GMO foods throughout the country. The ban “prohibits the import, production and use of genetically modified foods. The law is aimed at safeguarding the country’s agricultural diversity and preventing cross-pollination with non-GMO crops. It will also help protect Peruvian exports of organic products.”
The decision was prompted by pressure from the Parque de la Papa in Cusco, a farming community of 6,000 members that represent six different communities. One of their primary fears over GMOs is the loss of biodiversity and the compromising affects on native species such as purple corn and Peruvian potatoes. Peru has one of the top ten biodiversities in the world, and famous Lima chef Pedro Schiaffino claims that, “in a country as diverse as ours, GMOs make no sense.”
The debate over GMOs is far from resolved, as advocates argue that they increase yields, allowing the world to feed a growing population and helping farmers adapt to climate change. Critics warn of the dangers to the environment and to human health, and the dependency GMOs create between farmers and the corporations that provide GMO seeds. Many countries have placed bans on the cultivation of GMO crops, while others place restrictions on their growth and labeling. The US, despite polls showing that more than 90% of Americans want GMOs to be labelled, refuses to require GMO labeling. Since 2010, agribusiness corporations have contributed about $300 million to influence Congress towards the massive introduction of GMO foods into society.
Only time will tell when it comes to GMOs, but for now, Peru has vowed to protect the rights of its citizens and farmers over the interests of corporate agriculture.
Today we had the opportunity to visit the ice cores lab at Thayer School of Engineering. Kaitlin Keegan, an IGERT and grad student at Thayer, was kind enough to show us around the building and let us into the lab to show what a firn looks like.
We learned that polar ice sheets are important in Earth’s climate system and tell us a lot about environmental conditions in the past, like temperature and amount of carbon in the atmosphere. We got to see a firn from Greenland, which a part of is being used to improve understanding of the environment and climate throughout history.
Special thanks to Alden Adolph and Kaitlin Keegan for making this awesome experience happen!
Dartmouth Council on Climate Change (DC3) is a group of undergraduate students based in the Dickey Center that focuses on exploring the scientific and policy aspects of climate change and their international implications. Our goal is to increase student involvement on campus, nationally and internationally in climate change research, action and legislation. We intend to achieve these goals through a variety of activities, namely by engaging students with experts in the field, sponsoring speakers knowledgeable about the issue and promoting student dialogue and debate about the role young people can play in addressing the problem. We also hope to involve students in potential projects and conferences that will enrich their experiences in an international setting.