News Archive:

Environmental Science Journal for Kids Gets Impact Assessment from ERG’s Siegner and Dimitrova

ERG PhD student Alana Siegner and ERG alumna Tanya Dimitrova (MS ’14) conducted the assessment.

“Science Journal for Kids (SJK) is a US-based non-profit which produces an open-access online science outreach and teaching resource called Environmental Science Journal for Kids. SJK adapts recent environmental science research published in high-impact peer-reviewed journals making it accessible to the general audience, in particular K-12 students. SJK publishes on average 50 adapted science articles per year. A foundational assumption is that if young readers are exposed to original scientific research presented in accessible manner, they will develop a better understanding of the scientific method and process.”

Read the full study on the Environmental Science Journal for Kids website HERE.

(Image: Environmental Science Journal for Kids)

ERG Faculty Lara Kueppers Finds Critical Sierra Meadows Being Overtaken by Forest

Study: Critical Sierra Meadows Being Overtaken by Forest

Subalpine meadows are among the Sierra Nevada’s most enchantingly picturesque landscapes. These sparsely wooded, grassy expanses are home to plants and animals found nowhere else, and they play an important role in regulating the flow of water from the Sierra snowpack to the rest of the state.

But these ecosystems may soon disappear.

A UC Merced study authored by former doctoral student Kaitlin Lubetkin, Professor Leroy Westerling and Sierra Nevada Research Institute (SNRI) scientist Lara Kueppers [and now ERG faculty member] found that these meadows are being increasingly overrun by forest as changing conditions allow the offspring of nearby trees to take hold in meadow environments that previously favored shrubs and grasses over saplings. For the many species that depend on meadows, this change may force them to find new habitats.

Read the full story at UC Merced – University News HERE.

Northern States Might Profit as the Planet Warms, New Study by ERG Postdoc James Rising Finds

“If you live in the South, climate change could kill your economy – Northern states might actually profit as the planet warms.”

“The study takes six factors—temperature, rainfall, the effect of carbon dioxide on agriculture, mortality, crime, and labor and energy demand—and models them out to see how climate change will affect the American economy on the county level. They estimate that each 1.8 degree Fahrenheit increase in temperature will reduce the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 1.2 percent. But that cost won’t be borne equally. Areas in New England and the Pacific Northwest might actually experience a slight economic gain, while places in the American South are likely to experience significant economic damage. Climate impacts could diminish Union County’s income, for example, by 27 percent—as heat-related deaths and crime take a bite out of any increased agriculture.”

“‘The current suite of computer models that are used actually treat the entire United States as a single unit, as though all the impacts that are going to be received are going to be received, on average, the same to everyone,’ study author James Rising, an environmental modeler in the Energy and Resources Group at UC Berkeley, told PopSci.”

Read the full article in Popular Science HERE.

International Team, including ERG, publishes “Three years to safeguard our climate” in Nature

“Three years to safeguard our climate – Christiana Figueres and colleagues set out a six-point plan for turning the tide of the world’s carbon dioxide by 2020.”

“In the past three years, global emissions of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels have levelled after rising for decades. This is a sign that policies and investments in climate mitigation are starting to pay off. The United States, China and other nations are replacing coal with natural gas and boosting renewable energy sources. There is almost unanimous international agreement that the risks of abandoning the planet to climate change are too great to ignore.”

The Comment in Nature is signed by political leaders, scientists, and others, and includes signatures of ERG Professor Dan Kammen and ERG Alumna and Executive Director of the Environmental Defense Fund, Diane Regas (MS ’87).

Read full article HERE.

(Image: Reuben Wu for Nature)



Sustainable Design of Communities: Kammen and Fraker in Scientific American

Neighborhood efforts to reduce fossil fuel and water consumption, as well as greenhouse gas emissions, could go beyond serving as a model for sustainability by providing local construction jobs and revitalizing entire communities, energy professor Daniel Kammen writes in a commentary about the Oakland EcoBlock project he is co-leading with architecture and urban design professor Harrison Fraker. The multidisciplinary effort, which is already attracting global attention, will retrofit 30 to 40 old homes in a lower- to middle-income neighborhood. “In the past decade, the construction and retrofitting of individual homes to reduce energy and water use has grown explosively,” Professor Kammen says. “Yet applying green construction to multiple buildings at once may be an even better idea. Sharing resources and infrastructure could reduce waste, and retrofitting impoverished or moderate-income neighborhoods could also bring cost savings and modern technology to people who would normally lack such opportunities. Working at the neighborhood level does add complexity to planning, but these neighborhood efforts offer rewards that even green single-family homes cannot offer.”

Link to Full Story

Norgaard, ERG Professor Emeritus: Higher Education for a Post-Growth World

Higher Education for a Post-Growth World – ERG professor emeritus Richard Norgaard is quoted in this Chronicle of Higher Education article. “The economy … really is the world’s greatest faith-based organization,” says Norgaard in a story about higher education being in a position to help the nation “move beyond the environmentally destructive imperative of ever-continuing economic growth.” Link

Illustration: Ellen Weinstein for The Chronicle Review

ERG Professor Ray on Toilets and Gender Equality

Public Spaces, Private Acts: Toilets and Gender Equality
“Isha Ray’s contribution, the first of several essays in our ‘Just Environments’ series, examines gender equality through the lens of access to basic sanitation. Moving beyond what the United Nations and others have proposed, Ray argues that in-home toilets are inadequate because they fail to account for those without homes, or those who are not home all day. Rather, if we are to make sanitation truly accessible, we must explicitly design and construct infrastructure that meets the needs of the most marginalized—including the low-income woman whose dignity and mobility rests on the presence of clean, safe facilities outside of the home.”

Published online in Items: Insights from the Social Sciences. Read the full article here.

Kammen and Hausfather of ERG Respond to Withdrawal from Paris Agreement

“California Defiant as President Trump Withdraws from Paris Climate Accord” – ERG professor Dan Kammen is a featured guest on KQED Forum, in an episode that discusses what US withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement will mean for California.  Link

“California asume la voz de EE UU en la lucha contra el cambio climático” – Dan Kammen is featured in this El Pais article on California’s role in global climate change mitigation in the wake of the US’s pending withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement. Kammen believes that the change of leadership from Washington to California “is already happening.” CA is arguably the largest economy in the world with real possibilities of reaching 100% clean energy by 2025. The article is originally in Spanish but can be translated using Google Translate. Link

“Trump abandoning global climate pact? Decision ‘very soon’”- ERG graduate student Zeke Hausfather comments in this Washington Post article on Trump’s pending decision on the Paris climate accords, on which he has several options that include withdrawing completely. Another option, said Hausfather, would be for Trump to withdraw from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the treaty on which the Paris accord was based, which would take only a year. Link

“California governor’s green swing through China: It’s about jobs, too” – Dan Kammen is featured is this Long Beach Press-Telegram article on Governor Jerry Brown’s recent trip to China to partner on reducing emissions and developing clean-burning technology. “This is a moment,” said Kammen, a science envoy for the U.S. State Department. “California is not a nation but it’s behaving as one — and that leadership mantle benefits us well here.” Link

“Blue States’ Stand Against Trump on Climate May Bear Fruit” – Dan Kammen is featured in this California Magazine article on state dissent on the official US stance on climate change mitigation. Kammen noted, “What withdrawal does establish is that the U.S. is no longer a major player in climate change response and policy, and that will affect where the investments go.” Link


ERG graduate student Hausfather in LA Times

ERG graduate student Zeke Hausfather comments in this LA Times article on a newly published analysis that reconciles different climate change data sets and confirms dominant human influence in long-term warming. Hausfather, who was not involved in the paper, noted that the analysis offers a holistic explanation of all the research that has been chipping away at the “climate conundrum.”

Read the full article here.

Kammen Discusses March for Science

ERG Professor Daniel Kammen was featured in an article in the Chronicle about his hopes and expectations for the March for Science that took place this past Saturday.

“It pains me that we need to do this,” Kammen said, “but I’m hoping those conversations by a diverse set of researchers will be the really exciting outcome from this.”

Read the full article here.


Photo: UAW