Most Clicked SmartBrief on Sustainability Stories

1. Seawater desalination technology advances as need grows

SmartBrief on Sustainability | May 28, 2015

The technology behind the desalination of seawater is moving forward even as climate change and unpredictable rainfall add impetus to the efforts. Reverse osmosis is one possibility, with recent advances packing more thin-film composite polyamide membranes into the cartridges used to extract salt. Other methods focus on reducing the energy required and include seawater greenhouses. The Guardian (London) (05/27)

2. How the Sierra Club is reshaping the U.S. energy sector

SmartBrief on Sustainability | May 29, 2015

The Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign is arguably the most expensive and effective environmental effort in American history, writes Michael Grunwald. Bankrolled by Michael Bloomberg, the campaign's 200 lawyers and activists have won a string of important battles in coal-burning states. "They're sophisticated, they're very active, and they're better funded than we are," said Mike Duncan, head of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity. Politico (05/27)

3. Want to feed the planet? Try a seafood diet, experts say

SmartBrief on Sustainability | Jun 01, 2015

Switching to a seafood diet could be the most ethical and sustainable step for the world's socially conscious diners, short of full-blown vegetarianism. Responsibly farmed and wild-caught fish and shellfish have a much smaller carbon footprint than land-based protein sources, experts say. "A well-managed global ocean could provide the equivalent of a healthy seafood meal for a billion people every day forever," said Oceana CEO Andy Sharpless. Outside Magazine (05/2015)

4. Climate change could prove costly, economists warn

SmartBrief on Sustainability | May 27, 2015

The cost of climate change could reach $22 trillion, and that's enough to make most emissions-reduction strategies look like good investments, argue economists Gernot Wagner and Martin Weitzman in a new book. "It remains an open question as to whether the fear of that shock will be sufficiently powerful to spur the largest and most powerful institutions to action," writes Katie Fehrenbacher. Strategy+Business online (free registration) (05/26)

5. Bladeless technology tries to address problem of wind-turbine size

SmartBrief on Sustainability | May 28, 2015

A new type of wind-based energy generator may hold the key to problems of scale inhibiting further efficiency gains for conventional wind turbines. The technology developed by Spanish startup Vortex Bladeless involves capturing the energy in vorticity, the spinning motion of air, and its lightweight cylinder uses no gears or bearings. However, skeptics say the design will capture less energy and will be less able to convert much of that into electricity. MIT Technology Review online (05/27)

6. Obama administration puts EPA's water rule into place

SmartBrief on Sustainability | May 28, 2015

President Barack Obama's administration has put into place the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's and Army Corps of Engineers' Waters of the United States rule that is designed to protect small streams and tributaries across the country. The rule defines the scope of the Clean Water Act and could have a huge effect on development and agriculture. Some groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, say that they will take the issue to court, and Sen. David Vitter, R-La., calls the rule "yet another example of the EPA's collusion with far-left environmental groups to promote a policy that would hurt small businesses and substantially harm the American economy." Reuters (05/27) Politico (05/27) The Hill (05/26) The New York Times (tiered subscription model) (05/27)

7. Don't be afraid to link extreme weather to climate change

SmartBrief on Sustainability | Jun 02, 2015

Bill Nye, the "Science Guy," drew heat on Twitter last week after linking flooding in Texas and Oklahoma to climate change. Nye wasn't wrong to do so, although the connection between extreme weather and global warming is subtle and easy to overstate, writes Chris Mooney. "[W]e don't have to be afraid to talk about this relationship. We merely have to be scrupulously accurate in doing so, and let scientists lead the way," he argues. The Washington Post (tiered subscription model) (06/01)

8. Duke teams with Disney for Mickey Mouse-shaped solar farm

SmartBrief on Sustainability | May 29, 2015

Duke Energy is to build a 5-megawatt solar farm in the shape of Mickey Mouse in Orlando, Florida. Disney will buy power from the facility to help power Walt Disney World. Fortune (05/28)

9. Google's solar-powered plane under investigation after crash

SmartBrief on Sustainability | Jun 01, 2015

Google wants to deliver Wi-Fi to remote areas using a solar-powered pilotless plane capable of staying aloft for years at a time -- but a prototype of the Solara 50 drone crashed on a recent test flight, sparking an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board. Bloomberg (05/29)

10. Ben & Jerry's flavor promotes climate action

SmartBrief on Sustainability | May 28, 2015

Ben & Jerry's is calling for climate action with an ice-cream flavor dubbed Save Our Swirled. Each tub of the raspberry-fudge dessert is emblazoned with a link to a petition where consumers can urge world leaders to pass policies to reduce carbon emissions. Yahoo (05/27)

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