Articles

412 Items

Earthrise over the Moon

NASA/Bill Anders

Journal Article - Nature Sustainability

Policy Design for the Anthropocene

    Authors:
  • Thomas Sterner
  • Edward B. Barbier
  • Ian Bateman
  • Inge van den Bijgaart
  • Anne-Sophie Crépin
  • Ottmar Edenhofer
  • Carolyn Fischer
  • Wolfgang Habla
  • John Hassler
  • Olof Johansson-Stenman
  • Andreas Lange
  • Stephen Polasky
  • Johan Rockström
  • Henrik G. Smith
  • Will Steffen
  • James E. Wilen
  • Francisco Alpízar
  • Christian Azar
  • Donna Carless
  • Carlos Chávez
  • Jessica Coria
  • Gustav Engström
  • Sverker C. Jagers
  • Gunnar Köhlin
  • Åsa Löfgren
  • Håkan Pleijel
  • Amanda Robinson
| 2019

The authors examine the complexities of designing policies that can keep Earth within the biophysical limits favorable to human life.

The U.S. Capitol Building in Washington is shrouded in fog early in the morning Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018 on Election Day in the U.S. (AP Photo/J. David Ake)

AP Photo/J. David Ake

Magazine Article - Politico Magazine

How A Divided Congress Could Unite Around Tech

| Dec. 06, 2018

Beyond tougher oversight hearings, somber observers expect so little from our newly divided Congress that we all ought to be on the lookout for nonpartisan opportunities.

There is one important area where members could defy partisan gridlock to help Washington better meet a critical challenge of 21st century governance: assessing the public impact of today’s disruptive technologies.

I have firsthand experience with a model that worked. It’s one that could work again for members and their staffs, who understandably struggle to grapple with the sheer complexity of today’s highly disruptive and socially consequential technologies.

Sunset on the Indian Ocean

NASA

Journal Article - Environmental Research Letters

Stratospheric Aerosol Injection Tactics and Costs in the First 15 Years of Deployment

| 2018

We review the capabilities and costs of various lofting methods intended to deliver sulfates into the lower stratosphere. We lay out a future solar geoengineering deployment scenario of halving the increase in anthropogenic radiative forcing beginning 15 years hence, by deploying material to altitudes as high as ~20 km. After surveying an exhaustive list of potential deployment techniques, we settle upon an aircraft-based delivery system. Unlike the one prior comprehensive study on the topic (McClellan et al 2012 Environ. Res. Lett. 7 034019), we conclude that no existing aircraft design—even with extensive modifications—can reasonably fulfill this mission. However, we also conclude that developing a new, purpose-built high-altitude tanker with substantial payload capabilities would neither be technologically difficult nor prohibitively expensive. We calculate early-year costs of ~$1500 ton−1 of material deployed, resulting in average costs of ~$2.25 billion yr−1 over the first 15 years of deployment. We further calculate the number of flights at ~4000 in year one, linearly increasing by ~4000 yr−1. We conclude by arguing that, while cheap, such an aircraft-based program would unlikely be a secret, given the need for thousands of flights annually by airliner-sized aircraft operating from an international array of bases.

Photo of Mark Zuckerberg preparing to resume testimony about user data on Facebook.

(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Magazine Article - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

America Needs to Align Technology with a Public Purpose

| Nov. 25, 2018

The arc of innovative progress has reached an inflection point, writes Ash Carter in The Atlantic. "Recent technological change that has brought immeasurable improvements to billions around the globe now threatens to overwhelm us. Making this disruption positive for all is the chief challenge of our time. We ourselves—not only market forces—should bend the arc of change toward human good. To do so, we must reinvigorate an ethos of public purpose that has become dangerously decoupled from many of today’s leading tech endeavors."

Solar panels at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory gather sunlight at the test facility

AP/Jack Dempsey

Journal Article - MRS Energy & Sustainability

Nurturing Transformative U.S. Energy Research: Two Guiding Principles

The authors raise for debate and discussion what in their opinion is a growing mis-control and mis-protection of U.S. energy research. They outline the origin of this mis-control and mis-protection, and propose two guiding principles to mitigate them and instead nurture research: (1) focus on people, not projects; and (2) culturally insulate research from development, but not science from technology.

newer design of a nuclear reactor

DOE/Advanced Reactor Technology

Journal Article - Nature Energy

A Tortoise Approach for US Nuclear Research and Development

| July 30, 2018

In Aesop's fable, a swift hare races with a deliberate tortoise. In the end, the tortoise wins by taking a slow and steady approach. The authors argue that, given the economic constraints on US deployment of nuclear power, a "tortoise strategy" is more prudent for US government nuclear R&D efforts.

Inspiration Point, Canada

Wikimedia CC/Allysa Felix

Journal Article - Economic Letters

Potentially Large Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity Tail Uncertainty

| July 2018

The authors reply to Cox et al. (2018), Nature 553 (7688), 319–322. Equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS), the link between concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and eventual global average temperatures, has been persistently and perhaps deeply uncertain. Its "likely" range has been approximately between 1.5 and 4.5 degrees Centigrade for almost 40 years (Wagner and Weitzman, 2015). Moreover, Roe and Baker (2007), Weitzman (2009), and others have argued that its right-hand tail may be long, "fat" even. Enter Cox et al. (2018), who use an "emergent constraint" approach to characterize the probability distribution of ECS as having a central or best estimate of 2.8℃ with a 66 percent confidence interval of 2.2–3.4℃.