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Learning from the Era of American Environmental Leadership

This past week, I had the honor of attending a new class at Columbia taught by Tom Jorling and Leon Billings on the origins of American environmental law. Jorling and Billings have accomplished a great deal in their long careers. Billings worked for...

Posted September 10, 2014    

Plastic Bags, Nuclear Waste and a Toxic Planet

Last week we saw California move a step closer to banning one-time-use plastic bags and the Federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission legalize above-ground storage of nuclear waste. What's the connection? Every once in a while I think it is useful to...

Posted September 3, 2014    

Solar Could Grow Faster if We Had a Functioning Federal Government

It is obvious that the United States federal government is struggling to perform basic governance functions and, as I wrote earlier this summer, it is incapable of leading the transition to a renewable economy. Nevertheless, one of the key elements...

Posted August 27, 2014    

Will de Blasio and Cuomo Make Sustainability a Higher Priority?

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has allowed the Mayor's Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability to lose nearly all of its talented staff, while New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is using capital funds meant to finance environmental...

Posted August 12, 2014    

Our Dysfunctional National Government Is Incapable of Building a Sustainable Economy

My Columbia University colleagues Bill Eimicke and Alison Miller recently joined me in authoring a new book entitled Sustainability Policy: Hastening the Transition to A Cleaner Economy. If all goes well, Jossey-Bass publishers will release the book...

Posted August 5, 2014    

Sustainability Science Requires the Freedom to Observe and Understand the Planet

Co-authored by Arthur Lerner-Lam, Alison Miller and Sean Solomon The scientific heart of Columbia University's Earth Institute is the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, which has been engaged in observing and analyzing earth systems for over 65...

Posted July 14, 2014    

Competent Leaders Need to Understand the Science of Sustainability

In speaking about climate policy last week, President Obama chided senators who are trying to dodge the climate issue by claiming they were not scientists. The president went on to claim that he was not a scientist either, but that "I've got this...

Posted July 8, 2014    

The Culture of Environmentalism and Sustainability

People like to breathe. Rich people, poor people, Tea Party Republicans, progressive Democrats, old people, young people, Americans, people from other countries--all are united in the biological necessities of being human. Water, food and air are...

Posted July 1, 2014    

Individual Material Consumption, Guilt, and the Crisis in Global Sustainability

A key question as we make the long transition to a sustainable and renewable economy and culture is the role of individual responsibility and personal lifestyle. In the end, our individual behavior as "consumers" adds up to the crisis of...

Posted June 17, 2014    

Two Cheers for President Obama's Proposed Climate Regulation

Yesterday, under section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act, President Obama proposed regulations requiring significant reductions in greenhouse gases produced by each American state. Using 2005 as a baseline, states, on average, will be required to...

Posted June 3, 2014    

Understanding Environmental Policy

If we are to learn how to develop a renewable and sustainable economy, we also need to learn how to deal with the mistakes we've made while moving from an economy that tolerates environmental damage to one that does not. In addition to the positive...

Posted May 28, 2014    

Applying Brainpower to Address the Global Sustainability Crisis

The world faces an unprecedented global sustainability crisis. It is caused by climate change, the stress on the planet's ecosystems by developed economies, and the drive for economic growth in the developing world. While some choose to believe that...

Posted May 20, 2014