July 27 – 31, 2015

U.S. companies pledge financial, political support for U.N. climate deal

Thirteen big name American companies on Monday announced $140 billion in low-carbon investments to lend support to a global climate change deal in December. Companies including GM, Bank of America, Microsoft and Coca Cola joined U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at the White House to launch the American Business Act on Climate Pledge. Under the pledge, the companies announced measures they would take internally to reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions and deploy more clean energy.


Europe to America: Your love of air conditioning is stupid

The weather in Washington, D.C., and Berlin, Germany, has been pretty similar recently. There is one striking difference between the two capitals, though: Whereas many Americans would probably never consider living or working in buildings without air conditioning, many Germans think that life without climate control is far superior. While air conditioning does produce advantages such as work efficiency, it’s also responsible for a number of indirect but nevertheless dangerous repercussions.


Coal not good for reducing poverty, Oxfam report says

Renewable energy is an easier, quicker and cheaper method than burning coal to help lift people out of poverty through access to power, a new report says. In an analysis intended to challenge the mining industry’s “spin” about coal and poverty, Oxfam Australia says coal is ill-suited as a power source for most people living without electricity. It says the cost of extending electricity grids to those rural areas offsets any economic incentive of coal power, making renewable energy a cheaper and cleaner option.


The pro-GMO argument for putting a label on it

The battle over mandatory GM (genetically modified) food labelling in the U.S. has heated up in recent years, with significant industry expenditures and mobilization having successfully defeated any mandatory labelling efforts thus far. Despite these successes, they have yet to win over a skeptical public to the perceived benefits of GM food. Some pro-GM figures have gone so far as to denounce the industry strategy as entirely counterproductive, and are calling for a full-throated embrace of labelling laws.


Trophy hunting and wildlife conservation

The loss of Cecil the lion, killed on a private game reserve bordering a national park in Zimbabwe this week, has sparked a series of spirited discussions about the value of trophy hunting. Conservation experts Niki Rust and Diogo Veríssimo waded into the issue this week with an article outlining why killing lions like Cecil may actually be good for conservation. Is the goal to preserve populations and species? Or, is it more important to improve the welfare of individual animals?


Are countries legally required to protect their citizens from climate change?

On June 24, 2015, a court in The Hague ordered the Dutch government to act faster in its duty to protect its citizens against the effects of climate change. This marks the first time the issue has been legally declared a state obligation, regardless of arguments that the solution to the global climate problem does not depend on one country’s efforts alone. The decision was based on various branches of law, including, most importantly, human rights. Is the Dutch court ruling a landmark for the entire globe?

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