Current Environmental Strategies and Why They Don’t Work

When I give presentations about my work, I usually start with this question from the Dutch-American sociologist and economist Saskia Sassen: “Are our global ecological conditions the results of urban density and agglomeration or are they the results of the specific types of urban systems that we have developed to handle transport, waste, disposal, building,...
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More Water for the Middle East, More Energy for Europe? A Comparative Look at the Water-Energy Nexus

Access to energy and freshwater are essential requirements for any society that wants to develop and prosper. These two factors depend on each other: energy is used to produce freshwater and water is needed to produce energy. This interdependency is better known as the ‘water-energy nexus’. For example, it takes 1,000–2,600 kilowatt hours to pump...
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Promoting Transparency in Climate Engineering Research

Research into technologies for manipulating the planetary environment in order to forestall the effects of climate change is rapidly proceeding from small laboratory and desktop studies to the field. Concurrent with these developments, there have been calls for the establishment of governance mechanisms to ensure that the risks and concerns that this research presents are...
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Fugitive Emissions in Shale Gas Production Negate Climate Benefits

It is often claimed that a higher ratio of natural gas to coal in our energy mix can mitigate current carbon dioxide emissions and serve as a ‘bridge’ to future renewable-based scenarios. This is because the carbon footprint of energy produced through the combustion of methane is about half that of energy produced from coal....
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Fuel from Green Power and CO2: The New Power-to-Liquid Plant in Dresden

The German Minister for Education and Research Professor Johanna Wanka spoke recently at the inauguration of a power-to-liquid plant in Dresden: “This method reduces CO2 emissions and thus makes us less dependent on crude oil. In this way, we can protect our climate, save resources, and at the same time promote a technology that promises...
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Clean Up Our Skies: On a New Commentary Piece in “Nature”

This December, the 20th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP) will be held in Lima, Peru. There climate change negotiations will focus on reducing emissions of carbon dioxide, the long-lived greenhouse gas primarily responsible for anthropogenic climate change. However, on the short-term, air pollutants that also have an...
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How Dirty are the Glaciers of Central Asia?

To answer that question, it makes sense to travel there and take samples yourself. Together with colleagues from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, I spent the summers of 2013 and 2014 taking snow samples from four different glaciers in Kyrgyzstan. The Abramov Glacier is found in the northern...
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