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After Pope Issues Call to Combat Climate Change, Rutgers Scientists Explain Why it Matters

Robert Kopp, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences and associate director of the Rutgers Energy Institute, a lead author of “Economic Risks of Climate Change: An American Prospectus" (forthcoming this summer from Columbia University Press). This report provided the technical analysis underlying the Risky Business Project organized by former New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, former U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, and philanthropist Tom Steyer.

We often think about climate change as an economic issue, and it is. But as the pope's encyclical highlights, climate change is also a profoundly ethical challenge. In part, it's a matter of equity. The benefits of fossil fuels have accrued primarily to the world's rich, while the risks have fallen disproportionately on the poor. Moreover, burning fossil fuels imposes an increasing "climate debt" on future generations, who have no direct voice today – an imposition that we shakily justify by assuming that our descendants will be better able to clean up our mess than we are able to avoid making it.

Many of the challenges of dealing with climate change arise from the "short-termism" that dominates our economic and political systems. By contrast, the 2,000-year-old Catholic Church has a longer term view. With its focus on both social justice and the long term, as well as a network of followers that spans all the countries of the world, the Church brings an important perspective to tackling climate change.

 

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Bill Nye to Rutgers Grads: Become the Next Great Generation

Dr. Bill Nye accepted an honorary doctorate degree during Rutgers University 2015 Commencement at High Point Solutions Stadium on May 17, 2015 in Piscataway, New Jersey.  Dr. Nye gave this commencement speech, highlighting our role to create solutions and be the Next Great Generation.  Of critical importance is the role of energy.

"Right now, it’s still too easy for any of us to dump our carbon waste in the world’s atmosphere. We are going to need thoughtful, reasonable, fair, and tough regulations. We’re going to find a means to enable poor people to advance in their societies in countries around the world. Otherwise, the imbalance of wealth will lead to conflict and inefficiency in energy production, which will lead to more carbon pollution and a no-way-out overheated globe."

"When you all were born, the Earth’s atmosphere comprised about 0.035% carbon dioxide. That number is often reckoned as 350 parts per million. Well today, as you’re being graduated, the world has over 400 parts per million. By the end of the year, we may reach 40! It’s not just the number… the rate of increase of people and pollution that’s killing us."

"In general, all this means we need to provide two things: Electricity and clean water to everyone on Earth. Sooner or later, we are going to have to come up with some amazing new ideas to create or develop more resources to accommodate more people. I want you to solve our legal problems as well as our technical challenges and, dare I say it — Change the World."

Dr. Nye ended with "So Class of 2015, here’s wishing you the joy of discovery. Keep reaching. Keep seeking. Keep using your abilities to bring out the best in those around you, and let them bring out the best in you. Become the Next Great Generation! You can and you will — dare I say it, Change the World!"

White House Releases Quadrennial Energy Review

The Administration released the initial installment of the first-ever Quadrennial Energy Review (QER), which examines how to modernize the Nation's energy infrastructure to promote economic competitiveness, energy security, and environmental responsibility and take full advantage of American innovation and the new sources of domestic energy supply that are transforming the Nation's energy marketplace. This report focuses on energy transmission, storage, and distribution (TS&D) infrastructure -- the networks of pipelines, wires, storage, waterways, railroads, and other facilities that form the backbone of our energy system. (Posted April 21, 2015)

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Dismukes Research Holds Great Promise for Advancing Sustainable Energy

Advancing Sustainable Energy Research for low-cost replacement for platinum leads to patent-pending technology

New research published by Rutgers University chemists has documented significant progress confronting one of the main challenges inhibiting widespread utilization of sustainable power: Creating a cost-effective process to store energy so it can be used later.

“We have developed a compound, Ni5P4 (nickel-5 phosphide-4), that has the potential to replace platinum in two types of electrochemical cells: electrolyzers that make hydrogen by splitting water through hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) powered by electrical energy, and fuel cells that make electricity from combining hydrogen and oxygen,” said Rutgers Chemistry Professor Charles Dismukes. “Platinum is the benchmark material for both devices as it has the best conversion efficiency. However, while platinum may be acceptable for making jewelry and low volume specialty applications, it is too expensive for large-scale applications such as energy storage and conversion. Our new HER catalyst, Ni5P4, has the strong potential to overcome this challenge.” Read More

Climate Intervention as a Business Opportunity

Paul Falkowski, Director of the Rutgers Energy Institute (REI), discusses climate intervention as a business opportunity in a collaboration with Rutgers Business School. Professor  Falkowski talks about two interventions as business opportunities for reducing the effects of carbon dioxide build-up in the atmosphere.