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Why agricultural biotech hasn’t reached its potential

David Zilberman, professor, agriculture and resource economics | July 19, 2016

Some of the key questions we raised as we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the ICABR consortium were “why haven’t GMO crops been accepted and adopted as Green Revolution crops or medical rDNA?” “What are the constraints to the adoption of GMO?” “What are the differences among nations?” Several speakers addressed these questions and here … Continue reading »

Canada’s got a good thing going: a tax on carbon

Meredith Fowlie, associate professor, agricultural and resource economics | March 28, 2016

It’s tax season and this makes many Americans pretty grumpy. According to a recent poll/parody, 27 percent of those surveyed indicate they would rather get an IRS tattoo than pay their taxes. Given the deep-seated ire that taxation can inspire in U.S. taxpayers, it’s not altogether surprising that calls for an economy-wide carbon tax do not find … Continue reading »

Creating an exit strategy for our use of natural gas

Steven Weissman, associate director, Center for Law, Energy and the Environment | March 21, 2016

Coal is the climate’s Public Enemy No. 1. The use of natural gas has helped to ensure that the coal problem has not become even worse. Without natural gas, we would use more coal for space heating and for many more industrial processes than is currently the practice. Without natural gas, our reliance on coal for … Continue reading »

No more Berning of fossil fuels

Maximilian Auffhammer, professor, international sustainable development | March 10, 2016

For the energy sector a lot is at stake with this next election. Of the GOP front runners, only Marco Rubio has an energy or climate plan on his website. A few choice nuggets are doing away with “Obama’s carbon mandates” (whatever that means), approving Keystone XL immediately, rewriting the offshore drilling plan and creating … Continue reading »

California’s tax code impedes its progress on climate change

Karen Chapple, Professor, City and Regional Planning | March 1, 2016

The California Legislature is renowned for its courage in adopting bold climate and clean-energy initiatives that influence environmental policy around the globe. But it has hesitated to reform the state’s tax code, costing the state an opportunity to better support its climate goals. Current tax policies encourage sprawl, increasing vehicle miles driven and threatening the … Continue reading »

The US House of Representatives really hates archaeology

Rosemary Joyce, professor of anthropology | February 13, 2016

Or maybe archaeology is just being used to distract attention from other research disliked even more by the Republican majority, which passed a bill adding burdens to the National Science Foundation while doing nothing to improve public understanding of the science done with federal support. According to Lamar Smith (a Republican Congress member representing the … Continue reading »

Gas is too cheap

Maximilian Auffhammer, professor, international sustainable development | February 4, 2016

Readers of this blog are likely aware that oil is really cheap right now. While in July 2008, the U.S. benchmark price peaked at just above $140 a barrel, its price dipped to below $27 in mid-January. The Internet is on fire telling us that a barrel of oil is now cheaper than the equivalent … Continue reading »

Clean technology: Big win in Supreme Court

Ethan Elkind, associate director, Climate Change and Business Program | January 26, 2016

The future of a clean electricity grid will require more decentralization based on clean technology, like solar and energy storage. Large industrial customers are investing in these technologies and also signing up to moderate their electricity demand in response to larger grid needs (i.e. reducing usage when electricity becomes expensive and dirty to produce). Smaller … Continue reading »

Feeling smug about your solar rooftop? Not so fast

Severin Borenstein, professor of business | January 21, 2016

If you installed solar panels on your roof and feel aglow with environmental virtue, you may be in for a rude awakening. There’s a good chance someone else has purchased your halo and is wearing it right now. In most states (including California) power generated by rooftop solar panels earns Renewable Energy Certificates, which quantify how … Continue reading »

On environmental policy, 2016 is the year of living dangerously

Dan Farber, professor of law | January 12, 2016

We are at the start of a year of danger for environmental policy. 2015 saw many accomplishments in environmental law: the Administration issued the “waters of the United States” and Clean Power Plan regulations, a Supreme Court ruling in favor of EPA’s cross-state air pollution rule, and the Paris Agreement on climate change. Much of this progress is … Continue reading »

Heat and happiness

Maximilian Auffhammer, professor, international sustainable development | January 8, 2016

One of the reasons we think we should take action about climate change is that the costs of doing something about the problem are lower than the stream of future damages if we fail to act. Figuring out what damages from climate change will be 100 or more years into the future is difficult. It … Continue reading »

Does the Paris agreement open the door to geoengineering?

Dan Farber, professor of law | December 14, 2015

The Paris establishes an aspiration goal of holding climate change to 1.5°C, with a firmer goal of holding the global temperature decrease “well below” 2°C. As a practical matter, the 1.5°C goal almost certainly would require geoengineering, such as injecting aerosols into the stratosphere or solar mirrors. Even getting well below 2°C is likely to … Continue reading »

We are entering a new era of migration – and not just for people

David Ackerly, professor, integrative biology | October 22, 2015

By Jessica Hellmann, University of Minnesota, and David Ackerly, UC Berkeley The world is watching as refugees flood into a Europe unprepared for the new arrivals. Conflict and social unrest due in part to climate stress – including induced food shortages and social conflict – have prompted migrants to search for new homes and new … Continue reading »

How to prevent gentrification and displacement in the fight against climate change

Miriam Zuk, director, Urban Displacement Project | September 29, 2015

Where you live makes a big difference in your access to public transit, and to opportunities. Right now, all over the state, we’re seeing displacement and gentrification; lower-income people are being pushed out of their neighborhoods and away from that access. Though this is particularly salient in the San Francisco Bay Area market, it can … Continue reading »

The road not taken: How the migrant crisis in Europe could have been ameliorated

Malcolm Potts, professor of population and family planning | August 15, 2015

I was visiting my family in Kent in southeast England. I rounded a bend and there was a queue of cars and trucks. Obviously an accident. I bumped over the median, read my map, and found another route. Another vehicle queue as far as I could see. Another accident? No. This was a tiny part of … Continue reading »

From Carter to Obama: A new context for a message on energy, economy and environment

Robert Chester, lecturer, history department | August 14, 2015

More than 35 years ago, President Jimmy Carter gave a courageous yet unpopular speech outlining the environmental and economic forces threatening American affluence. He acknowledged his conversation with the American people as “an unpleasant talk  . . . about an . . . unprecedented problem in our history.” He went on to tell Americans what … Continue reading »

What the market is telling us about coal

Dan Farber, professor of law | August 13, 2015

The market’s message is simple: coal’s day is ending. Three major coal companies (Alpha Natural Resources, Walter Energy, and Patriot Coal) have gone into bankruptcy. The two largest publicly traded  companies (Peabody and Arch) are now trading for a dollar a share, down from $16 and $33 within the past year. They, too, may well … Continue reading »