Sustainability News: December 2016
At the United Nations’ COP22 climate conference last month, Secretary of State John Kerry noted that the Paris climate agreement provides “a framework that is built to last, and a degree of global accountability that has never before existed.” The Atkinson Center’s researchers are working toward durable solutions to the world’s sustainability problems, work that demands the expertise and commitment of Cornell, our nation, and all nations.
We hope you’ll take a moment to meet a few of our researchers. These faculty, postdocs, and students are among the faces of sustainability at Cornell. In 2017, we’ll welcome four new Atkinson postdoctoral fellows at work on cutting-edge research around the world, from climate-smart farming in the Caribbean, to emissions management for urban traffic, to sustainable pest control in East Africa.
We send our warm wishes for the holidays, wherever in the world you will be.
Atkinson Center Director
Faces of Sustainability
The Atkinson Center is building a better future through the vision, hard work, and achievements of our researchers. Our innovative, diverse faculty, investigators, postdocs, and students are the faces of sustainability at Cornell. Preview our growing Faces of Sustainability multimedia web feature!
Energy Smart Community
Based in Tompkins County, the Energy Smart Community initiative will empower local consumers to take direct action in their homes to reduce energy consumption, shrink their carbon footprint, and save money. The project, led by Todd Cowen, received a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation in August.
What Can Dead Clams Tell Us about Carbon Emissions?
Before dams transformed the Colorado River, the delta supported a thriving population of clams—all exhaling carbon dioxide. But despite trillions of dead clams, today’s Colorado River system has much higher net carbon emissions, explains Atkinson research fellow Jansen Smith, PhD '17.
Energy Development and Seismic Risk
Community members are learning that some energy development activities can induce earthquakes. In a recent survey, Katherine McComas and colleagues found that Americans consider induced earthquakes significantly less acceptable than naturally occurring ones. They are more willing to accept the risks when the public has a voice in decision making.
Microalgae for Green Fuel and Food
“We may have stumbled onto the next green revolution,” says bioenergy expert Chuck Greene. With Atkinson Center seed funding, his Cornell team has developed commercially viable biofuel from microalgae. A new paper in Oceanography describes how large-scale industrial cultivation of marine microalgae could simultaneously reduce fossil fuel use and increase food security.
Green Methanol Advances toward $20 Million Prize
AVF-funded researchers led by David Erickson are partnering with clean energy start-up Dimensional Energy to develop green methanol for commercialization. The team recently advanced to the semifinals of the $20 million NRG Cosia XPrize, a global competition to develop breakthrough technologies that convert CO2 into salable products.
Alumni Sightings at COP22
Cornell delegation members met with Dwight Bush Sr. ’79, U.S. ambassador to Morocco, and several other Cornell alumni.