The U.S. electricity sector is responsible for 31 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions — higher than transportation, at 27 percent, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. With that in mind, states and utilities are rethinking how to reduce greenhouse gases while meeting societal needs by integrating solar, wind and other renewable energy into the power grid.
What part does solar energy have to play in Minnesota’s energy future? Ellen Anderson, executive director of the Energy Transition Lab — supported by IonE, the University of Minnesota Office of the Vice President for Research and the Law School — addressed that big question recently on Minnesota Public Radio’s Climate Cast program. Anderson explained how Minnesota’s community solar laws are helping expand solar energy in the state and called for more permanent and consistent policies and investments to insure success in renewable markets.
Listen to the broadcast.
Photo by BlackRockSolar (Flickr/Creative Commons)
The Large Lakes Observatory at the University of Minnesota Duluth is the only institute in the country dedicated to the study of large lakes throughout the world.
IonE resident fellow Robert Sterner, LLO director and professor at the UMD Swenson College of Science and Engineering, talked with WTIP North Shore Community Radio about the importance of the Earth’s largest lakes, the mission of the LLO and an upcoming research project aimed at cataloging the ecosystem services large lakes provide.
Watch the lecture here.
IonE resident fellows are faculty with appointments throughout the University of Minnesota system who come together here to share ideas, inspiration and innovation across disciplinary boundaries and are among the shining stars of IonE’s signature approach to addressing global grand challenges.
Photo courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (Flickr/Creative Commons)
Editor’s note: IonE’s nearly 70 resident fellows — faculty with appointments throughout the University of Minnesota system who come together here to share ideas, inspiration and innovation across disciplinary boundaries — are among the shining stars of IonE’s signature approach to addressing global grand challenges. Over the course of the next year, this series will introduce our diverse resident fellows in their own words. Here we interview IonE resident fellow Mark Pedelty, professor in the College of Liberal Arts. Let the conversation begin!
What’s your current favorite project?
I am writing a book whose working title is Environmentalist Musicians: Cases from Cascadia for Indiana University Press’s Music, Nature, Place series. It is based on six case studies of musicians working with environmental movements, starting with Dana Lyons and ending with the Idle No More movement, performers who mobilize communities through music. They shared their ideas, techniques and experiences with me over the course of two years. Continue reading
A workshop on invasive species in the Galapagos Islands, the launch of a food festival at the University of Minnesota Duluth, and the implementation of a new course on impact ventures in rural Nicaragua are some of the projects receiving Institute on the Environment Mini Grants this spring. Eleven projects received grants of up to $3,000 and one received $5,000 for a total disbursement of $43,300.
Mini Grants are designed to encourage collaboration on environmental themes among faculty, staff and students across University of Minnesota disciplines, units and campuses. Along with funding, each recipient is provided space for meetings, workshops and conferences and some administrative support for a year. Continue reading
The times are a-changin’. In his prophetic 1963 lyrics, Bob Dylan sings that if our time on Earth is worth saving, we’d “better start swimmin’ or . . . sink like a stone.” Whether the times bring food scarcity or abundance, water risk or availability, deforestation or revitalized ecosystems, is up to us. In other words, if we want a sustainable future, we need to start swimming — developing solutions that will allow us to adapt and thrive.
To lead the way, the University of Minnesota recently released a strategic plan detailing the first of a series of “grand challenges” it aims to address over the next 10 years: cultivating a sustainable, healthy, secure food system; advancing industry while conserving the environment and addressing climate change; and building vibrant communities that enhance human potential and collective well-being in a diverse and changing world. Continue reading
In March, the Natural Capital Project, a partnership among the University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment, Stanford University’s Woods Institute of the Environment, The Nature Conservancy and the World Wildlife Fund that works to develop ecosystem services concepts, tools and science that influence decision making and lead to better outcomes for humans and nature, hosted a Natural Capital Symposium at Stanford. The three-day event provided a platform for a broad audience to learn new and existing tools, network among fellow researchers and practitioners, and share and discuss ongoing ecosystem services research and projects. Continue reading
In the final Frontiers of the semester, Gary Paoli, director of research and program development with Daemeter Consulting, joined Frontiers to talk about the role of sustainability commitments within a supply chain. With a specific focus on palm oil in Indonesia, this lively talk looked at the needs, challenges and successes of such programs in improving corporate responsibility. Here are five things we learned. Continue reading
Can we feed the world without destroying it? Good question — one that students in the University of Minnesota’s Grand Challenge Curriculum (GCC) 3001 course will tackle this fall.
The University and the Institute on the Environment are committed to finding solutions to the global grand challenges facing us now and in the years ahead. One of the grandest of all is how to build a more resilient food system that can provide food security for a growing population while preserving the environment we rely on. Continue reading
If you ever thought a young adult is too inexperienced to make a difference, you haven’t met the participants in the Institute on the Environment’s Acara impact entrepreneurship program.
Through Acara, students from colleges across the University of Minnesota build practical business skills and global experiences while simultaneously launching impactful entrepreneurial ventures aimed at addressing global grand challenges. They are motivated to change the world for the better, and many who participate in the program go on to do so during their careers. Continue reading
This article is reprinted with permission from the University of Minnesota.
IonE resident fellow Elizabeth Wilson has been selected to the inaugural class of Andrew Carnegie Fellows. Wilson, a leading researcher in energy and environmental policy and law, is one of 32 scholars chosen from more than 300 nominees. She will receive a $200,000 award to support her research examining the complex relationship between renewable and nuclear energy, climate change and economic development, and how policy drives the evolution of energy systems. Continue reading
The Office of the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost has announced that University of Minnesota Law School professor Alexandra B. Klass and College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences professor George E. Heimpel have been named Distinguished McKnight University Professor—two of just five U of M faculty members to receive the distinction this year. Klass and Heimpel are also U of M Institute on the Environment resident fellows. Continue reading
Frontiers was joined this week by John Petersen, director of the Environmental Studies program at Oberlin College in Ohio. Through an engaging talk on technology and the ways it can be used to provide a visual representation of human impact, Petersen discussed the how the Environmental Dashboard project has leveraged the concept of feedback and the potential it has to change human behavior. Here are seven things we learned: Continue reading
What better way to commemorate Earth Day than by learning about how our everyday actions affect the environment? This week’s Frontiers focused on common chemical pollutants and their impacts. IonE resident fellow and College of Science and Engineering professor Bill Arnold kicked off the talk, followed by Matt Simcik, associate professor in the School of Public Health and Ron Hadsall, professor in the College of Pharmacy. With conversations ranging from flaming couches to perspiration and peeing, here are 10 things we learned: Continue reading
Present-day oil and gas extraction practices drive the large-scale loss of ecosystem services across the North American Great Plains.
That’s the take-away from a new study published today in Science co-authored by a University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment researcher. Improved drilling technologies coupled with energy demand has resulted in an average of 50,000 new wells drilled per year in central North America — displacing an area of crop- and rangeland equivalent to three Yellowstone National Parks between 2000 and 2012. Continue reading
Editor’s note: IonE’s nearly 70 resident fellows — faculty with appointments throughout the University of Minnesota system who come together here to share ideas, inspiration and innovation across disciplinary boundaries — are among the shining stars of IonE’s signature approach to addressing global grand challenges. Over the course of the next year, this series will introduce our diverse resident fellows in their own words. Here we interview IonE resident fellow Tim Smith, associate professor of environmental sciences, policy and management, and bioproducts and biosystems engineering in the College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resource Sciences. Let the conversation begin!
What’s the most interesting thing you’re reading now?
I am currently reading Capital in the Twenty-First Century, by Thomas Piketty (along with just about everyone else . . .). I love the fact that, through his own admission, the book is as much a contribution to our understanding of economic history as illuminating key dynamics shaping wealth and inequality. Our understanding of big thorny problems and our ability to implement potential solutions are rarely isolated within individual fields of study or areas of practice. His interpretation of the societal, political and economic balancing act dictating the roles of income and capital across countries is fascinating. Continue reading
Does more atmospheric carbon mean bigger plants?
Not necessarily, according to a new study co-authored by a University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment researcher. Most climate scenarios, including those of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, assume that, since plants convert carbon dioxide to food for growth, more CO2 in the atmosphere will accelerate plant growth, thereby reducing the net amount of this greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. This study supports a growing body of knowledge that suggests instead that plants can’t keep absorbing more CO2 because there aren’t enough nutrients in the soil to sustain their growth. Continue reading
The April 15 Frontiers looked at ways we can manage disease threats at home and abroad. Thanks to a diverse panel including Patsy Stinchfield, director of infection prevention and control at the Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota; Cheryl Robertson, an associate professor in the School of Nursing, and John Deen, a professor of Veterinary Population Medicine, here are six things we learned:
Editor’s note: IonE’s nearly 70 resident fellows — faculty with appointments throughout the University of Minnesota system who come together here to share ideas, inspiration and innovation across disciplinary boundaries — are among the shining stars of IonE’s signature approach to addressing global grand challenges. Over the course of the next year, this series will introduce our diverse resident fellows in their own words. Here we interview IonE resident fellow Patrick Hamilton, program director of Global Change Initiatives at the Science Museum of Minnesota. Let the conversation begin!
Flickr: Photo by Matthew Anderson (Flickr/Creative Commons)