The Grid: Energy, Resources, Environment, Sustainability | Bloomberg

Good afternoon! Here are today's top reads:

  • This happened while everybody was putting on war paint for the Obama climate hearings (Bloomberg)
  • The biggest threat to the economy is from outer space (Bloomberg)
  • Waiting to slash CO2 emissions? It could cost you (Climate Central)
  • Mitch McConnell's musical attack on EPA (National Journal)
  • The carbon dividend (NY Times)
  • California Joins Mexico in Clean-Energy Pact (Bloomberg)
  • Green groups too white and too male compare to other sectors (Guardian)
  • Strong, clear bioplastic containers could be made from rice (Scientific American)
  • Three ways to grow more food without stressing the environment (Fast Company)
  • Air pollution and climate change could mean 50% more people going hungry by 2050 (Carbon Brief)

Visit The Grid for the latest about energy, natural resources and global business.

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California Joins Mexico in Clean-Energy Pact 

Bloomberg BNA — California and Mexico have signed a bilateral pact aimed at advancing cross-border investments in clean energy.

Signed July 29 by California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) and Mexico's Secretary of Energy Pedro Joaquin Coldwell during the governor's trade visit to Mexico City, the agreement calls for the two governments to work together in developing and deploying renewable energy, biofuels and other clean energy technologies.

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General Mills

Supporters and foes of President Obama’s climate change policy are airing their thoughts publicly this week during two-day hearings in each of four cities.

In Denver yesterday, an opponent called the White House’s proposed power-plant rules “a war on prosperity.” Some supporters by contrast wore “I (heart) Clean Air” T-shirts to the event.

What’s weird is this: Companies set climate goals informed by the same science and internationally agreed upon goals as the president’s, but nobody’s losing their breath attacking or defending them.

On Monday, General Mills added to its website a “Policy on Climate,” which lays out risks that businesses, governments and citizens expect -- crop and water stress, population growth, extreme weather -- and how the company will change its operations to face them. It endorsed international negotiators’ goal to keep global warming below two degrees Celsius (we’re up 0.85 degrees C since 1880). And it vowed to participate in policy discussions with government.

No one’s made “I (heart) Green Giant” shirts for a company that’s actually older than the State of Colorado.

No one’s bemoaning General Mills’s war on coal and shareholders. That’s because there isn’t one.

“Changes in climate not only affect global food security but also impact General Mills’ raw material supply which, in turn, affects… value to our shareholders,” the policy states, in its clunky bureaucratic prose.

Come to think of it, prose this clunky and bureaucratic must actually mean something. If corporate sustainability reports are off-putting because of their gloss and self-congratulatory hyperbole, the Policy on Climate should be credited for having no pictures adorning it and including statements so inscrutable they can only have been written by lawyers who are serious.

So let's puzzle through what they're saying: “Government policies that provide proportionate and clear guidance on mitigation and adaptation are essential for large scale progress.”

Does “guidance” mean only toothless, voluntary efforts? What does the implied phrase “proportionate guidance” mean?

The media office clarified: “Guidance is an umbrella term for government action that could include recommended voluntary efforts, regulation or taxation.”

“Proportionate guidance” means that policies shouldn’t punish one sector or group over others.

Will a vow of rigor and seriousness from one company solve the problem? No. Has the economic mainstream realized that this is a pretty big deal and they better get crackin'? Yes.

The new company policy goes on to list more than a dozen initiatives employees will take to reduce their climate pollution and adapt to the warming world. These include working with suppliers, who produce most of the emissions General Mills is ultimately responsible for; working with governments and civil society groups on water and land-use practices; and technology investment.

General Mills joins a handful of companies who are bringing renewed scientific rigor to their climate strategies. General Electric, Colgate and Brown-Forman earlier this year, for example, adopted a framework developed by WWF, CDP and McKinsey to help companies make absolute pollution cuts.

The maker of Cheerios and Wheaties has no position on either the White House's proposed climate rules or congressional opposition to them. But for General Mills, and other large companies waiting for some kind of "proportionate and clear guidance," the first real draft may well be on its way.

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The Biggest Threat to the Economy Is From Outer Space

Coronal Mass Ejection

Threats to the electric grid are coming from everywhere: saboteurs, weather and, as silly as it sounds, from outer space. The danger is significant and growing, and business risk managers are taking it seriously.

The latest warning comes from Paul Singer’s Elliott Management Corp., a $24.8 billion hedge-fund firm based in New York. Singer warned investors, in a letter obtained by Bloomberg News, of what he sees as the gravest threat: an electromagnetic pulse from the Sun that knocks out the grid for months or longer.

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EPA Should Address Emerging Risks From Fracking: GAO

Bloomberg BNA — The Environmental Protection Agency should review emerging risks related to safeguards for hydraulic fracturing wells used for oil and gas production, according to a report released July 28 by the Government Accountability Office.

Overall, safeguards in place at the wells—known as class II wells—are effective in preventing contamination of underground water sources and very little has occurred, EPA and state officials told the GAO.

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Good afternoon! Here are today's top reads:

  • Ten U.S. cities where flooding is much more common (Bloomberg)
  • White House report presses economic case for carbon rule (NY Times)
  • If a bike can make it here, it can make it anywhere (Fast Company)
  • Farmers say GMO corn no longer resistant to pests (Scientific American)
  • How trees can improve your quality of life (CityLab)
  • Why I want to save the leopard that killed my dog (Guardian)
  • What would Jesus do (about climate change)? (Boston Globe)
  • How your cereal causes climate change (National Journal)
  • Lightning at Venice Beach? California faces really weird — and deadly — weather (Daily Climate)

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Candy Crush Style Oilfield App Helps Engineers Feel Hip

When Joel Tarver noticed workers at Baker Hughes relaxing during breaks playing the hugely popular smartphone game Candy Crush, he figured he could put their play to work.

Tarver, senior manager for digital marketing at Baker Hughes Inc. (BHI), convinced his bosses to let him build an oilfield version of the game. That way workers could still enjoy their game break, yet also get a little on-the-job training. The games could also help spread the idea that the oil business has evolved into more of a high-technology industry that requires the kind of computer-savvy workers who might normally head off to Silicon Valley.

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Ten U.S. Cities Where Flooding Is Much More Common

Nuisance Flooding

Those who dismiss global warming projections might at least note that change has already become a nuisance.

Sea-level rise is making many U.S. cities more susceptible to regular flooding, potentially putting roads, rails, drains and tunnels at risk, according to a new report released today by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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Bloomberg BNA —Leaking pipelines were responsible for $192 million worth of lost natural gas in 2011, and a voluntary Environmental Protection Agency program to reduce methane leaks has only provided limited emissions reductions, the Inspector General said in a report.

The Inspector General's July 25 report, “Improvements Needed in EPA Efforts to Address Methane Emissions From Natural Gas Distribution Pipelines,” also found the emissions factors that the EPA uses to calculate methane emissions from the oil and natural gas system are based on a 1996 study that has a high level of uncertainty. The report recommends the EPA work with the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration as it considers regulating methane emissions from pipelines.

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Old MacDonald Had a Rooftop Farm: Today's Top Reads

Good afternoon! Here are today's top reads:

  • Moms’ marijuana-for-kids campaign seeks to quiet epilepsy (Bloomberg)
  • Orica fined more than $750,000 for pollution incidents (Guardian)
  • Heard on the street: E-I-E-I-O (NY Times)
  • Extreme weather hits poorest hardest (Scientific American)
  • Thanks to us, Antarctica has lead poisoning (CityLab)
  • Roadside land offers huge carbon-storage potential (Climate Central)
  • Cleaning up polluting mines with plants — plants that then turn into precious metals (Fast Company)
  • Two U.S. citizens get Ebola as Liberia crossings close (Bloomberg)
  • Seven charts tell the story of a changing energy landscape (GreenBiz)
  • Looks like we'll be blessed with a little more rain (Daily Climate)

Visit The Grid for the latest about energy, natural resources and global business.

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About The Grid

Nations and companies face rising competition for strategic resources — energy, food, water, materials — and the technologies that make best use of them. That's sustainability. It's about the 21st-century race for wealth, health and long-term security, across the global grid.

Analyses or commentary in this blog are the views of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bloomberg News.

Eric Roston, Editor

Tom Randall, Deputy Editor

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