U.S. News & World Report on natural gas-powered cars The data is out there. Now Meg Handley reports on prospects for vehicles that use natural gas to go. "Thanks to the discovery of massive amounts of natural gas in shale formations across the country, prices for the fuel have plummeted to hover at about a 30 to 40 percent discount relative to diesel, an attractive prospect for companies like UPS, which rely heavily on ground transportation to provide their services," she writes, adding, "But ... it's a different story for average consumers ... a natural gas engine comes with an upgrade price of $8,000 to $10,000. Fueling stations are also very difficult to find. Fewer than 1,000 natural-gas fueling stations exist around the United States and many of them are closed to the public."
The New York Times on the future of nuclear energy in Japan What happens to a country's nuclear efforts after a disaster like the March 2011 meltdown at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant? Nassrine Azimi sees the country moving away from the sector altogether. "The government still maintains that Japan’s nuclear power plants, which were closed or had their operations suspended following the 2011 disaster, will be restarted, though only if new safety standards are met," he begins. "An all-out push for renewable energy seems hardly more complicated than restarting nuclear reactors ... Conservation measures have thus far worked quite well, and people are willing to do more. The shift away from nuclear energy will occur — with or without the politicians."
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Grist on the history of spills in the Gulf of Mexico Brentin Mock appraises the way in which oil producers conceal environmentally harmful activities — including oil spills. "What we don’t know — and probably never will — is how much oil has been spilled," Mock says. "Even now, three years after the Deepwater disaster, many spills go unreported. And now we’re learning that even when companies report spills, they sometimes try to deceive regulatory agencies and the public into thinking their spills caused no harm to Gulf waters. ... When the feds aren’t getting outsmarted with fake water samples, oversight for spills and accidents still amounts to whatever is self-reported by the companies themselves — as it was before the BP disaster."
Business Insider on how to make money off the fear of climate change "Investors have jumped on to the next big thing: rather than profit from preventing climate change, they'd profit from climate change per se — or rather, the fear of climate change," says Wolf Richter, discussing financial products that insure against "climate risk." He continues: "There are a few problemitas. One is the nature of climate change. It moves at snail’s pace for investors who have a quarter-to-quarter attention span. Many generations of tidal gauges in the San Francisco Bay, first installed in 1854, have recorded an 8-inch rise in the coastal sea level over the last century. ... Whatever the outcome, for investors, it’s a tough sell. They want to profit now, not after they’re dead. The emphasis has to be on milestones, next year, ongoing profits, or an exit down the line; and on big issues happening now, like Superstorm Sandy."
Nature on the threat of Beijing's air quality "Beijing's air pollution is sometimes so bad that citizens walk the streets wearing masks, and new arrivals immediately feel their throats rasping," begins Qiang Wang. So what to do about it? "Solutions must come from ordinary citizens, who can take responsibility for their environment and express it daily in choices such as riding bicycles or taking public transportation instead of driving. The voice of society is growing, and the government is starting to respond, albeit reluctantly, to the air-pollution crisis." Air, he says, is different than other kinds of environmental concerns: "Chinese citizens who want to drink clean water can buy a water purifier; those worried about poisoned milk can buy imported milk. But when the air is polluted, there is no option but to fight."