2018-2019 Academic Year

News and Highlights in December 2018

Robert Kopp RCI affiliate Robert Kopp explains the findings of the latest IPCC report on the need to achieve emissions reductions to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above 19th century temperatures.

The East Point lighthouse in Delaware Bay is at risk of being inundated by rising sea levels, reports the Washington Post. According to RCI affiliate Benjamin Horton, there has been 1.3 feet of sea level rise over the past 100 years in New Jersey. By 2050, another 1.4 feet of sea level rise is expected, threatening an historic lighthouse that is mere inches above sea level.

Legislation introduced in the New Jersey legislature by Senator Bob Smith, which aims to put the state on track to meet its greenhouse gas reduction targets, has been informed by work of the Rutgers Climate Institute. New Jersey is unlikely to meet its 2050 goal of reducing emissions by 80% below 2006 levels, according to a report issued by Rutgers Climate Institute in collaboration with co-authors from the Georgetown Climate Center and World Resources Institute. The legislation would require New Jersey to develop a comprehensive strategy to reduce short-lived climate pollutants such as black carbon and methane which have a more potent warming influence on climate change than carbon dioxide.

Solidia Technologies, of Piscataway, NJ based on technology established by Rutgers scientists, is hoping to reduce carbon emissions from the production of concrete by 70% through storage of CO2 into the cement component of concrete reports the NY Times. By collecting carbon dioxide from the flues of industrial plants and incorporating it into the cement, Solidia can sequester carbon dioxide before it gets a chance to enter the atmosphere. The potential is attractive to oil and gas companies like BP, who has invested $10 million into the company with the hopes that they can turn the CO2 they generate into ‘something material and productive.’

The Fourth National Climate Assessment  has been released, assessing a range of potential climate change-related impacts, with an aim to help decision makers better identify risks that could be avoided or reduced. RCI affiliate Robert Kopp was a contributor to Chapter 2: Our Changing Climate.  The report warns of climate change's severe negative impact on the US economy under a ‘business as usual’ emissions scenario, according to an article in the NY Times. Notably, the report concluded that climate change was already harming the US economy, citing more severe heat waves and wildfires in addition to torrential downpours in wet regions and increasing water scarcity in dry regions The Northeast Chapter mentions the work of the New Jersey Climate Adaptation Alliance in describing efforts to to build resilience to environmental challenges and adapt to a changing climate. Among many of its conclusions, it notes that the major negative impacts on critical infrastructure, urban economies and nationally significant historic sites are already occurring and will become more common in a changing climate, as well as mentions impacts to tourism, farming and forestry with less distinct seasons and milder winters, adaptive capacity of marine systems and coastal communities will influence ecological and socioeconomic outcomes as climate risks increase, and increased health-related impacts and costs due to more extreme weather, warmer temperatures, degradation of air and water quality and sea-level rise.

Rutgers scientists have made a technological breakthrough by developing a catalyst that can convert carbon dioxide, the main cause of global warming, into plastics, fabrics, resins, and other products, reports Rutgers Today. In a study published in the journal of Energy & Environmental Science, nickel and phosphorus, which are cheap and abundant, can be used as catalysts to convert carbon dioxide and water into a variety of carbon-based products. A Rutgers start-up company called RenewCO₂ has already earned a patent for the electrocatalysts, as the results of their research are planned for commercial use.

The environmental merits of online shopping versus brick and mortar stores are investigated in an article in NorthJersey.com, as the holiday shopping season moves into its peak. Both options can be ‘green’, but one’s own decisions can make the difference, such as trying on clothes to avoid return trips or using retailers that use greener packaging. According to Jill Lipoti, RCI affiliate, sustainability is about multiple factors, such as the amount of water used to grow cotton, raising sheep, manufacturing, and drying fabric.