The Daily Beast on the second life of landfills Miranda Green observes a new trend among communities hoping to conceal unsightly landfills and garbage dumps: covering the sites with solar panels. "Many states and cities have long been turning trash into treasure by burning garbage to create heat and electricity, or by harvesting the methane gas that is released as junk decomposes," Green writes. "But in a new twist on this theme, several cities and municipalities are transforming capped landfills—the ultimate waste of space—into solar-power plants. ... Benefits come in the form of renewable electricity. Instead of letting landfills sit for years as the land settles and compacts, towns can place solar panels on the wide-open space and continue to make money from the energy collected."
Ars Technica on “climigration” John Timmer discusses a recent paper that takes note of a phenomenon called "climigration" — where communities and even entire towns threatened by climate change decide to uproot and move to a less volatile area. "As climate change and sea level rise are permanently altering the landscape, it may not make sense to rebuild in precisely the same location," he writes. "That reality has already arrived for many communities in northern Alaska, where the vanishing sea ice and permafrost have left entire towns at risk of being washed away. If the experience of those residents is anything to go by, we're woefully unprepared for the new reality."
The Washington Post on the left's reaction to Obama's energy deliberations "If you want to get a sense of how impatient some of President Obama’s most loyal supporters are getting when it comes to climate change," begins Juliet Eilperin, "consider this: They’re planning to conduct protests at meetings of the grassroots advocacy organization run by his former top campaign aides." Eilperin explains the dilemma facing activists trying to influence the President: "Obama may very well address environmentalists’ concerns this year by rejecting TransCanada’s application to build the Keystone across the U.S.-Canada border, and by regulating greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants. But the longer he takes to act, the more likely his primary organizing group will face an organized rebellion of its own."
Reuters on how fracking caused a battle over water Ernest Scheyder begins with a saying common in the parts of North Dakota affected by a recent oil boom: "In towns across North Dakota, the wellhead of the North American energy boom, the locals have taken to quoting the adage: 'Whiskey is for drinking, and water is for fighting.'" The maxim hints at what is in fact an ongoing battle to secure usable water in the area. "It's not that they lack water, like Texas and California," the author says. "They are swimming in it, and it is free for the taking. Yet as the state's Bakken shale fields have grown, so has the fight over who has the right to tap into the multimillion-dollar market to supply water to the energy sector."
The New Yorker on the Keystone XL pipeline's impact What does the decision about the Keystone XL pipeline boil down to? In the midst of a heavy lobbying campaign in Washington, D.C., Elizabeth Kolbert weighs the principle arguments driving the debate. First, the pro side: "The arguments in favor of Keystone run more or less like this: Americans use a lot of oil—more than eighteen million barrels per day. It has to come from somewhere, and Canada is a more reliable trading partner than, say, Iraq." And the con: " If we take the future at all seriously, which is to say as a time period that someone is going to have to live in, then we need to leave a big percentage of the planet’s coal and oil and natural gas in the ground."