NCSE Essays

NCSE Essays provide a deeper look into topics trending across the environmental and scientific communities. Essays are authored by members of the NCSE community, including deans, directors, fellows, and staff.

50th Anniversary of the Burning of the Cuyahoga: How Ohio Improved Two of its Most Impaired Watersheds

This June will be the 50th anniversary of the 1969 burning of the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, Ohio. It was a transformative event in American history that is associated with the birth of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Clean Water Act. The ecological movement was just gaining ground with the first Earth Day in April 1970. President Richard Nixon proposed the establishment of EPA on July 9, 1970, and it began operation on December 2, 1970, after Nixon signed the executive order.

Climate Science and the Art of the Possible

The human and economic costs of extreme weather events in just the last two years is staggering, including a profound loss of life. Globally, weather disasters cost the world more than $155 billion in 2018 [1]. The United States was hit particularly hard, including Hurricanes Michael and Florence and the catastrophic wildfires that tore through California. As catastrophic as 2018 was for extreme weather, 2017 was far worse, costing over $300 billion in the United States alone [2].

The Growing Burden of Waste and the Need to Rethink Infrastructure Informed by Science

Since 1950 the U.S. population has more than doubled. It has grown from an estimated 152 million people to perhaps as many as 329 million inhabitants today. Real per capita income increased four-fold in that same period, growing from about $10,600 per person in 1950 to nearly $44,000 today (measured in real 2012 dollars).

Perspectives on Resilience from NCSE Fall Interns

Defining Resilience in Local Energy Systems Jackson Carr, NCSE Fall 2018 Energy Intern Within an energy system, resilience broadly refers to the capacity and ability to maintain the provision of adequate energy service. This begins with the maintenance of the energy grid under severe, adverse conditions. With a consistent rise in power outages due to severe weather throughout the twenty-first century, ensuring the reliability of the grid under the worst of conditions remains at the heart of energy resilience. [1]

Understanding Resilience: The Role of Social Capital from Texas to the Indus River Basin (Part 2)

Global climate change has brought with it unprecedented and devastating natural disasters the world over. Major climate events such as hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and tsunamis do not discriminate between the developed and developing world. While levels of wealth, sturdiness of built infrastructure, and formal institutions may vary from richer to poorer countries, the essence of human communities rarely does.

Understanding Resilience: A Social Perspective (Part 1)

In recent years, the concept of sustainability has emerged as a powerful and imperative notion that is fast becoming front and center of several debates concerning economic growth, social development, and environmental challenges. With a rapidly changing climatic landscape coupled with major natural disasters around the world, the need for more sustainable development, infrastructure, and increased resilience is vital.