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Environment and Urban Studies

Environment and Urban Studies

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The Struggle to Shape and Control the Electric Power Industry

For more than a century, the interplay between private, investor-owned electric utilities and government regulators has shaped the electric power industry in the United States. Provision of an essential service to largely dependent consumers invited government oversight and ever more sophisticated market intervention. The industry has sought to manage, co-opt, and profit from government regulation. In The Power Brokers, Jeremiah Lambert maps this complex interaction from the late nineteenth century to the present day.

Over the last fifty years, environmentalism has emerged as a clear counterforce to the environmental destruction caused by industrialization, colonialism, and globalization. Activists and policymakers have fought hard to make the earth a better place to live. But has the environmental movement actually brought about meaningful progress toward global sustainability? Signs of global “unsustainability” are everywhere, from decreasing biodiversity to scarcity of fresh water to steadily rising greenhouse gas emissions.

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and a New Model of Emissions Trading

In 2008, a group of states in the northeast United States launched an emissions trading program, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). With RGGI, these states—Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont—achieved what had been considered politically impossible: they forced polluters to pay the public for their emissions. The states accomplished this by conducting auctions of emissions “allowances”; by 2014, they had raised more than $2.2 billion in revenues.

Federal Roles and Responsibilities

Were water considered an industry, it would be one of the largest in the United States, surely the most capital-intensive, and the most closely regulated by Congress. Yet as Peter Rogers argues in this readable, pragmatic, and scientifically grounded assessment of national water issues, it would also be one of the most fragmented and least coherent areas of public policy. Rogers brings together all aspects of water (and water use) to look at policy formation from technical, economic, and political points of view.

A Key to Understanding Energy Sources and Uses

“There's no author whose books I look forward to more than Vaclav Smil.”
—Bill Gates

Endless Growth on a Finite Planet

The notion of ever-expanding economic growth has been promoted so relentlessly that “growth” is now entrenched as the natural objective of collective human effort. The public has been convinced that growth is the natural solution to virtually all social problems—poverty, debt, unemployment, and even the environmental degradation caused by the determined pursuit of growth. Meanwhile, warnings by scientists that we live on a finite planet that cannot sustain infinite economic expansion are ignored or even scorned.

Environmental Philosophy after the End of Nature

Environmentalism, in theory and practice, is concerned with protecting nature. But if we have now reached “the end of nature,” as Bill McKibben and other environmental thinkers have declared, what is there left to protect? In Thinking like a Mall, Steven Vogel argues that environmental thinking would be better off if it dropped the concept of “nature” altogether and spoke instead of the “environment”—that is, the world that actually surrounds us, which is always a built world, the only one that we inhabit.

Edited by Jon Strand

Government subsidies to energy are widespread and represent a heavy burden on public budgets in many countries. Both producers and consumers may be subsidized; the most common subsidies are for motor fuel consumption and electricity production and consumption. The subsidies to consumers often prove particularly harmful because they result in increased energy consumption, increased carbon emissions, and distortionary effects on consumer behavior.

Metropolitan Urbanism in the Twenty-First Century

In 2007 the French government announced the “Grand Paris” initiative. This ambitious project reimagined the Paris region as integrated, balanced, global, sustainable, and prosperous. Metropolitan solidarity would unite divided populations; a new transportation system, the Grand Paris Express, would connect the affluent city proper with the low-income suburbs; streamlined institutions would replace fragmented governance structures. Grand Paris is more than a redevelopment plan; it is a new paradigm for urbanism.

The Logic, Urgency, and Promise of Tackling Climate Change

The risks of climate change are potentially immense. The benefits of taking action are also clear: we can see that economic development, reduced emissions, and creative adaptation go hand in hand. A committed and strong low-carbon transition could trigger a new wave of economic and technological transformation and investment, a new era of global and sustainable prosperity. Why, then, are we waiting? In this book, Nicholas Stern explains why, notwithstanding the great attractions of a new path, it has been so difficult to tackle climate change effectively.

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