People, planet, and the path ahead

Toxic work culture at national parks?

In this edition: rising allegations of sexual harassment by National Park Service employees; the nuance on Trump's energy team; Canada's carbon-price move. 

What we're writing

National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis, shown here at budget-related testimony to Congress in 2013, heads an agency that has seen rising concerns about harassment in 2016.
Susan Walsh/AP/File | Caption

National Park Service wrestles with harassment

The National Park Service protects stunning natural treasures and helps visitors learn about US history – difficult chapters included. But this year, allegations of sexual harassment have put pressure on the NPS to focus on challenges within its own work culture, and to protect its own employees. // Amanda Paulson 

NOTE TO OUR READERS: We won't publish a newsletter next weekend, but look forward to being back in your in-box again on New Year's weekend. The Inhabit team wishes you happy and peaceful holidays!

In U-turn, EPA says fracking can be threat to water

A final EPA report – differing in tone from a draft version – documents instances of drinking water contamination, highlights the insufficiency of evidence on how frequently contamination exists, and offers some steps to reduce the risks. // Amanda Paulson

Trump energy team isn't a one-note band

Support for fossil fuels is an obvious and expected theme in the president-elect's energy team. But there's some nuance, too. That team includes an Energy nominee who knows wind power can work, a State Department nominee who has supported the Paris climate deal, and an Interior nominee who's not big on selling off federal lands.  // Zack Colman

'Trump digs coal.' But how much of it?

Trump pledged to revive jobs in the hard-hit coal industry, but market forces including cheap natural gas make that very tough to do. And, while some pro-coal steps can be taken, the Trump team draws key personnel more from oil and gas regions than from coal country. // Mark Trumbull

Canada puts a price on carbon: what the move means

Canada isn't the first to do this, but the move is a landmark one for its scale and regional flexibility – and because the country is a major fossil fuel producer. // Henry Gass
 

Bill Gates leads a $1 billion clean energy fund

A group of billionaires, including Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Richard Branson (Virgin), and Jack Ma (Alibaba), are targeting innovation in transport, farming, buildings, and electricity generation. "Too often we let what we think we know limit what is possible," Mr. Ma says. "When it comes to energy, people say you cannot make money, meet demand, and also benefit the environment. But we can, and we will."  // Lonnie Shekhtman

What we're reading

Vanishing: Is a sixth mass extinction under way?

Solutions are within reach, but scientists say it's a "very short window of opportunity...."​ // CNN

Breathe less? Ban cars? Cities tackle health concerns.

Berlin, for one, has taken notable steps to reduce air pollution, imposing rules on diesel trucks and installing pollution filters on buses. // The Guardian

Making the electric grid an agent of change

Researchers look at America's outdated grids and prices, and offer a toolkit designed to encourage energy-wise choices by utilities and consumers, including on distributed-energy resources. // MIT Energy Initiative

What's trending

Carbon going down, economy going up

Tough challenges lie ahead as nations try to reduce emissions without hobbling economic growth. So it's worth noting signs of progress. The chart above shows Sweden's path before and after a carbon tax. Carbon pricing is in the news with a move by Canada to embrace that approach (see story above by Inhabit's Henry Gass). 

DOE refuses to give climate-scientist names to Trump

"There are significant Civil Service protections in place, but a person could easily be marginalized or ostracized." // Todd Eberly, professor of political science at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, quoted in The Christian Science Monitor

How an app might help restore trust in Flint's water

"One of the driving factors with this crisis has been trust.... With these tools, you can actually see what's being done. We've increased transparency." // Mark Allison, Flint resident and a computer scientist at the University of Michigan, Flint.