People, planet, and the path ahead

A market-based answer on water supply

In this edition: A water-management idea that could help farms, cities, and ecosystems; potatoes on Mars; clean energy momentum, despite Trump.

What we're writing

A farm field in Bozeman, Mont., 2013. The outskirts of Bozeman are being developed by new business and home construction, raising concern among some farmers about depletion of water supplies. A system for water trading is under review as a possible part of the solution.
Ann Hermes/The Christian Science Monitor/File
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Caption

How water swaps help manage a precious resource

Water markets are in many ways in their infancy. But the idea is a big one. If managed right, it can potentially encourage water to flow where it's most useful, supporting farms, cities, and ecosystems. Farmers, the biggest water users, gain an incentive to conserve when they can make extra money by selling or leasing their surplus. // Zack Colman

The humble potato ... interplanetary rock star?

An experiment simulating conditions on Mars suggests the hearty tubers might thrive even there, if provided with air. The lesson for Earth: The versatile potato is also a prime candidate to help feed a warmer, more populous world. // Patrick Reilly

Clean energy has momentum, despite Trump

President Trump is expected to issue an executive order to dismantle an Obama administration Clean Power Plan. But experts say that alone won't dictate what states and businesses do. // Yu-Ning Aileen Chuang, Medill News Service (in collaboration with The Christian Science Monitor)

What we're reading

What Alaska can teach world about renewables

For people around the world who lack electricity, clean-energy microgrids may be the answer. // Ensia

Geology-inspired brickmaking may slash emissions

Bricks solidified with pressure instead of heat could save lots of energy, say these Swiss researchers. // Anthropocene

Everglades' superpower: absorbing carbon

A researcher tries to quantify the carbon-storing benefits of Florida Mangrove forests. // Yale Climate Connections

NASA studies a rarity: Growing Louisiana deltas

Airborne instruments help scientists explore how coastal marshes might cope with rising sea levels. // NASA

What's trending

Death Valley's rare wildflower 'super bloom'

"Very few people get to see it, and it is incredible." // Alan Van Valkenburg, park ranger, in video shared by Southern California Public Radio

US solar soared in 2016, but investors still leery

"Investor sentiment ... in a rising interest rate and falling oil price market obscured by tax policy uncertainty remains tepid." // Credit Suisse analyst Andrew Hughes, quoted by Reuters. Mr. Hughes is still bullish on some residential-solar stocks.

On solar, homeowners buy rather than lease

"All signs point to the continued rise of customer ownership. Leasing was a necessary temporary solution that sparked the original growth of residential solar, but the future is cash and loans." // a GTM Research report, quoted in Computerworld

Shell CEO urges his industry to embrace clean energy

"I do think trust has been eroded to the point that it is becoming a serious issue for our long-term future.... If we are not careful, broader public support for the sector will wane." // CEO Ben van Beurden, at a Houston conference, quoted by Digital Journal