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
—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!
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
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 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 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
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
Solutions are within reach, but scientists say it's a "very short window of opportunity...." // CNN
Berlin, for one, has taken notable steps to reduce air pollution, imposing rules on diesel trucks and installing pollution filters on buses. // The Guardian
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
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).
"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
"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.