Frank Sesno

Frank Sesno is Director of the School of Media and Public Affairs at The George Washington University, an Emmy-award winning journalist, and host and creator of Planet Forward.

Using Sustainable Water to Plan for the Next Billion

Last week, Danica May Camacho of the Philippines became the world’s symbolic seven billionth person. The occasion drew mixed feelings in the policy world — what does a booming global population mean for climate risks? To cite one issue, leaders are worried about the declining supply of water in regions vital to economic growth. This isn’t merely a problem for the developing areas. Tuvalu is suffering its worst run of droughts in decades, and even Texas is finding its agricultural and electrical infrastructure strained by what the New York Times calls “catastrophic droughts.” Municipalities are looking for ways to improve the efficiency of their …

Gulf Oil Slick Makes Climate Negotiations Slippery, Says Utility Exec

Even before BP capped the oil spill, the Washington Post declared a loss for environmentalists. It’s been 3 months and we haven’t seen a cap on carbon, what gives? “Traditionally, American environmentalism wins its biggest victories after some important piece of American environment is poisoned, exterminated or set on fire. An oil spill and a burning river in 1969 led to new anti-pollution laws in the 1970s. The Exxon Valdez disaster helped create an Earth Day revival in 1990 and sparked a landmark clean-air law. “But this year, the worst oil spill in U.S. history — and, before that, the …

Going Under (Video)

Tuvalu, Mauritius, Kiribati, Bangladesh. Every nation sitting at sea level is going to lose in its own way if oceans rise, but these four will be especially affected…and none are major contributors to the sources behind the rise in sea level. The average carbon footprint of a person living in Bangladesh is about 1.1 tons a year (the average American footprint is 29 tons), and yet if sea levels were to rise by one meter, one fifth of the country would disappear, leaving about 30 million people homeless. The World Bank has described Bangladesh as the most “climate vulnerable [country] …

An Electrifying Vision: 20 Million Plug-in Hybrids in 5 Years (Video)

With the backdrop of devastated communities and ecosystems in the Gulf, President Obama took the opportunity to challenge the nation to move our clean energy transition forward–but what would that look like? Marc Spitzer of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) makes his case for a transformation of our vehicle fleet to plug-ins. He is confident that America has the technology to power 20 million plug-in vehicles in the next five years. But is it all that easy? Maybe, maybe not. Can our outdated electrical grid withstand the demand of that many vehicles? What would the real carbon reductions be? …

Is Wind Energy the Magic Bullet for our Energy Future? (Video)

Last year, the wind industry employed more workers than coal mining, according to a report released by the American Wind Energy Association. Wind energy jobs increased 70 percent to 85,000 in 2008, 4,000 more workers than are employed in coaling mining (based of Department of Energy figures). But is it the magic bullet that will save our rural economies? Nacho Corbella of UNC’s Powering the Nation answers this question in his video “Roping the Wind” about a small farming town in Texas where wind turbines and farm fields coexist to support the local economy. We took Corbella’s idea to four …

Off Shore or Off Oil? (Video)

Just days before the BP Deepwater oil spill, American Petroleum Institute’s Rayola Dougher described the risk, as she new it, of offshore drilling: “Even if you have a rig that breaks loose, even if you have a catastrophic event, the most that can spill is what’s in that pipe.”  What does a catastrophic event look like? Now we know. The debate around offshore drilling has been fundamentally changed by the disaster in the gulf.  A CNN/Opinon Research survey found that <a href=”http://enviroknow.com/2010/05/24/cnn-poll-support-for-offshore-drilling-down-17-since-august-2008/&#8221; target=”_hplink”>support for drilling dropped 17%</a> between August 2008 and May 2010.  But others say getting oil offshore is …

What a Difference a Spill Makes

There are so many questions the spill in the Gulf now raises. What will be the impact on offshore drilling — which has been one of the few growth sectors of US domestic oil production? What kind of political backlash will it produce? Already President Obama and the administration are in damage control mode. How can we reasonably assess and digest the risk that this kind of energy production brings with it? After all, there is risk in the mines as we’ve painfully seen. There is risk in the air when we fly. There is risk crossing the street. It’s …

Lisa Jackson and the “Headline People Don’t Want to Discuss”

Despite the gridlock on a climate bill, the EPA is already authorized to regulate carbon dioxide from cars.  And the Obama administration has raised mileage standards so that by 2016, the new car fleet in the US will have to average 35 mpg.   But without a climate bill, it will be a piecemeal approach.  And the EPA may be the main arm of the government regulating carbon sources, including power plants and businesses. With the climate bill in limbo, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson is playing enforcer and reconciler at the same time.  We got both at last week’s interview …

Watch Interview with EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson

Time to Act? What’s Next for Climate Policy With Special Guest: Lisa Jackson On April 20 I talked with Lisa Jackson, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency about about the upcoming climate legislation, innovation in carbon reductions and the upcoming priorities for the Obama Administration. Watch all clips with Lisa Jackson on Planet Forward>> EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson’s Live Interview (1 of 4) Part 2 Part 3

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