In 2015, the leaders of 191 countries met in Paris and hammered out a deal to combat climate change. We wonder: How much money would countries worldwide collectively need to invest by 2030 to meet the minimum clean energy targets of the Paris Agreement?
A. One year’s worth of global GDP
B. One year’s worth of U.S. GDP
C. One year’s worth of the GDP of China and India
D. Global annual defense spending
Oil prices are down significantly, while solar energy is on the march and gleaming new wind turbines are spinning in greater numbers than ever. Has the tide finally shifted toward clean, renewable energy for the coming decades? We wonder: What share of global energy demand will still be served by fossil fuels in 2040?
In cities with hotter climates, air conditioning units in every window are a sign of a rising middle class. But mounting temperatures have also made air conditioning in developing countries a necessity for urban survival. We wonder: Which of the following statements about the global rise of air conditioning are true?
A. India will soon see more air conditioners installed than any other country.
B. AC units add significant electricity demands.
C. Air conditioners can be made at least 25% more efficient.
D. Air conditioning coolants need to be replaced to slow global warming.
Producing more power is key to sustaining India’s economic growth and reducing poverty. At the same time, power generation also has direct effects on health and the environment. We wonder: Which of the following statements about India’s power needs are true?
A. India has more people without access to electricity than any other country.
B. India is the world’s third-largest consumer of coal.
C. India is the world’s third-largest source of carbon emissions.
D. India is only the 110th-largest source of carbon emissions per capita.
First invented in the 1860s and developed for industry in the 1920s, plastic production exploded in the 1940s, when it became one of the fastest-growing global industries. We wonder: Which of the following statements is true about the global plastics industry today?
A. Annual global plastics production amounts to nearly 300 million tons.
B. The average American or European consumes about 100 kilograms of plastic a year.
C. China takes in more than half of worldwide waste plastic each year.
D. Millions of tons of plastics end up in landfills and oceans each year.
China is home to one-sixth of the world’s population. Despite its recent wave of industrialization, large regions of the country are still dominated by agriculture. As a result, China’s water needs are tremendous. We wonder: What percentage of the world’s renewable freshwater supply does China possess?
One of the best ways to measure improvements in the global environment is to look at emissions intensity — i.e., the level of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in relation to the size of a country’s economy. We wonder: Which of the following countries is closest to the level of the United States?
Many consumers flip on a light switch, boot up a computer or even plug in an electric car without realizing one key fact: Much of the presumably clean electricity they are using is generated by coal or other fossil fuels. We wonder: Which of these countries performs best when it comes to producing its electricity from renewable sources?
Four environmentally conscious travelers depart from London to fly to Delhi, Dubai, New York and Rio de Janeiro, respectively. All are traveling on a Boeing 747-400 from Heathrow Airport and are prepared to pay a small fee to offset their share of the carbon generated by the flight. Who will pay the most?
The flooding and the trail of destruction left behind by Hurricane Sandy on the East Coast of the United States have brought a renewed focus on the economic damages caused by natural disasters. We wonder: What year has brought the highest economic toll so far?