School of Natural Resources and Environment

Environmental Policy & Planning News & Highlights

Today, I visited the World Expo in Milan, where the theme is Feeding the World - Energy for Life.  This was the first time that the World Expo was explicitly focused around finding solutions to the world food crisis.  We live in a world where 800-900 million people are chronically undernourished, and 2.8 million people die each year from obesity-related causes.  There is no denying we live in an era of food crisis.  Each nation was asked to prevent its vision for contributing to solving world hunger.  The pavilions were as varied and eye catching as the countries that occupied them.

The motto of Slow Food - "Good, Clean, Fair" - is one of food justice; justice for farmers, eaters, and the Earth. Advocates acknowledge that this path is not a cheap or economical one, however, they openly reject economics as a measure of desirability. Quality of life, it is argued, is a more complete metric for the effect that policy has on human well-being. There is no better time or place to start good quality habits than in schools, where the future of every nation is shaped.

This is the message of Carlo Petrini, the portly, ever-smiling founder of Slow Food International. Value, he reminds the 2,500+ gathered. attendees, is not price. Value honors the people who grew the food, the Earth that fostered it, and the environment that makes each item unique. I heard similar stories everywhere yesterday. Young farmers, ranchers, fishermen, activists, and community organizers all say that returning to the land or the ocean to produce food has brought unspeakable value to, not only their lives, but their communities and environment as well.

On Friday, March 13, Governor Rick Snyder addressed Michigan citizens and legislature about the importance of reliable, affordable, environmentally protective energy sources, including hydraulic fracturing, or 'fracking'. Governor Snyder specifically praised the importance of the Graham Sustainability Institute's draft report on high-volume hydraulic fracturing, which includes peer-reviewed technical reports, and a detailed draft analysis of policy options for the future of hydraulic fracturing in Michigan. 

Last Thursday, the second annual University of Michigan Innovation In Action competition concluded, with six stunning student pitches for startups that could make a significant dent on the health and well-being of communities. It was a great example of what can be achieved at the intersection of public health, entrepreneurship, and the creativity and energy that students can bring to real-world problems.

Michigan’s Renewable Portfolio Standard

The University of Michigan recently released a study analyzing the real impacts of raising Michigan’s Renewable Portfolio Standard - the policy mandating the percentage of the state’s electric generation capacity that must be provided by renewable power. The study, sponsored by the University of Michigan Energy Institute, analyzes several scenarios, detailing the changes to different power generation sources such as coal and natural gas, the environmental benefits to the state, and the associated costs under each.

Pearl Zhu Zeng, Behavior, Education, and Communication


1. History, Recent Conference of Parties (COP) and Main Issues, COP 20 Outcomes

2. A day at the COP

3. General Impression of the Global Negotiation + Endless Waiting on the “Last” Day, Dec 12

4. Other Events (The Climate and Health Summit, and the World Climate Summit)

5. Voices of Youth

6. My Appreciations