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MIT Environment and Sustainability Weekly Roundup, August 1, 2021

Featured This Week

Council on the Uncertain Human Future

Over the past year, ESI has had the privilege of participating in a new institution at MIT: a Council on the Uncertain Human Future.

The CUHF is a forum for colleagues from diverse parts of MIT to engage in deep reflection on the climate crisis, what it means for our lives and our world, and how it should inform our own work and commitments. This community is an extension of the first CUHF, formed at Clark University in 2014, and is one of over a dozen CUHF circles at universities and other institutions around the world.

"Many of my colleagues at MIT are doing profound work to respond to the existential threat of climate change," says ESI Director John Fernández, who was closely involved in bringing the first CUHF sessions to faculty at MIT in summer 2020. "But we too rarely share our understanding, our fears, and our hopes with each other in conversations that aren't tied to our next grants or publications. I've heard from many participants how meaningful this space for open conversation has been, on a personal level and for our ability to see the big picture as MIT embarks on new commitments to address this crisis."

Since those first sessions, ESI has continued to convene the CUHF; the most recent sessions, for a group of MIT staff members, concluded this July. To learn more, or to join a waitlist for future Councils, visit the CUHF webpage on the MIT Climate Portal.

What We're Reading

Coastal landfills are no match for rising seas: As sea levels rise, tens of thousands of landfills on the U.S. coasts are poised to release decades of accumulated trash, much of it toxic, into threatened coastal ecosystems.
- The Nation
solar panels
Renewables became the second-most prevalent U.S. electricity source in 2020: They catapaulted past both coal and nuclear energy in the past year, and are now second only to methane gas.
- U.S. Energy Information Administration


This Week
Save the Date
  • Stretch Your Impact: Building Pathways Towards Tech for Good Careers, a workshop from the MIT PKG Center where MIT PhD students and Oxford Professor Milo Phillips-Brown will discuss career paths in technology for the public good. Tuesday, August 10, 12-1 pm. Register.
  • Applied Energy Symposium: MIT A+B, a three-day symposium co-hosted by MIT and Harvard on A) the rapid deployment of existing, proven low-carbon energy technologies, and B) the development of next-generation energy technologies that could begin deployment at the terawatt scale by mid-century. August 11-13.
  • Using Emerging Technologies to Meet Climate Resilience Goals, a joint event with the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Association of State Energy Officials focused on achieving statewide climate goals. August 12-13. Register.
  • Climapalooza, Boston's annual climate action rally and benefit concert. Friday, September 17, 7-9 pm. Save the date.
  • Climate Preparedness Week 2021. Save the date for this week of virtual and Boston-area events on extreme weather adaptation, or apply to host an event of your own. September 24-30.
  • VERGE 21, a virtual event for climate tech across energy, mobility, carbon removal, agriculture and more. With dozens of breakout sessions and keynote speakers including Gov. Gavin Newsom, Gina McCarthy and Bill McKibben. October 25-28. Browse the program and get tickets (registration for the keynotes is free).
  • Climatetech Summit 2021, Greentown Labs' annual climate technology entrepreneurship conference. Thursday, November 4, 9 am-8 pm. This year's conference will be a hybrid of in-person sessions at the Greentown Labs facilities in Somerville, Mass. and Houston, Texas with virtual livestreams. Get tickets.

News & Media from MIT

the research vessel Sally Ride
What will happen to sediment plumes associated with deep-sea mining?: Building on modeling research originally funded by an ESI seed grant, an international team has conducted the first live experiment into how sediments turned up by deep-sea mining operations would travel through the ocean.
- MIT News
flooding after Hurricane Harvey
Cities are scrambling to prevent flooding: Sea level rise, stronger hurricanes, and increased precipitation are driving many U.S. cities to upgrade their pumps, storm drains, and other infrastructure. In some cases, more creative and drastic adaptation measures will be needed to hold back the tide.
- MIT Technology Review


Internships, Fellowships and Work Opportunities
  • Job: ESI is hiring a postdoctoral associate to undertake research related to environmental justice, with a primary focus on hydrocarbon-producing regions of the United States. Learn more and apply.
  • Student Job: The MIT Office of Sustainability is hiring upper-level undergraduate or graduate students as summer fellows, to advance projects in data analytics and carbon offsets. Apply.
  • Job: Greentown Labs, a climate tech incubator in Somerville, Mass., is hiring an Executive Communications Coordinator to support the CEO. Learn how to apply.
  • Jobs: FORGE, a nonprofit that helps innovators in cleantech and other high-tech, socially beneficial fields grow to large-scale manufacturing, is hiring for two leadership positions at its new location in Lowell, Massachusetts: a Northeast Massachusetts Director and a Director of Partnerships.
  • Job: Raptor Maps, which builds software to manage solar energy deployments, is seeking an Engineering Manager to oversee software development teams. Apply.
  • Job: Via Separations is hiring a Senior Scientist to conduct R&D in energy-efficient industrial filtration processes. Apply.
  • Job: Nth Cycle, which develops materials solutions for the mining and recycling industries, is hiring a Chemical Engineer. Learn how to apply.
  • Job: Sublime Systems, a low-carbon cement company, is hiring a Director of Engineering to accelerate the launch of a pilot plant. Learn how to apply.
  • Job: The International Living Future Institute is hiring an Ambassador Program Manager to recruit and train a network of volunteers, driving adoption of ILFI Certifications for the highest standards of sustainability in the built environment. Apply.
  • Job: The Carnegie Institution for Science Department of Global Ecology is hiring a postdoctoral fellow to conduct research on net-zero-emission energy technologies and systems. Learn more and apply.
  • Job: GreenInfo, a public interest data visualization and communication group with a focus on environmental policy and analysis, is seeking a new Associate Director in the San Francisco Bay Area. Learn how to apply.
  • Job: The Sequoia Climate Fund is hiring a Climate Policy Data Scientist to support the fund's grantmaking with credible data analyses and methodologies to assess the emissions abatement potential of a wide variety of project types. Apply.

Grants, Scholarships, Contests and Funding Opportunities
  • Contest: GlobalSF and Nestlé will award $10,000 to select companies developing sustainable packaging to demo their solutions in San Francisco, as well as networking opportunities to scale up with Nestlé and its partners. Solutions should offer a friction-less customer experience that reduces the use of plastic packaging. Apply by August 3.
  • Accelerator Program: Greentown Labs has launched the Healthy Buildings Challenge, offering networking, mentorship, office space, and $25,000 in grant funding to startups focused on building technologies that optimize for both human health and climate change mitigation. Read the RFP and apply by August 25.
  • Award: The Ramboll Group will award €65,000 to an early-career researcher contributing to a green transition in the energy sector. Learn more and apply by September 20.
  • Grant: MISTI-Spain is calling for proposals for its INDITEX Circularity Seed Fund, a $30,000 grant for collaborations between MIT groups and research institutions in Spain that advance sustainability in the textiles industry. Apply by December 13.

Volunteer and Student Group Opportunities
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