• InfrastructureA More Robust Model for Assessing Bridge Repairs

    As President Biden’s $2 trillion American Jobs Plan places the nation’s infrastructure in the spotlight, new research from the University of Georgia suggests states can save money and extend the life of their bridges by taking a fresh approach to how they prioritize maintenance.

  • Power gridTexas House Targets Power Grid Flaw that Cut Electricity to Natural Gas Facilities and Worsened February Blackouts

    By Sami Sparber

    The lower chamber gave initial approval Monday to a series of bill responding to this year’s catastrophic power outages during a deadly winter storm.

  • Water securityInterstate Water Wars Are Heating Up Along with the Climate

    By Robert Glennon

    Interstate water disputes are as American as apple pie. States often think a neighboring state is using more than its fair share from a river, lake or aquifer that crosses borders. Climate stresses are raising the stakes.

  • Cyber resilienceMacro Cyber Resilience

    The prefixes of ‘macro’ and ‘micro’ have been applied to concepts like economics, or even to activities like photography. They are easy ideas to understand in large versus small scales. However, this term is not usually used to define cyber perspectives, an increasingly important area for security applications.

  • Planetary securityHow Do We Know Whether an Asteroid Headed Our Way Is Dangerous?

    By Jonathan O’Callaghan

    There are a lot of things that pose a threat to our planet – climate change, natural disasters, and solar flares, for example. But one threat in particular often captures public imagination, finding itself popularized in books and films and regularly generating alarming headlines: asteroids.

  • CybersecurityIn the Wake of SolarWinds: Making and Breaking a Rules-Based Global Cyber Order

    By Anatol Lieven

    We should recognize that the need to make careful distinctions between different categories of cyber operations, and shun the use of emotive and misleading language about “attacks,” should also be extended to the field of political influence via the internet. Using cyberspace to spread propaganda, influence political outcomes and reveal or invent damaging information is an extension of tactics that have been used in different ways for millennia—including by the U.S. Actually trying to rig U.S. elections by tampering with the count online would be completely different and vastly more serious.

  • ARGUMENT: Overhauling cybersecurityThe U.S. Government Needs to Overhaul Cybersecurity. Here’s How.

    After the 2015 hack of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the SolarWinds breach, and—just weeks after SolarWinds—the latest Microsoft breach, it is by now clear that the U.S. federal government is woefully unprepared in matters of cybersecurity. Jonathan Reiber and Matt Glenn write that “it is time for a different model for cybersecurity. U.S. military bases have layers of walls, guards, badge readers, and authentication measures to control access. The United States needs the same mindset for its cybersecurity.”

  • ARGUMENT: Water crisisThe U.S. Water and Wastewater Crisis – How Many Wake-up Calls Are Enough?

    In February, much of Texas plunged into darkness when the state’s electricity grid failed due to extreme cold weather conditions. What started as a foreseeable blackout quickly became a life-threatening calamity. “This catastrophe illustrates what happens when aging and inadequate infrastructure is hit by extreme rain or snow—an increasingly regular occurrence due to climate change,” Lucía Falcón Palomar, Obinna Maduka, and JoAnn Kamuf Ward write. “And, the matter extends well beyond Texas. It is easy to forget that, within U.S. borders, communities have long endured the conditions seen in Texas in February.”

  • Toxic leaksFlorida Governor Working to Prevent “Catastrophic Flood” of Toxic Wastewater in Tampa Area

    Florida governor Ron DeSantis has vowed to prevent a “catastrophic flood” near the major city of Tampa. A leaking toxic wastewater reservoir has the potential to cause an environmental crisis in the region.

  • Grid securityThe U.S. Needs a Macrogrid to Move Electricity from Areas that Make It to Areas that Need It

    By James D. McCalley

    Many kinds of extreme events can disrupt electricity service, including hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, wildfires, extreme heat, extreme cold and extended droughts. Major disasters can leave thousands of people in the dark. During such events, unaffected regions may have power to spare. For example, during the February blackouts in Texas, utilities were generating electricity from hydropower in the Pacific Northwest, natural gas in the Northeast, wind on the northern Plains and solar power in the Southwest. Today it’s not possible to move electricity seamlessly from one end of the U.S. to the other.

  • Grid securityIntegration Can Prevent Failures in Large Power Grids

    The recent power outages in Texas brought attention to its power grid being separated from the rest of the country. While it is not immediately clear whether integration with other parts of the national grid would have completely eliminated the need for rolling outages, the state’s inability to import significant amounts of electricity was decisive in the blackout.

  • CybersecurityNew Initiative Aims to Ensure 5G Networks Are Reliable, Secure

    The transition to 5G will affect every device connected to the internet. Later this year, a team of Stanford researchers will demonstrate how a tight formation of computer-controlled drones can be managed with precision even when the 5G network controlling it is under continual cyberattack. The demo’s ultimate success or failure will depend on the ability of an experimental network control technology to detect the hacks and defeat them within a second to safeguard the navigation systems.

  • China watchHow Should the United States Compete with China’s Belt and Road Initiative?

    By Jennifer Hillman and David Sacks

    China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is the country’s most ambitious foreign policy undertaking in modern times and is central to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s legacy. BRI, which dwarfs the Marshall Plan in scale, has funded and built roads, power plants, ports, railways, fifth-generation (5G) networks, and fiber-optic cables around the world. While BRI initially sought to connect countries in Central, South, and Southeast Asia with China, it has since transformed into a globe-spanning enterprise encompassing 139 countries.

  • TsunamisTsunamis It Comes in Waves

    Tsunamis pose a real threat to the California coast, even if the triggering earthquakes occur elsewhere. And it doesn’t take a 50-foot tsunami out of a science-fiction film to inflict severe damage. Researchers are helping ensure coastal cities are ready.

  • Texas power outagesPaperwork Failures Worsened Texas Blackouts, Sparking Mid-Storm Scramble to Restore Critical Fuel Supply

    By Erin Douglas

    Dozens of natural gas companies failed to do the paperwork that would keep their facilities powered during an emergency, so utilities cut their electricity at the very moment that power plants most needed fuel. The mid-storm scramble to fix the problem exposed a regulatory blind spot.