Campus News in Brief

Study finds Pittsburgh CO2 emissions same as in 1940

A group of researchers led by civil and environmental engineering Ph.D. student Rachel Hoesly and civil and environmental engineering and engineering and public policy professor H. Scott Matthews recently released findings that show the per capita emission rate in Pittsburgh was the same in 2000 as it was in 1940, even though the overall carbon dioxide emissions in Allegheny County dropped by 1 percent per year between 1970 and 2000.

The study, which was co-led by Michael Blackhurst, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin, shows that Pittsburgh’s per capita emissions rates have not changed, despite the disappearance of the carbon dioxide-producing steel industry from the area.

“Pittsburgh lost most of the energy-intensive metals industry and the jobs that went with that era by the 1980s, which led to a very large reduction in energy and carbon emissions,” Matthews said in a university press release.

He then added, “It only reduced the total footprint by 25 percent. Cities will need to develop more rigorous engineering and economic analysis to meet emission goals.”

“The fact that the energy footprint per person hasn’t changed in 30 years is sobering news for metro areas that want to achieve similar reductions,” Blackhurst said in the same press release.

Researchers say studies on death penalty insufficient

According to a new report from a National Research Council committee led by Carnegie Mellon public policy and statistics professor Daniel Nagin, current studies on the effectiveness of the death penalty as a crime deterrent are not sufficient enough to draw concrete conclusions.
The report reviewed research which had been conducted since a government moratorium on the death penalty was lifted in 1976.

“Fundamental flaws in the research we reviewed make it of no use in answering the question of whether the death penalty affects homicide rates,” Nagin said in a university press release. “We recognize that this conclusion may be controversial to some, but no one is well-served by unsupportable claims about the effect of the death penalty, regardless of whether the claim is that the death penalty deters homicides, has no effect on homicide rates or actually increases homicides.”

The committee officially concluded that current research should not be used to make public policy decisions regarding the death penalty, because it does not sufficiently control for the effects of noncapital and other punishment as deterrents and is based on unfounded assumptions.