President-elect Donald J. Trump has vowed to revive U.S. coal production and bring back thousands of jobs. But it’s basic economics and international concern about climate change that have crushed the American coal industry, not environmental regulations.
Research on stoneflies in Glacier National Park indicates that global warming is reducing the genetic diversity of some species, compromising their ability to evolve as conditions change. These findings have major implications for how biodiversity will be affected by climate change.
With Donald Trump threatening to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, China is ready to assume leadership of the world’s climate efforts. For China, it is a matter of self-interest – reducing the choking pollution in its cities and seizing the economic opportunities of a low-carbon future.
Russia, China, and other nations are stepping up preparations for the day when large numbers of cargo ships will be traversing a once-icebound Arctic Ocean. But with vessels already plying these waters, experts say the time is now to prepare for the inevitable environmental fallout.
Donald Trump’s ascension to the presidency signals an end to American leadership on international climate policy. With the withdrawal of U.S. support, efforts to implement the Paris agreement and avoid the most devastating consequences of global warming have suffered a huge blow.
Few groups were as shocked and chagrined by Donald Trump’s victory as the environmental community. Yale Environment 360 asked environmentalists, academics, and pro-business representatives just how far Trump might roll back President Obama’s environmental initiatives.
From rapid genetic analysis to spectrography, high-tech tools are being used to track down and prosecute perpetrators of the illegal wildlife trade. The new advances in forensics offer promise in stopping the trafficking in endangered species.
In Senegal and other developing countries, multinational companies are investing in programs to restore mangrove forests and other wetlands that sequester carbon. But critics say these initiatives should not focus on global climate goals at the expense of the local people’s livelihoods.
A steady increase in sea levels is pushing saltwater into U.S. wetlands, killing trees from Florida as far north as New Jersey. But with sea level projected to rise by as much as six feet this century, the destruction of coastal forests is expected to become a worsening problem worldwide.
The cause of the rapid increase in methane emissions since 2007 has puzzled scientists. But new research finds some surprising culprits in the methane surge and shows that fossil-fuel sources have played a much larger role over time than previously estimated.
As Europe’s wind energy production rises dramatically, offshore turbines are proliferating from the Irish Sea to the Baltic Sea. It’s all part of the European Union’s strong push away from fossil fuels and toward renewables.
Interview: Unusually Warm Arctic
May Have Impact on Global Weather
This year will almost certainly go down as the warmest on record in the Arctic, with autumn temperatures soaring 36 degrees F above historic norms.
Among the climate scientists attempting to make sense of the rapid changes sweeping the Arctic is Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University. Francis has propounded the widely discussed theory that swiftly rising temperatures in the Arctic, which are closely intertwined with the loss of sea ice, are changing the shape of the jet stream and altering the weather of the northern hemisphere. In an interview with Yale Environment 360
, Francis explains why large portions of the Arctic are experiencing temperatures more typical of New York City and warns that we ignore climate upheaval at the North Pole at our own peril. "The speed of the change is what is very disturbing to me," says Francis, "because it's such an indicator of what's happening to the planet as a whole."
Read the interview.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo announced a moratorium
earlier this week on the conversion of carbon-rich peatlands into agricultural land — a move that could prevent hundreds of millions of tons of CO2 from being emitted annually. In recent years, landowners and companies have been draining, drying, and often burning the country’s abundant peat-filled wetlands to make way for palm oil plantations and other farmland. Fires in 2015 caused more than a half-million people to be treated for respiratory problems and $16.1 billion in economic damage, according to the United Nations Environment Program
. Widodo’s moratorium protects peatlands of any depth and orders companies to restore any peatlands they have converted. "This regulation will be a major contribution to the Paris climate agreement and a relief to millions of Indonesians who suffer the effects of toxic haze from peat fires," said Nirarta Samadhi
, Indonesia country director for the World Resources Institute.
Interview: Are Trees Sentient?
Certainly, Says German Forester
In his bestselling book, The Hidden Life of Trees
, German forester Peter Wohlleben argues
that to save the world’s forests from climate change and other threats we must first recognize that trees are “wonderful beings” with innate adaptability, intelligence, and the capacity to communicate with — and heal — other trees. In an interview with Yale Environment 360
, Wohlleben discusses how trees live in families, have an inborn memory of events like previous droughts, and possess the capacity to make decisions and fight off predators. Wohlleben has been criticized for anthropomorphizing trees, but he maintains that to succeed in preserving our forests in a rapidly warming world, we must start to look at trees in an entirely different light. Read the interview.
Google announced that it has purchased enough solar and wind capacity, 2.6 gigawatts, to run entirely on renewable energy
The company, whose data centers and offices consume as much electricity as the city of San Francisco, will get most of its wind
energy from the U.S. Midwest, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden, and its solar from contracts in North Carolina and Chile. Google bought its first wind power in 2010 and is now the world’s largest corporate buyer of renewable energy. “The science tells us that tackling climate change is an urgent global priority,” said Urs Hölzle, Google’s senior vice president of technical infrastructure. “We believe the private sector, in partnership with policy leaders, must take bold steps and that we can do so in a way that leads to growth and opportunity.”
Interview: At Standing Rock Protest,
A Battle Over Fossil Fuels and Land
For more than eight months, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota has been leading a protest to stop an oil pipeline from
Kyle Powys Whyte
potentially threatening its drinking water and sacred sites. In many ways, the battle over the Dakota Access Pipeline is a traditional fight over Native American land rights. But as indigenous rights expert Kyle Powys Whyte sees it, the demonstration also points to the important role tribes have played in opposing fossil fuel energy projects in recent years. “Almost everywhere you go, tribes have taken direct action to protect their health and their cultures and their economies from the threats, as well as the false promises of, extractive industries,” he says. In an interview with Yale Environment 360
, Powys Whyte talks about the long history of coal and oil and gas development on native lands and why Standing Rock has become a lightning rod for opposition to fossil fuels.
Read the interview.
Four of the world’s largest cities announced Friday that they will ban diesel cars by 2025
in an effort to cut air pollution.
Traffic and smog in the outskirts of Paris.
Leaders from Paris, Madrid, Athens, and Mexico City made the declaration at the C40 Mayors Summit, a biennial meeting of civic leaders concerned about climate change. Toxic air is responsible for an estimated 3 million premature deaths
each year, according to recent research by the World Health Organization. While diesel engines burn fuel more efficiently and therefore release less carbon dioxide, they do produce nitrogen dioxide and particulates that can inflame and damage people’s lungs. “Mayors have already stood up to say that climate change is one of the greatest challenges we face,” said Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris. “Today, we also stand up to say we no longer tolerate air pollution and the health problems and deaths it causes.”
Yale Environment 360 is
a publication of the
Yale School of Forestry
& Environmental Studies
Yale Environment 360
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Business & Innovation
Policy & Politics
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Science & Technology
Antarctica and the Arctic
Central & South America
A look at how acidifying oceans could threaten the Dungeness crab, one of the most valuable fisheries on the U.S. West Coast. Watch the video.
is now available for mobile devices at e360.yale.edu/mobile
An aerial view of why Europe’s per capita carbon emissions are less than 50 percent of those in the U.S. View the photos.
An indigenous tribe’s deadly fight to save its ancestral land in the Amazon rainforest from logging. Learn more.
video series looks at the staggering amount of food wasted in the U.S. – a problem with major human and environmental costs. Watch the video.
Residents of the Chocó Rainforest in Ecuador are choosing to plant cacao over logging in an effort to slow deforestation.
Watch the video.
Tribal people and ranchers join together to stop a project that would haul coal across their Montana land. Watch the video.