In Clash of Greens, a Case for <br />Large-Scale U.S. Solar Projects

Opinion

In Clash of Greens, a Case for
Large-Scale U.S. Solar Projects

by philip warburg
Weaning the U.S. economy off fossil fuels will involve the wide deployment of utility-scale solar power. But for that to happen, the environmental community must resolve its conflict between clean energy advocates and those who regard solar farms as blights on the landscape.
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Global Extinction Rates: Why <br />Do Estimates Vary So Wildly?

Analysis

Global Extinction Rates: Why
Do Estimates Vary So Wildly?

by fred pearce
Is it 150 species a day or 24 a day or far less than that? Prominent scientists cite dramatically different numbers when estimating the rate at which species are going extinct. Why is that?
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e360 Video

With Climate Change, a Terrifying <br />New Normal for Western Firefighters

With Climate Change, a Terrifying
New Normal for Western Firefighters

In the last two decades, officials in Colorado have watched as massive, months-long wildfires have become a regular occurrence in their state. A Yale Environment 360 video goes onto the front lines with Colorado firefighters who describe what it’s like to continuously confront deadly blazes fueled by a hotter, drier climate. | WATCH THE VIDEO

 


Undamming Rivers: A Chance <br />For New Clean Energy Source

Opinion

Undamming Rivers: A Chance
For New Clean Energy Source

by john waldman and karin limburg
Many hydroelectric dams produce modest amounts of power yet do enormous damage to rivers and fish populations. Why not take down these aging structures, build solar farms in the drained reservoirs, and restore the natural ecology of the rivers?
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As Ocean Waters Heat Up, <br />A Quest to Create ‘Super Corals’

Report

As Ocean Waters Heat Up,
A Quest to Create ‘Super Corals’

by nicola jones
With the world’s coral reefs increasingly threatened by warmer and more acidic seas, scientists are selectively breeding corals to create species with the best chance to survive in the coming century and beyond. Are genetically modified corals next?
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Analysis

Why the Fossil Fuel Divestment <br />Movement May Ultimately Win

Why the Fossil Fuel Divestment
Movement May Ultimately Win

by marc gunther
The fossil fuel divestment campaign has so far persuaded only a handful of universities and investment funds to change their policies. But if the movement can help shift public opinion about climate change, its organizers say, it will have achieved its primary goal.
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Resilience: A New Conservation <br />Strategy for a Warming World

Analysis

Resilience: A New Conservation
Strategy for a Warming World

by jim robbins
As climate change puts ecosystems and species at risk, conservationists are turning to a new approach: preserving those landscapes that are most likely to endure as the world warms.
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Unnatural Disaster: How Climate <br />Helped Cause India

E360 Special Report

Unnatural Disaster: How Climate
Helped Cause India's Big Flood

by daniel grossman
The flood that swept through the Indian state of Uttarakhand two years ago killed thousands. Now researchers are saying that melting glaciers and shifting storm tracks played a major role in the disaster and should be a warning about how global warming could lead to more catastrophic floods in the future.
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Alien Islands: Why Killing Rats <br />Is Essential to Save Key Wildlife

Analysis

Alien Islands: Why Killing Rats
Is Essential to Save Key Wildlife

by ted williams
Alien rats introduced by ships are decimating populations of birds and other wildlife on islands from the sub-Antarctic to California. Effective programs to eradicate the rats are underway but are encountering opposition from animal activists and some green groups.
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The Big Waste: Why Do We <br />Throw Away So Much Food?

e360 Video Series

The Big Waste: Why Do We
Throw Away So Much Food?

An e360 video looks at the staggering amount of food wasted in the U.S. Filmmaker Karim Chrobog focuses on efforts in Washington, D.C., to see that food ends up with those who need it rather than dumped in landfills. First in a series.
Watch the video.
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e360 digest

In Northern Canada Peaks, Scientists
Are Tracking Impact of Vanishing Ice


Earlier this month, a team of Canadian scientists braved a cold-weather thunderstorm, snow, rain, and high winds to spend a week working on the last extensive icefield in the interior of the Northwest Territories. Accompanying them was Yale Environment 360 contributor Ed Struzik, who reports on the trip and the importance of the research team’s investigations. The group worked on the Brintnell/Bologna icefield, which has shrunk by more than a third over the last three decades and continues to melt at a rapid clip. The scientists hope to determine how the melting of these glaciers and the loss of snowpack in the surrounding mountains might affect the region’s ecology and rivers, including the huge Mackenzie River, Canada’s largest.
Read more.

27 Aug 2015: NASA Study Quantifies Plants'
Role in Mitigating Urban Heat Island Effect

The presence or scarcity of vegetation is an essential factor in determining how much urban areas heat up, according to a NASA study.

Enlarge

Urban heat island effect
Using data from multiple satellites, the researchers found that areas covered in part by impervious surfaces such as asphalt, concrete, and steel had an average summer temperature 3.4 degrees F higher than nearby rural areas. The highest U.S. urban temperatures compared to surrounding areas were along the Interstate-95 corridor from Boston to Washington and around Atlanta and the I-85 corridor in the Southeast. In desert cities such as Phoenix, the urban area was actually cooler because irrigated lawns and trees provide cooling that dry, rocky areas do not, the researchers explain. The urban heat island effect, as the phenomenon is known, occurs primarily during the day, when impervious surfaces in cities absorb more sunlight than surrounding vegetated areas.

 

Solar Decathlon: The Search for
The Best Carbon-Neutral House


What’s the latest in well-designed, energy-efficient solar homes? The U.S. Department of Energy has invited 15 teams from colleges across the country to design and build affordable, energy-efficient, and attractive solar-powered houses for the 2015 Solar Decathlon. In addition to functioning as comfortable homes, the houses in the competition must produce at least as much energy as they consume. Here, e360 takes a look at some of this year's entries, which will be on display in Irvine, California, this October. These houses have been engineered to not only embrace energy efficiency and sustainable design, but also to meet the diverse needs of their future inhabitants, from food production to storm protection and disaster relief.
View the houses.

26 Aug 2015: U.S. Shale Gas Production
Expected to Fall for First Time, Report Says

Natural gas production from all seven major shale formations in the U.S. is projected to drop next month for the first time since

Enlarge

Monthly change in shale gas production
the shale gas boom began in earnest roughly a decade ago, according to an analysis from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Major shale regions produced gas at a record-high rate of 45.6 billion cubic feet per day in May, but that rate is expected to drop to 44.9 billion cubic feet per day in September, the report says. It attributes the decline to existing, legacy wells becoming significantly less productive and a substantial drop in the number of drilling rigs in each of the seven major shale regions since September 2014. New wells are being established, the EIA notes, but they are not producing enough natural gas to offset expected declines from legacy wells.

 

Interview: A Scientist Who Probes
The Rich Inner Lives of Animals

Ecologist Carl Safina has made his name studying and writing about the world’s oceans and the creatures that inhabit them. Now, Safina
Carl Safina with orphaned elephants
Carl Safina
has turned his attention to the fascinating and controversial topic of the inner lives of animals, exploring, as he puts it, “the incredible shimmering world of nuance that many of these creatures experience in their lives with one another.” In an interview with Yale Environment 360 about his recently published book, Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel, Safina explains why it’s vital to our own humanity to more deeply empathize with wild creatures and sharply criticizes some research on animal behavior, saying it has led to a flawed understanding of the natural world. “I bristle at the idea that an animal can 'pass a test' administered by human beings,” says Safina. “It’s irrelevant whether the animal corresponds to your concept of something.”
Read the interview.

25 Aug 2015: Endangered Chimp Population
Much Larger Than Estimated, Study Shows

A population of endangered eastern chimpanzees in Uganda is actually significantly larger than scientists had thought, new research

Eastern chimpanzee
from the University of Southern California shows. Using DNA from fecal samples, the scientists estimated the size of the chimp population living in two reserves in western Uganda to be 250 to 320 chimps, divided among at least nine communities, whereas previous estimates had pegged the total at roughly 70. Because the forest they live in is not protected, however, the chimpanzees have been heavily impacted by forest fragmentation, and the fruit trees they rely on are rapidly being cut down, the researchers say. The eastern chimp population that lives in this region is important because it represents the growing status quo for this species, the researchers note — they no longer inhabit unbroken swaths of forest, but instead carve out an existence in shrinking forest patches.

 
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