Topic: Energy


Drive to Mine the Deep Sea <br />Raises Concerns Over Impacts

Report

Drive to Mine the Deep Sea
Raises Concerns Over Impacts

by mike ives
Armed with new high-tech equipment, mining companies are targeting vast areas of the deep ocean for mineral extraction. But with few regulations in place, critics fear such development could threaten seabed ecosystems that scientists say are only now being fully understood.
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With the Boom in Oil and Gas, <br />Pipelines Proliferate in the U.S.

Report

With the Boom in Oil and Gas,
Pipelines Proliferate in the U.S.

by peter moskowitz
The rise of U.S. oil and gas production has spurred a dramatic expansion of the nation's pipeline infrastructure. As the lines reach into new communities and affect more property owners, concerns over the environmental impacts are growing.
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Interview

He's Still Bullish on Hybrids,
But Skeptical of Electric Cars

by kay mcdonald
Former Toyota executive Bill Reinert has long been dubious about the potential of electric cars. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, he talks about the promise of other technologies and about why he still sees hybrids as the best alternative to gasoline-powered vehicles.
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Beyond Treaties: A New Way of <br />Framing Global Climate Action

Analysis

Beyond Treaties: A New Way of
Framing Global Climate Action

by fred pearce
As negotiators look to next year’s UN climate conference in Paris, there is increasing discussion of a new way forward that does not depend on sweeping international agreements. Some analysts are pointing to Plan B — recasting the climate issue as one of national self-interest rather than global treaties.
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Oil Companies Quietly Prepare <br />For a Future of Carbon Pricing

Analysis

Oil Companies Quietly Prepare
For a Future of Carbon Pricing

by mark schapiro and jason scorse
The major oil companies in the U.S. have not had to pay a price for the contribution their products make to climate change. But internal accounting by the companies, along with a host of other signs, suggest that may soon change — though the implications of a price on carbon are far from clear.
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Can Carbon Capture Technology <br />Be Part of the Climate Solution?

Analysis

Can Carbon Capture Technology
Be Part of the Climate Solution?

by david biello
Some scientists and analysts are touting carbon capture and storage as a necessary tool for avoiding catastrophic climate change. But critics of the technology regard it as simply another way of perpetuating a reliance on fossil fuels.
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Interview

The Case for a Moratorium
On Tar Sands Development

by ed struzik
Ecologist Wendy Palen was one of a group of scientists who recently called for a moratorium on new development of Alberta’s tar sands. In a Yale Environment 360 interview, she talks about why Canada and the U.S. need to reconsider the tar sands as part of a long-term energy policy.
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A New Frontier for Fracking: <br />Drilling Near the Arctic Circle

Report

A New Frontier for Fracking:
Drilling Near the Arctic Circle

by ed struzik
Hydraulic fracturing is about to move into the Canadian Arctic, with companies exploring the region's rich shale oil deposits. But many indigenous people and conservationists have serious concerns about the impact of fracking in more fragile northern environments.
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As Small Hydropower Expands, <br />So Does Caution on Its Impacts

Report

As Small Hydropower Expands,
So Does Caution on Its Impacts

by dave levitan
Small hydropower projects have the potential to bring electricity to millions of people now living off the grid. But experts warn that planners must carefully consider the cumulative effects of constructing too many small dams in a single watershed.
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Peak Coal: Why the Industry’s <br />Dominance May Soon Be Over

Analysis

Peak Coal: Why the Industry’s
Dominance May Soon Be Over

by fred pearce
The coal industry has achieved stunning growth in the last decade, largely due to increased demand in China. But big changes in China’s economy and its policies are expected to put an end to coal’s big boom.
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Obama’s New Emission Rules: <br />Will They Survive Challenges?

Analysis

Obama’s New Emission Rules:
Will They Survive Challenges?

by michael b. gerrard
The sweeping nature of President Obama’s proposed regulations limiting carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants is likely to open his initiative to serious legal challenges. To date, however, the courts have given the federal government wide latitude in regulating CO2 under the Clean Air Act.
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Interview

How A Small College Launched
Divestment from Fossil Fuels

by diane toomey
Unity College in Maine was the first in the U.S. to divest all fossil fuel holdings from its endowment. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Unity president Stephen Mulkey talks about why he sees this groundbreaking move as an ethical decision and an extension of the college’s mission.
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New Desalination Technologies <br />Spur Growth in Recyling Water

Report

New Desalination Technologies
Spur Growth in Recyling Water

by cheryl katz
Desalination has long been associated with one process — turning seawater into drinking water. But a host of new technologies are being developed that not only are improving traditional desalination but opening up new frontiers in reusing everything from agricultural water to industrial effluent.
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On the Road to Green Energy, <br />Germany Detours on Dirty Coal

Analysis

On the Road to Green Energy,
Germany Detours on Dirty Coal

by fred pearce
While Germany continues to expand solar and wind power, the government’s decision to phase out nuclear energy means it must now rely heavily on the dirtiest form of coal, lignite, to generate electricity. The result is that after two decades of progress, the country’s CO2 emissions are rising.
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A Blueprint to End Paralysis <br />Over Global Action on Climate

Opinion

A Blueprint to End Paralysis
Over Global Action on Climate

by timothy e. wirth and thomas a. daschle
The international community should stop chasing the chimera of a binding treaty to limit CO2 emissions. Instead, it should pursue an approach that encourages countries to engage in a “race to the top” in low-carbon energy solutions.
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In a Troubled African Park, <br />A Battle Over Oil Exploration

Report

In a Troubled African Park,
A Battle Over Oil Exploration

by fred pearce
Congo's Virunga National Park has long been known for its mountain gorillas and for the lawless militias that operate there. But the recent shooting of the park warden and plans to begin oil exploration in the park have sparked concern about the future of this iconic World Heritage Site.
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Why Wave Power Has Lagged <br />Far Behind as Energy Source

Analysis

Why Wave Power Has Lagged
Far Behind as Energy Source

by dave levitan
Researchers have long contended that power from ocean waves could make a major contribution as a renewable energy source. But a host of challenges, including the difficulty of designing a device to capture the energy of waves, have stymied efforts to generate electricity from the sea.
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UN Panel Looks to Renewables <br />As the Key to Stabilizing Climate

Analysis

UN Panel Looks to Renewables
As the Key to Stabilizing Climate

by fred pearce
In its latest report, the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change makes a strong case for a sharp increase in low-carbon energy production, especially solar and wind, and provides hope that this transformation can occur in time to hold off the worst impacts of global warming.
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On Fracking Front, A Push <br />To Reduce Leaks of Methane

Report

On Fracking Front, A Push
To Reduce Leaks of Methane

by roger real drouin
Scientists, engineers, and government regulators are increasingly turning their attention to solving one of the chief environmental problems associated with fracking for natural gas and oil – significant leaks of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.
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On Ravaged Tar Sands Lands, <br />Big Challenges for Reclamation

Report

On Ravaged Tar Sands Lands,
Big Challenges for Reclamation

by ed struzik
The mining of Canada’s tar sands has destroyed large areas of sensitive wetlands in Alberta. Oil sands companies have vowed to reclaim this land, but little restoration has occurred so far and many scientists say it is virtually impossible to rebuild these complex ecosystems.
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Point/Counterpoint: Stewart Brand vs. Paul Ehrlich

Divestment Is No Substitute
For Real Action on Climate Change

by robert n. stavins
Having universities divest from fossil fuels is a feel-good measure that would do nothing to address the problem of global climate change. Instead, we should be focusing on efforts to push for strong government action.
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In a Host of Small Sources, <br />Scientists See Energy Windfall

Report

In a Host of Small Sources,
Scientists See Energy Windfall

by cheryl katz
The emerging field of “energy scavenging” is drawing on a wide array of untapped energy sources­ — including radio waves, vibrations created by moving objects, and waste heat from computers or car exhaust systems — to generate electricity and boost efficiency.
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Life on Mekong Faces Threats <br />As Major Dams Begin to Rise

Report

Life on Mekong Faces Threats
As Major Dams Begin to Rise

by joshua zaffos
With a massive dam under construction in Laos and other dams on the way, the Mekong River is facing a wave of hydroelectric projects that could profoundly alter the river’s ecology and disrupt the food supplies of millions of people in Southeast Asia.
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As Fracking Booms, Growing <br />Concerns About Wastewater

Report

As Fracking Booms, Growing
Concerns About Wastewater

by roger real drouin
With hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas continuing to proliferate across the U.S., scientists and environmental activists are raising questions about whether millions of gallons of contaminated drilling fluids could be threatening water supplies and human health.
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Indian Microgrids Aim to <br />Bring Millions Out of Darkness

Report

Indian Microgrids Aim to
Bring Millions Out of Darkness

by david ferris
Powered by solar panels and biomass, microgrids are spreading slowly across India, where 300 million people live without electricity. But can these off-grid technologies be scaled-up to bring low-carbon power to tens of millions of people?
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Greenpeace’s Kumi Naidoo on <br />Russia and the Climate Struggle

Interview

Greenpeace’s Kumi Naidoo on
Russia and the Climate Struggle

by diane toomey
In a Yale Environment 360 interview, the outspoken executive director of Greenpeace discusses why his organization’s activists braved imprisonment in Russia to stop Arctic oil drilling and what needs to be done to make a sharp turn away from fossil fuels and toward a green energy economy.
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Documenting the Swift Change <br />Wrought by Global Warming

Photo Essay

Documenting the Swift Change
Wrought by Global Warming

by peter essick
Photographer Peter Essick has traveled the world documenting the causes and consequences of climate change. In a Yale Environment 360 photo essay, we present a gallery of images Essick took while on assignment in Antarctica, Greenland, and other far-flung locales.
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Singapore Takes the Lead <br />In Green Building in Asia

Report

Singapore Takes the Lead
In Green Building in Asia

by mike ives
By encouraging the adoption of innovative architectural design and energy-saving technologies, Singapore has emerged as a model of green building in Asia — an important development in a region that is urbanizing more rapidly than any other in the world.
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In South Africa, Renewables Vie <br />With the Political Power of Coal

The Future of Coal: An e360 Report

In South Africa, Renewables Vie
With the Political Power of Coal

by adam welz
Although coal has dominated the South African electricity sector for decades, the country’s abundant solar and wind resources offer a promising renewable energy alternative. But entrenched political interests connected to the ruling party are fighting to expand coal’s role in the national economy.
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Shipping Crude Oil by Rail: <br />New Front in the Tar Sands Wars

Analysis

Shipping Crude Oil by Rail:
New Front in the Tar Sands Wars

by jacques leslie
As debate over the Keystone XL and other pipeline projects continues, crude oil from the Alberta tar sands and western U.S. oil fields is increasingly being hauled by railroad. Critics warn that this development poses a threat not only to the environment but to public safety.
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A Scarcity of Rare Metals Is <br />Hindering Green Technologies

Report

A Scarcity of Rare Metals Is
Hindering Green Technologies

by nicola jones
A shortage of "rare earth" metals, used in everything from electric car batteries to solar panels to wind turbines, is hampering the growth of renewable energy technologies. Researchers are now working to find alternatives to these critical elements or better ways to recycle them.
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China’s Great Dam Boom: <br />A Major Assault on Its Rivers

Analysis

China’s Great Dam Boom:
A Major Assault on Its Rivers

by charlton lewis
China is engaged in a push to build hydroelectric dams on a scale unprecedented in human history. While being touted for producing lower-emission electricity, these massive dam projects are wreaking havoc on river systems across China and Southeast Asia.
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A Key Mangrove Forest Faces <br />Major Threat from a Coal Plant

The Future of Coal: An e360 Report

A Key Mangrove Forest Faces
Major Threat from a Coal Plant

by jeremy hance
As Bangladesh makes a controversial turn to coal to produce electricity, the construction of a large coal-fired power plant is threatening the fragile ecosystem of the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest.
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Iceland Seeks to Cash In On <br />Its Abundant Renewable Energy

Report

Iceland Seeks to Cash In On
Its Abundant Renewable Energy

by cheryl katz
Still reeling from recent financial crises, Iceland is hoping to use its bountiful sources of geothermal and hydroelectric energy to help boost its economy. Among the country’s more ambitious plans is an undersea cable to carry renewably generated electricity to the U.K.
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Will Offshore Wind Finally <br />Take Off on U.S. East Coast?

Report

Will Offshore Wind Finally
Take Off on U.S. East Coast?

by dave levitan
After years of delays and legal battles, several offshore wind projects seem poised to be launched off the U.S. East Coast. But the lack of stable government incentives and tax credits may continue to hobble an industry that already has a strong foothold in Europe.
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In Australia, an Uphill Battle<br />To Rein in the Power of Coal

The Future of Coal: An e360 Report

In Australia, an Uphill Battle
To Rein in the Power of Coal

by samiha shafy
Australia is the world’s second-largest exporter of coal, thanks to huge markets in China, Japan, and other Asian countries. Environmentalists have been struggling to scale back the nation’s coal boom, but the recent election of a conservative prime minister may keep coal on top.
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With Rooftop Solar on Rise, <br />U.S. Utilities Are Striking Back

Report

With Rooftop Solar on Rise,
U.S. Utilities Are Striking Back

by marc gunther
Faced with the prospect of a dwindling customer base, some U.S. power companies are seeking to end public subsidies and other incentives for rooftop solar. In Arizona, the issue has sparked a heated public relations battle that could help determine the future of solar in the United States.
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Incineration Versus Recycling: <br /> In Europe, A Debate Over Trash

Report

Incineration Versus Recycling:
In Europe, A Debate Over Trash

by nate seltenrich
Increasingly common in Europe, municipal “waste-to-energy” incinerators are being touted as a green trash-disposal alternative. But critics contend that these large-scale incinerators tend to discourage recycling and lead to greater waste.
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Why Pushing Alternate Fuels <br /> Makes for Bad Public Policy

Opinion

Why Pushing Alternate Fuels
Makes for Bad Public Policy

by john decicco
Every U.S. president since Ronald Reagan has backed programs to develop alternative transportation fuels. But there are better ways to foster energy independence and reduce greenhouse gas emissions than using subsidies and mandates to promote politically favored fuels.
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With Tar Sands Development,<br /> Growing Concern on Water Use

Report

With Tar Sands Development,
Growing Concern on Water Use

by ed struzik
Environmental questions about Canada’s massive tar sands development have long centered on greenhouse gas emissions. Now there are mounting concerns about the huge volumes of water used by the oil industry and the impact on the vast Mackenzie River Basin.
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Facing Tough Market at Home,<br /> U.S. Coal Giant Pushes Overseas

The Future of Coal: An e360 Report

Facing Tough Market at Home,
U.S. Coal Giant Pushes Overseas

by lisa palmer
With prospects in the U.S. increasingly uncertain, Peabody Energy, the world’s largest private coal company, is expanding its operations abroad. But that strategy could carry significant risks, as coal-consuming powerhouses like China are working to reduce their dependence on the fossil fuel.
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Marines Push to Front Lines in<br /> Renewable Energy Innovation

Report

Marines Push to Front Lines in
Renewable Energy Innovation

by justin gerdes
A backpack that generates electricity? A vest that cools you in a hot tent? As the U.S. military looks to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels, the Marine Corps is leading the way with cutting-edge technology and innovative devices.
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How Laundry Detergent Became<br /> A Catalyst for Green Innovation

Interview

How Laundry Detergent Became
A Catalyst for Green Innovation

by marc gunther
In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Adam Lowry, co-founder of a company that has pioneered the use of environmentally friendly cleaning products, discusses how a small firm has been able to nudge large corporations down the path of sustainability.
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Will Huge New Hydro Projects<br /> Bring Power to Africa’s People?

Analysis

Will Huge New Hydro Projects
Bring Power to Africa’s People?

by fred pearce
A giant new hydro project on the Congo River is only the latest in a rush of massive dams being built across Africa. Critics contend small-scale renewable energy projects would be a far more effective way of bringing power to the hundreds of millions of Africans still without electricity.
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Harnessing Citizen Power to<br /> Fund a U.S. Solar Revolution

Interview

Harnessing Citizen Power to
Fund a U.S. Solar Revolution

by todd woody
Environmental activist Billy Parish believes the best way to fight climate change is to fund the renewable energy projects that will supplant fossil fuels. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, he discusses how “crowdfunding” can help lead to the widespread adoption of solar power.
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Will Global Coal Boom Go Bust<br /> As Climate Concerns Increase?

The Future of Coal: An e360 Report

Will Global Coal Boom Go Bust
As Climate Concerns Increase?

by fen montaigne
The surge in global coal consumption, driven largely by China and India, has climate scientists deeply worried. But environmentalists and a growing number of financial experts say that alarm over global warming may halt the seemingly inevitable rise of the coal industry.
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Copenhagen’s Ambitious Push<br /> To Be Carbon Neutral by 2025

Report

Copenhagen’s Ambitious Push
To Be Carbon Neutral by 2025

by justin gerdes
The Danish capital is moving rapidly toward a zero-carbon future, as it erects wind farms, transforms its citywide heating systems, promotes energy efficiency, and lures more people out of their cars and onto public transportation and bikes.
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How Ontario Is Putting an End<br /> To Coal-Burning Power Plants

Report

How Ontario Is Putting an End
To Coal-Burning Power Plants

by keith schneider
Ontario is on the verge of becoming the first industrial region in North America to eliminate all coal-fired electrical generation. Here’s how Canada’s most populous province did it — and what the U.S. and others can learn from it.
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In U.S., the Lure of Export May<br /> Further Fuel Natural Gas Boom

Opinion

In U.S., the Lure of Export May
Further Fuel Natural Gas Boom

by shaun goho
As the United States experiences a glut of natural gas, a host of facilities are being proposed that would convert gas to a liquid and export it. But before embracing a gas export boom, the nation should carefully weigh the implications for both the economy and the environment.
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Without Congress, There’s Still a<br /> Path to U.S. Progress on Climate

Analysis

Without Congress, There’s Still a
Path to U.S. Progress on Climate

by john carey
Don’t expect the U.S. Congress to take any action on climate change in the next four years. But by continuing to use its regulatory authority and working with the states, the Obama administration can make significant progress on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
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How Data and Social Pressure<br /> Can Reduce Home Energy Use

Report

How Data and Social Pressure
Can Reduce Home Energy Use

by dave levitan
With the relationship between utilities and their customers changing in unprecedented ways, new companies are deploying vast amounts of data and social psychology techniques to try to persuade people to use less electricity in their homes.
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Tar Sands Oil Boom Drives<br /> Push for A Northern Pipeline

Report

Tar Sands Oil Boom Drives
Push for A Northern Pipeline

by ed struzik
The rapid development of Alberta’s tar sands has spawned a new proposal for a 731-mile pipeline that would transport oil to the British Columbia coast. The project is strongly opposed by conservationists and First Nations leaders, who fear the environmental risks it would bring.
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Green Crude: The Quest to <br /> Unlock Algae’s Energy Potential

Report

Green Crude: The Quest to
Unlock Algae’s Energy Potential

by marc gunther
A host of startup companies are pursuing new technologies that they claim will soon lead to large-scale commercialization of biofuels made from algae. But questions remain about the viability and environmental benefits of what some of its developers are calling “green crude.”
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High-Altitude Wind Energy:<br /> Huge Potential — And Hurdles

Report

High-Altitude Wind Energy:
Huge Potential — And Hurdles

by dave levitan
A host of start-up companies are exploring ways to harness the enormous amount of wind energy flowing around the earth, especially at high altitudes. But as these innovators are discovering, the engineering and regulatory challenges of what is known as airborne wind power are daunting.
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For Electric Car Batteries, <br /> The Race for a Rapid Charge

Report

For Electric Car Batteries,
The Race for a Rapid Charge

by dave levitan
The amount of time it takes to recharge lithium-ion batteries has been a major impediment to consumer acceptance of electric vehicles. But a host of companies and researchers are working intensively to develop a battery that can recharge in 10 minutes and power a car for hundreds of miles.
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A Summer of Extremes<br /> Signifies the New Normal

Opinion

A Summer of Extremes
Signifies the New Normal

by bill mckibben
This summer has seen record heat waves and wildfires in the U.S, the worst flooding in Beijing’s modern history, and droughts that devastated the U.S. corn crop and led India to set up “refugee camps” for livestock. These extreme events were not freak occurrences — this is how the earth works now.
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With Funding Tight, Cities are<br /> Turning to Green Infrastructure

Report

With Funding Tight, Cities are
Turning to Green Infrastructure

by jim robbins
From Seattle to Sweden, an ever-growing number of city and regional governments are using roof gardens, specially designed wetlands, and other forms of “green infrastructure” to rein in pollution from countless diffuse sources — and to save money.
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Natural Gas and Its Role<br /> In the U.S. Energy Endgame

Opinion

Natural Gas and Its Role
In the U.S. Energy Endgame

by kevin doran and adam reed
The boom in natural gas production has undeniable benefits for the United States. But two policy analysts argue that embracing a monolithic energy future dominated by gas will mean the loss of a golden opportunity: Leveraging cheap, abundant gas to create a sustainable future based on renewable power.
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Are Fast-Breeder Reactors<br /> A Nuclear Power Panacea?

Analysis

Are Fast-Breeder Reactors
A Nuclear Power Panacea?

by fred pearce
Proponents of this nuclear technology argue that it can eliminate large stockpiles of nuclear waste and generate huge amounts of low-carbon electricity. But as the battle over a major fast-breeder reactor in the UK intensifies, skeptics warn that fast-breeders are neither safe nor cost-effective.
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Oh Canada: The Government’s<br /> Broad Assault on Environment

Analysis

Oh Canada: The Government’s
Broad Assault on Environment

by ed struzik
Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government has been weakening Canada’s environmental regulations and slashing funds for oversight and research — all while promoting aggressive resource development. Critics warn these unprecedented actions pose a major threat to the nation’s vast natural heritage.
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An Influential Global Voice<br /> Warns of Runaway Emissions

Interview

An Influential Global Voice
Warns of Runaway Emissions

by fen montaigne
Few international figures have been as consistent in warning about the threat posed by global warming as economist Fatih Birol, of the International Energy Agency. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Birol explains why the situation is worsening and what needs to be done to significantly slow emissions.
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Can Environmentalists Learn<br /> To Love a Texas Coal Plant?

Report

Can Environmentalists Learn
To Love a Texas Coal Plant?

by marc gunther
A planned carbon capture and storage plant in West Texas is being billed as the “cleanest coal plant in the world.” But can the $3 billion project help move the global power industry toward the elusive goal of low-carbon electricity, or is it just another way of perpetuating fossil fuels?
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Japan at a Crossroads Over<br /> Nuclear Revival or Greener Path

Analysis

Japan at a Crossroads Over
Nuclear Revival or Greener Path

by andrew dewit
In the wake of the Fukushima disaster, Japan has idled all 50 of its nuclear reactors. While the central government and business leaders are warning a prolonged shutdown could spell economic doom, many Japanese and local officials see the opportunity for a renewable energy revolution.
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Solar Windows: Transforming<br /> Buildings Into Energy Producers

Report

Solar Windows: Transforming
Buildings Into Energy Producers

by dave levitan
The vast amount of glass in skyscrapers and office buildings represents enormous potential for an emerging technology that turns windows into solar panels. But major questions remain as to whether solar windows can be sufficiently inexpensive and efficient to be widely adopted.
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Waging the Battle to Build the<br /> U.S.’s First Offshore Wind Farm

Interview

Waging the Battle to Build the
U.S.’s First Offshore Wind Farm

by doug struck
After a decade seeking approval to build the U.S.’s first offshore wind farm, Cape Wind president Jim Gordon is on the verge of beginning construction. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, he describes why his struggle has been good for clean energy — and why the fight is still not over.
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China’s Looming Conflict<br /> Between Energy and Water

Analysis

China’s Looming Conflict
Between Energy and Water

by christina larson
In its quest to find new sources of energy, China is increasingly looking to its western provinces. But the nation’s push to develop fossil fuel and alternative sources has so far ignored a basic fact — western China simply lacks the water resources needed to support major new energy development.
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U.S. Fossil Fuel Boom<br /> Dims Glow of Clean Energy

Report

U.S. Fossil Fuel Boom
Dims Glow of Clean Energy

by keith schneider
A surge in gas and oil drilling in the U.S. is helping drive the economic recovery and is enhancing energy security. But as the situation in Ohio shows, cheaper energy prices and the focus on fossil fuels has been bad news for the renewable energy industry.
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Shunning Nuclear Power<br /> Will Lead to a Warmer World

Opinion

Shunning Nuclear Power
Will Lead to a Warmer World

by spencer r. weart
A physicist argues that if we allow our overblown and often irrational fears of nuclear energy to block the building of a significant number of new nuclear plants, we will be choosing a far more perilous option: the intensified burning of planet-warming fossil fuels.
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Innovation is Not Enough:<br /> Why Polluters Must Pay

Opinion

Innovation is Not Enough:
Why Polluters Must Pay

by gernot wagner
Innovative energy technologies are certainly essential if the world is to curb carbon emissions. But in response to a recent e360 article by the co-founders of the Breakthrough Institute, an economist argues we must also cap emissions or put a price on carbon in order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
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Beyond Cap and Trade,<br /> A New Path to Clean Energy

Opinion

Beyond Cap and Trade,
A New Path to Clean Energy

by ted nordhaus and michael shellenberger
Putting a price and a binding cap on carbon is not the panacea that many thought it to be. The real road to cutting U.S. emissions, two iconoclastic environmentalists argue, is for the government to help fund the development of cleaner alternatives that are better and cheaper than natural gas.
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Rethinking Carbon Dioxide:<br /> From a Pollutant to an Asset

Analysis

Rethinking Carbon Dioxide:
From a Pollutant to an Asset

by marc gunther
Three startup companies led by prominent scientists are working on new technologies to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The scientific community is skeptical, but these entrepreneurs believe the process of CO2 removal can eventually be profitable and help cool an overheating planet.
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Amory Lovins Lays Out<br /> His Clean Energy Plan

Interview

Amory Lovins Lays Out
His Clean Energy Plan

by fen montaigne
For four decades, Amory Lovins has been a leading proponent of a renewable power revolution that would wean the U.S. off fossil fuels and usher in an era of energy independence. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, he talks about his latest book, which describes his vision of how the world can attain a green energy future by 2050.
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California’s ‘Clean Car’ Rules<br /> Help Remake U.S. Auto Industry

Interview

California’s ‘Clean Car’ Rules
Help Remake U.S. Auto Industry

by paul rogers
With the passage of strict new auto emission and air pollution standards, California has again demonstrated its role as the U.S.’s environmental pacesetter. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Mary Nichols, chairwoman of the California Air Resources Board, explains how her state is helping drive a clean-car revolution.
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For the Electric Car,<br /> A Slow Road to Success

Report

For the Electric Car,
A Slow Road to Success

by jim motavalli
The big electric car launches of 2011 failed to generate the consumer excitement that some had predicted. But as new battery technologies emerge and tougher mileage standards kick in, automakers and analysts still believe that electric vehicles have a bright future.
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Building a Better Bulb:<br /> Lighting Revolution Advances

Report

Building a Better Bulb:
Lighting Revolution Advances

by dave levitan
With the industry’s support and despite political opposition, new U.S. lighting efficiency standards went into effect this month. This move, along with similar actions in Europe and China, is helping spur new technologies that will change the way the world's homes and businesses are illuminated.
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As Fukushima Cleanup Begins,<br /> Long-term Impacts are Weighed

Report

As Fukushima Cleanup Begins,
Long-term Impacts are Weighed

by winifred bird
The Japanese government is launching a large-scale cleanup of the fields, forests, and villages contaminated by the Fukushima nuclear disaster. But some experts caution that an overly aggressive remediation program could create a host of other environmental problems.
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Solar Power Off the Grid:<br /> Energy Access for World’s Poor

Opinion

Solar Power Off the Grid:
Energy Access for World’s Poor

by carl pope
More than a billion people worldwide lack access to electricity. The best way to bring it to them — while reducing greenhouse gas emissions — is to launch a global initiative to provide solar panels and other forms of distributed renewable power to poor villages and neighborhoods.
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In Australia’s New Carbon Tax,<br /> A Host of Missed Opportunities

Opinion

In Australia’s New Carbon Tax,
A Host of Missed Opportunities

by richard denniss
The Australian government will begin imposing a tax on carbon emissions in mid-2012. But large giveaways to industry mean Australia’s scheme doesn’t go nearly far enough in reducing the nation’s CO2 emissions or providing economic stimulus.
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As Coal Use Declines in U.S.,<br /> Coal Companies Focus on China

Analysis

As Coal Use Declines in U.S.,
Coal Companies Focus on China

by jonathan thompson
With aging coal-fired U.S. power plants shutting down, major American coal companies are exporting ever-larger amounts of coal to China. Now, plans to build two new coal-shipping terminals on the West Coast have set up a battle with environmentalists who want to steer the world away from fossil fuels.
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Making the Case for the<br /> Value of Environmental Rules

Opinion

Making the Case for the
Value of Environmental Rules

by gernot wagner
Some U.S. politicians have been attacking environmental regulations, arguing that they hurt the economy and that the costs outweigh the benefits. But four decades of data refute that claim and show we need not choose between a clean environment and economic growth.
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A Power Company President<br /> Ties His Future to Green Energy

Interview

A Power Company President
Ties His Future to Green Energy

David Crane, the CEO of one of the nation’s largest electric companies, has become a leading proponent of renewable energy. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, he explains how, in the face of government paralysis, the private sector can help lead the shift away from fossil fuels.
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Building Retrofits: Tapping<br /> The Energy-Saving Potential

Report

Building Retrofits: Tapping
The Energy-Saving Potential

by david biello
No more cost-effective way to make major cuts in energy use and greenhouse gas emissions exists than retrofitting buildings. Now, from New York to Mumbai to Melbourne, a push is on to overhaul older buildings to make them more energy efficient.
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The Triumph of King Coal:<br /> Hardening Our Coal Addiction

Analysis

The Triumph of King Coal:
Hardening Our Coal Addiction

by fred pearce
Despite all the talk about curbing greenhouse gas emissions, the world is burning more and more coal. The inconvenient truth is that coal remains a cheap and dirty fuel — and the idea of “clean” coal remains a distant dream.
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The Ethical Dimension of<br /> Tackling Climate Change

Opinion

The Ethical Dimension of
Tackling Climate Change

by stephen gardiner
The global challenge of climate change poses a perfect moral storm — by failing to take action to rein in carbon emissions, the current generation is spreading the costs of its behavior far into the future. Why should people in the future pay to clean up our mess?
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With the Keystone Pipeline,<br /> Drawing a Line in the Tar Sands

Opinion

With the Keystone Pipeline,
Drawing a Line in the Tar Sands

by bill mckibben
For environmentalists protesting the Keystone XL pipeline, the battle is about more than just transporting tar sands oil from Alberta. It’s about whether the United States — and the rest of the world — will finally come to its senses about global warming.
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A Solar Panel on Every Roof?<br /> In U.S., Still a Distant Dream

Report

A Solar Panel on Every Roof?
In U.S., Still a Distant Dream

by dave levitan
Daunted by high up-front costs, U.S. homeowners continue to shy away from residential solar power systems, even as utility-scale solar projects are taking off. But with do-it-yourself kits and other innovative installation approaches now on the market, residential solar is having modest growth. 
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China’s Nuclear Power Plans<br /> Unfazed by Fukushima Disaster

Report

China’s Nuclear Power Plans
Unfazed by Fukushima Disaster

by david biello
In the wake of the Fukushima meltdowns, some nations are looking to move away from nuclear power. But not China, which is proceeding with plans to build 36 reactors over the next decade. Now some experts are questioning whether China can safely operate a host of nuclear plants.
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In Arid South African Lands,<br /> Fracking Controversy Emerges

Report

In Arid South African Lands,
Fracking Controversy Emerges

by todd pitock
The contentious practice of hydrofracking to extract underground natural gas has now made its way to South Africa’s Karoo, a semi-desert known for its stark beauty and indigenous plants. But opposition is growing amid concern that fracking will deplete and pollute the area’s scarce water supplies.
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As Alberta’s Tar Sands Boom,<br /> Foes Target Project’s Lifelines

Report

As Alberta’s Tar Sands Boom,
Foes Target Project’s Lifelines

by jim robbins
Exploiting North America’s largest oil deposit has destroyed vast stretches of Canada's boreal forest, arousing the ire of those opposed to this massive development of fossil fuels. Now those opponents are battling the Keystone XL pipeline, which would pass through environmentally sensitive Western lands as it moves the oil to market.
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Forum: Just How Safe <br /> Is ‘Fracking’ of Natural Gas?

Forum

Forum: Just How Safe
Is ‘Fracking’ of Natural Gas?


New technologies for freeing natural gas from underground shale formations have led to a hydraulic fracturing boom across the U.S. that is now spreading to other countries. In a Yale Environment 360 forum, eight experts discuss whether “fracking” can be done without serious harm to water and air quality and what environmental safeguards may be needed.

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By Barcoding Trees, Liberia<br /> Looks to Save its Rainforests

Report

By Barcoding Trees, Liberia
Looks to Save its Rainforests

by fred pearce
A decade after a brutal civil war, the West African nation of Liberia has partnered with the European Union on a novel system for protecting its remaining forests — marking every harvestable tree so it can be traced to its final destination. But given Liberia’s history of conflict and corruption, will it work?
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Using CO2 to Make Fuel:<br /> A Long Shot for Green Energy

Report

Using CO2 to Make Fuel:
A Long Shot for Green Energy

by david biello
What if the ever-increasing amounts of carbon dioxide that are heating up the atmosphere could be used to produce an abundant supply of liquid fuels? The U.S. government and private labs are pursuing that Holy Grail of renewable energy — but for now the cost of large-scale production is prohibitive.
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Germany’s Unlikely Champion<br /> Of a Radical Green Energy Path

Report

Germany’s Unlikely Champion
Of a Radical Green Energy Path

by christian schwägerl
The disaster at the Fukushima plant in Japan convinced German Chancellor Angela Merkel that nuclear power would never again be a viable option for her country. Now Merkel has embarked on the world’s most ambitious plan to power an industrial economy on renewable sources of energy.
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Nissan’s Carlos Ghosn Seeks<br /> Revenge for the Electric Car

Interview

Nissan’s Carlos Ghosn Seeks
Revenge for the Electric Car

Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn believes the technology currently exists to produce affordable, all-electric cars that will find a global market. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, he talks about Nissan’s new Leaf and why he is confident that, despite earlier setbacks, the time for all-electric vehicles is now.
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Energy Déjà Vu: Obama Must<br /> Break with Failed U.S. Policies

Opinion

Energy Déjà Vu: Obama Must
Break with Failed U.S. Policies

by michael graetz
Despite soaring rhetoric and some promising proposals, President Obama is repeating the same mistakes that have doomed U.S. energy policy to failure for 40 years. Until Obama and Congress finally put a true price on the fossil fuels America consumes, the U.S. will continue its addiction to foreign oil and domestic coal.
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Against the Odds: Saving<br /> Rhinos in a Troubled Land

Interview

Against the Odds: Saving
Rhinos in a Troubled Land

by christina m. russo
For three decades, Raoul du Toit has led the fight to protect black rhinos in Zimbabwe, a struggle that earned him a Goldman Environmental Prize this week. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, he talks about the challenge of saving this iconic African animal in the face of his country’s economic collapse and a new wave of poaching.
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A New Pickens Plan: Good for<br /> The U.S. or Just for T. Boone?

Analysis

A New Pickens Plan: Good for
The U.S. or Just for T. Boone?

by fen montaigne
Three years after unveiling his plan for U.S. energy independence, which won praise from environmentalists for its reliance on wind power, Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens is back with a proposal to convert the U.S. trucking fleet to natural gas. But as his new plan gains traction, questions arise over how green it really is.
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Radioactivity in the Ocean:<br /> Diluted, But Far from Harmless

Report

Radioactivity in the Ocean:
Diluted, But Far from Harmless

by elizabeth grossman
With contaminated water from Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear complex continuing to pour into the Pacific, scientists are concerned about how that radioactivity might affect marine life. Although the ocean’s capacity to dilute radiation is huge, signs are that nuclear isotopes are already moving up the local food chain.
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Anatomy of a Nuclear Crisis:<br /> A Chronology of Fukushima

Analysis

Anatomy of a Nuclear Crisis:
A Chronology of Fukushima

by david biello
The world’s worst nuclear reactor mishap in 25 years was caused by a massive natural calamity but compounded by what appear to be surprising mistakes by Japanese engineers. The result has been a fast-moving disaster that has left officials careening from one emergency to the next.
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Examining the Missteps<br /> In Japan’s Nuclear Crisis

Interview

Examining the Missteps
In Japan’s Nuclear Crisis

A leading U.S. expert on nuclear energy discusses some of the fundamental failures that led to the intensifying nuclear drama in Japan and looks at what might lie in store for nuclear power worldwide.
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Japan’s Once-Powerful<br /> Nuclear Industry is Under Siege

Report

Japan’s Once-Powerful
Nuclear Industry is Under Siege

by caroline fraser
The disaster at the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant has highlighted the importance of nuclear energy to Japan and the power long wielded by the nuclear sector. But that influence now is sure to wane, to the relief of opponents who have fought for years to check nuclear's rapid growth.
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‘Fracking’ Comes to Europe,<br /> Sparking Rising Controversy

Report

‘Fracking’ Comes to Europe,
Sparking Rising Controversy

by ben schiller
As concerns grow in the U.S. about the environmental impact of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” to extract natural gas from shale, companies have set their sights on Europe and its abundant reserves of this “unconventional” gas. But from Britain to Poland, critics warn of the potentially high environmental cost of this looming energy boom.
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Growth of Wood Biomass Power<br /> Stokes Concern on Emissions

Report

Growth of Wood Biomass Power
Stokes Concern on Emissions

by dave levitan
Across the U.S., companies are planning scores of projects to burn trees and wood waste to produce electricity, claiming such biomass plants can be carbon-neutral. But critics contend that combusting wood is not really a form of green energy and are urging a go-slow approach until clear guidelines can be established.
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Green Energy’s Big Challenge:<br />  The Daunting Task of Scaling Up

Report

Green Energy’s Big Challenge:
The Daunting Task of Scaling Up

by david biello
To shift the global economy from fossil fuels to renewable energy will require the construction of wind, solar, nuclear, and other installations on a vast scale, significantly altering the face of the planet. Can these new forms of energy approach the scale needed to meet the world’s energy demands?
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Threat of Mercury Poisoning<br /> Rises With Gold Mining Boom

Report

Threat of Mercury Poisoning
Rises With Gold Mining Boom

by shefa siegel
With high gold prices fueling a global gold rush, millions of people in the developing world are turning to small-scale gold mining. In many countries, including Colombia, miners are putting themselves and those who live nearby at risk by using highly toxic mercury in the refining process.
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Refilling the Carbon Sink:<br /> Biochar’s Potential and Pitfalls

Report

Refilling the Carbon Sink:
Biochar’s Potential and Pitfalls

by dave levitan
The idea of creating biochar by burning organic waste in oxygen-free chambers — and then burying it — is being touted as a way to cool the planet. But while it already is being produced on a small scale, biochar’s proponents and detractors are sharply divided over whether it can help slow global warming.
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New Mission for U.S. Military:<br /> Breaking its Dependence on Oil

Interview

New Mission for U.S. Military:
Breaking its Dependence on Oil

by louis peck
As head of a new energy office at the Pentagon, Sharon Burke is charged with finding ways for the U.S. armed forces to cut its dangerous reliance on oil. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, she talks about what new technologies are being tested and why the military considers energy use a key strategic issue in the field.
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Green Roofs are Starting<br /> To Sprout in American Cities

Report

Green Roofs are Starting
To Sprout in American Cities

by bruce stutz
Long a proven technology in Europe, green roofs are becoming increasingly common in U.S. cities, with major initiatives in Chicago, Portland, and Washington, D.C. While initially more expensive than standard coverings, green roofs offer some major environmental — and economic — benefits.
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Sustainable Palm Oil:<br /> Rainforest Savior or Fig Leaf?

Analysis

Sustainable Palm Oil:
Rainforest Savior or Fig Leaf?

by fred pearce
The push to promote sustainable palm oil is turning into a test case for green consumerism. The outcome could help determine the future of the rainforests of Asia and Africa — and whether consumer pressure can really sway corporate giants.
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China Turns to Biogas to<br /> Ease Impact of Factory Farms

Report

China Turns to Biogas to
Ease Impact of Factory Farms

by eliza barclay
In China, millions of tons of waste from livestock farms are causing severe water pollution and massive emissions of methane. Now, some large livestock operators are turning to biogas fuel production in hopes of creating “ecological” factory farms.
READ MORE

After a Strong Counterattack, <br />Big Coal Makes a Comeback

Opinion

After a Strong Counterattack,
Big Coal Makes a Comeback

by jeff goodell
With an aggressive campaign focused on advertising, lobbying, and political contributions, America’s coal industry has succeeded in beating back a challenge from environmentalists and clean-energy advocates. The dirty truth is that Big Coal is more powerful today than ever.
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In California’s Mojave Desert,<br /> Solar-Thermal Projects Take Off

Interview

In California’s Mojave Desert,
Solar-Thermal Projects Take Off

by todd woody
By year’s end, regulators are expected to approve a host of solar energy projects in California that could eventually produce as much electricity as several nuclear plants. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, John Woolard, the CEO of the company that has begun construction on the world’s largest solar-thermal project, discusses the promise — and challenges — of this green energy boom.
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A Positive Path for Meeting<br /> The Global Climate Challenge

Opinion

A Positive Path for Meeting
The Global Climate Challenge

by roger a. pielke jr.
Climate policies that require public sacrifice and limiting economic growth are doomed to failure. To succeed, policies to reduce emissions must promise real benefits and must help make clean energy cheaper.
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Rising Hopes that Electric Cars<br /> Can Play a Key Role on the Grid

Report

Rising Hopes that Electric Cars
Can Play a Key Role on the Grid

by dave levitan
Will electric cars one day become part of a network of rechargeable batteries that can help smooth out the intermittent nature of wind and solar power? Many experts believe so, pointing to programs in Europe and the U.S. that demonstrate the promise of vehicle-to-grid technology.
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The Promise of Fusion:<br /> Energy Miracle or Mirage?

Report

The Promise of Fusion:
Energy Miracle or Mirage?

by alex salkever
The U.S. has invested billions of dollars trying to create a controlled form of nuclear fusion that could be the energy source for an endless supply of electricity. But as a federal laboratory prepares for a key test, major questions remain about pulling off this long-dreamed-of technological feat.
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How One Small Business<br /> Cut Its Energy Use and Costs

Opinion

How One Small Business
Cut Its Energy Use and Costs

by tom bowman
How significant would it be if America’s 29 million small businesses increased their energy efficiency and reduced their emissions? Judging from the example of one California entrepreneur, the impact could be far greater than you might expect.
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A High-Risk Energy Boom<br /> Sweeps Across North America

Analysis

A High-Risk Energy Boom
Sweeps Across North America

by keith schneider
Energy companies are rushing to develop unconventional sources of oil and gas trapped in carbon-rich shales and sands throughout the western United States and Canada. So far, government officials have shown little concern for the environmental consequences of this new fossil-fuel development boom.
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Steady Growth of Wind Industry <br />Moves EU Closer to Green Goals

Interview

Steady Growth of Wind Industry
Moves EU Closer to Green Goals

by fen montaigne
Europe is in the midst of a wind energy boom, with the continent now installing more wind power capacity than any other form of energy. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, the European Wind Energy Association's Christian Kjaer describes his vision of how wind can lead the way in making Europe’s electricity generation 100 percent renewable by 2050.
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A Symbolic Solar Road Trip <br />To Reignite a Climate Movement

Opinion

A Symbolic Solar Road Trip
To Reignite a Climate Movement

by bill mckibben
An activist caravan to bring one of Jimmy Carter’s solar panels back to the White House symbolizes the time that the U.S. has lost in developing new energy technologies – and the urgent need for taking action on climate.
READ MORE

With a Boost from Innovation,<br /> Small Wind Is Powering Ahead

Report

With a Boost from Innovation,
Small Wind Is Powering Ahead

by alex salkever
New technologies, feed-in tariffs, and tax credits are helping propel the small wind industry, especially in the United States. Once found mostly in rural areas, small wind installations are now starting to pop up on urban rooftops.
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Natural Gas as Panacea:<br /> Dubious Path to a Green Future

Opinion

Natural Gas as Panacea:
Dubious Path to a Green Future

by daniel b. botkin
Many energy experts contend natural gas is the ideal fuel as the world makes the transition to renewable energy. But since much of that gas will come from underground shale, potentially at high environmental cost, it would be far better to skip the natural gas phase and move straight to massive deployment of solar and wind power.
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The Nuclear Power Resurgence:<br /> How Safe Are the New Reactors?

Report

The Nuclear Power Resurgence:
How Safe Are the New Reactors?

by susan q. stranahan
As utilities seek to build new nuclear power plants in the U.S. and around the world, the latest generation of reactors feature improvements over older technologies. But even as attention focuses on nuclear as an alternative to fossil fuels, questions remain about whether the newer reactors are sufficiently foolproof to be adopted on a large scale.
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Eyeing the Difficult Path<br /> To a Sustainable Future

Interview

Eyeing the Difficult Path
To a Sustainable Future

Environmentalist David Orr says the easy part of helping the United States live within its ecological limits may be passing laws, such as one that puts a price on carbon. The hard part, he maintains in an interview with Yale Environment 360, is changing a culture of consumption that causes extensive environmental damage — and unhappiness.
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Toward Sustainable Travel:<br /> Breaking the Flying Addiction

Opinion

Toward Sustainable Travel:
Breaking the Flying Addiction

by elisabeth rosenthal
Flying dwarfs any other individual activity in terms of carbon emissions, yet more and more people are traveling by air. With no quick technological fix on the horizon, what alternatives — from high-speed trains to advanced videoconferencing — can cut back the amount we fly?
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Energy Sleuths in Pursuit<br /> Of the Truly Green Building

Report

Energy Sleuths in Pursuit
Of the Truly Green Building

by richard conniff
The practice of “commissioning,” in which an engineer monitors the efficiency of a building from its design through its initial operation, just may be the most effective strategy for reducing long-term energy usage, costs, and greenhouse gas emissions from buildings. So why is it so seldom used?
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The Greening of Silicon Valley:<br /> It Looks Like the Next Big Thing

Report

The Greening of Silicon Valley:
It Looks Like the Next Big Thing

by todd woody
California’s high-tech giants have long used renewable energy to help power their Silicon Valley headquarters. Now, companies such as Google, Adobe Systems, and eBay are preparing for the next step — investing in off-site solar and wind installations and innovative technologies that will supply their offices and data centers with green electricity.
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The Consumption Conundrum:<br /> Driving the Destruction Abroad

Analysis

The Consumption Conundrum:
Driving the Destruction Abroad

by oswald j. schmitz and thomas e. graedel
Our high-tech products increasingly make use of rare metals, and mining those resources can have devastating environmental consequences. But if we block projects like the proposed Pebble Mine in Alaska, are we simply forcing mining activity to other parts of the world where protections may be far weaker?
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A Controversial Drilling Practice<br /> Hits Roadblock in New York

Report

A Controversial Drilling Practice
Hits Roadblock in New York

by bruce stutz
Hydro fracturing is a profitable method of natural gas extraction that uses large quantities of water and chemicals to free gas from underground rock formations. But New York City’s concerns that the practice would threaten its water supply have slowed a juggernaut that has been sweeping across parts of the northeastern United States.
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The Case Against Biofuels:<br /> Probing Ethanol’s Hidden Costs

Opinion

The Case Against Biofuels:
Probing Ethanol’s Hidden Costs

by c. ford runge
Despite strong evidence that growing food crops to produce ethanol is harmful to the environment and the world’s poor, the Obama administration is backing subsidies and programs that will ensure that half of the U.S.’s corn crop will soon go to biofuel production. It’s time to recognize that biofuels are anything but green.
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World’s Pall of Black Carbon<br /> Can Be Eased With New Stoves

Report

World’s Pall of Black Carbon
Can Be Eased With New Stoves

by jon r. luoma
Two billion people worldwide do their cooking on open fires, producing sooty pollution that shortens millions of lives and exacerbates global warming. If widely adopted, a new generation of inexpensive, durable cook stoves could go a long way toward alleviating this problem.
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A High-Tech Entrepreneur<br /> On the Front Lines of Solar

Interview

A High-Tech Entrepreneur
On the Front Lines of Solar

by todd woody
After making his fortune with Idealab and a host of technology start-ups, Bill Gross has turned his attention to renewable energy. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Gross talks about the solar power plant technology his company eSolar is developing and about the future of solar.
READ MORE

CO2 Capture and Storage<br /> Gains a Growing Foothold

Report

CO2 Capture and Storage
Gains a Growing Foothold

by david biello
The drive to extract and store CO2 from coal-fired power plants is gaining momentum, with the Obama administration backing the technology and the world’s first capture and sequestration project now operating in the U.S. Two questions loom: Will carbon capture and storage be affordable? And will it be safe?
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America’s Unfounded Fears of<br /> A Green-Tech Race with China

Analysis

America’s Unfounded Fears of
A Green-Tech Race with China

by christina larson
There has been growing talk about a clean-tech race between China and the U.S., often cast in ominous tones. But the quest to develop and implement renewable energy can be one where both nations win.
READ MORE

It’s Green Against Green<br /> In Mojave Desert Solar Battle

Report

It’s Green Against Green
In Mojave Desert Solar Battle

by todd woody
Few places are as well suited for large-scale solar projects as California’s Mojave Desert. But as mainstream environmental organizations push plans to turn the desert into a center for renewable energy, some green groups — concerned about spoiling this iconic Western landscape — are standing up to oppose them.
READ MORE

The Electric Car Revolution<br /> Will Soon Take to the Streets

Report

The Electric Car Revolution
Will Soon Take to the Streets

by jim motavalli
For years, the promise and hype surrounding electric cars failed to materialize. But as this year’s Detroit auto show demonstrated, major car companies and well-funded startups — fueled by federal clean-energy funding and rapid improvement in lithium-ion batteries — are now producing electric vehicles that will soon be in showrooms.
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Looking for a Silver Lining<br /> in the Post-Summit Landscape

Opinion

Looking for a Silver Lining
in the Post-Summit Landscape

by fred pearce
Much was left undone in Copenhagen, and the many loopholes in the climate accord could lead to rising emissions. But the conference averted disaster by keeping the UN climate negotiations alive, and some expressed hope that the growth of renewable energy technology may ultimately save the day.
READ MORE

Copenhagen: Things Fall Apart<br /> and an Uncertain Future Looms

Opinion

Copenhagen: Things Fall Apart
and an Uncertain Future Looms

by bill mckibben
The Copenhagen summit turned out to be little more than a charade, as the major nations refused to make firm commitments or even engage in an honest discussion of the consequences of failing to act.
READ MORE

The Pursuit of New Ways<br /> to Boost Solar Development

Report

The Pursuit of New Ways
to Boost Solar Development

by jon r. luoma
The solar power boom in Germany, Spain, and parts of the United States has been fueled by government subsidies. But now some U.S. states — led by New Jersey, of all places — are pioneering a different approach: issuing tradable credits that can be sold on the open market. So far, the results have been promising.
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Leveling Appalachia: The Legacy<br /> of Mountaintop Removal Mining

e360 Video

Leveling Appalachia: The Legacy
of Mountaintop Removal Mining

During the last two decades, mountaintop removal mining in Appalachia has destroyed or severely damaged more than a million acres of forest and buried nearly 2,000 miles of streams. Leveling Appalachia: The Legacy of Mountaintop Removal Mining, a video report produced by Yale Environment 360 in collaboration with MediaStorm, focuses on the environmental and social impacts of this practice and examines the long-term effects on the region’s forests and waterways.

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Pulling CO2 from the Air:<br /> Promising Idea, Big Price Tag

Report

Pulling CO2 from the Air:
Promising Idea, Big Price Tag

by david biello
Of the various geoengineering schemes being proposed to cool an overheated planet, one approach — extracting carbon dioxide from the atmosphere using “artificial trees” — may have the most potential. But both questions and big hurdles remain before this emerging technology could be widely deployed.
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Pumping Up the Grid:<br /> Key Step to Green Energy

Opinion

Pumping Up the Grid:
Key Step to Green Energy

by michael noble
The U.S. can build all the wind turbines and solar arrays it wants, but until it does something about improving its outmoded electricity grid, renewable energy will never reach its potential. What we need is a new electricity transmission system, with the costs shared by all.
READ MORE

Solar Power from Space:<br /> Moving Beyond Science Fiction

Report

Solar Power from Space:
Moving Beyond Science Fiction

by michael d. lemonick
For more than 40 years, scientists have dreamed of collecting the sun’s energy in space and beaming it back to Earth. Now, a host of technological advances, coupled with interest from the U.S. military, may be bringing that vision close to reality.
READ MORE

The Great Paradox of China:<br /> Green Energy and Black Skies

Report

The Great Paradox of China:
Green Energy and Black Skies

by christina larson
China is on its way to becoming the world’s largest producer of renewable energy, yet it remains one of the most polluted countries on earth. A year after the Beijing Olympics, economic and political forces are combining to make China simultaneously a leader in alternative energy – and in dirty water and air.
READ MORE

Obama’s Science Adviser<br /> Urges Leadership on Climate

Interview

Obama’s Science Adviser
Urges Leadership on Climate

by elizabeth kolbert
John Holdren, the president’s top science adviser, is playing a key role in shaping the Obama administration’s strategy to combat global warming. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Holdren discusses the prospects for achieving key breakthroughs on climate change, both in Congress and at upcoming talks in Copenhagen.audio
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The Folly of ‘Magical Solutions’<br /> for Targeting Carbon Emissions

Opinion

The Folly of ‘Magical Solutions’
for Targeting Carbon Emissions

by roger a. pielke jr.
Setting unattainable emissions targets is not a policy — it’s an act of wishful thinking, argues one political scientist. Instead, governments and society should focus money and attention on workable solutions for improving energy efficiency and de-carbonizing our economies.
READ MORE

Sen. Kerry on Climate Bill:<br /> ‘We’re Going to Get It Done’

Interview

Sen. Kerry on Climate Bill:
‘We’re Going to Get It Done’

by darren samuelsohn
In an interview with Yale Environment 360, John Kerry praises the carbon cap-and-trade legislation now being debated in the U.S. Senate, describes its importance to upcoming climate talks in Copenhagen, and explains how he plans to help the landmark legislation clear the Senate and become law.audio
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Its Economy In Shambles,<br /> the Midwest Goes Green

Report

Its Economy In Shambles,
the Midwest Goes Green

by keith schneider
It took awhile, but the U.S. Midwest finally has recognized that the industries that once powered its economy will never return.  Now leaders in the region are looking to renewable energy manufacturing and technologies as key to the heartland’s renaissance.
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The Challenge for Green Energy:<br /> How to Store Excess Electricity

Report

The Challenge for Green Energy:
How to Store Excess Electricity

by jon r. luoma
For years, the stumbling block for making renewable energy practical and dependable has been how to store electricity for days when the sun isn't shining and the wind isn't blowing. But new technologies suggest this goal may finally be within reach.
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For Greening Aviation, <br /> Are Biofuels the Right Stuff?

Report

For Greening Aviation,
Are Biofuels the Right Stuff?

by david biello
Biofuels – made from algae and non-food plants – are emerging as a potentially viable alternative to conventional jet fuels. Although big challenges remain, the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions could be major.
READ MORE

The Flawed Logic of<br /> the Cap-and-Trade Debate

Opinion

The Flawed Logic of
the Cap-and-Trade Debate

by ted nordhaus and michael shellenberger
Two prominent — and iconoclastic — environmentalists argue that current efforts to tax or cap carbon emissions are doomed to failure and that the answer lies not in making dirty energy expensive but in making clean energy cheap.
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Putting a Price on Carbon:<br /> An Emissions Cap or a Tax?

Forum

Putting a Price on Carbon:
An Emissions Cap or a Tax?

The days of freely dumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere are coming to an end, but how best to price carbon emissions remains in dispute. As the U.S. Congress debates the issue, Yale Environment 360 asked eight experts to discuss the merits of a cap-and-trade system versus a carbon tax.
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Hailed as a Miracle Biofuel,<br /> Jatropha Falls Short of Hype

Report

Hailed as a Miracle Biofuel,
Jatropha Falls Short of Hype

by jon r. luoma
The scrubby jatropha tree has been touted as a wonder biofuel with unlimited potential. But questions are now emerging as to whether widespread jatropha cultivation is really feasible or whether it will simply displace badly-needed food crops in the developing world.
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To Make Clean Energy Cheaper,<br /> U.S. Needs Bold Research Push

Opinion

To Make Clean Energy Cheaper,
U.S. Needs Bold Research Push

by mark muro and teryn norris
For spurring the transformation to a low-carbon economy, the federal and state governments, universities, and the private sector must join together to create a network of energy research institutes that could speed development of everything from advanced batteries to biofuels.
READ MORE

A Potential Breakthrough<br /> in Harnessing the Sun’s Energy

Report

A Potential Breakthrough
in Harnessing the Sun’s Energy

by david biello
New solar thermal technology overcomes a major challenge facing solar power – how to store the sun’s heat for use at night or on a rainy day. As researchers tout its promise, solar thermal plants are under construction or planned from Spain to Australia to the American Southwest.
READ MORE

Despite Economy, the Prospects for Green Energy Remain Strong

Analysis

Despite Economy, the Prospects for Green Energy Remain Strong

by jackson robinson and elizabeth levy
The economic downturn need not halt the development of green energy. In fact, with renewable technologies improving dramatically and new U.S. policies emerging, continued progress toward an energy revolution is inevitable.
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Report

In China’s Mining Region,
Villagers Stand Up to Pollution

by zhou jigang and zhu chuhua
After decades of living with fouled rivers and filthy air, residents of China’s Manganese Triangle are rising up and refusing to accept the intolerable conditions created by illegal mining activity. Their bold protests have shone light on the dark side of China’s economic boom. From Sichuan province, Chinese journalists Zhou Jigang and Zhu Chuhua report.
READ MORE

Capturing the Ocean’s Energy

Report

Capturing the Ocean’s Energy

by jon r. luoma
Despite daunting challenges, technology to harness the power of the waves and tides is now being deployed around the world – from Portugal to South Korea to New York’s East River. These projects, just beginning to produce electricity, are on the cutting edge of renewable energy’s latest frontier: hydrodynamic power.
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Amory Lovins on Why<br /> Energy Efficiency is the Key

Interview

Amory Lovins on Why
Energy Efficiency is the Key

In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Amory Lovins, co-founder and chairman of Rocky Mountain Institute, says that world's biggest untapped energy source is efficiency. And retooling for energy efficiency will require "barrier-busting" at many levels. And government, Lovins says, "should steer, not row." audio
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Analysis

Obama is Ready to Move
on a Clean-Energy Economy

by keith schneider
For four decades, American politicians have talked about ending U.S. dependence on foreign oil. But during the campaign and since his election victory, Barack Obama has made it clear that he finally intends to change the way America powers itself.
READ MORE

Offshore Drilling in Alaska:<br /> Time to Slow the Rush

Opinion

Offshore Drilling in Alaska:
Time to Slow the Rush

by margaret williams
In the last eight years, vast areas of offshore Alaska have been opened to oil drilling. Now, a conservationist argues, the Obama administration must reverse the Bush-era policies if the state is to avoid irreparable harm to Arctic wildlife and to some of the most biologically productive waters on earth.
READ MORE

Under a Sooty Exterior,<br /> a Green China Emerges

Analysis

Under a Sooty Exterior,
a Green China Emerges

by fred pearce
You’ve heard the environmental horror stories: rivers running black, air unfit to breathe, two new coal-fired power plants a week. But thanks to a surging entrepreneurial spirit and new policies, China is fast becoming a leader in green innovation, from recycling to developing electric cars to harnessing the wind.
READ MORE

Opinion

President Obama’s Big Climate Challenge

by bill mckibben
As he assumes the presidency, Barack Obama must make climate-change legislation and investment in green energy top priorities. And he must be ready to take bold — and politically unpopular — action to address global warming.
READ MORE

Opinion

The Clean Air Act:
Jump-Starting Climate Action

by michael northrop and david sassoon
The next U.S. president should not wait for Congress to act on climate-change legislation. Instead, he should make use of the Clean Air Act to begin controlling greenhouse gas emissions and to implement a national cap-and-trade program.
READ MORE

Report

Deep Geothermal: The Untapped Renewable Energy Source

by david biello
Until now, geothermal technology has only been used on a small scale to produce power. But with major new projects now underway, deep geothermal systems may soon begin making a significant contribution to the world’s energy needs.
READ MORE

Thomas Friedman: Hope in a Hot, Flat and Crowded World

Interview

Thomas Friedman: Hope in a Hot, Flat and Crowded World

by elizabeth kolbert
In an exclusive interview with Yale Environment 360, best-selling author Thomas Friedman talks with Elizabeth Kolbert about his new book and about why he’s optimistic that an energy-technology revolution can revitalize the United States and set the world on a new, greener path. audio
READ MORE

Analysis

Carbon Offsets:
The Indispensable Indulgence

by richard conniff
Despite the potential for abuse, the concept of paying others to compensate for our environmental sins can be a valuable tool in helping reduce carbon emissions. But the world can’t simply buy its way out of global warming.
READ MORE

Revenge of the Electric Car

Report

Revenge of the Electric Car

by jeff goodell
After years of false starts and failures, the electric car may finally be poised to go big-time. With automakers from GM to Chrysler to Nissan preparing to roll out new plug-in hybrids or all-electric models, it looks like the transition from gasoline to electricity is now irreversible.
READ MORE

The Corn Ethanol Juggernaut

Opinion

The Corn Ethanol Juggernaut

by robert bryce
Oil isn't America's only fuel addiction. Inefficient and environmentally damaging, the corn-ethanol boondoggle will nonetheless be hard to stop.
READ MORE

Solar and Wind Power <br />Held Hostage – Again

Opinion

Solar and Wind Power
Held Hostage – Again

by denis hayes
Congress has repeatedly failed to extend the tax credits for renewable energy, which expire at the end of this year. The gridlock is discouraging investment in renewables and jeopardizing major solar and wind projects throughout the country.
READ MORE

A Reality Check on <br />the Pickens Energy Plan

Analysis

A Reality Check on
the Pickens Energy Plan

by vaclav smil
Texas billionaire T. Boone Pickens has always been one to think big. But his sweeping 10-year energy plan for America faces obstacles that may be insurmountable.
READ MORE

The U.S. and China: <br />Common Ground on Climate

Opinion

The U.S. and China:
Common Ground on Climate

by orville schell
The crackdown on dissent surrounding the Beijing Olympics has been a reminder of China’s lingering authoritarianism. Yet for all our differences, the U.S. and China — the world’s two largest emitters of carbon dioxide — have no choice but to work together to tackle climate change.
READ MORE

Too Many People, <br />Too Much Consumption

Opinion

Too Many People,
Too Much Consumption

by paul r. ehrlich and anne h. ehrlich
Four decades after his controversial book, The Population Bomb, scientist Paul Ehrlich still believes that overpopulation — now along with overconsumption — is the central environmental crisis facing the world. And, he insists, technological fixes will not save the day.
READ MORE

Report

Solar’s Time Has Finally Arrived

by jon r. luoma
After years of optimistic predictions and false starts, it looks like solar's moment is here at last. Analysts say a pattern of rapid growth, technological breakthroughs, and falling production costs has put solar power on the brink of becoming the world's dominant electricity source.
READ MORE

Analysis

Coal’s New Technology:
Panacea or Risky Gamble?

by jeff goodell
The coal industry, political leaders, and some environmentalists have high hopes for the concept of carbon sequestration, which takes carbon dioxide emissions from coal plants and buries them underground. But so far, this new technology does not live up to the hype.
READ MORE

The Arctic Resource Rush is On

Report

The Arctic Resource Rush is On

by ed struzik
As the Arctic's sea ice melts, energy and mining companies are moving into previously inaccessible regions to tap the abundant riches that lie beneath the permafrost and the ocean floor. The potential environmental impacts are troubling.
READ MORE

As Energy Prices Rise, <br />the Pressure to Drill Builds

Opinion

As Energy Prices Rise,
the Pressure to Drill Builds

by eugene linden
President Bush is urging Congress to open the U.S. coasts and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling. But America must ultimately wean itself off fossil fuels. The question is whether it makes the transition now — or waits until every last one of its unspoiled places has been drilled.
READ MORE

Opinion

Climate Solutions:
Charting a Bold Course

by denis hayes
A cap-and-trade system is not the answer, according to a leading alternative-energy advocate. To really tackle climate change, the United States must revolutionize its entire energy strategy.
READ MORE

The Tipping Point

Opinion

The Tipping Point

by bill mckibben
New evidence suggests that we have already passed a dangerous threshold for the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere – and that the time for taking strong action is slipping away.
READ MORE

Report

What the Next President Must Do

by elizabeth kolbert
After years of U.S. inaction, a new president will have to move quickly to address global warming. In an e360 report, New Yorker writer Elizabeth Kolbert surveys the views of various nonpartisan groups and provides a blueprint for what needs to be done.
READ MORE

The Myth of Clean Coal

Opinion

The Myth of Clean Coal

by richard conniff
The coal industry and its allies are spending more than $60 million to promote the notion that coal is clean. But so far, “clean coal” is little more than an advertising slogan.
READ MORE

Opinion

States Take the Lead on Climate

by michael northrop and david sassoon
With the Bush Administration and Congress failing to act, many states are devising sweeping climate and energy policies that could be a blueprint for a future national climate policy.
READ MORE

On Climate Legislation, It Looks Like “Wait Until Next Year”

Washington Watch

On Climate Legislation, It Looks Like “Wait Until Next Year”

by darren samuelsohn
As debate begins on Capitol Hill, the prospects for passing a climate change bill this year are dimming. Increasingly, it appears as though any new law will await a new Congress and a new president.
READ MORE

e360 digest

RELATED e360 DIGEST ITEMS


24 Oct 2014: New Mapping Tool Shows U.S. Geothermal Plants and Heat Potential

A new mapping tool from the U.S. Department of Energy lets users see how geothermal power plants

Enlarge

Geothermal power plants and heat flow potential
across the country are taking advantage of the heat stored within the earth’s crust. Most of the nation’s 154 operational and planned geothermal plants are clustered in western states, where geothermal heat potential is especially high (red areas). Notably, the map identifies two areas that appear ripe for new geothermal development: one in the Great Plains and another at the border of Virginia and West Virginia. The bulk of the facilities are conventional geothermal plants, which generate power using fluid found naturally deep below earth's surface. Steam captured at the surface spins a turbine, which then powers an electric generator. A newer type of technology, called enhanced geothermal, forces cold water from the surface down into the hot crust. Both types are generally considered clean sources of energy.
PERMALINK

 

20 Oct 2014: Electricity Access Has Small
Effect on Emissions in India, Study Says

Expanding electricity to the homes of 650 million people in India over the past 30 years had minimal
electricity access in India
A third of all households in India lack electricity.
direct impact on the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to a study published in Nature Climate Change. Although many humanitarian and development organizations have stressed the importance of improving electricity access in low-income countries, it has been unclear how this would impact overall emissions levels. An analysis of trends in India between 1981 and 2011 shows that expanding household electricity access by roughly 45 percent contributed only 3 to 4 percent to the nation's overall growth in carbon dioxide emissions. When the indirect effects of greater electricity access, such as increased wealth and consumerism, are taken into account, household electricity use raised India’s emissions by 11 to 25 percent over that period, the study found.
PERMALINK

 

10 Oct 2014: Natural Gas Production Causing
Large Methane Hotspot Over U.S. Southwest

A single methane “hotspot” in the U.S. Southwest accounts for 10 percent of the nation’s total estimated
methane coalbed
Coalbed natural gas field in northwest New Mexico
methane emissions, according to an analysis by researchers at the University of Michigan and Caltech. The area is centered in New Mexico's San Juan Basin near the shared borders of Colorado, Utah, and Arizona — the site of the largest and most active coalbed natural gas production operation in the U.S. Natural gas from the basin is more than 95 percent methane, a significantly more potent heat-trapping gas than carbon dioxide. Satellite measurements collected over seven years showed natural gas production operations in the area released roughly 650,000 tons of methane to the atmosphere each year. The methane emissions are not associated with hydraulic fracturing operations in the region, which began after the measurements were collected.
PERMALINK

 

09 Oct 2014: Investment in Energy Efficiency
Outpaces the Renewable Energy Sector

Global investments in energy-efficiency measures have reached $310 billion annually — nearly $100 billion more than investments in renewable energy last year, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency. Efficiency measures saved the equivalent of 2 billion tons of oil between 2001 and 2011 in the 18 countries evaluated in the report, which is more than the annual energy demand of the U.S. and Germany combined. The residential sector saw the largest improvement in efficiency, with energy demand falling 5 percent from 2001 levels, according to the report. Homes and businesses are commonly turning to efficiency measures such as low-energy lighting, smart thermostats, and improved insulation to lower energy costs. To limit global temperature increases to no more than 2 degrees Celsius, the largest share of emissions reductions — 40 percent — will need to come from improvements in energy efficiency, the agency said.
PERMALINK

 

Interview: Still Bullish on Hybrids,
But Skeptical about Electric Cars

As one of the principal designers of the gasoline-electric hybrid Prius, Bill Reinert has never been shy about sharing his views on what
“Bill
Bill Reinert
he considers the poor prospects for fully electric vehicles — and on just about anything related to alternative fuels and the future of transportation. For Reinert, who recently retired from the Toyota Motor Corporation, the physical and performance limitations of battery technology are the key stumbling blocks for electrics. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, he talks about the potential he sees in other low-emissions vehicle technologies now in development, particularly fuel cells, and the state of the global effort to find efficient and affordable alternatives to gasoline-powered cars.
Read the interview.
PERMALINK

 

29 Sep 2014: Inexpensive Solar Cell
Makes Hydrogen Fuel from Sunlight

Researchers have developed a device that can store solar energy by inexpensively converting it to hydrogen —
solar water splitter
Electrodes split water to hydrogen and oxygen.
an important step toward making solar power available around the clock. The technology, which which was recently described in the journal Science, is a type of "water splitter," a device that can efficiently divide water into its constituent parts: hydrogen and oxygen. The concept is important for solar energy storage because hydrogen gas can be used directly as fuel and is relatively easy to store, the researchers say. The device can convert 12.3 percent of the energy in sunlight to hydrogen, according to the report; conventional solar cells, in comparison, convert roughly 16 percent of energy from sunlight to electricity, but a significant portion of that energy is lost when converting it to a form that is easily stored. The design of this water splitter is an improvement over previous iterations, the researchers say, but the device's longevity and reliability will need to improve before it becomes a practical, large-scale solar energy storage option.
PERMALINK

 

25 Sep 2014: World's Largest Coal Company
Plans Billion-Dollar Solar Project in India

Continuing its push to increase investment in renewable energy, India’s energy ministry is working with the
Gevra coal mine India
Gevra mine, operated by Coal India Limited
state-controlled coal mining company Coal India Limited — the largest coal mining operation in the world — to install solar power projects worth $1.2 billion. The company is in the process of selecting sites for solar plants, which are expected to have a combined total energy-generating capacity of 1,000 megawatts, the Times of India reports. India currently has roughly 2,200 megawatts of grid-connected solar power capacity, so Coal India Limited's contribution would be a substantial increase. When prime minister Narendra Modi took office earlier this year, he pledged to bring electricity to the homes of the nation's entire population of 1.2 billion — 400 million of whom lack any access to electricity — within the next five years, largely through solar projects.
PERMALINK

 

The Overview: Alberta Tar Sands


These satellite images, taken from July 1984 through May 2011, reveal the development of the Athabasca oil sands, commonly called "tar sands," which lie at the heart of Alberta’s oil deposits. Tar sands mining, which has become a significant issue for environmentalists, has been rapid and extensive, growing to cover nearly 260 square miles of the Canadian province by 2011. Nearly 2 million barrels of oil are produced every day, according to the Alberta government, with production expected to grow to nearly 4 million barrels per day over the next decade.
View the images.
PERMALINK

 

17 Sep 2014: Shift to Mass Transit Could
Have Major Economic and Climate Benefits

Expanding public transportation and infrastructure that promotes walking and biking throughout the world's

Click to Enlarge

Urban transportation-related emissions
cities could save $100 trillion and cut transportation-related carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2050, according to an analysis by researchers at the University of California, Davis, and the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy. Urban transportation-related emissions could double by 2050 as growth continues in major cities in China, India, and other developing countries. But if China alone were to develop extensive bus rapid transit and commuter transit networks, its predicted transportation-related emissions in 2050 could be cut by 40 percent, the analysis found. The U.S. — currently the world's largest contributor to urban transportation-related emissions — is seeing declines in that sector as population growth slows, vehicle fuel efficiency improves, and people drive less. But those emissions cuts could accelerate sharply if urban mass transit were improved, the report said.
PERMALINK

 

16 Sep 2014: Tackling Climate Change Could
Pay Off in as Little as 15 Years, Report Finds

Limiting greenhouse gas emissions globally over the next 15 years is both economically feasible and likely to save money, according to a new report from the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate. Between 2015 and 2030, nations are expected to invest roughly $90 trillion in urban land-use and energy infrastructure, the analysis estimated. Steering those investments toward renewable energy, efficiency improvements, and other low-emission technologies would make that global investment more costly, the panel of government and business leaders conceded. But these costs could eventually be offset by the lowered operating costs associated with renewable power, the report suggested. Although they are difficult to quantify, health care savings associated with improved air quality would also offset costs. According to the report, the biggest challenges for governments will be enacting stronger rules and policies that favor low-carbon development, such as cutting the $600 billion currently spent on fossil fuel subsidies.
PERMALINK

 

12 Sep 2014: New High-Resolution Maps Show
Greenhouse Gas Emissions at City-Level

Researchers have developed a new method for mapping global carbon emissions for individual cities on an

Click to Enlarge

Emissions before and after financial crisis
hourly basis — a major improvement over previous techniques, which quantified greenhouse emissions less accurately and at coarser scales, according to researchers at Arizona State University. The maps are derived from worldwide databases of population, power plants, and national fuel use statistics, and they encompass 15 years of data. Among other findings, the analysis revealed increased emissions in China, India, Europe, and the northern U.S. in 2010, after the peak of the global financial crisis. The researchers say this reflects faster recoveries from the crisis in those regions compared to, for example, the southeastern U.S., where emissions lagged in 2010. The results of the analysis match ground-level measurements, confirming the accuracy of the maps, the researchers say.
PERMALINK

 

10 Sep 2014: U.S. Renewable Energy Growth
In 2014 Dwarfs Fossil Fuel Plant Additions

The U.S. this year has significantly scaled back coal and natural gas power plant additions compared to 2013,

Click to Enlarge

2014 power additions
and solar and wind power capacity is far outpacing the 2013 installation rate, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. No utility-scale coal plants were added in the first six months of 2014, whereas more than 1,500 megawatts of coal-fired power capacity had been added during the same period last year. Natural gas additions were cut roughly in half compared to the first half of 2013, while wind additions more than doubled and solar power increased by 70 percent. The only coal plants scheduled to come online in 2014 are the Kemper plant in Mississippi, which will capture its own carbon emissions, and a small conventional steam coal plant in North Dakota, reflecting the challenging market for coal due to impending federal environmental regulations and competition from natural gas.
PERMALINK

 

04 Sep 2014: Buying Video Games on Disc Is
More Energy Efficient than Downloading

Downloading video games from the Internet creates a larger carbon footprint than driving to the store to purchase the same game on a Blu-ray disc, according to findings published in the

PlayStation game console and Blu-ray disc
Journal of Industrial Ecology. For an 8.8-gigabyte PlayStation video game file — the average size of video games in 2010 — the resources required to produce, distribute, and dispose of Blu-ray discs are far less than the energy required to power servers, routers, and networks involved in downloading the game file, researchers say. The advantages of discs decrease as file sizes shrink, the analysis found, and for game files less than 1.3 gigabytes, downloading has a smaller carbon footprint than purchasing the game on Blu-ray. Between 2010 and 2013, however, game file sizes actually doubled for PlayStation4 and increased by 25 percent for PlayStation3. The analysis illustrates why it is not always true that digital distribution of media will have lower carbon emissions than distribution by physical means, the researchers say.
PERMALINK

 

Interview: Calling for Moratorium
On Development of Tar Sands Oil

In a recent commentary in Nature, aquatic ecologist Wendy Palen and seven colleagues were sharply critical of the way that Canada and the United States have gone
Wendy Palen
Wendy Palen
about developing Alberta’s vast tar sands deposits and the infrastructure needed to transport those fossil fuels to market. Rather than looking at the cumulative impact of this massive energy development on the climate and the environment, Palen and her co-authors wrote, major decisions have been made in piecemeal fashion. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Palen talks about why a moratorium on new tar sands developments is needed, how the decision-making process is biased in favor of short-term economic benefits, why the fate of the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline is critical, and what can be done to begin factoring in the real costs of exploiting the tar sands.
Read the interview.
PERMALINK

 

29 Aug 2014: New Database Tracks Ecological
Health Impacts of Dams on World's Rivers

A newly launched online database illustrates the impacts of nearly 6,000 dams on the world's 50 major

Click to Enlarge

Dams in the Yangtze basin
river basins, ranking their ecological health according to indicators of river fragmentation, water quality, and biodiversity. The "State of the World's Rivers" project was developed by the advocacy organization International Rivers and created using Google Earth. Users can compare the health of individual river basins, see the locations of existing and planned dams, and explore 10 of the most significant river basins in more depth. The 6,000 dams represented in the database are a small percentage of the more than 50,000 large dams that impact the world's rivers, the organization notes.
PERMALINK

 

28 Aug 2014: Rail Transport of U.S. Oil Up
By 9 Percent, Creating Rail Car Shortage

The amount of U.S. oil shipped by rail rose 9 percent during the first seven months of the year compared to 2013, reaching 16,000 carloads per week in July,

Click to Enlarge

Rise in rail oil transport
according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). U.S. crude oil production reached an estimated 8.5 million barrels per day in June for the first time in 18 years and is driving the increase in rail transport, the EIA said. Only 3 percent of petroleum shipped by rail in 2009 was crude oil; now crude accounts for more than half. Over the past three years, much of the oil has come from the Bakken Shale, primarily in North Dakota. Between 60 and 70 percent of the more than 1 million barrels per day of oil produced in North Dakota has been transported by rail so far in 2014, according to the North Dakota Pipeline Authority. The demand for rail cars has created a backlog that's been particularly worrisome for farmers, who say their grain is rotting before shipping space is available to take it to market.
PERMALINK

 

27 Aug 2014: Obama Seeks Climate
Accord Without Congressional Approval

The Obama administration is aiming to forge a legally binding, international agreement that would cut fossil

Barack Obama
fuel emissions and direct funds to poor nations dealing with climate change, without ratification from Congress, The New York Times reports. The agreement would combine legally binding updates to an existing 1992 climate change treaty — allowing Obama to sidestep the constitutional requirement that treaties be ratified by two-thirds of the Senate — with voluntary pledges for specific emissions targets and aid to help poorer countries adapt to climate change. Nations would then be legally required to report progress toward their emissions targets at international meetings that would "name and shame" countries making slow or no progress, the Times reports. Lawmakers from both political parties say that no climate agreement requiring congressional approval could be reached in the near future. Republican leaders are expected to oppose the agreement being worked on by the administration and say it would be an abuse of executive authority.
PERMALINK

 

20 Aug 2014: Exporting Coal to Korea Could
Slash Emissions by 21 Percent, Analysis Says

Exporting U.S. coal to South Korean power plants could cut greenhouse gas emissions by 21 percent compared to burning it at less efficient U.S. plants, according to researchers at Duke University. The strategy could also generate more than $25 billion in economic activity in the U.S. and cut emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and particulate matter, the researchers say. For those benefits to occur, however, U.S. plants would need to replace the exported coal with natural gas, and South Korea must use the imported coal to replace dirtier sources of coal. South Korea's coal-fired power plants are newer and significantly more efficient than those in the U.S. — efficient enough to offset emissions associated with shipping the coal across the globe, the researchers say. However, they also caution that further studies are needed to assess the scenario's full environmental impacts, including water use, land use, and the degradation of vital habitats.
PERMALINK

 

19 Aug 2014: Wind Energy Prices at
All-Time Low, According to U.S. Report

The cost of wind power in the U.S. is at an all-time low of 2.5 cents per kilowatt hour, according to a new report

Click to Enlarge

Major U.S. wind farms
from the U.S. Department of Energy, and utility companies are in some cases electing to use wind as an energy source over fossil fuels because of its low cost. Although wind power grew modestly in 2013 — installations were only 8 percent of those seen in the record year of 2012 — it now meets 4.5 percent of U.S. energy needs, producing enough electricity to power 16 million homes. The country ranks second only to China in installed wind capacity, the report says, and wind power accounts for 33 percent of all new U.S. electric capacity additions since 2007. That progress has been heavily dependent on federal, state, and local incentives, however, and wind power's growth could slow if those incentives expire. Its viability could also fall if natural gas becomes more affordable than wind, the report cautions.
PERMALINK

 

14 Aug 2014: Some Chemicals in Fracking
Fluids Raise Red Flags, Researchers Say

Of the more than 200 compounds used in hydraulic fracturing fluids, eight are toxic to mammals and the

A Marcellus Shale fracking operation
health risks of roughly one-third are unknown, according to researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. Hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, is a drilling technique that releases natural gas and oil by injecting fluids with chemical additives deep into rock formations. The research team tracked down substances commonly used as fracking additives and found they include gelling agents to thicken the fluids, biocides to inhibit microbial growth, and compounds to prevent pipe corrosion. The industry claims the additives are non-toxic and food-grade, and while that is true in some cases, the researchers note, most fracking compounds require treatment before they can be safely released into the environment. Moreover, a number of chemicals that could pose health risks, such as corrosion inhibitors and biocides, are used in reasonably high concentrations in fracking fluids, the researchers note.
PERMALINK

 

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