Topic: Pollution & Health


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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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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In Developing World, A Push to <br />Bring E-Waste Out of Shadows

Report

In Developing World, A Push to
Bring E-Waste Out of Shadows

by mike ives
For decades, hazardous electronic waste from around the world has been processed in unsafe backyard recycling operations in Asia and Africa. Now, a small but growing movement is seeking to provide these informal collectors with incentives to sell e-waste to advanced recycling facilities.
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As Uses of Biochar Expand, <br />Climate Benefits Still Uncertain

Analysis

As Uses of Biochar Expand,
Climate Benefits Still Uncertain

by mark hertsgaard
Research shows that biochar made from plant fodder and even chicken manure can be used to scrub mercury from power plant emissions and clean up polluted soil. The big question is whether biochar can be produced on a sufficiently large scale to slow or reverse global warming.
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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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A Legal Call to Arms to Remedy <br />Environmental and Climate Ills

Interview

A Legal Call to Arms to Remedy
Environmental and Climate Ills

by fen montaigne
University of Oregon law professor Mary Wood says environmental laws in the United States are simply not working. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, she explains why she believes a new strategy and robust judicial intervention are needed to protect nature and the climate.
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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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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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A Successful Push to Restore <br />Europe’s Long-Abused Rivers

Analysis

A Successful Push to Restore
Europe’s Long-Abused Rivers

by fred pearce
From Britain to the Czech Republic, European nations have been restoring rivers to their natural state — taking down dams, removing levees, and reviving floodplains. For a continent that long viewed rivers as little more than shipping canals and sewers, it is a striking change.
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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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Out of India’s Trash Heaps, <br />A Controversy on Incineration

Report

Out of India’s Trash Heaps,
A Controversy on Incineration

by david ferris
India is planning to burn more of its trash to generate badly needed electricity. But as the case of a waste-to-energy plant in New Delhi shows, critics are worried about lax air pollution controls and the impact of incineration on people who eke out a living picking through waste dumps.
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China at Crossroads: Balancing <br />The Economy and Environment

Analysis

China at Crossroads: Balancing
The Economy and Environment

by r. edward grumbine
After three decades of unbridled economic growth and mounting ecological problems, China and its new leadership face a key challenge: cleaning up the dirty air, polluted water, and tainted food supplies that are fueling widespread discontent among the country’s burgeoning middle class.
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Canada’s Great Inland Delta: <br />A Precarious Future Looms

Report

Canada’s Great Inland Delta:
A Precarious Future Looms

by ed struzik
The Peace-Athabasca Delta, one of the world’s largest freshwater deltas, is facing major change as rising temperatures, a prolonged drought, and water withdrawals for Alberta’s tar sands industry threaten to increasingly dry out this vast expanse of waterways and wetlands.
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Focusing a Lens on China's Environmental Challenges

Photo Essay

Focusing a Lens on China's Environmental Challenges

by sean gallagher
Traveling throughout China, from the Tibetan Plateau to the lush subtropical forests in the south, a photojournalist documents the vast scope of the country's environmental challenges.
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How Tiny Fish Could Reveal <br />Effects of Chemical Exposure

Report

How Tiny Fish Could Reveal
Effects of Chemical Exposure

by elizabeth grossman
Researchers at a lab at Oregon State University are using zebrafish to assess the impacts of multiple chemical exposures. Their findings could help lead to a better understanding of how chemicals in the environment and in consumer products affect human health.
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Bringing Back the Night: <br /> A Fight Against Light Pollution

Report

Bringing Back the Night:
A Fight Against Light Pollution

by paul bogard
As evidence mounts that excessive use of light is harming wildlife and adversely affecting human health, new initiatives in France and elsewhere are seeking to turn down the lights that flood an ever-growing part of the planet.
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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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No Refuge: Tons of Trash Covers<br /> The Remote Shores of Alaska

Opinion

No Refuge: Tons of Trash Covers
The Remote Shores of Alaska

by carl safina
A marine biologist traveled to southwestern Alaska in search of ocean trash that had washed up along a magnificent coast rich in fish, birds, and other wildlife. He and his colleagues found plenty of trash – as much as a ton of garbage per mile on some beaches.
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Coal Pollution and the Fight<br /> For Environmental Justice

Interview

Coal Pollution and the Fight
For Environmental Justice

by diane toomey
As its director of "climate justice," Jacqueline Patterson is leading the NAACP’s campaign to shut down coal-burning power plants in minority communities. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, she talks about the skepticism she faces from her own constituents.
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An Economic Boom in Turkey<br /> Takes a Toll on Marine Life

Report

An Economic Boom in Turkey
Takes a Toll on Marine Life

by sulmaan khan
The development-at-any-cost policies of Turkish Prime Minister Recip Tayyip Erdogan — a key factor behind the protests and clashes in Istanbul’s Taksim Square — are also playing a role in the steady decline of the nation’s porpoises, dolphins, and other marine life.
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How Mussel Farming Could<br /> Help to Clean Fouled Waters

Report

How Mussel Farming Could
Help to Clean Fouled Waters

by paul greenberg
Along the shores of New York Harbor, scientists are investigating whether this ubiquitous bivalve can be grown in urban areas as a way of cleansing coastal waters of sewage, fertilizers, and other pollutants.
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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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Long Outlawed in the West,<br /> Lead Paint Sold in Poor Nations

Report

Long Outlawed in the West,
Lead Paint Sold in Poor Nations

by rebecca kessler
A new study finds that household lead paint — banned for years in the U.S. and Europe because of its health effects on children — is commonly sold in the African nation of Cameroon. Is lead paint the latest case of Western companies selling unsafe products in developing countries?
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An Advocate in Pursuit of<br /> Environmental Justice at EPA

Interview

An Advocate in Pursuit of
Environmental Justice at EPA

by ben goldfarb
Matthew Tejada is taking over the EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice after helping low-income communities in Houston fight air pollution in their neighborhoods. He talks to Yale Environment 360 about how his work in Texas prepared him for the challenges of his new post.
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Grisly Trend: Green Activists<br /> Are Facing Deadly Dangers

Report

Grisly Trend: Green Activists
Are Facing Deadly Dangers

by fred pearce
With activists killed in Brazil, Cambodia, the Philippines, and elsewhere, 2012 may have been the worst year yet for violence against those working to protect the environment. So far, little has been done to halt this chilling development.
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Mercury’s Silent Toll<br /> On the World’s Wildlife

Analysis

Mercury’s Silent Toll
On the World’s Wildlife

by rebecca kessler
Scientists are only beginning to understand the impacts of mercury contamination on birds, fish, and other wildlife populations. But what they are finding is alarming — even low levels can cause harm, and chronic exposure has unexpected and troubling effects.
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To Tackle Runoff, Cities<br /> Turn to Green Initiatives

Report

To Tackle Runoff, Cities
Turn to Green Initiatives

by dave levitan
Urban stormwater runoff is a serious problem, overloading sewage treatment plants and polluting waterways. Now, various U.S. cities are creating innovative green infrastructure — such as rain gardens and roadside plantings — that mimics the way nature collects and cleanses water.
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Black Carbon and Warming:<br /> It’s Worse than We Thought

Analysis

Black Carbon and Warming:
It’s Worse than We Thought

by carl zimmer
A new study indicates soot, known as black carbon, plays a far greater role in global warming than previously believed and is second only to CO2 in the amount of heat it traps in the atmosphere. Reducing some forms of soot emissions — such as from diesel fuel and coal burning — could prove effective in slowing down the planet’s warming.
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Should Environmentalists<br /> Just Say No to Eating Beef?

Report

Should Environmentalists
Just Say No to Eating Beef?

by marc gunther
Conservation organizations are working with industry to try to make beef production more sustainable. But some are questioning whether green groups should be accepting funds from the beef industry or whether they should instead be urging consumers to stop eating beef.
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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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How No-Flush Toilets Can<br /> Help Make a Healthier World

Report

How No-Flush Toilets Can
Help Make a Healthier World

by cheryl colopy
Inadequate sewage systems and the lack of toilets in much of the developing world have created a major public health and environmental crisis. Now various innovators are promoting new kinds of toilets and technologies that use little or no water and recycle the waste.
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The Next Pandemic: Why<br /> It Will Come from Wildlife

Analysis

The Next Pandemic: Why
It Will Come from Wildlife

by david quammen
Experts believe the next deadly human pandemic will almost certainly be a virus that spills over from wildlife to humans. The reasons why have a lot to do with the frenetic pace with which we are destroying wild places and disrupting ecosystems.
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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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Cooling a Warming Planet:<br /> A Global Air Conditioning Surge

Analysis

Cooling a Warming Planet:
A Global Air Conditioning Surge

by stan cox
The U.S. has long used more energy for air conditioning than all other nations combined. But as demand increases in the world’s warmer regions, global energy consumption for air conditioning is expected to continue to rise dramatically and could have a major impact on climate change.
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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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Fifty Years After <em>Silent Spring</em>,<br /> Attacks on Science Continue

Opinion

Fifty Years After Silent Spring,
Attacks on Science Continue

by frank graham jr.
When Silent Spring was published in 1962, author Rachel Carson was subjected to vicious personal assaults that had nothing do with the science or the merits of pesticide use. Those attacks find a troubling parallel today in the campaigns against climate scientists who point to evidence of a rapidly warming world.
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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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The Pollution Fallout From<br /> Zimbabwe’s Blood Diamonds

Report

The Pollution Fallout From
Zimbabwe’s Blood Diamonds

by andrew mambondiyani
The regime of President Robert Mugabe has been accused of profiting from the Marange diamond fields in eastern Zimbabwe, garnering illicit funds that could be used to bolster his oppressive security forces. Now critics are alleging the government is failing to stop mining-waste pollution that is sickening livestock and local villagers.
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The Clean Water Act at 40:<br /> There’s Still Much Left to Do

Opinion

The Clean Water Act at 40:
There’s Still Much Left to Do

by paul greenberg
The Clean Water Act of 1972, one of the boldest environmental laws ever enacted, turns 40 this year, with an impressive record of cleaning up America's waterways. But from New York Harbor to Alaska’s Bristol Bay, key challenges remain.
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A Kenyan Woman Stands Up<br /> Against Massive Dam Project

Interview

A Kenyan Woman Stands Up
Against Massive Dam Project

by christina m. russo
Ikal Angelei is helping lead a campaign to stop construction of a major dam in Ethiopia that threatens the water supply and way of life of tens of thousands of indigenous people. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, she explains what she believes is at stake in the fight against the Gibe III dam.
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Hopes Fade for Cleanup<br /> In Nigeria’s Oil-Rich Delta

Report

Hopes Fade for Cleanup
In Nigeria’s Oil-Rich Delta

by fred pearce
The Ogoniland region of Nigeria has long been badly polluted by decades of oil production that has fouled the delta and contaminated drinking water. A United Nations report has recommended a massive recovery initiative, but so far the Nigerian government has shown few signs it will agree to the cleanup project.
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China’s Ma Jun on the Fight<br /> To Clean Up Beijing’s Dirty Air

Interview

China’s Ma Jun on the Fight
To Clean Up Beijing’s Dirty Air

by christina larson
Chinese environmentalist Ma Jun played an important role in a recent successful effort to force the government to more strictly monitor air pollution in Beijing. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, he talks about the daunting challenges of China’s anti-pollution battle and how social media is helping lead the fight to improve the nation’s air.
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Betting on Technology to<br /> Help Turn Consumers Green

Report

Betting on Technology to
Help Turn Consumers Green

by marc gunther
U.S. consumers tell researchers they want to buy environmentally friendly products, but so far they haven’t been doing that on a large scale. Now a host of companies and nonprofits are trying to use new technology — from smartphones to social networking — to make it easier for buyers to make the green choice.
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Scientists Warn of Low-Dose<br /> Risks of Chemical Exposure

Report

Scientists Warn of Low-Dose
Risks of Chemical Exposure

by elizabeth grossman
A new study finds that even low doses of hormone-disrupting chemicals — used in everything from plastics to pesticides – can have serious effects on human health. These findings, the researchers say, point to the need for basic changes in how chemical safety testing is conducted.
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How a Gold Mining Boom is<br /> Killing the Children of Nigeria

Report

How a Gold Mining Boom is
Killing the Children of Nigeria

by elizabeth grossman
It is a pattern seen in various parts of the world — children being sickened from exposure to lead from mining activities. But the scale of the problem in Nigeria’s gold-mining region of Zamfara is unprecedented: More than 400 children have died and thousands more have been severely poisoned by exposure to lead dust.
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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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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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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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Northwest Oyster Die-offs Show<br /> Ocean Acidification Has Arrived

Report

Northwest Oyster Die-offs Show
Ocean Acidification Has Arrived

by elizabeth grossman
The acidification of the world’s oceans from an excess of CO2 has already begun, as evidenced recently by the widespread mortality of oyster larvae in the Pacific Northwest. Scientists say this is just a harbinger of things to come if greenhouse gas emissions continue to soar.
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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 Rise in Fungal Diseases is<br /> Taking Growing Toll on Wildlife

Report

A Rise in Fungal Diseases is
Taking Growing Toll on Wildlife

by michelle nijhuis
In an increasingly interconnected world, fungal diseases are spreading at an alarming rate and have led to deadly outbreaks in amphibian, bat, and bee populations. And in the last decade, researchers note, some of the most virulent strains have infected people.
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Are Flame Retardants Safe?<br /> Growing Evidence Says ‘No’

Report

Are Flame Retardants Safe?
Growing Evidence Says ‘No’

by elizabeth grossman
New studies have underscored the potentially harmful health effects of the most widely used flame retardants, found in everything from baby blankets to carpets. Health experts are now calling for more aggressive action to limit these chemicals, including cutting back on highly flammable, petroleum-based materials used in many consumer products.
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The Big Payback from<br /> Bringing Back Peat Bogs

Report

The Big Payback from
Bringing Back Peat Bogs

by fred pearce
The draining and burning of peat bogs is a major global source of CO2 emissions. Now, a pilot project in Russia — where wildfires burned vast areas of dried-out bogs last summer — is looking to re-flood and restore tens of thousands of acres to their natural state.
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Assessing Emerging Challenges<br /> In U.S. Environmental Health

Interview

Assessing Emerging Challenges
In U.S. Environmental Health

by elizabeth grossman
From understanding the cumulative impacts of widely used chemicals to preparing for life in a warming world, a host of environmental health issues now face medical experts. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Lynn Goldman, dean of the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services, talks about meeting the challenges.
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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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The World at 7 Billion:<br /> Can We Stop Growing Now?

Opinion

The World at 7 Billion:
Can We Stop Growing Now?

by robert engelman
With global population expected to surpass 7 billion people this year, the staggering impact on an overtaxed planet is becoming more and more evident. A two-pronged response is imperative: empower women to make their own decisions on childbearing and rein in our excessive consumption of resources.
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Toxics in the ‘Clean Rooms’:<br /> Are Samsung Workers at Risk?

Report

Toxics in the ‘Clean Rooms’:
Are Samsung Workers at Risk?

by elizabeth grossman
Workers groups in South Korea report an unusually high incidence of cancers and other serious diseases among employees at Samsung’s semiconductor and other electronics plants. While the company denies any link, the pattern of illnesses is disturbingly similar to that seen at semiconductor facilities in the U.S. and Europe.
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From the Fields to Inner City,<br /> Pesticides Affect Children’s IQ

Report

From the Fields to Inner City,
Pesticides Affect Children’s IQ

by elizabeth grossman
Scientists studying the effects of prenatal exposure to pesticides on the cognitive abilities of children have come to a troubling conclusion: Whether pregnant mothers are exposed to organophosphate pesticides in California fields or New York apartments, the chemicals appear to impair their children’s mental abilities.
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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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Climate’s Strong Fingerprint<br /> In Global Cholera Outbreaks

Report

Climate’s Strong Fingerprint
In Global Cholera Outbreaks

by sonia shah
For decades, deadly outbreaks of cholera were attributed to the spread of disease through poor sanitation. But recent research demonstrates how closely cholera is tied to environmental and hydrological factors and to weather patterns — all of which may lead to more frequent cholera outbreaks as the world warms.
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Panel Chief on the Gulf Spill:<br /> Complacency Led to Disaster

Interview

Panel Chief on the Gulf Spill:
Complacency Led to Disaster

by john mcquaid
William Reilly led the national commission that investigated the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and says he was struck by the totally inadequate response plans that were in place. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, he talks about why it’s crucial to carry out the reforms needed to prevent future disasters.
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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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In China, a New Transparency<br /> On Government Pollution Data

Report

In China, a New Transparency
On Government Pollution Data

by christina larson
The Chinese government has begun to make environmental records available to the public, empowering green groups and citizens as they try to force factories — and the Western companies they supply — to comply with the law.
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A Warning by Key Researcher<br /> On Risks of BPA in Our Lives

Interview

A Warning by Key Researcher
On Risks of BPA in Our Lives

by elizabeth kolbert
The synthetic chemical, BPA — found in everything from plastic bottles to cash register receipts — is a potent, estrogen-mimicking compound. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, biologist Frederick vom Saal harshly criticizes U.S. corporations and government regulators for covering up — or ignoring — the many health risks of BPA.
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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 War-Scarred Landscape,<br /> Vietnam Replants Its Forests

Report

In War-Scarred Landscape,
Vietnam Replants Its Forests

by mike ives
With large swaths of forest destroyed by wartime defoliants, and even larger areas lost to post-war logging, Vietnam has set an ambitious goal for regenerating its woodlands. But proponents of reintroducing native tree species face resistance from a timber industry that favors fast-growing exotics like acacia.
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China Takes First Steps<br /> In the Fight Against Acid Rain

Report

China Takes First Steps
In the Fight Against Acid Rain

by christina larson
Amid China’s seemingly boundless emissions of industrial pollutants, there are signs of hope. Discharges of sulfur dioxide, which causes acid rain, have actually decreased, offering some evidence that China is starting to establish a culture of pollution monitoring and control.
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Opinion

Hungary’s Red Sludge Spill:
The Media and the Eco-Disaster

by elisabeth rosenthal
The sludge spill in Hungary dominated world news for days, as horrific images of red-mud rivers appeared nonstop on the Internet, newspaper front pages, and TV screens. Yet other environmental threats — less visible, but potentially more devastating — often go largely unnoticed.
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On China’s Beleaguered Yangtze,<br /> A Push to Save Surviving Species

Report

On China’s Beleaguered Yangtze,
A Push to Save Surviving Species

by richard stone
The Yangtze has been carved up by dams, used as an open sewer, and subjected to decades of overfishing. Now, Chinese scientists — alarmed by the disappearance of the Yangtze river dolphin and other creatures — are calling for a 10-year moratorium on fishing in the world’s third-longest river.
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LEED Building Standards<br /> Fail to Protect Human Health

Opinion

LEED Building Standards
Fail to Protect Human Health

by john wargo
LEED certification has emerged as the green standard of approval for new buildings in the United States. But the criteria used for determining the ratings largely ignore factors relating to human health, particularly the use of potentially toxic building materials.
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The Legacy of the Gulf Spill:<br /> What to Expect for the Future?

Report

The Legacy of the Gulf Spill:
What to Expect for the Future?

by john mcquaid
The Gulf of Mexico’s capacity to recover from previous environmental assaults — especially the 1979 Ixtoc explosion — provides encouragement about the prospects for its post-Deepwater future. But scientists remain worried about the BP spill's long-term effects on the health of the Gulf and its sea life.
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Are Cell Phones Safe?<br /> The Verdict is Still Out

Report

Are Cell Phones Safe?
The Verdict is Still Out

by bruce stutz
While some studies have suggested that frequent use of cell phones causes increased risk of brain and mouth cancers, others have found no such links. But since cell phones are relatively new and brain cancers grow slowly, many experts are now recommending taking steps to reduce exposure.
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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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A Louisiana Bird Expert<br /> Assesses Damage from the Spill

Interview

A Louisiana Bird Expert
Assesses Damage from the Spill

The images of pelicans and other Gulf of Mexico seabirds drenched in oil have stirred sadness and outrage around the world. But, says conservationist Melanie Driscoll, the unseen effects are probably far greater, with some birds perishing out of sight, far from shore, and others facing spill-related declines in the fish on which they depend.
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As the Far North Melts,<br /> Calls Grow for Arctic Treaty

Analysis

As the Far North Melts,
Calls Grow for Arctic Treaty

by ed struzik
The massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is a warning, conservationists say, of what could happen in the Arctic as melting sea ice opens the Arctic Ocean to oil and gas drilling. Many experts argue that the time has come to adopt an Arctic Treaty similar to the one that has safeguarded Antarctica for half a century.
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The Oil Spill’s Growing Toll<br /> On Sea Life in the Gulf of Mexico

Interview

The Oil Spill’s Growing Toll
On Sea Life in the Gulf of Mexico

by david biello
A prominent marine biologist says the impacts of the oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico will persist for years, no matter when the flow finally stops. What’s more, scientist Thomas Shirley says that most of the damage remains out of sight below the surface, as creatures succumb to the toxic effects of the rapidly spreading tide of oil.
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Under Pressure to Block Oil,<br /> A Rush To Dubious Projects

Opinion

Under Pressure to Block Oil,
A Rush To Dubious Projects

by rob young
In response to the widening disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, government officials have approved a plan to intercept the oil by building a 45-mile sand berm. But scientists fear the project is a costly boondoggle that will inflict further environmental damage and do little to keep oil off the coast.
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Anatomy of the BP Oil Spill:<br /> An Accident Waiting to Happen

Analysis

Anatomy of the BP Oil Spill:
An Accident Waiting to Happen

by john mcquaid
The oil slick spreading across the Gulf of Mexico has shattered the notion that offshore drilling had become safe. A close look at the accident shows that lax federal oversight, complacency by BP and the other companies involved, and the complexities of drilling a mile deep all combined to create the perfect environmental storm.
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Under Threat in the Gulf,<br /> A Refuge Created by Roosevelt

Report

Under Threat in the Gulf,
A Refuge Created by Roosevelt

by douglas brinkley
Among the natural treasures at risk from the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is the Breton National Wildlife Refuge, created by Theodore Roosevelt to halt a grave threat to birds in his era — the lucrative trade in plumage. Now, oil from the BP spill is starting to wash up on beaches where Roosevelt once walked.
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Turning to Greener Weapons <br /> In the Battle Against Malaria

Report

Turning to Greener Weapons
In the Battle Against Malaria

by sonia shah
Insecticides such as DDT have long been used to combat the scourge of malaria in the developing world. But with the disease parasite becoming increasingly adept at resisting the chemical onslaught, some countries are achieving striking success by eliminating the environmental conditions that give rise to malarial mosquitoes.
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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?
READ MORE

As Pharmaceutical Use Soars,<br /> Drugs Taint Water and Wildlife

Report

As Pharmaceutical Use Soars,
Drugs Taint Water and Wildlife

by sonia shah
With nearly $800 billion in drugs sold worldwide, pharmaceuticals are increasingly being released into the environment. The “green pharmacy” movement seeks to reduce the ecological impact of these drugs, which have caused mass bird die-offs and spawned antibiotic-resistant pathogens.
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Out of the Demographic Trap:<br /> Hope for Feeding the World

Opinion

Out of the Demographic Trap:
Hope for Feeding the World

by fred pearce
In Africa and elsewhere, burgeoning population growth threatens to overwhelm already over-stretched food supply systems. But the next agricultural revolution needs to get local — and must start to see rising populations as potentially part of the solution.
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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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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?
READ MORE

In Low-Lying Bangladesh,<br /> The Sea Takes a Human Toll

e360 Video

In Low-Lying Bangladesh,
The Sea Takes a Human Toll

Living on shifting land formed by river deltas, the people of Bangladesh have a tenuous hold on their environment, with cyclones buffeting coastal zones and rising seas posing a looming threat. But, as this Yale Environment 360 video report by Jonathan Bjerg Møller makes clear, many Bangladeshis already are suffering as a growing population occupies increasingly vulnerable lands.
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 Behind Mass Die-Offs,<br /> Pesticides Lurk as Culprit

Report

Behind Mass Die-Offs,
Pesticides Lurk as Culprit

by sonia shah
In the past dozen years, three new diseases have decimated populations of amphibians, honeybees, and — most recently — bats. Increasingly, scientists suspect that low-level exposure to pesticides could be contributing to this rash of epidemics.
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Madagascar’s Political Chaos<br /> Threatens Conservation Gains

Report

Madagascar’s Political Chaos
Threatens Conservation Gains

by rhett butler
Since the government's collapse after a coup last March, Madagascar's rainforests have been plundered for their precious wood and unique wildlife. But now there are a few encouraging signs, as officials promise a crackdown on illegal logging and ecotourists begin to return to the island.
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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.
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The Dangerous Allure of<br /> Global Warming Technofixes

Opinion

The Dangerous Allure of
Global Warming Technofixes

by dianne dumanoski
As the world weighs how to deal with warming, the idea of human manipulation of climate systems is gaining attention. Yet beyond the environmental and technical questions looms a more practical issue: How could governments really commit to supervising geoengineering schemes for centuries?
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Pervasive Plastics: Why the U.S.<br /> Needs New and Tighter Controls

Opinion

Pervasive Plastics: Why the U.S.
Needs New and Tighter Controls

by john wargo
Long a ubiquitous part of modern life, plastics are now in everything from diapers to water bottles to cell phones. But given the proven health threats of some plastics — as well as the enormous environmental costs — the time has come for the U.S. to pass a comprehensive plastics control law.
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The Nitrogen Fix:<br /> Breaking a Costly Addiction

Analysis

The Nitrogen Fix:
Breaking a Costly Addiction

by fred pearce
Over the last century, the intensive use of chemical fertilizers has saturated the Earth’s soils and waters with nitrogen. Now scientists are warning that we must move quickly to revolutionize agricultural systems and greatly reduce the amount of nitrogen we put into the planet's ecosystems.
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Amid Mounting Pessimism,<br /> A Voice of Hope for Copenhagen

Interview

Amid Mounting Pessimism,
A Voice of Hope for Copenhagen

With skepticism growing about the chances of reaching a climate agreement next month in Copenhagen, Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, says he is “cautiously optimistic” that a treaty can still be signed. But in an interview with Yale Environment 360, Pachauri says the global community may have to move ahead without any commitment from the United States.audio
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In Japan’s Managed Landscape,<br /> a Struggle to Save the Bears

Report

In Japan’s Managed Landscape,
a Struggle to Save the Bears

by winifred bird
Although it is a heavily urbanized nation, fully two-thirds of Japan remains woodlands. Yet many of the forests are timber plantations inhospitable to wildlife, especially black bears, which are struggling to survive in one of the most densely populated countries on Earth.
READ MORE

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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Finding Common Ground on<br /> Protecting Montana Wilderness

Opinion

Finding Common Ground on
Protecting Montana Wilderness

by rick bass
In the Yaak Valley of Montana, environmentalists have been talking to loggers, snowmobilers and other longtime opponents of wilderness protection about the future of public lands. Their accord is part of a cooperative effort that could lead to the first wilderness-area designation in the state in a quarter century.
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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.
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Mountaintop Mining Legacy:<br /> Destroying Appalachia’s Streams

Report

Mountaintop Mining Legacy:
Destroying Appalachia’s Streams

by john mcquaid
The environmental damage caused by mountaintop removal mining across Appalachia has been well documented. But scientists are now beginning to understand that the mining operations’ most lasting damage may be caused by the massive amounts of debris dumped into valley streams.
READ MORE

With the Clearing of Forests,<br /> Baby Orangutans Are Marooned

Report

With the Clearing of Forests,
Baby Orangutans Are Marooned

by rhett butler
As Borneo's rain forests are razed for oil palm plantations, wildlife centers are taking in more and more orphaned orangutans and preparing them for reintroduction into the wild. But the endangered primates now face a new threat — there is not enough habitat where they can be returned.
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The Damming of the Mekong:<br /> Major Blow to an Epic River

Report

The Damming of the Mekong:
Major Blow to an Epic River

by fred pearce
The Mekong has long flowed freely, supporting one of the world’s great inland fisheries. But China is now building a series of dams on the 2,800-mile river that will restrict its natural flow and threaten the sustenance of tens of millions of Southeast Asians.
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Yellowstone’s Grizzly Bears<br /> Face Threats on Two Fronts

Opinion

Yellowstone’s Grizzly Bears
Face Threats on Two Fronts

by doug peacock
The magnificent creature at the heart of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem now confronts two grave perils: the loss of its key food source because of rising temperatures, and increased killing by humans. A renowned grizzly expert argues that it’s time to once again protect Yellowstone’s grizzlies under the Endangered Species Act.
READ MORE

The Razing of Appalachia:<br /> Mountaintop Removal Revisited

Report

The Razing of Appalachia:
Mountaintop Removal Revisited

by john mcquaid
Over the past two decades, mountaintop removal mining in Appalachia has obliterated or severely damaged more than a million acres of forest and buried more than 1,000 miles of streams. Now, the Obama administration is showing signs it plans to crack down on this destructive practice.
READ MORE

Satellites and Google Earth<br /> Prove Potent Conservation Tool

Report

Satellites and Google Earth
Prove Potent Conservation Tool

by rhett butler
Armed with vivid images from space and remote sensing data, scientists, environmentalists, and armchair conservationists are now tracking threats to the planet and making the information available to anyone with an Internet connection.
READ MORE

Twenty Years Later, Impacts<br />  of the Exxon Valdez Linger

Report

Twenty Years Later, Impacts
of the Exxon Valdez Linger

by doug struck
Two decades after the Exxon Valdez spilled 11 million gallons of crude oil into Alaska’s waters, the Prince William Sound, its fishermen, and its wildlife have still not fully recovered.
READ MORE

Surviving Two Billion Cars:<br /> China Must Lead the Way

Analysis

Surviving Two Billion Cars:
China Must Lead the Way

by deborah gordon and daniel sperling
The number of vehicles worldwide is expected to reach two billion in the next two decades. Surprisingly, China – where the demand for cars has been skyrocketing – just may offer the best hope of creating a new, greener transportation model.
READ MORE

Why I’ll Get Arrested<br /> to Stop the Burning of Coal

Opinion

Why I’ll Get Arrested
to Stop the Burning of Coal

by bill mckibben
On March 2, environmentalist Bill McKibben joined demonstrators who marched on a coal-fired power plant in Washington D.C. In this article for Yale Environment 360, he explains why he was ready to go to jail to protest the continued burning of coal.
READ MORE

Opinion

A Call for Tougher Standards
on Mercury Levels in Fish

by jane hightower
In response to industry pressure, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has failed to set adequate restrictions on mercury levels in fish. Now the Obama administration must move forcefully to tighten those standards and warn the public which fish are less safe to eat.
READ MORE

As Rain Forests Disappear,<br /> A Market Solution Emerges

Report

As Rain Forests Disappear,
A Market Solution Emerges

by rhett butler
Despite the creation of protected areas in the Amazon and other tropical regions, rain forests worldwide are still being destroyed for a simple reason: They are worth more cut down than standing. But with deforestation now a leading driver of global warming, a movement is growing to pay nations and local people to keep their rain forests intact.
READ MORE

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

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

Zimbabwe’s Desperate <br/>Miners Ravage the Land

Report

Zimbabwe’s Desperate
Miners Ravage the Land

by andrew mambondiyani
Hard-pressed by economic straits, illegal panners are tearing up Zimbabwe’s countryside in search of gold and diamonds. They leave behind a trail of destruction: devastated fields and forests, mud-choked rivers, and mercury-tainted water. Andrew Mambondiyani reports from eastern Zimbabwe.
READ MORE

e360 digest

RELATED e360 DIGEST ITEMS


18 Apr 2014: Scale and Extent of Dam Boom
In China Is Detailed in Mapping Project

China is planning to build at least 84 major dams in its southwest region, as shown in a map from the Wilson Center, eventually boosting its hydropower capacity by more than 160 gigawatts. By next year China's capacity

Click to Enlarge
China dams

Dam projects in China
will surpass Europe's, and by 2020 it's projected to be larger than that of the U.S. and Europe combined. An interactive map shows the scale and number of major dams proposed, under construction, existing, and canceled. The dam rush is part of an ongoing effort by China to increase non-fossil energy sources to 11.4 percent of the country's total energy consumption — a goal that has gained urgency due to severe air pollution in many northern Chinese cities. However, the hydropower push is not without its own major environmental consequences, the Wilson Center notes. The cascades of planned dams will submerge important corridors connecting tropical rainforests to the Tibetan Plateau that allow wildlife to migrate as temperatures rise.
PERMALINK

 

10 Apr 2014: Mapping Program Helps
Cities See Money Saved by Planting Trees

New open-source software is helping cities better understand the benefits trees provide by calculating the value of the trees' ecosystem services, such as air quality improvements and CO2 storage. More than a dozen

Click to Enlarge
San Diego trees

San Diego's mapped trees
cities have undertaken tree inventory initiatives, thanks to the OpenTreeMap software, and residents have helped map more than 1.1 million trees worldwide. In addition to plotting a tree's location, users record its size, species, and other parameters that allow the software to calculate the tree's ecological value in terms of dollars saved through such benefits as cleaner air. San Diego's more than 340,000 mapped trees, for example, are estimated to provide the city more than $7 million in benefits each year, including $4 million in air quality benefits and $2 million in reduced energy costs. In the coming months, the software will allow city managers to decide where to plant trees for maximum environmental benefit.
PERMALINK

 

07 Apr 2014: Newfound Atmospheric 'Hole'
Threatens Polar Ozone Layer, Scientists Say

Researchers have discovered a large opening in the Earth's atmosphere that is enabling pollutants to rise
Elevator to the stratosphere
Pacific atmosphere hole an elevator to the stratosphere
into the stratosphere and destroy ozone. The hole, which is in a part of the lower atmosphere called the "OH shield," is several thousand kilometers long and is centered over the tropical west Pacific Ocean. It's relatively close to Southeast Asia, a region with a booming population and rapidly increasing air pollution. The hole is a major concern because the OH shield usually scrubs air of chemical compounds emitted near the ground before they can reach the stratosphere, where those compounds can persist for long periods of time, reacting with and destroying ozone, say researchers at Germany's Alfred Wegener Institute who identified the hole. The newly discovered phenomenon acts as a sort of elevator, researchers say, drawing chlorofluorocarbons, sulfur dioxide, and other contaminants straight up to the stratosphere and bypassing the OH shield scrub.
PERMALINK

 

E360 Announces Contest
For Best Environmental Videos

Yale Environment 360 is holding a contest to honor the best environmental videos. Entries must be videos that focus on an environmental issue or theme, have not been widely viewed online, and are a maximum of 15 minutes in length. The first-place winner will receive $2,000, and two runners-up will each receive $500. The winning entries will be posted on Yale Environment 360. The deadline for entries is June 6, 2014. Read further contest information.
PERMALINK

 

01 Apr 2014: Delaware River Watershed
Is Focus Of Large-Scale Restoration Project

A Philadelphia foundation is providing $35 million to launch a host of programs aimed at better protecting the Delaware River, which flows through the heart of
Delaware River Trenton
David Olah
Delaware River at Trenton, New Jersey
the populous U.S. eastern seaboard and provides drinking water for 15 million people. The William Penn Foundation, working with nonprofit groups such as The Open Space Institute, says its Delaware River Initiative will protect more than 30,000 acres of land, launch 40 restoration projects, create incentives for businesses and landowners to protect the watershed, and set up a comprehensive program of water quality monitoring that will enable the foundation and its partners to measure the success of their programs and the overall health of the river. A cornerstone of the foundation’s initiative will be its restoration and protection work in eight so-called “sub-watersheds” that feed into the Delaware River.
PERMALINK

 

12 Mar 2014: Nine Chinese Cities Outpaced
Beijing in Air Pollution in 2013, Report Says

China's air pollution problems are more severe and widespread than previously thought, with nine cities experiencing more days of extreme air pollution than Beijing in 2013, according to a new analysis by Greenpeace's Energy Desk. Fine particulate (PM2.5) pollution plagued dozens of cities and millions of people in China — most of them outside of Beijing, although the Chinese capital captured the most air pollution headlines last year. The city of Xingtai, southwest of the capital, fared worst, with 129 days of emergency air pollution — more than doubling Beijing's 60 days. More than half of the cities in the top 10 are in Hebei province south of Beijing, where many steel, cement, and coal-fired power plants are located. "There are now millions of Chinese people living in cities with air pollution above emergency levels for a third of the year, while other urban areas have gone a whole 12-month period with hardly any days of good-quality air," said a member of Greenpeace's East Asia climate and energy campaign. Beijing had only 13 days ranked as "good" on the U.S. air quality scale, along with one day considered "beyond index," or off the pollution scale.
PERMALINK

 

10 Mar 2014: Arsenic Remediation Project
Will Begin Decontaminating Water in India

New technology that removes arsenic from drinking water is set to be deployed on a large scale in India, according to researchers from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and an India-based water technology company. The device removes arsenic by passing electricity through steel plates submerged in a water reservoir. The electric current causes the plates to rust more quickly than they would under normal conditions, and the rust chemically binds to arsenic in the water and sinks to the bottom of the reservoir. The precipitated sludge can be removed from the tank, rendering the water safe to drink. Notoriously high levels of arsenic, a tasteless and odorless contaminant, naturally occur in groundwater sources in India, Bangladesh, and even California's Central Valley. Long-term exposure can cause cancer and severe damage to organs. A commercial plant is set to begin operations in West Bengal, India, this year and researchers estimate the drinking water can be sold for as little as eight cents per gallon.
PERMALINK

 

24 Feb 2014: Maps Show Extent of
Oil and Gas Drilling in Southwest Wyoming

Oil and gas wells, including those involved in hydraulic fracturing operations, scar a major portion of southwest Wyoming, according to a recent analysis by the U.S. Geological Survey. Nearly 17,000 well pads and former

Click to Enlarge
Oil and gas well scars in Wyoming

Well scar locations
drilling areas associated with oil and natural gas production were identified in satellite images across a 30,000-square-mile region. The maps include well scars dating from around 1900, when oil drilling started in the region, up to 2009, at which point natural gas extraction far outweighed oil production. Since then, production has only intensified in Wyoming, a leading state in the U.S.'s unconventional oil and gas boom. The mapping effort, a first step in determining how oil and gas drilling operations impact wildlife and ecosystems, focused on southwestern Wyoming because it not only has some of the nation's largest natural gas reserves, but also because the region has high-quality wildlife habitat and encompasses a major portion of the country's remaining intact sagebrush steppe.
PERMALINK

 

21 Jan 2014: More Crude Oil Spilled by
U.S. Trains in 2013 Than Previous 40 Years

U.S. trains spilled 1.15 million gallons of crude oil in 2013 — more than was spilled in the nearly 40 years since officials began tracking such accidents, federal data show. The majority of that volume came from two major derailments: a November incident in Alabama that spilled 750,000 gallons and a December incident in North Dakota that officials estimate spilled 400,000 gallons. Those incidents, as well as smaller spills, have added to growing concerns over the safety of using railways to transport crude as U.S. oil production surges in the upper Midwest. From 1975 to 2012, a total of 800,000 gallons of crude were spilled during rail transport. Excluding the two major derailments from the 2013 total, 11,000 gallons of crude were spilled last year — more than the previous two years combined. The data do not include a 1.5 million-gallon spill that killed 47 people in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, in July.
PERMALINK

 

16 Jan 2014: Pebble Mine Would Endanger
Alaska's Bristol Bay, Major EPA Study Finds

A three-year study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has determined that mining in Alaska's Bristol Bay area would pose significant dangers to the environment, a potentially fatal setback for plans
Bristol Bay watershed
Mulchatna River, part of Bristol Bay watershed
to develop Pebble Mine, a major open-pit mining project that aimed to exploit one of the largest and richest mineral deposits in the world. The EPA study cited concerns for the region's thriving sockeye salmon population and its native people, saying the mine would destroy 24 to 94 miles of salmon streams and 1,300 to 5,350 acres of wetlands, ponds, and lakes. Pebble Mine proponents, including Alaska Governor Sean Parnell, criticize the study as flawed and rushed, since the development company wasn't allowed to submit its mining plan before the EPA study. Native groups, fishermen, and environmental organizations are applauding the study. The proposed mine — which seeks to exploit gold, copper, and other metals — was already in trouble, with one of two major partners withdrawing from the project last year.
PERMALINK

 

Interview: Activist Kumi Naidoo
On Russia and the Climate Struggle

Kumi Naidoo, the international executive director of Greenpeace, is intimately familiar with the Prirazlomnaya drilling platform in the Russian Arctic. In 2012, he and five other Greenpeace activists were hosed down with frigid water and pelted with pieces of metal as they attempted to climb aboard the platform.
“Kumi
Kumi Naidoo
Greenpeace and Prirazlomnaya were back in the news recently when 28 Greenpeace members were arrested and held for several months for storming the rig before being released in December. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Naidoo talks about what’s needed to get global climate talks off the ground and launch a green energy revolution, and the reason his activist organization has decided to take such a strong stand against oil drilling in the rapidly melting Arctic Ocean. "We went back [to Prirazlomnaya]," says Naidoo, "because we’re trying to draw a line in the ice, because once this starts it will have breached another threshold of meeting our rapacious appetite for oil and gas in the most fragile of environments."
Read the interview.
PERMALINK

 

10 Jan 2014: Natural Gas Has Sharply
Reduced Emissions from Power Plants

The dramatic increase in using natural gas to produce electricity in the United States has led to an equally dramatic decline in the amount of pollutants and carbon dioxide emitted from the nation’s power plants, according to a new study. The study, conducted by researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, showed that the switch from coal-fired to natural gas-fired power plants has reduced CO2 emissions by 23 percent and emissions of nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide by 40 and 44 percent, respectively. Examining power plant emissions from 1997 to 2012, the scientists found that new combined-cycle natural gas-fired power plants — which use two heat engines in tandem to convert a higher fraction of heat into electrical energy — emit less than half the amount of CO2 as coal-fired power plants. The study, to be published in the journal Earth’s Future, said that the fraction of electricity produced in the U.S. from coal fell from 83 percent in 1997 to 59 percent in 2012. Meanwhile, the fraction of electricity generated by combined-cycle natural gas plants rose from zero to 34 percent.
PERMALINK

 

08 Jan 2014: China Approves Major
Increase in Huge Coal Mining Projects

In 2013, the Chinese government approved 15 large coal mining projects that will produce more than 100 million new tons of coal a year. The expansion will lead to a 2 to 3 percent growth in coal production over the next several years, even as the country announced moves to reduce the severe air pollution choking major cities such as Beijing. Chinese officials will increase coal production while reducing pollution in population centers by closing outdated coal plants and creating huge “coal bases” that will mine and burn coal in remote regions of northwestern China, such as Inner Mongolia. Those bases, which will cost $8.9 billion to build, will generate electricity that will be transferred over an improved electricity grid to cities in China’s central and eastern regions. Deng Ping, an environmental campaigner with Greenpeace, said the scale of the new coal bases is unprecedented for China, adding, “Despite the climate change pressure, water resource scarcity, and other environmental problems, the coal industry is still expanding fast in northwest China.”
PERMALINK

 

03 Jan 2014: North Dakota Bakken Crude
More Explosive Than Expected, Officials Say

Crude oil from North Dakota's Bakken field may be more flammable and explosive than previously thought, officials now say after a series of fiery railroad accidents. The crude may contain more flammable gasses, be highly corrosive, or more sulfurous than crude from other oil fields, according to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). The agency is warning Bakken oil producers to "sufficiently degasify" the crude oil before loading it into rail cars. On Monday, several tank cars carrying Bakken crude exploded after a collision on a remote stretch of track in North Dakota, and last July a runaway train carrying the crude derailed and exploded in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, killing 47 people. U.S. railroads have asked manufacturers for safety upgrades to tank cars that carry Bakken crude, which could cost the industry roughly $3 billion, Reuters estimates. Trains carried nearly 700,000 barrels of Bakken crude each day in October, a 67 percent increase over the previous year.
PERMALINK

 

Interview: A Legal Call to Arms to
Fix Environmental and Climate Ills

University of Oregon law professor Mary Wood has an unsparing view of the state of environmental protection in the United States today: On a host of fronts — from climate change to the nationwide fracking boom —
Mary Wood
Mary Wood
the federal and state governments are failing to protect ecosystems and resources vital to current and future generations. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Wood discusses why she believes the judiciary needs to step in to force the executive and legislative branches to protect natural resources that are part of the “public trust.” She also explains why she supports ongoing litigation to reduce carbon emissions under a related doctrine to safeguard the "atmospheric trust." Says Wood, "The political branches of government are doing next to nothing to address this crisis ... Across the board, agencies are not using the statutes to protect nature — they’re using statutes to permit damage to the environment."
Read the interview.
PERMALINK

 

23 Dec 2013: Russian Oil Giant Becomes
First in World to Pump Oil From Arctic

The Russian national oil company Gazprom has begun drilling for oil at a highly contested site in the Arctic. The oil field, an offshore site in the Russian Arctic known as Prirazlomnoye, drew international attention in September when a contingent of Greenpeace members boarded the platform in protest and were jailed in Russia for two months before being granted amnesty last week. The project, which is several years behind schedule, is the first in Russian history aimed at "developing the resources of the Arctic shelf," Gazprom said. Environmental groups say that no company has the technology or resources to deal with a massive oil spill in the harsh conditions of the Arctic Ocean. The oil giant Shell had planned exploratory drilling in the Arctic off the coast of Alaska, but temporarily shelved those plans last year after a series of mishaps. Gazprom says it has taken all necessary precautions to deal with a spill, Mongabay reports.
PERMALINK

 

Photo Essay: Documenting the Swift
Change Wrought by Global Warming


Documenting global warming photo essay
Peter Essick

For 25 years, photographer Peter Essick has traveled the world for National Geographic magazine, with many of his recent assignments focusing on the causes and consequences of climate change. In a Yale Environment 360 photo essay, we present a gallery of images he took while on assignment in Antarctica, Greenland, and other far-flung locales affected by climate change.
View the photo gallery.
PERMALINK

 

16 Dec 2013: Volume of E-Waste
Projected to Soar by 2017, Study Says

The volume of electronic waste generated worldwide is expected to climb by 33 percent by 2017 to 65 million tons, according to a study conducted by a partnership of United Nations organizations, industry, governments, and scientists. So many computers, televisions, mobile
E-waste landfill
phones, and other devices are being tossed away annually that within four years the volume of e-waste would fill a 15,000-mile line of 40-ton trucks, the report said. The report, released by a group called StEP ( Solving the E-Waste Problem Initiative) said that in 2012, 50 million tons of e-waste was generated worldwide, about 15 pounds for every person on the planet. China generated the most electronic waste last year, with 11.1 million tons, followed by the U.S. with 10 million tons. But in per capita generation, the U.S. dwarfed China and most other countries, with each American producing 65 pounds of e-waste, the study said. “The explosion is happening because there is so much technical innovation,” said Ruediger Kuehr, executive secretary of StEP.
PERMALINK

 

10 Dec 2013: Chinese State Media
Criticized for Touting Benefits of Smog

For Chinese citizens worried about smog, which has been blanketing major cities and smashing air pollution records recently, China's state media has some advice: Look on the bright side. State broadcaster CCTV and a Communist Party tabloid, Global Times, yesterday published editorials attempting to put a positive spin on China's air pollution crisis. The state-run outlets said smog has military benefits because it can interfere with the guidance systems of foreign missiles, as well as personal benefits such as bolstering Chinese citizens' sense of humor, making them more united, more sober, better informed, and more equal because smog "affected the lungs of both rich and poor," The Telegraph reports. Internet commenters and other media outlets, including several state-run publications, were outraged. "Is the smog supposed to lift if we laugh about it?" asked the official publication Beijing Business Today. The pro-smog pieces have both been deleted from the publications' websites.
PERMALINK

 

06 Dec 2013: China Doubles Pace
Of Renewable Energy Installation in 2013

Over the past 10 months China has added renewable energy sources to its power grid at double the pace of 2012, according to its National Energy Administration (NEA). The renewable energy push, part of a massive effort to cut air pollution in China's large cities, has added more than 36 gigawatts of clean energy capacity
Shanghai, December 3, 2013
Shanghai, Dec. 3, 2013
so far this year, Bloomberg News reports. Hydroelectric power grew by 22.3 gigawatts in the first 10 months of 2013, new nuclear energy installations totaled 2.2 gigawatts, solar 3.6 gigawatts, wind 7.9 gigawatts. China's solar energy capacity could triple from 2012 levels to 10 gigawatts by the end of the year, while wind and nuclear power capacity could increase by 22 and 17 percent, respectively, the NEA said. That should offer some relief from China's choking air pollution. In Shanghai, schoolchildren were ordered indoors today as air pollution reached extremely hazardous levels, exceeding World Health Organization health guidelines for fine particulate matter by 24 times.
PERMALINK

 

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