Department: Forum


Top Climate Scientists Assess
Latest Report from U.N. Panel

Yale Environment 360 asked some leading climate scientists to discuss what they consider to be the most noteworthy or surprising findings in the recently released report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s working group on the physical science of a warming world.
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Forum: How Daring is<br /> Obama's New Climate Plan?

Forum: How Daring is
Obama's New Climate Plan?

President Obama has unveiled a proposal to combat global warming that would, for the first time, regulate carbon dioxide emissions from all U.S. coal-fired power plants. Yale Environment 360 asked a group of experts to assess the president’s climate strategy.
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Forum: Assessing Obama’s <br /> Record on the Environment

Forum: Assessing Obama’s
Record on the Environment

When Barack Obama won the presidency in 2008, environmentalists were optimistic that their issues would finally become a priority at the White House. So how is Obama doing? Yale Environment 360 asked a group of environmentalists and energy experts for their verdicts on the president's performance.
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Forum: Just How Safe <br /> Is ‘Fracking’ of Natural Gas?

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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Forum: Is Extreme Weather<br /> Linked to Global Warming?

Forum: Is Extreme Weather
Linked to Global Warming?


In the past year, the world has seen a large number of extreme weather events, from the Russian heat wave last summer, to the severe flooding in Pakistan, to the recent tornadoes in the U.S. In a Yale Environment 360 forum, a panel of experts weighs in on whether the wild weather may be tied to increasing global temperatures.

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As Copenhagen Talks Near,
What Are Prospects for Success?

For months, hopes that a climate treaty would be signed at the upcoming Copenhagen conference have been raised, then dashed, then raised again. Now, with prospects waning that a binding accord on reducing greenhouse gas emissions can be reached this year, ten environmental leaders and climate experts outline for Yale Environment 360 what they believe can still be accomplished at Copenhagen.
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The Waxman-Markey Bill:
A Good Start or a Non-Starter?

As carbon cap-and-trade legislation works it way through Congress, the environmental community is intensely debating whether the Waxman-Markey bill is the best possible compromise or a fatally flawed initiative. Yale Environment 360 asked 11 prominent people in the environmental and energy fields for their views on this controversial legislation.
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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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A Green Agenda for the
President’s First 100 Days

Environmentalists – from Bill McKibben and Paul Hawken, to Fred Krupp and Frances Beinecke – offer President Obama their advice on the priorities he should set for the first 100 days of his administration.
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e360 digest

In Booming Aquaculture Industry,
A Move to Plant-Based Food for Fish

As the aquaculture industry continues to rapidly expand, with production more than doubling in the past 15 years, fishing pressure

A worker feeds trout.
has grown on the anchovies, sardines, and other species used to make feeds for farmed fish. Now, however, researchers are rapidly developing nutritious plant-based food that can put the aquaculture sector on a more sustainable path. Using protein-rich legumes such as soybeans and combining them with various oil-rich supplements, scientists say they are steadily moving toward all-vegetarian diets for aquaculture fish. “I was told by many [people] that fish require fishmeal because that’s what they eat in the natural world,” says one leading researcher. “But that’s just wrong.”
Read more.

04 Sep 2015: Maya Permanently Altered Land
To Respond to Climate Change, Study Says

Mayan activity more than 2,000 years ago contributed to the decline of Central America's tropical lowlands and continues to influence the land and environment today, say researchers at the University of Texas at Austin. Evidence shows that during the "Mayacene" — a period from 3,000 to 1,000 years ago when humans began greatly affecting the environment — the Maya's advanced urban and rural infrastructure altered tropical forest ecosystems. Clay and soil sequences indicate erosion and land-use changes, and sediments near wetlands reveal chemical signatures of agriculture, says the study, which was published in the journal Quaternary Science Reviews. The researchers say features such as constructed wetlands, vast field systems, and terraces show that the Maya managed land and water to adapt to climate change and rising sea levels. "Though it has no doubt accelerated in the last century, humans' impact on the environment has been going on a lot longer," said lead researcher Tim Beach.

 

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


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

03 Sep 2015: Tropical Tree Cover Loss
Accelerated in 2014, Satellite Analysis Finds

More than 45 million acres of trees were cut down last year — an area twice the size of Portugal — according to an analysis

Enlarge

Tropical tree cover loss
by the University of Maryland and Google. Tropical nations lost more than half of that total — nearly 25 million acres of tree cover, an area roughly the size of South Korea. Brazil and Indonesia, the two countries most often associated with deforestation, had been making gains toward stemming the problem, but 2014 saw an uptick in tree cover loss in both countries. The situation is especially concerning in Cambodia, where deforestation is accelerating faster than anywhere else in the world due to the development of rubber plantations. Last year Cambodia lost three times more tree cover than in 2001, the analysis found.

 

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


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

02 Sep 2015: Alaskan Wind Power Capacity
Increased 20 Fold since 2007, Report Says

Alaska’s wind power capacity increased 20 fold between 2007 and 2014, from 3 megawatts to 60 megawatts, according to an

Pillar Mountain wind farm on Alaska's Kodiak Island
analysis by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The state, which is known for its vast oil reserves, increased wind power capacity with a blend of utility-scale and distributed, or small-scale, projects. The marked increase is especially notable because Alaska's immense area and sparse population make expanding the grid and adapting it to renewables costly, and the rugged terrain poses unique challenges for installing utility-scale wind farms. In the most remote areas, the cost of building transmission lines is prohibitively high, and in those regions, small-scale and household wind projects bring renewable energy to consumers who once relied on diesel generators. But despite wind power's strong growth, Alaska drew only 3 percent of its energy from wind in 2014.

 
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“Tainted
A three-part series Tainted Harvest looks at the soil pollution crisis in China, the threat it poses to the food supply, and the complexity of any cleanup.
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