Department: Opinion


A Blueprint to End Paralysis <br />Over Global Action on Climate

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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Animal ‘Personhood’: Muddled <br />Alternative to Real Protection

Animal ‘Personhood’: Muddled
Alternative to Real Protection

by verlyn klinkenborg
A new strategy of granting animals “personhood” under the law is being advanced by some in academia and the animal rights movement. But this approach fails to address the fundamental truth that all species have an equal right to their own existence.
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A Year After Sandy, The Wrong <br />Policy on Rebuilding the Coast

A Year After Sandy, The Wrong
Policy on Rebuilding the Coast

by rob young
One year after Hurricane Sandy devastated parts of the U.S. East Coast, the government is spending billions to replenish beaches that will only be swallowed again by rising seas and future storms. It’s time to develop coastal policies that take into account new climate realities.
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Why Pushing Alternate Fuels <br /> Makes for Bad Public Policy

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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Should Wolves Stay Protected <br />Under Endangered Species Act?

Should Wolves Stay Protected
Under Endangered Species Act?

by ted williams
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has stirred controversy with its proposal to remove endangered species protection for wolves, noting the animals’ strong comeback in the northern Rockies and the Midwest. It’s the latest in the long, contentious saga of wolf recovery in the U.S.
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No Refuge: Tons of Trash Covers<br /> The Remote Shores of Alaska

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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Our Overcrowded Planet:<br /> A Failure of Family Planning

Our Overcrowded Planet:
A Failure of Family Planning

by robert engelman
New UN projections forecast that world population will hit nearly 11 billion people by 2100, an unsettling prospect that reflects a collective failure to provide women around the world with safe, effective ways to avoid pregnancies they don't intend or want.
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As Extreme Weather Increases,<br /> Bangladesh Braces for the Worst

As Extreme Weather Increases,
Bangladesh Braces for the Worst

by brian fagan
Scientists are predicting that warming conditions will bring more frequent and more intense extreme weather events. Their warnings hit home in densely populated Bangladesh, which historically has been hit by devastating sea surges and cyclones.
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As Final U.S. Decision Nears,<br /> A Lively Debate on GM Salmon

As Final U.S. Decision Nears,
A Lively Debate on GM Salmon

In an online debate for Yale Environment 360, Elliot Entis, whose company has created a genetically modified salmon that may soon be for sale in the U.S., discusses the environmental and health impacts of this controversial technology with author Paul Greenberg, a critic of GM fish.
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Should Polluting Nations Be<br /> Liable for Climate Damages?

Should Polluting Nations Be
Liable for Climate Damages?

by fred pearce
An international agreement to study how to redress developing nations for damages from climate change illustrates how ineffective climate diplomacy has been over the last two decades. But this move may pave the way for future court suits against polluting countries and companies.
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Hurricane Sandy Relief Bill<br /> Fails to Face Coastal Realities

Hurricane Sandy Relief Bill
Fails to Face Coastal Realities

by rob young
As part of the sorely-needed aid package to help victims of Hurricane Sandy, Congress is also considering spending billions on ill-advised and environmentally damaging beach and coastal rebuilding projects that ignore the looming threats of rising seas and intensifying storms.
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In U.S., the Lure of Export May<br /> Further Fuel Natural Gas Boom

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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Will President Obama Seize<br /> Moment on Climate Change?

Will President Obama Seize
Moment on Climate Change?

by william becker
Climate change received scant attention in the election campaign. But with public concern about global warming growing in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, President Obama has an unprecedented opportunity to take bold action on climate and clean energy.
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Forget the Kyoto Accord<br /> And Tax Carbon Consumption

Forget the Kyoto Accord
And Tax Carbon Consumption

by dieter helm
Given the failure of international climate negotiations, a tax on carbon consumption is the most effective way of lowering CO2 emissions. If nations are serious about addressing climate change, then they must pay for the carbon pollution caused by what they consume.
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Why Are Environmentalists<br /> Taking Anti-Science Positions?

Why Are Environmentalists
Taking Anti-Science Positions?

by fred pearce
On issues ranging from genetically modified crops to nuclear power, environmentalists are increasingly refusing to listen to scientific arguments that challenge standard green positions. This approach risks weakening the environmental movement and empowering climate contrarians.
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A Summer of Extremes<br /> Signifies the New Normal

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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Natural Gas and Its Role<br /> In the U.S. Energy Endgame

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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Fifty Years After <em>Silent Spring</em>,<br /> Attacks on Science Continue

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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Shoot the Messenger: Carolina’s <br />Costly Mistake on Sea Level Rise

Shoot the Messenger: Carolina’s
Costly Mistake on Sea Level Rise

by rob young
The North Carolina Senate has approved legislation that would prohibit the state from considering projected sea level increases in its coastal management strategy. But a scientist involved in the debate argues that ignoring these projections will wind up costing North Carolina — and the rest of the U.S. — far more.
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The Clean Water Act at 40:<br /> There’s Still Much Left to Do

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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Besieged by Climate Deniers,<br /> A Scientist Decides to Fight Back

Besieged by Climate Deniers,
A Scientist Decides to Fight Back

by michael e. mann
Climate scientist Michael Mann, who has faced years of attacks from climate-change skeptics, explains why he believes bad-faith assaults on science have no place in a functioning democracy and why the truth about global warming will inevitably gain wide acceptance.
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The Folly of Big Agriculture:<br /> Why Nature Always Wins

The Folly of Big Agriculture:
Why Nature Always Wins

by verlyn klinkenborg
Large-scale industrial agriculture depends on engineering the land to ensure the absence of natural diversity. But as the recent emergence of herbicide-tolerant weeds on U.S. farms has shown, nature ultimately finds a way to subvert uniformity and assert itself.
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Shunning Nuclear Power<br /> Will Lead to a Warmer World

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

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

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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On the Road Back to Rio,<br /> Green Direction Has Been Lost

On the Road Back to Rio,
Green Direction Has Been Lost

by fred pearce
Twenty years ago, an historic environmental summit in Rio de Janeiro produced groundbreaking treaties and high hopes that pressing issues would be addressed. But as organizers prepare for the Rio+20 conference in June, there is little on the agenda to suggest any substantive action will be taken.
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As Roads Spread in Rainforests,<br /> The Environmental Toll Grows

As Roads Spread in Rainforests,
The Environmental Toll Grows

by william laurance
From Brazil to Borneo, new roads are being built into tropical forests at a dizzying pace, putting previously intact wilderness at risk. If we hope to preserve rainforests, a leading researcher says, new strategies must be adopted to limit the number of roads and reduce their impacts.
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Solar Power Off the Grid:<br /> Energy Access for World’s Poor

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

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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Making the Case for the<br /> Value of Environmental Rules

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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The Ethical Dimension of<br /> Tackling Climate Change

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

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 Planetary Crisis Is<br /> A Terrible Thing to Waste

A Planetary Crisis Is
A Terrible Thing to Waste

by christian schwägerl
There are striking similarities between the current economic and ecological crises — both involve indulgent over-consumption and a failure to consider the impacts on future generations. But it’s not too late to look to new economic and environmental models and to dramatically change course.
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The World at 7 Billion:<br /> Can We Stop Growing Now?

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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On Biking, Why Can’t the U.S.<br /> Learn Lessons from Europe?

On Biking, Why Can’t the U.S.
Learn Lessons from Europe?

by elisabeth rosenthal
Building bike paths alone will not get people out of their cars in the U.S. and onto bicycles. To create a thriving bike culture in America’s cities, people must begin to view bicycling as Europeans do — not just as a way of exercising, but as a serious form of urban mass transportation.
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Off the Pedestal: Creating a<br /> New Vision of Economic Growth

Off the Pedestal: Creating a
New Vision of Economic Growth

by james gustave speth
The idea of economic growth as an unquestioned force for good is ingrained in the American psyche. But a longtime environmental leader argues it’s time for the U.S. to reinvent its economy into one that focuses on sustaining communities, family life, and the natural world.
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Energy Déjà Vu: Obama Must<br /> Break with Failed U.S. Policies

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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One Year Later: Assessing the<br /> Lasting Impact of the Gulf Spill

One Year Later: Assessing the
Lasting Impact of the Gulf Spill

by carl safina
On the anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon explosion, the worst fears about the long-term damage from the oil spill have not been realized. But the big challenge is more fundamental: repairing the harm from the dams, levees, and canals that are devastating the Mississippi Delta and the Louisiana coast.
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Can Electric Vehicles Take Off?<br /> A Roadmap to Find the Answer

Can Electric Vehicles Take Off?
A Roadmap to Find the Answer

by john d. graham and natalie messer
Electric cars are finally coming to market in the U.S., but what is the future potential for this much-touted technology? A good way to find out would be to launch demonstration projects in selected U.S. cities to determine if, given incentives and the proper infrastructure, the public will truly embrace plug-in vehicles.
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U.S. High-Speed Rail: Time to<br /> Hop Aboard or Be Left Behind

U.S. High-Speed Rail: Time to
Hop Aboard or Be Left Behind

by andy kunz
In recent months, several conservative governors have rejected federal funds to begin constructing high-speed rail lines in their states. But a high-speed rail advocate argues that such ideologically driven actions are folly, as other U.S. states and countries around the world are moving swiftly to embrace a technology that is essential for competitive 21st-century economies.
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How Fisheries Can Gain From<br /> The Lessons of Sustainable Food

How Fisheries Can Gain From
The Lessons of Sustainable Food

by john waldman
As agriculture and energy production have made strides toward becoming more sustainable, the world’s fisheries have lagged behind. But restoring our beleaguered oceans to health will require an emphasis on diversification and conservation — and a more sensible mix of fishing practices.
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Living in the Anthropocene:<br /> Toward a New Global Ethos

Living in the Anthropocene:
Toward a New Global Ethos

by paul j. crutzen and christian schwägerl
A decade ago, Nobel Prize-winning scientist Paul Crutzen first suggested we were living in the “Anthropocene,” a new geological epoch in which humans had altered the planet. Now, in an article for Yale Environment 360, Crutzen and a coauthor explain why adopting this term could help transform the perception of our role as stewards of the Earth.
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Did Cancun Prove the UN<br /> Irrelevant in Tackling Climate?

Did Cancun Prove the UN
Irrelevant in Tackling Climate?

by fred pearce
The Cancun conference is being credited with keeping international climate talks alive. But the real potential for bringing emissions under control may lie in a Plan B, with nations acting on their own in moving toward a low-carbon economy.
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After a Strong Counterattack, <br />Big Coal Makes a Comeback

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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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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A Positive Path for Meeting<br /> The Global Climate Challenge

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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How One Small Business<br /> Cut Its Energy Use and Costs

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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What Are Species Worth?<br /> Putting a Price on Biodiversity

What Are Species Worth?
Putting a Price on Biodiversity

by richard conniff
When officials gather for an international summit on biodiversity next month, they might look to remind the world why species matter to humans: for producing oxygen, finding new drugs, making agricultural crops more productive, and something far less tangible — a sense of wonder.
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A Symbolic Solar Road Trip <br />To Reignite a Climate Movement

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.
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LEED Building Standards<br /> Fail to Protect Human Health

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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Natural Gas as Panacea:<br /> Dubious Path to a Green Future

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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Global Warming Deniers and<br /> Their Proven Strategy of Doubt

Global Warming Deniers and
Their Proven Strategy of Doubt

by naomi oreskes and erik m. conway
For years, free-market fundamentalists opposed to government regulation have sought to create doubt in the public’s mind about the dangers of smoking, acid rain, and ozone depletion. Now they have turned those same tactics on the issue of global warming and on climate scientists, with significant success.
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Climate Intervention Schemes<br /> Could Be Undone by Geopolitics

Climate Intervention Schemes
Could Be Undone by Geopolitics

by mike hulme
As global warming intensifies, demands for human manipulation of the climate system are likely to grow. But carrying out geoengineering plans could prove daunting, as conflicts erupt over the unintended regional consequences of climate intervention and over who is entitled to deploy climate-altering technologies.
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Under Pressure to Block Oil,<br /> A Rush To Dubious Projects

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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Toward Sustainable Travel:<br /> Breaking the Flying Addiction

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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Despite Attacks from Critics,<br />  Climate Science Will Prevail

Despite Attacks from Critics,
Climate Science Will Prevail

by rajendra k. pachauri
The chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change acknowledges it has been a rough few months for his organization. But, he argues, no amount of obfuscation and attacks by conspiracy theorists will alter the basic facts — global warming is real and intensifying.
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Beyond the Limits of Earth Day:
Turning Up the Heat on Climate

by denis hayes
This April marks the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, an event that has attracted millions to environmental causes. But winning passage of meaningful legislation on climate change requires more than slogans and green talk — it demands intense, determined political action. 
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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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Freeing Energy Policy From
The Climate Change Debate

by ted nordhaus and michael shellenberger
Environmentalists have long sought to use the threat of catastrophic global warming to persuade the public to embrace a low-carbon economy. But recent events, including the tainting of some climate research, have shown the risks of trying to link energy policy to climate science.
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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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After Two Decades of Delay,
A Chance to Save Bluefin Tuna

by carl safina
The obscenely profitable market for bluefin tuna in Japan has led to years of overfishing and left the world’s bluefin population badly depleted. A ban on the bluefin trade, if adopted at international talks this month, would go a long way toward giving this magnificent fish a chance to recover.
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The U.S. Chamber: A Record of
Obstruction on Climate Action

by shaun goho
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has been fighting climate-change legislation and is now opposing federal efforts to regulate CO2 emissions. Its actions stand in stark contrast to an earlier business group, which more than a century ago fought to create New York’s vast Adirondack Park.
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‘Rewilding’ the World:
A Bright Spot for Biodiversity

by caroline fraser
As burgeoning human populations place greater pressure on wild areas, a strategy is emerging for preserving threatened lands and wildlife. Known as ‘rewilding,’ it involves expanding core wilderness areas, connecting them via corridors that allow humans and animals to co-exist, and protecting and reintroducing top predators.
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Why Africa’s National Parks
Are Failing to Save Wildlife

by fred pearce
The traditional parks model of closing off areas and keeping people out simply may not work in Africa, where human demands on the land are great. Instead, what’s needed is an approach that finds ways to enable people and animals to co-exist.
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How High Will Seas Rise?
Get Ready for Seven Feet

by rob young and orrin pilkey
As governments, businesses, and homeowners plan for the future, they should assume that the world’s oceans will rise by at least two meters — roughly seven feet — this century. But far too few agencies or individuals are preparing for the inevitable increase in sea level that will take place as polar ice sheets melt.
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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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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.
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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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Bringing Hope to Copenhagen
With a Novel Investment Idea

by orville schell
Governments from the developed world will never come up with enough money to help poorer nations adapt to global warming and implement renewable energy technologies. The solution may lie in using a modest allocation of government funds to spur private sector investment in green energy projects in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
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Copenhagen: The Gap Between
Climate Rhetoric and Reality

by bill mckibben
As the UN conference enters its second and decisive week, the calls for strong global action to deal with climate change do not appear to be penetrating inside Copenhagen’s Bella Center.
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Climategate: Anatomy of
A Public Relations Disaster

by fred pearce
The way that climate scientists have handled the fallout from the leaking of hacked e-mails is a case study in how not to respond to a crisis. But it also points to the need for climate researchers to operate with greater transparency and to provide more open access to data.
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As the World Waits on the U.S.,
a Sense of Déjà Vu in Denmark?

by bill mckibben
Twelve years ago in Kyoto, the world was poised to act on a climate treaty but looked for a clear signal from the United States. Now, with the Copenhagen talks set to begin, the outcome once again hinges on what the U.S. is prepared to do.
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Apocalypse Fatigue: Losing
the Public on Climate Change

by ted nordhaus and michael shellenberger
Even as the climate science becomes more definitive, polls show that public concern in the United States about global warming has been declining. What will it take to rally Americans behind the need to take strong action on cutting carbon emissions?
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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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Coping With Climate Change:
Which Societies Will Do Best?

by gaia vince
As the world warms, how different societies fare in dealing with rising seas and changing weather patterns will have as much to do with political, social, and economic factors as with a changing climate.
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The Greenest Place in the U.S.
May Not Be Where You Think

by david owen
Green rankings in the U.S. don’t tell the full story about the places where the human footprint is lightest. If you really want the best environmental model, you need to look at the nation’s biggest — and greenest — metropolis: New York City.
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The Economic Case for
Slashing Carbon Emissions

by frank ackerman
Amid a growing call for reducing atmospheric concentrations of CO2 to 350 parts per million, a group of economists maintains that striving to meet that target is a smart investment — and the best insurance policy humanity could buy.
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The Other Inconvenient Truth:
The Crisis in Global Land Use

by jonathan foley
As the international community focuses on climate change as the great challenge of our era, it is ignoring another looming problem — the global crisis in land use. With agricultural practices already causing massive ecological impact, the world must now find new ways to feed its burgeoning population and launch a "Greener" Revolution.
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A Timely Reminder of
the Real Limits to Growth

by bill mckibben
It has been more than 30 years since a groundbreaking book predicted that if growth continued unchecked, the Earth’s ecological systems would be overwhelmed within a century. The latest study from an international team of scientists should serve as an eleventh-hour warning that cannot be ignored.
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What Makes Europe
Greener than the U.S.?

by elisabeth rosenthal
The average American produces three times the amount of CO2 emissions as a person in France. A U.S. journalist now living in Europe explains how she learned to love her clothesline and sweating in summer.
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Why I Still Oppose
Genetically Modified Crops

by verlyn klinkenborg
Introduced more than a decade ago, genetically modified crops are now planted on millions of acres throughout the world. But the fundamental questions about them remain — both about their safety and their long-term impact on global food security and the environment.
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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.
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A ‘Dow Jones’ for Climate:
The Case for a Warming Index

by daniel r. abbasi
If a cap-and-trade bill passes Congress this year, it may include weak emissions targets and will likely need to be strengthened in the years to come. One way to guide future policy: create a Global Climate Change Index that could be used to track global warming’s impacts.
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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 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


A Total Ban on Whaling?
New Studies May Hold the Key

by fred pearce
As the International Whaling Commission debates whether to ban all whaling or to expand the limited hunts now underway, recent research has convinced some scientists that the world’s largest mammal should never be hunted again.
READ MORE


A Plea to President Obama:
End Mountaintop Coal Mining

by james hansen
Tighter restrictions on mountaintop removal mining are simply not enough. Instead, a leading climate scientist argues, the Obama administration must prohibit this destructive practice, which is devastating vast stretches of Appalachia.
READ MORE


The Challenge of Copenhagen:
Bridging the U.S.-China Divide

by orville schell
The United States powered its rise to affluence with fossil fuels, and China resents being told it should not be free to do the same. So as negotiators prepare for crucial climate talks this December, the prospects for reaching agreement remain far from certain.
READ MORE


Learning to Live With Climate
Change Will Not Be Enough

by david w. orr
A leading environmentalist explains why drastically reducing carbon dioxide emissions now will be easier, cheaper, and more ethical than dealing with runaway climate destabilization later.
READ MORE


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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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.
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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


Consumption Dwarfs Population
as Main Environmental Threat

by fred pearce
It's overconsumption, not population growth, that is the fundamental problem: By almost any measure, a small portion of the world's people — those in the affluent, developed world — use up most of the Earth's resources and produce most of its greenhouse gas emissions.
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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.
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On His Bicentennial,
Mr. Darwin’s Questions Endure

by verlyn klinkenborg
Charles Darwin brought an insatiable inquisitiveness to his view of the natural world. On the bicentennial of his birth, author Verlyn Klinkenborg reflects on what Darwin’s most fundamental observations mean to us.
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Clinton’s China Visit Opens
Door on Climate Change

by orville schell
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s trip to China could be the first step in forging a partnership between the world’s largest emitters of greenhouse gases. A leading China expert sets forth a blueprint for how the U.S. and China can slow global warming – and strengthen their crucial relationship.
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What Obama Must Do
on the Road to Copenhagen

by michael northrop and david sassoon
If crucial climate negotiations later this year in Copenhagen are to have any chance of success, the U.S. must take the lead. To do that, President Obama needs to act boldly in the coming months.
READ MORE


The Climate Freeloaders: Emerging Nations Need to Act

by fred pearce
Key developing countries have long been exempt from efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Now, as global climate talks move forward, that policy must change.
READ MORE


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


Moving the U.S. Off Carbon
With Less Pain, More Gain

by carl pope
Many environmentalists assume that putting a price on carbon and creating a renewable energy economy will require major public sacrifice. But the Sierra Club’s Carl Pope argues that a well-designed package of market reforms — not austerity — will lead to a prosperous, low-carbon future.
READ MORE


As Europe Fiddles, U.S. May
Take Lead on Climate Change

by fred pearce
Europe’s backpedaling last month on toughening its carbon trading system may have signaled the end of its leadership on climate change. Now, with a new administration and Congress, America appears ready to commit itself to tackling global warming.
READ MORE


A Green Scorecard for
Stimulating the Economy

by richard conniff
In evaluating an economic recovery package, the new U.S. administration and Congress must weigh any proposed spending – on highways or mass transit or wind-power transmission routes – on the basis of clear criteria that would assess just how green the projects will be.
READ MORE


Regulators Are Pushing
Bluefin Tuna to the Brink

by carl safina
The international commission charged with protecting the giant bluefin tuna is once again failing to do its job. Its recent decision to ignore scientists’ recommendations for reducing catch limits may spell doom for this magnificent – and endangered – fish.
READ MORE


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


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


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


Environmental Failure:
A Case for a New Green Politics

by james gustave speth
The U.S. environmental movement is failing – by any measure, the state of the earth has never been more dire. What’s needed, a leading environmentalist writes, is a new, inclusive green politics that challenges basic assumptions about consumerism and unlimited growth.
READ MORE


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
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


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


Has the Population Bomb Been Defused?

by fred pearce
Paul Ehrlich still believes that overpopulation imperils the Earth’s future. But the good news is we are approaching a demographic turning point: Birth rates have been falling dramatically, and population is expected to peak later this century — after that, for the first time in modern history, the world's population should actually start to decline.
READ MORE


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


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


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

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


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


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


The Ethics of Climate Change

by richard c. j. somerville
When it comes to setting climate change policy, science can only tell us so much. Ultimately, a lead report author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change writes, it comes down to making judgments about what is fair, equitable, and just.
READ MORE


e360 digest

Earth Observation Satellites Help
Scientists Understand Global Change


Global warming is affecting more than just atmospheric temperatures — it is also changing water cycles, soil conditions, and animal migrations. Earth observation satellites aid scientists in measuring and monitoring these changes so societies can better adapt. Although there are well over 1,000 active orbiting satellites, less than 15 percent are used to monitor Earth’s environment. Yale Environment 360 presents a gallery of satellites that scientists are using to better understand how the planet is changing.
View the gallery.

23 Jul 2014: "Inglorious" Produce Campaign
Is Major Success for French Grocer

A major French grocery chain, Intermarche, has launched a novel campaign to curb food waste and

Watch Video
Grotesque apple

"Grotesque Apple" poster
market visually flawed produce. The "Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables" campaign aims to revamp the image of imperfect and non-conforming produce, much of which is thrown away by growers because it doesn't meet grocery retailers' standards. Intermarche began welcoming the "Grotesque Apple," "Ridiculous Potato," "Hideous Orange," and other infamous items to its shelves, created posters to explain that the produce is as nutritious and flavorful as the more attractive versions, and reduced prices by 30 percent. The campaign was an "immediate success," Intermarche says: Stores nationwide sold 1.2 million tons of "inglorious" fruits and vegetables in the first two days, and overall store traffic increased by 24 percent.

 

Five Questions for Jeffrey Sachs
On Decarbonizing the Economy

Thirty scientific institutions from 15 countries last week released a report for the United Nations outlining how
Jeffrey Sachs
Jeffrey Sachs

e360 Five Questions
the world’s major carbon dioxide-emitting nations can slash those emissions by mid-century. Called the Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project, the initiative aims to provide leaders with a plan of action in advance of a UN summit in September and climate negotiations in Paris in late 2015. Yale Environment 360 asked Jeffrey Sachs, director of Columbia University’s Earth Institute and a key player in the decarbonization project, five questions about the initiative and the prospects for global action on the climate front.
Read more.

22 Jul 2014: Costs of Urban Light Pollution
Highlighted in Citizen Science Effort

A recently launched citizen science project aims to highlight the environmental, social, and financial impacts of excessive nighttime lighting in cities around

Click to Enlarge
Shanghai, China, at night

Shanghai, China, at night
the world. The project, called Cities at Night, enlists people to help identify the cities pictured in thousands of blindingly lit photos taken by astronauts orbiting the earth. Organizers hope that when residents and officials see the bright photos of their cities at night, they will be prompted to cut nighttime light use and energy consumption. Widespread artificial lighting has made light pollution a growing problem in urban areas by disrupting behavioral patterns of people and wildlife, wasting millions of dollars in energy costs, and adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. Some solutions are relatively inexpensive and straightforward, the organizers say, such as using shields to direct light down to street-level, which can allow a city to use lower-wattage streetlights.

 

Interview: Where Will the Earth
Head After Its ‘Climate Departure’?

The term “climate departure” has an odd ring, but its meaning is relatively straightforward. It marks the point at which the earth’s climate begins to cease resembling
“Camilo
Camilo Mora
what has come before and moves into a new state where the extreme becomes the norm. Camilo Mora — a University of Hawaii biogeographer, ecologist, and specialist in marshaling big data for climate modeling — has calculated a rough idea for the time of the earth’s climate departure: 2047. That date varies depending on region, he says. But in a widely publicized paper published in the journal Nature last year, Mora and 13 colleagues explored the concept of climate departure and what it will mean for our planet. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Mora explains why tropical regions will be most profoundly affected by climate change, why controlling population growth is at the core of the challenge posed by global warming, and the frustrations he and other scientists feel as their warnings about rising temperatures are ignored.
Read more.

21 Jul 2014: India Doubles Coal Tax to
Fund Ambitious Clean Energy Initiatives

India's finance minister has doubled the tax on coal imported to or mined in the country, raising the tariff from $0.83 to $1.67 per metric ton, with plans to use the revenue to fund a host of renewable energy projects over the next decade, Clean Technica reports. The revenue will be added to the National Clean Energy Fund, which was established to provide low-cost financing for renewable energy projects. The fund's scope will be expanded to include environmental projects as well as clean energy research and development, including a national wind energy program, four major solar power projects, and an initiative that aims to establish transmission corridors for distributing electricity from renewable energy sources. The revenue will also be used to fund a new, separate ministry focused on cleaning the heavily polluted Ganges River. The tax could raise as much as $1.2 billion in the first year, according to estimates.

 
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