23 Feb 2015
It’s not just the potential for a catastrophic spill that makes President Obama’s proposal to open Atlantic Ocean waters to oil exploration such a bad idea. What’s worse is the cumulative impact on coastal ecosystems that an active oil industry would bring.
16 Feb 2015
Blessed with lots of sun and keen to cut its reliance on imported oil, Hawaii has moved to the forefront of residential solar installations in the U.S. But financial and technical hurdles are slowing the state’s drive to generate 40 percent of its electricity from renewable energy by 2030.
22 Jan 2015
Burning wood pellets to produce electricity is on the rise in Europe, where the pellets are classified as a form of renewable energy. But in the U.S., where pellet facilities are rapidly being built, concerns are growing about logging and the carbon released by the combustion of wood biomass.
13 Jan 2015
From an oil chill in the financial world to the recent U.S.-China agreement on climate change, recent developments are raising a question that might once have been considered unthinkable: Could this be the beginning of a long, steady decline for the oil and coal industries?
08 Jan 2015
The U.S. Congress is preparing to vote on expediting the Keystone XL pipeline. But plummeting oil prices and opposition to other proposed pipelines for tar sands oil are upending the rationale for this controversial project.
11 Dec 2014
Promising new technologies, including more efficient photovoltaic cells that can harvest energy across the light spectrum, have the potential to dramatically increase solar power generation in the next two decades. But major hurdles remain.
24 Nov 2014
To slow global warming, tens of trillions of dollars will need to be spent in the coming decades on renewable energy projects. Some banks and governments are issuing green bonds to fund this transformation, but major questions remain as to whether this financing tool will play a game-changing role.
11 Nov 2014
Black lung — a debilitating disease caused by inhaling coal dust — was supposed to be wiped out by a landmark 1969 U.S. mine safety law. But a recent study shows that the worst form of the disease now affects a larger share of Appalachian coal miners than at any time since the early 1970s.
03 Nov 2014
While it has environmental advantages over other forms of ethanol, cellulosic ethanol has proven difficult to produce at commercial scale. Even as new production facilities come online in the U.S., a variety of economic and market realities suggest the new fuel still has big challenges to overcome.
27 Oct 2014
Because utilities can't control when the sun shines or the wind blows, it has been difficult to fully incorporate solar and wind power into the electricity grid. But new technologies designed to store the energy produced by these clean power sources could soon be changing that.
20 Oct 2014
Armed with new high-tech equipment, mining companies are targeting vast areas of the deep ocean for mineral extraction. But with few regulations in place, critics fear such development could threaten seabed ecosystems that scientists say are only now being fully understood.
06 Oct 2014
The rise of U.S. oil and gas production has spurred a dramatic expansion of the nation's pipeline infrastructure. As the lines reach into new communities and affect more property owners, concerns over the environmental impacts are growing.
02 Oct 2014
Former Toyota executive Bill Reinert has long been dubious about the potential of electric cars. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, he talks about the promise of other technologies and about why he still sees hybrids as the best alternative to gasoline-powered vehicles.
29 Sep 2014
As negotiators look to next year’s UN climate conference in Paris, there is increasing discussion of a new way forward that does not depend on sweeping international agreements. Some analysts are pointing to Plan B — recasting the climate issue as one of national self-interest rather than global treaties.
23 Sep 2014
The major oil companies in the U.S. have not had to pay a price for the contribution their products make to climate change. But internal accounting by the companies, along with a host of other signs, suggest that may soon change — though the implications of a price on carbon are far from clear.
08 Sep 2014
Some scientists and analysts are touting carbon capture and storage as a necessary tool for avoiding catastrophic climate change. But critics of the technology regard it as simply another way of perpetuating a reliance on fossil fuels.
04 Sep 2014
Ecologist Wendy Palen was one of a group of scientists who recently called for a moratorium on new development of Alberta’s tar sands. In a Yale Environment 360 interview, she talks about why Canada and the U.S. need to reconsider the tar sands as part of a long-term energy policy.
18 Aug 2014
Hydraulic fracturing is about to move into the Canadian Arctic, with companies exploring the region's rich shale oil deposits. But many indigenous people and conservationists have serious concerns about the impact of fracking in more fragile northern environments.
04 Aug 2014
Small hydropower projects have the potential to bring electricity to millions of people now living off the grid. But experts warn that planners must carefully consider the cumulative effects of constructing too many small dams in a single watershed.
19 Jun 2014
The coal industry has achieved stunning growth in the last decade, largely due to increased demand in China. But big changes in China’s economy and its policies are expected to put an end to coal’s big boom.
16 Jun 2014
The sweeping nature of President Obama’s proposed regulations limiting carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants is likely to open his initiative to serious legal challenges. To date, however, the courts have given the federal government wide latitude in regulating CO2 under the Clean Air Act.
09 Jun 2014
Unity College in Maine was the first in the U.S. to divest all fossil fuel holdings from its endowment. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Unity president Stephen Mulkey talks about why he sees this groundbreaking move as an ethical decision and an extension of the college’s mission.
03 Jun 2014
Desalination has long been associated with one process — turning seawater into drinking water. But a host of new technologies are being developed that not only are improving traditional desalination but opening up new frontiers in reusing everything from agricultural water to industrial effluent.
29 May 2014
While Germany continues to expand solar and wind power, the government’s decision to phase out nuclear energy means it must now rely heavily on the dirtiest form of coal, lignite, to generate electricity. The result is that after two decades of progress, the country’s CO2 emissions are rising.
19 May 2014
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.
01 May 2014
Congo's Virunga National Park has long been known for its mountain gorillas and for the lawless militias that operate there. But the recent shooting of the park warden and plans to begin oil exploration in the park have sparked concern about the future of this iconic World Heritage Site.
28 Apr 2014
Researchers have long contended that power from ocean waves could make a major contribution as a renewable energy source. But a host of challenges, including the difficulty of designing a device to capture the energy of waves, have stymied efforts to generate electricity from the sea.
17 Apr 2014
In its latest report, the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change makes a strong case for a sharp increase in low-carbon energy production, especially solar and wind, and provides hope that this transformation can occur in time to hold off the worst impacts of global warming.
07 Apr 2014
Scientists, engineers, and government regulators are increasingly turning their attention to solving one of the chief environmental problems associated with fracking for natural gas and oil – significant leaks of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.
27 Mar 2014
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.
20 Mar 2014
Having universities divest from fossil fuels is a feel-good measure that would do nothing to address the problem of global climate change. Instead, we should be focusing on efforts to push for strong government action.
27 Feb 2014
The emerging field of “energy scavenging” is drawing on a wide array of untapped energy sources — including radio waves, vibrations created by moving objects, and waste heat from computers or car exhaust systems — to generate electricity and boost efficiency.
20 Feb 2014
With a massive dam under construction in Laos and other dams on the way, the Mekong River is facing a wave of hydroelectric projects that could profoundly alter the river’s ecology and disrupt the food supplies of millions of people in Southeast Asia.
18 Feb 2014
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.
16 Jan 2014
Powered by solar panels and biomass, microgrids are spreading slowly across India, where 300 million people live without electricity. But can these off-grid technologies be scaled-up to bring low-carbon power to tens of millions of people?
14 Jan 2014
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.
18 Dec 2013
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.
16 Dec 2013
By encouraging the adoption of innovative architectural design and energy-saving technologies, Singapore has emerged as a model of green building in Asia — an important development in a region that is urbanizing more rapidly than any other in the world.
12 Dec 2013
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.
05 Dec 2013
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.
18 Nov 2013
A shortage of "rare earth" metals, used in everything from electric car batteries to solar panels to wind turbines, is hampering the growth of renewable energy technologies. Researchers are now working to find alternatives to these critical elements or better ways to recycle them.
04 Nov 2013
China is engaged in a push to build hydroelectric dams on a scale unprecedented in human history. While being touted for producing lower-emission electricity, these massive dam projects are wreaking havoc on river systems across China and Southeast Asia.
29 Oct 2013
As Bangladesh makes a controversial turn to coal to produce electricity, the construction of a large coal-fired power plant is threatening the fragile ecosystem of the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest.
03 Oct 2013
Still reeling from recent financial crises, Iceland is hoping to use its bountiful sources of geothermal and hydroelectric energy to help boost its economy. Among the country’s more ambitious plans is an undersea cable to carry renewably generated electricity to the U.K.
23 Sep 2013
After years of delays and legal battles, several offshore wind projects seem poised to be launched off the U.S. East Coast. But the lack of stable government incentives and tax credits may continue to hobble an industry that already has a strong foothold in Europe.
17 Sep 2013
Australia is the world’s second-largest exporter of coal, thanks to huge markets in China, Japan, and other Asian countries. Environmentalists have been struggling to scale back the nation’s coal boom, but the recent election of a conservative prime minister may keep coal on top.
03 Sep 2013
Faced with the prospect of a dwindling customer base, some U.S. power companies are seeking to end public subsidies and other incentives for rooftop solar. In Arizona, the issue has sparked a heated public relations battle that could help determine the future of solar in the United States.
28 Aug 2013
Increasingly common in Europe, municipal “waste-to-energy” incinerators are being touted as a green trash-disposal alternative. But critics contend that these large-scale incinerators tend to discourage recycling and lead to greater waste.
22 Aug 2013
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.
05 Aug 2013
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.
29 Jul 2013
With prospects in the U.S. increasingly uncertain, Peabody Energy, the world’s largest private coal company, is expanding its operations abroad. But that strategy could carry significant risks, as coal-consuming powerhouses like China are working to reduce their dependence on the fossil fuel.
27 Jun 2013
A backpack that generates electricity? A vest that cools you in a hot tent? As the U.S. military looks to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels, the Marine Corps is leading the way with cutting-edge technology and innovative devices.
11 Jun 2013
In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Adam Lowry, co-founder of a company that has pioneered the use of environmentally friendly cleaning products, discusses how a small firm has been able to nudge large corporations down the path of sustainability.
30 May 2013
A giant new hydro project on the Congo River is only the latest in a rush of massive dams being built across Africa. Critics contend small-scale renewable energy projects would be a far more effective way of bringing power to the hundreds of millions of Africans still without electricity.
17 Apr 2013
Environmental activist Billy Parish believes the best way to fight climate change is to fund the renewable energy projects that will supplant fossil fuels. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, he discusses how “crowdfunding” can help lead to the widespread adoption of solar power.
15 Apr 2013
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.
11 Apr 2013
The Danish capital is moving rapidly toward a zero-carbon future, as it erects wind farms, transforms its citywide heating systems, promotes energy efficiency, and lures more people out of their cars and onto public transportation and bikes.
02 Apr 2013
Ontario is on the verge of becoming the first industrial region in North America to eliminate all coal-fired electrical generation. Here’s how Canada’s most populous province did it — and what the U.S. and others can learn from it.
02 Jan 2013
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.
10 Dec 2012
Don’t expect the U.S. Congress to take any action on climate change in the next four years. But by continuing to use its regulatory authority and working with the states, the Obama administration can make significant progress on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
04 Dec 2012
With the relationship between utilities and their customers changing in unprecedented ways, new companies are deploying vast amounts of data and social psychology techniques to try to persuade people to use less electricity in their homes.
15 Oct 2012
A host of startup companies are pursuing new technologies that they claim will soon lead to large-scale commercialization of biofuels made from algae. But questions remain about the viability and environmental benefits of what some of its developers are calling “green crude.”
24 Sep 2012
A host of start-up companies are exploring ways to harness the enormous amount of wind energy flowing around the earth, especially at high altitudes. But as these innovators are discovering, the engineering and regulatory challenges of what is known as airborne wind power are daunting.
06 Sep 2012
The amount of time it takes to recharge lithium-ion batteries has been a major impediment to consumer acceptance of electric vehicles. But a host of companies and researchers are working intensively to develop a battery that can recharge in 10 minutes and power a car for hundreds of miles.
04 Sep 2012
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.
23 Aug 2012
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.
13 Aug 2012
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.
30 Jul 2012
Proponents of this nuclear technology argue that it can eliminate large stockpiles of nuclear waste and generate huge amounts of low-carbon electricity. But as the battle over a major fast-breeder reactor in the UK intensifies, skeptics warn that fast-breeders are neither safe nor cost-effective.
02 Jul 2012
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.
11 Jun 2012
Few international figures have been as consistent in warning about the threat posed by global warming as economist Fatih Birol, of the International Energy Agency. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Birol explains why the situation is worsening and what needs to be done to significantly slow emissions.
31 May 2012
A planned carbon capture and storage plant in West Texas is being billed as the “cleanest coal plant in the world.” But can the $3 billion project help move the global power industry toward the elusive goal of low-carbon electricity, or is it just another way of perpetuating fossil fuels?
29 May 2012
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.
03 May 2012
The vast amount of glass in skyscrapers and office buildings represents enormous potential for an emerging technology that turns windows into solar panels. But major questions remain as to whether solar windows can be sufficiently inexpensive and efficient to be widely adopted.
02 May 2012
After a decade seeking approval to build the U.S.’s first offshore wind farm, Cape Wind president Jim Gordon is on the verge of beginning construction. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, he describes why his struggle has been good for clean energy — and why the fight is still not over.
30 Apr 2012
In its quest to find new sources of energy, China is increasingly looking to its western provinces. But the nation’s push to develop fossil fuel and alternative sources has so far ignored a basic fact — western China simply lacks the water resources needed to support major new energy development.
29 Mar 2012
A surge in gas and oil drilling in the U.S. is helping drive the economic recovery and is enhancing energy security. But as the situation in Ohio shows, cheaper energy prices and the focus on fossil fuels has been bad news for the renewable energy industry.
26 Mar 2012
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.
12 Mar 2012
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.
27 Feb 2012
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.
23 Feb 2012
Three startup companies led by prominent scientists are working on new technologies to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The scientific community is skeptical, but these entrepreneurs believe the process of CO2 removal can eventually be profitable and help cool an overheating planet.
20 Feb 2012
For four decades, Amory Lovins has been a leading proponent of a renewable power revolution that would wean the U.S. off fossil fuels and usher in an era of energy independence. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, he talks about his latest book, which describes his vision of how the world can attain a green energy future by 2050.
08 Feb 2012
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.
26 Jan 2012
The big electric car launches of 2011 failed to generate the consumer excitement that some had predicted. But as new battery technologies emerge and tougher mileage standards kick in, automakers and analysts still believe that electric vehicles have a bright future.
24 Jan 2012
With the industry’s support and despite political opposition, new U.S. lighting efficiency standards went into effect this month. This move, along with similar actions in Europe and China, is helping spur new technologies that will change the way the world's homes and businesses are illuminated.
09 Jan 2012
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.
04 Jan 2012
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.
12 Dec 2011
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.
08 Dec 2011
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.
14 Nov 2011
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.
09 Nov 2011
David Crane, the CEO of one of the nation’s largest electric companies, has become a leading proponent of renewable energy. In an interview with Yale Environment 360
, he explains how, in the face of government paralysis, the private sector can help lead the shift away from fossil fuels.
07 Nov 2011
No more cost-effective way to make major cuts in energy use and greenhouse gas emissions exists than retrofitting buildings. Now, from New York to Mumbai to Melbourne, a push is on to overhaul older buildings to make them more energy efficient.
31 Oct 2011
Despite all the talk about curbing greenhouse gas emissions, the world is burning more and more coal. The inconvenient truth is that coal remains a cheap and dirty fuel — and the idea of “clean” coal remains a distant dream.
20 Oct 2011
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?
06 Oct 2011
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.
15 Aug 2011
Daunted by high up-front costs, U.S. homeowners continue to shy away from residential solar power systems, even as utility-scale solar projects are taking off. But with do-it-yourself kits and other innovative installation approaches now on the market, residential solar is having modest growth.
08 Aug 2011
In the wake of the Fukushima meltdowns, some nations are looking to move away from nuclear power. But not China, which is proceeding with plans to build 36 reactors over the next decade. Now some experts are questioning whether China can safely operate a host of nuclear plants.
04 Aug 2011
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.
05 Jul 2011
Exploiting North America’s largest oil deposit has destroyed vast stretches of Canada's boreal forest, arousing the ire of those opposed to this massive development of fossil fuels. Now those opponents are battling the Keystone XL pipeline, which would pass through environmentally sensitive Western lands as it moves the oil to market.
20 Jun 2011
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.
23 May 2011
A decade after a brutal civil war, the West African nation of Liberia has partnered with the European Union on a novel system for protecting its remaining forests — marking every harvestable tree so it can be traced to its final destination. But given Liberia’s history of conflict and corruption, will it work?
19 May 2011
What if the ever-increasing amounts of carbon dioxide that are heating up the atmosphere could be used to produce an abundant supply of liquid fuels? The U.S. government and private labs are pursuing that Holy Grail of renewable energy — but for now the cost of large-scale production is prohibitive.
09 May 2011
The disaster at the Fukushima plant in Japan convinced German Chancellor Angela Merkel that nuclear power would never again be a viable option for her country. Now Merkel has embarked on the world’s most ambitious plan to power an industrial economy on renewable sources of energy.
04 May 2011
Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn believes the technology currently exists to produce affordable, all-electric cars that will find a global market. In an interview with Yale Environment 360
, he talks about Nissan’s new Leaf and why he is confident that, despite earlier setbacks, the time for all-electric vehicles is now.
25 Apr 2011
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.
13 Apr 2011
For three decades, Raoul du Toit has led the fight to protect black rhinos in Zimbabwe, a struggle that earned him a Goldman Environmental Prize this week. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, he talks about the challenge of saving this iconic African animal in the face of his country’s economic collapse and a new wave of poaching.
11 Apr 2011
Three years after unveiling his plan for U.S. energy independence, which won praise from environmentalists for its reliance on wind power, Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens is back with a proposal to convert the U.S. trucking fleet to natural gas. But as his new plan gains traction, questions arise over how green it really is.
07 Apr 2011
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.
21 Mar 2011
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.
18 Mar 2011
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.
17 Mar 2011
The disaster at the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant has highlighted the importance of nuclear energy to Japan and the power long wielded by the nuclear sector. But that influence now is sure to wane, to the relief of opponents who have fought for years to check nuclear's rapid growth.
28 Feb 2011
As concerns grow in the U.S. about the environmental impact of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” to extract natural gas from shale, companies have set their sights on Europe and its abundant reserves of this “unconventional” gas. But from Britain to Poland, critics warn of the potentially high environmental cost of this looming energy boom.
10 Feb 2011
Across the U.S., companies are planning scores of projects to burn trees and wood waste to produce electricity, claiming such biomass plants can be carbon-neutral. But critics contend that combusting wood is not really a form of green energy and are urging a go-slow approach until clear guidelines can be established.
20 Jan 2011
To shift the global economy from fossil fuels to renewable energy will require the construction of wind, solar, nuclear, and other installations on a vast scale, significantly altering the face of the planet. Can these new forms of energy approach the scale needed to meet the world’s energy demands?
03 Jan 2011
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.
09 Dec 2010
The idea of creating biochar by burning organic waste in oxygen-free chambers — and then burying it — is being touted as a way to cool the planet. But while it already is being produced on a small scale, biochar’s proponents and detractors are sharply divided over whether it can help slow global warming.
08 Dec 2010
As head of a new energy office at the Pentagon, Sharon Burke is charged with finding ways for the U.S. armed forces to cut its dangerous reliance on oil. In an interview with Yale Environment 360
, she talks about what new technologies are being tested and why the military considers energy use a key strategic issue in the field.
02 Dec 2010
Long a proven technology in Europe, green roofs are becoming increasingly common in U.S. cities, with major initiatives in Chicago, Portland, and Washington, D.C. While initially more expensive than standard coverings, green roofs offer some major environmental — and economic — benefits.
29 Nov 2010
The push to promote sustainable palm oil is turning into a test case for green consumerism. The outcome could help determine the future of the rainforests of Asia and Africa — and whether consumer pressure can really sway corporate giants.
11 Nov 2010
In China, millions of tons of waste from livestock farms are causing severe water pollution and massive emissions of methane. Now, some large livestock operators are turning to biogas fuel production in hopes of creating “ecological” factory farms.
09 Nov 2010
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.
27 Oct 2010
By year’s end, regulators are expected to approve a host of solar energy projects in California that could eventually produce as much electricity as several nuclear plants. In an interview with Yale Environment 360
, John Woolard, the CEO of the company that has begun construction on the world’s largest solar-thermal project, discusses the promise — and challenges — of this green energy boom.
18 Oct 2010
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.
14 Oct 2010
Will electric cars one day become part of a network of rechargeable batteries that can help smooth out the intermittent nature of wind and solar power? Many experts believe so, pointing to programs in Europe and the U.S. that demonstrate the promise of vehicle-to-grid technology.
11 Oct 2010
The U.S. has invested billions of dollars trying to create a controlled form of nuclear fusion that could be the energy source for an endless supply of electricity. But as a federal laboratory prepares for a key test, major questions remain about pulling off this long-dreamed-of technological feat.
07 Oct 2010
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.
30 Sep 2010
Energy companies are rushing to develop unconventional sources of oil and gas trapped in carbon-rich shales and sands throughout the western United States and Canada. So far, government officials have shown little concern for the environmental consequences of this new fossil-fuel development boom.
09 Sep 2010
Europe is in the midst of a wind energy boom, with the continent now installing more wind power capacity than any other form of energy. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, the European Wind Energy Association's Christian Kjaer describes his vision of how wind can lead the way in making Europe’s electricity generation 100 percent renewable by 2050.
07 Sep 2010
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.
12 Jul 2010
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.
28 Jun 2010
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.
17 Jun 2010
As utilities seek to build new nuclear power plants in the U.S. and around the world, the latest generation of reactors feature improvements over older technologies. But even as attention focuses on nuclear as an alternative to fossil fuels, questions remain about whether the newer reactors are sufficiently foolproof to be adopted on a large scale.
25 May 2010
Environmentalist David Orr says the easy part of helping the United States live within its ecological limits may be passing laws, such as one that puts a price on carbon. The hard part, he maintains in an interview with Yale Environment 360
, is changing a culture of consumption that causes extensive environmental damage — and unhappiness.
24 May 2010
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?
20 May 2010
The practice of “commissioning,” in which an engineer monitors the efficiency of a building from its design through its initial operation, just may be the most effective strategy for reducing long-term energy usage, costs, and greenhouse gas emissions from buildings. So why is it so seldom used?
29 Apr 2010
California’s high-tech giants have long used renewable energy to help power their Silicon Valley headquarters. Now, companies such as Google, Adobe Systems, and eBay are preparing for the next step — investing in off-site solar and wind installations and innovative technologies that will supply their offices and data centers with green electricity.
26 Apr 2010
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?
25 Mar 2010
Hydro fracturing is a profitable method of natural gas extraction that uses large quantities of water and chemicals to free gas from underground rock formations. But New York City’s concerns that the practice would threaten its water supply have slowed a juggernaut that has been sweeping across parts of the northeastern United States.
11 Mar 2010
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.
08 Mar 2010
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.
03 Mar 2010
After making his fortune with Idealab and a host of technology start-ups, Bill Gross has turned his attention to renewable energy. In an interview with Yale Environment 360
, Gross talks about the solar power plant technology his company eSolar is developing and about the future of solar.
18 Feb 2010
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?
08 Feb 2010
There has been growing talk about a clean-tech race between China and the U.S., often cast in ominous tones. But the quest to develop and implement renewable energy can be one where both nations win.
01 Feb 2010
Few places are as well suited for large-scale solar projects as California’s Mojave Desert. But as mainstream environmental organizations push plans to turn the desert into a center for renewable energy, some green groups — concerned about spoiling this iconic Western landscape — are standing up to oppose them.
21 Jan 2010
For years, the promise and hype surrounding electric cars failed to materialize. But as this year’s Detroit auto show demonstrated, major car companies and well-funded startups — fueled by federal clean-energy funding and rapid improvement in lithium-ion batteries — are now producing electric vehicles that will soon be in showrooms.
21 Dec 2009
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.
21 Dec 2009
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.
09 Nov 2009
The solar power boom in Germany, Spain, and parts of the United States has been fueled by government subsidies. But now some U.S. states — led by New Jersey, of all places — are pioneering a different approach: issuing tradable credits that can be sold on the open market. So far, the results have been promising.
14 Oct 2009
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.
08 Oct 2009
Of the various geoengineering schemes being proposed to cool an overheated planet, one approach — extracting carbon dioxide from the atmosphere using “artificial trees” — may have the most potential. But both questions and big hurdles remain before this emerging technology could be widely deployed.
08 Sep 2009
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.
31 Aug 2009
For more than 40 years, scientists have dreamed of collecting the sun’s energy in space and beaming it back to Earth. Now, a host of technological advances, coupled with interest from the U.S. military, may be bringing that vision close to reality.
17 Aug 2009
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.
13 Aug 2009
John Holdren, the president’s top science adviser, is playing a key role in shaping the Obama administration’s strategy to combat global warming. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Holdren discusses the prospects for achieving key breakthroughs on climate change, both in Congress and at upcoming talks in Copenhagen.
29 Jul 2009
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.
27 Jul 2009
In an interview with Yale Environment 360, John Kerry praises the carbon cap-and-trade legislation now being debated in the U.S. Senate, describes its importance to upcoming climate talks in Copenhagen, and explains how he plans to help the landmark legislation clear the Senate and become law.
16 Jul 2009
It took awhile, but the U.S. Midwest finally has recognized that the industries that once powered its economy will never return. Now leaders in the region are looking to renewable energy manufacturing and technologies as key to the heartland’s renaissance.
13 Jul 2009
For years, the stumbling block for making renewable energy practical and dependable has been how to store electricity for days when the sun isn't shining and the wind isn't blowing. But new technologies suggest this goal may finally be within reach.
11 Jun 2009
Biofuels – made from algae and non-food plants – are emerging as a potentially viable alternative to conventional jet fuels. Although big challenges remain, the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions could be major.
19 May 2009
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.
07 May 2009
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.
04 May 2009
The scrubby jatropha tree has been touted as a wonder biofuel with unlimited potential. But questions are now emerging as to whether widespread jatropha cultivation is really feasible or whether it will simply displace badly-needed food crops in the developing world.
30 Apr 2009
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.
27 Apr 2009
New solar thermal technology overcomes a major challenge facing solar power – how to store the sun’s heat for use at night or on a rainy day. As researchers tout its promise, solar thermal plants are under construction or planned from Spain to Australia to the American Southwest.
30 Mar 2009
The economic downturn need not halt the development of green energy. In fact, with renewable technologies improving dramatically and new U.S. policies emerging, continued progress toward an energy revolution is inevitable.
04 Dec 2008
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.
01 Dec 2008
Despite daunting challenges, technology to harness the power of the waves and tides is now being deployed around the world – from Portugal to South Korea to New York’s East River. These projects, just beginning to produce electricity, are on the cutting edge of renewable energy’s latest frontier: hydrodynamic power.
26 Nov 2008
In an interview with Yale Environment 360
, Amory Lovins, co-founder and chairman of Rocky Mountain Institute, says that world's biggest untapped energy source is efficiency. And retooling for energy efficiency will require "barrier-busting" at many levels. And government, Lovins says, "should steer, not row."
20 Nov 2008
For four decades, American politicians have talked about ending U.S. dependence on foreign oil. But during the campaign and since his election victory, Barack Obama has made it clear that he finally intends to change the way America powers itself.
17 Nov 2008
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.
11 Nov 2008
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.
05 Nov 2008
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.
27 Oct 2008
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.
23 Oct 2008
Until now, geothermal technology has only been used on a small scale to produce power. But with major new projects now underway, deep geothermal systems may soon begin making a significant contribution to the world’s energy needs.
09 Oct 2008
In an exclusive interview with Yale Environment 360
, best-selling author Thomas Friedman talks with Elizabeth Kolbert about his new book and about why he’s optimistic that an energy-technology revolution can revitalize the United States and set the world on a new, greener path.
29 Sep 2008
Despite the potential for abuse, the concept of paying others to compensate for our environmental sins can be a valuable tool in helping reduce carbon emissions. But the world can’t simply buy its way out of global warming.
25 Sep 2008
After years of false starts and failures, the electric car may finally be poised to go big-time. With automakers from GM to Chrysler to Nissan preparing to roll out new plug-in hybrids or all-electric models, it looks like the transition from gasoline to electricity is now irreversible.
15 Sep 2008
Oil isn't America's only fuel addiction. Inefficient and environmentally damaging, the corn-ethanol boondoggle will nonetheless be hard to stop.
02 Sep 2008
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.
25 Aug 2008
Texas billionaire T. Boone Pickens has always been one to think big. But his sweeping 10-year energy plan for America faces obstacles that may be insurmountable.
18 Aug 2008
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.
04 Aug 2008
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.
28 Jul 2008
After years of optimistic predictions and false starts, it looks like solar's moment is here at last. Analysts say a pattern of rapid growth, technological breakthroughs, and falling production costs has put solar power on the brink of becoming the world's dominant electricity source.
14 Jul 2008
The coal industry, political leaders, and some environmentalists have high hopes for the concept of carbon sequestration, which takes carbon dioxide emissions from coal plants and buries them underground. But so far, this new technology does not live up to the hype.
10 Jul 2008
As the Arctic's sea ice melts, energy and mining companies are moving into previously inaccessible regions to tap the abundant riches that lie beneath the permafrost and the ocean floor. The potential environmental impacts are troubling.
22 Jun 2008
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.
10 Jun 2008
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.
03 Jun 2008
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.
03 Jun 2008
After years of U.S. inaction, a new president will have to move quickly to address global warming. In an e360 report, New Yorker writer Elizabeth Kolbert surveys the views of various nonpartisan groups and provides a blueprint for what needs to be done.
03 Jun 2008
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.
03 Jun 2008
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.
03 Jun 2008
As debate begins on Capitol Hill, the prospects for passing a climate change bill this year are dimming. Increasingly, it appears as though any new law will await a new Congress and a new president.