Archive: Business & Innovation
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.
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.
16 Oct 2014
Often mowed and doused with herbicides, power transmission lines have long been a bane for environmentalists. But that’s changing, as some utilities are starting to manage these areas as potentially valuable corridors for threatened wildlife.
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.
20 Aug 2014
Lian Pin Koh believes drones can be a key part of conservation efforts, particularly in remote regions. In a Yale Environment 360 interview, he talks about how his project, ConservationDrones, is promoting the use of drones for everything from counting orangutans to stopping poaching.
31 Jul 2014
As president of the Humane Society of the United States, Wayne Pacelle has pushed the animal welfare group into areas that directly impact the environment. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, he talks about how what we eat, how we raise our food, and how we treat farm animals are basic conservation issues.
30 Jun 2014
Three decades of rapid economic development in China has left a troubling legacy – widespread soil pollution that has contaminated food crops and jeopardized public health. Although they once labeled soil data a “state secret,” Chinese officials are slowly beginning to acknowledge this grave problem.
The first in a series.
26 Jun 2014
An increasing number of sewage treatment plants in the U.S. and Europe are processing food waste in anaerobic biodigesters, keeping more garbage out of landfills, reducing methane emissions, and producing energy to defray their operating costs.
12 Jun 2014
One of the world’s most polluting industries is the textile-dyeing sector, which in China and other Asian nations releases trillions of liters of chemically tainted wastewater. But new waterless dyeing technologies, if adopted on a large scale, could sharply cut pollution from the clothing industry.
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.
27 May 2014
Dairy operations in the U.S. are consolidating, with ever-larger numbers of cows concentrated on single farms. In states like Wisconsin, opposition to some large operations is growing after manure spills and improper handling of waste have contaminated waterways and aquifers.
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.
24 Apr 2014
High-altitude neotropical ecosystems known as páramos are increasingly at risk in Colombia and elsewhere in South America as major mining companies seek to exploit rich deposits of gold and other minerals. Such projects, scientists warn, could have serious impacts on critical water supplies.
22 Apr 2014
A recent study shows that a surprisingly large amount of the seafood sold in U.S. markets is caught illegally. In a series of actions over the last few months, governments and international regulators have started taking aim at stopping this illicit trade in contraband fish.
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.
10 Mar 2014
Few companies have done as much damage to the world’s tropical forests as Asia Pulp & Paper. But under intense pressure from its customers and conservation groups, APP has embarked on a series of changes that could significantly reduce deforestation in Indonesia and serve as a model for forestry reform.
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.
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.
06 Feb 2014
For decades, hazardous electronic waste from around the world has been processed in unsafe backyard recycling operations in Asia and Africa. Now, a small but growing movement is seeking to provide these informal collectors with incentives to sell e-waste to advanced recycling facilities.
28 Jan 2014
New technology is dramatically increasing the role of non-scientists in providing key data for researchers. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Caren Cooper of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology talks about the tremendous benefits — and potential pitfalls — of the expanding realm of citizen science.
27 Jan 2014
Companies with bad environmental records are increasingly turning to a little-known nonprofit called TFT to make sure they meet commitments to improve their practices. It remains to be seen if this is just a PR move or a turning point for corporate conduct.
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?
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.
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.
03 Dec 2013
India is planning to burn more of its trash to generate badly needed electricity. But as the case of a waste-to-energy plant in New Delhi shows, critics are worried about lax air pollution controls and the impact of incineration on people who eke out a living picking through waste dumps.
21 Nov 2013
Large-scale solar projects are enjoying steady growth in California and the southwestern United States. But will shifting government incentives and mandates slow the expansion of this key part of the solar energy industry?
19 Nov 2013
In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Robert Martin, co-author of a recent study on industrial farm animal production, explains how a powerful and intransigent agriculture lobby has successfully fought off attempts to reduce the harmful environmental and health impacts of mass livestock production.
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.
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.
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.
05 Sep 2013
Anand Shah runs a company that is using solar-powered “water ATMs” to bring clean water to remote villages in India. In an e360
interview, Shah talks about how his company is using a high-tech approach to address one of India’s most intractable public health issues.
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.
19 Aug 2013
As evidence mounts that excessive use of light is harming wildlife and adversely affecting human health, new initiatives in France and elsewhere are seeking to turn down the lights that flood an ever-growing part of the planet.
08 Aug 2013
A move by New York City to begin collecting food scraps and other organic waste is just the latest example of expanding efforts by municipalities worldwide to recycle large quantities of unused food and slash the amount of material sent to landfills.
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.
22 Jul 2013
President Obama has unveiled a proposal to combat global warming that would, for the first time, regulate carbon dioxide emissions from all U.S. coal-fired power plants. Yale Environment 360 asked a group of experts to assess the president’s climate strategy.
03 Jul 2013
An estimated 30 million fish and other creatures are caught annually to supply the home aquarium market, taking a toll on some reef ecosystems. Now conservationists are working to improve the industry by ending destructive practices and encouraging aquaculture.
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.
21 May 2013
U.S. businesswoman Katherine Lucey is working with a network of women entrepreneurs in sub-Saharan Africa to sell inexpensive, household solar energy systems. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Lucey explains how solar electricity can transform lives, particularly those of rural women and girls.
16 May 2013
In the wake of the 2011 tsunami, the Japanese government is forgoing an opportunity to sustainably protect its coastline and is instead building towering concrete seawalls and other defenses that environmentalists say will inflict serious damage on coastal ecosystems.
22 Apr 2013
Electric bicycles are already popular in Europe and in China, which has more e-bikes than cars on its roads. Now, manufacturers are marketing e-bikes in the U.S., promoting them as a "green" alternative to driving.
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.
13 Mar 2013
Matthew Tejada is taking over the EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice after helping low-income communities in Houston fight air pollution in their neighborhoods. He talks to Yale Environment 360 about how his work in Texas prepared him for the challenges of his new post.
05 Mar 2013
Better Place was touted as one of the world’s most innovative electric vehicle start-ups when it launched six years ago. But after selling fewer than 750 cars in a major initiative in Israel and losing more than $500 million, the company’s experience shows that EVs are still not ready for primetime.
28 Feb 2013
Maria Damanaki, Europe’s crusading fisheries minister, is making major headway in changing a cozy, “old boys” network that over-subsidized the European fishing industry and brought about the severe overfishing of the continent’s marine bounty.
21 Feb 2013
The Netherlands’ system of dikes and sea gates has long been the best in the world. But as the country confronts the challenges of climate change, it is increasingly relying on techniques that mimic natural systems and harness nature’s power to hold back the sea.
14 Feb 2013
Republican Bob Inglis’ statement that he believed in human-caused climate change helped cost him his seat in Congress. In a Yale Environment 360 interview, Inglis explains why he is now trying to persuade his fellow conservatives that their principles can help save the planet.
07 Feb 2013
One of the few potential advantages attributed to soaring carbon dioxide levels has been enhanced crop growth. But in an interview with Yale Environment 360, botanist Stephen Long talks about his research showing why rising temperatures and an increase in agricultural pests may offset any future productivity gains.
24 Jan 2013
Urban stormwater runoff is a serious problem, overloading sewage treatment plants and polluting waterways. Now, various U.S. cities are creating innovative green infrastructure — such as rain gardens and roadside plantings — that mimics the way nature collects and cleanses water.
23 Jan 2013
After more than four decades as a leading environmentalist, Gus Speth is disillusioned with what has been accomplished. What’s needed now, he says in an interview with Yale Environment 360, is a transformative change in America’s political economy that will benefit both society and the planet.
21 Jan 2013
The Atlantic Canyons off the Northeastern U.S. plunge as deep as 15,000 feet and harbor diverse and fragile marine ecosystems. Now, the Obama administration’s plans to consider offshore oil and gas exploration in the canyons is troubling conservationists.
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.
06 Dec 2012
Conservation organizations are working with industry to try to make beef production more sustainable. But some are questioning whether green groups should be accepting funds from the beef industry or whether they should instead be urging consumers to stop eating beef.
05 Dec 2012
Martha Schwartz, a professor at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, explains in a Yale Environment 360 interview how creative landscape architecture can help cities become models of sustainability in a world facing daunting environmental challenges.
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.
12 Nov 2012
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.
22 Oct 2012
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.
18 Oct 2012
The concept of pricing ecosystem services and allowing them to be bought and sold has gained wide acceptance among conservationists in recent years. But does this approach merely obscure nature’s true value and put the natural world at even greater risk?
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.
13 Sep 2012
Mega-dams and massive government-run irrigation projects are not the key to meeting world’s water needs, a growing number of experts now say. For developing nations, the answer may lie in small-scale measures such as inexpensive water pumps and other readily available equipment.
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.
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.
09 Aug 2012
Two recent studies highlight the harm that industrial fisheries are doing to the world’s seabirds, either by overharvesting the birds’ favorite prey or by drowning birds hooked on longlines. But tighter regulations and innovative technologies are starting to significantly reduce seabird “bycatch,” slashing it by 90 percent in some regions.
06 Aug 2012
As shrimp aquaculture has boomed globally to keep pace with surging demand, the environmental toll on mangroves and other coastal ecosystems has been severe. Now, conservation groups and some shrimp farmers are creating a certification scheme designed to clean up the industry and reward sustainable producers.
02 Aug 2012
Former Silicon Valley entrepreneur Sean Gerrity is trying to turn a swath of northeastern Montana into a prairie reserve teeming with herds of bison. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Gerrity talks about the challenges of reclaiming a landscape long dominated by agriculture.
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.
26 Jul 2012
In China’s sprawling Xinjiang region, where the population is growing and cotton farming is booming, a key river has been running dry in summer. Now a team of international scientists is grappling with a problem facing the Tarim River basin and other mountainous regions — how to secure water supplies as demands increase and glaciers melt.
23 Jul 2012
Vehicles that virtually drive themselves are no longer the stuff of science fiction, with Google and other companies working to develop self-driving cars. These automated vehicles not only offer improved safety and fewer traffic jams, but real environmental benefits as well.
19 Jul 2012
In fish-crazed Japan, where eating seafood is a vital part of the nation's culture, conservation groups are working with companies to persuade more Japanese to eat certified, sustainably caught seafood. It's an uphill struggle, but one that could have significant impact on the world's fisheries.
10 Jul 2012
The U.S. has long used more energy for air conditioning than all other nations combined. But as demand increases in the world’s warmer regions, global energy consumption for air conditioning is expected to continue to rise dramatically and could have a major impact on climate change.
05 Jul 2012
American agriculture is steeped in a chemical-intensive system that wastes money and pollutes the environment. But by making use of new technology and innovative approaches, farmers can boost production and profits — while at the same time improving soil quality, enhancing biodiversity, and protecting habitat.
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?
24 May 2012
The regime of President Robert Mugabe has been accused of profiting from the Marange diamond fields in eastern Zimbabwe, garnering illicit funds that could be used to bolster his oppressive security forces. Now critics are alleging the government is failing to stop mining-waste pollution that is sickening livestock and local villagers.
23 May 2012
National security expert Michael Klare believes the struggle for the world’s resources will be one of the defining political and environmental realities of the 21st century. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, he discusses the threat this scramble poses to the natural world and what can be done to sustainably meet the resource challenge.
21 May 2012
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.
16 May 2012
Paul Anastas pioneered the concept of green chemistry and has led the effort to rethink the way we design and make the products we use. In an interview with Yale Environment 360
, he talks about the challenges of bringing this approach to policy making and the frustrations of tackling environmental issues in a politically polarized era.
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.
09 Apr 2012
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.
05 Apr 2012
U.S. consumers tell researchers they want to buy environmentally friendly products, but so far they haven’t been doing that on a large scale. Now a host of companies and nonprofits are trying to use new technology — from smartphones to social networking — to make it easier for buyers to make the green choice.
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.
08 Mar 2012
Long ahead of the rest of the U.S. on environmental policy, California is taking bold steps to tackle climate change — from committing to dramatic reductions in emissions, to establishing a cap-and-trade system, to mandating an increase in zero-emission vehicles. The bottom line, say state officials, is to foster an economy where sustainability is profitable.
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.
06 Feb 2012
With advances in a technique known as fast-track breeding, researchers are developing crops that can produce more and healthier food and can adapt and thrive as the climate shifts.
30 Jan 2012
Canada’s Nunavut Territory is the largest undisturbed wilderness in the Northern Hemisphere. It also contains large deposits of uranium, generating intense interest from mining companies and raising concerns that a mining boom could harm the caribou at the center of Inuit life.
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.
19 Jan 2012
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.
05 Jan 2012
Indian banker Pavan Sukhdev has been grappling with the question of how to place a monetary value on nature. In an interview with Yale Environment 360
, he discusses the ways natural ecosystems benefit people and why policymakers and businesses must rethink how they assess environmental costs and benefits.
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.
21 Dec 2011
Geographer Edward Carr has worked extensively in sub-Saharan Africa, where climate change and other environmental threats present a growing challenge. In an interview with Yale Environment 360
, Carr talks about why any outside aid to the developing world must build on the inherent capability of the local residents.
15 Dec 2011
One idea promoted at the Durban talks was “climate-smart agriculture," which could make crops less vulnerable to heat and drought and turn depleted soils into carbon sinks. The World Bank and African leaders are backing this new approach, but some critics are skeptical that it will benefit small-scale African farmers.
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.
17 Oct 2011
Shenyang — once a key in Mao Zedong’s push to industrialize China — has begun to emerge from its smoggy past, cleaning up its factories and expanding its green spaces. In doing so, this city of 8 million people has been in the forefront of a growing environmental consciousness in urban China.
03 Oct 2011
A new imaging system that uses a suite of airborne sensors is capable of providing detailed, three-dimensional pictures of tropical forests — including the species they contain and the amount of CO2 they store — at astonishing speed. These advances could play a key role in preserving the world’s beleaguered rainforests.
29 Sep 2011
New studies have underscored the potentially harmful health effects of the most widely used flame retardants, found in everything from baby blankets to carpets. Health experts are now calling for more aggressive action to limit these chemicals, including cutting back on highly flammable, petroleum-based materials used in many consumer products.
06 Sep 2011
In Germany’s capital — and in cities as diverse as Hong Kong and Chicago — raising bees on rooftops and in small gardens has become increasingly popular, as urban beekeepers find they can reconnect with nature and maybe even make a profit.
18 Aug 2011
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.
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.
11 Aug 2011
From understanding the cumulative impacts of widely used chemicals to preparing for life in a warming world, a host of environmental health issues now face medical experts. In an interview with Yale Environment 360
, Lynn Goldman, dean of the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services, talks about meeting the challenges.
11 Jul 2011
A rapidly expanding universe of citizens’ groups, researchers, and environmental organizations are making use of social media and smart phone applications to document changes in the natural world and to mobilize support for taking action.
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.
23 Jun 2011
Few places in the U.S. are as well suited to developing renewable energy as the contaminated sites known as “brownfields.” But as communities from Philadelphia to California are discovering, government support is critical to enable solar and wind entrepreneurs to make use of these abandoned lands.
21 Jun 2011
With ever-greater quantities of seafood coming from aquaculture operations, some companies are working on ways to reduce the environmental impact of fish farming. In an interview with Yale Environment 360
, Josh Goldman of Australis Aquaculture talks about his highly praised closed-containment fish farm in Massachusetts.
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.
09 Jun 2011
Workers groups in South Korea report an unusually high incidence of cancers and other serious diseases among employees at Samsung’s semiconductor and other electronics plants. While the company denies any link, the pattern of illnesses is disturbingly similar to that seen at semiconductor facilities in the U.S. and Europe.
31 May 2011
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.
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.
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.
22 Mar 2011
The devastating tsunami in northeastern Japan is only one of many that have battered Japan over the eons. In an interview with Yale Environment 360
, tsunami and earthquake expert Lori Dengler describes the historic and paleological record of tsunamis across the Pacific, and what it may mean in the future for Japan and the western United States.
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.
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.
14 Mar 2011
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.
10 Mar 2011
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.
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.
22 Feb 2011
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.
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?
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.
24 Nov 2010
The synthetic chemical, BPA — found in everything from plastic bottles to cash register receipts — is a potent, estrogen-mimicking compound. In an interview with Yale Environment 360
, biologist Frederick vom Saal harshly criticizes U.S. corporations and government regulators for covering up — or ignoring — the many health risks of BPA.
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.
21 Oct 2010
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.
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.
19 Aug 2010
Consumers now have little information about the true ecological impacts of what they buy. But that may be about to change, as new technologies that track supply chains are emerging and companies as diverse as Unilever and Google look to make their products more sustainable.
02 Aug 2010
While some studies have suggested that frequent use of cell phones causes increased risk of brain and mouth cancers, others have found no such links. But since cell phones are relatively new and brain cancers grow slowly, many experts are now recommending taking steps to reduce exposure.
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.
07 Jun 2010
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.
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?
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.
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.
17 Dec 2009
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?
03 Dec 2009
As wild fish stocks continue to dwindle, aquaculture is becoming an increasingly important source of protein worldwide. Now, a growing number of entrepreneurs are raising fish in large pens in the open ocean, hoping to avoid the many environmental problems of coastal fish farms.
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.
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.
17 Sep 2009
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.
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.
03 Sep 2009
Stephen Kellert, a social ecologist, is a passionate advocate for the need to incorporate aspects of the natural world into our built environment. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, he explains what we can learn from cathedrals, why flowers in a hospital can heal, and how green design can boost a business’s bottom line.
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.
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.
01 Jul 2009
Researchers throughout the world are working to produce biofuel from algae. But a few are trying a decidedly novel approach: Using an abundant and freely available source — human waste — to make the fuel of the future while also treating sewage.
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.
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.
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.
05 Mar 2009
The number of vehicles worldwide is expected to reach two billion in the next two decades. Surprisingly, China – where the demand for cars has been skyrocketing – just may offer the best hope of creating a new, greener transportation model.
03 Mar 2009
Yale University’s recently opened Kroon Hall is a state-of-the-art model of where the green building movement is headed. Yet even this showcase for renewable energy highlights the difficulties of creating a building that is 100 percent carbon neutral.
15 Jan 2009
In a bold departure from past U.S. policies, President Barack Obama sees clean energy and “green jobs” as critical components of an economic stimulus strategy.
13 Jan 2009
Even as they debut the next generation of hybrids and battery-powered cars, auto company executives are not confident that the American public will buy them.
05 Jan 2009
A number of companies, including one headed by biologist and entrepreneur Craig Venter, are developing genetically engineered biofuels that they say will provide a greener alternative to oil. But some environmentalists are far from convinced.
22 Dec 2008
The potential for electric vehicles has been talked about for decades. But a former Israeli software entrepreneur is developing a game-changing infrastructure that could finally make them feasible — a standardized network of charging stations where drivers can plug right in.
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.
24 Nov 2008
Any federal assistance package for U.S. automakers must require that they finally commit to retooling their industry to produce cleaner, more fuel-efficient cars.
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.
13 Oct 2008
U.S. cities have been using green planning to spark economic development, helping create a real urban renaissance in America. With a new administration soon to arrive in Washington, these same approaches may finally start being used on a national scale.
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.
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.
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.
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.
23 Jun 2008
Nanotechnology, now used in everything from computers to toothpaste, is booming. But concern is growing that its development is outpacing our understanding of how to use it safely.
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
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.