Topic: Science & Technology


Peak to Peak: An Intimate Look at <br />The Bighorn Sheep of the Rockies

An E360 Video Contest Award Winner

Peak to Peak: An Intimate Look at
The Bighorn Sheep of the Rockies

The third-place winner of the Yale Environment 360 Video Contest focuses on a herd of bighorn sheep in Montana and features remarkable scenes of lambs as they gambol along the slopes of the northern Rockies. Produced by Jeremy Roberts, the video follows a field biologist as he monitors the sheep and talks about the possible impact of climate change on the animals’ future.
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Can Carbon Capture Technology <br />Be Part of the Climate Solution?

Analysis

Can Carbon Capture Technology
Be Part of the Climate Solution?

by david biello
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.
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Badru’s Story: Early Warnings From <br />Inside an Impenetrable African Forest

E360 Video Contest Award Winner — First Place

Badru’s Story: Early Warnings From
Inside an Impenetrable African Forest

"Badru’s Story," which documents the work of researchers in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, is the first-place winner of the Yale Environment 360 Video Contest. Filmmakers Benjamin Drummond and Sara Joy Steele trek along with scientist Badru Mugerwa and his team as they monitor the impact of climate change on one of Africa’s most diverse forests and its extraordinary wildlife.
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Interview

How Drones Are Emerging
As Valuable Conservation Tool

by crystal gammon
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.
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As Small Hydropower Expands, <br />So Does Caution on Its Impacts

Report

As Small Hydropower Expands,
So Does Caution on Its Impacts

by dave levitan
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.
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Primate Rights vs Research: <br /> Battle in Colombian Rainforest

Report

Primate Rights vs Research:
Battle in Colombian Rainforest

by chris kraul
A Colombian conservationist has been locked in a contentious legal fight against a leading researcher who uses wild monkeys in his search for a malaria vaccine. A recent court decision that banned the practice is seen as a victory in efforts to restrict the use of monkeys in medical research.
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The Soil Pollution Crisis in China:<br /> A Cleanup Presents Daunting Challenge

Tainted Harvest: An e360 Special Report/Part III

The Soil Pollution Crisis in China:
A Cleanup Presents Daunting Challenge


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Interview

Where Will Earth Head
After Its ‘Climate Departure’?

by diane toomey
Will the planet reach a point where its climate is significantly different from what has existed throughout human history, and if so, when? In an interview with Yale Environment 360, biogeographer Camilo Mora talks about recent research on this disquieting issue and what it means for the coming decades.
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How Weeds Could Help Feed <br />Billions in a Warming World

Report

How Weeds Could Help Feed
Billions in a Warming World

by lisa palmer
Scientists in the U.S. and elsewhere are conducting intensive experiments to cross hardy weeds with food crops such as rice and wheat. Their goal is to make these staples more resilient as higher temperatures, drought, and elevated CO2 levels pose new threats to the world’s food supply.
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New Desalination Technologies <br />Spur Growth in Recyling Water

Report

New Desalination Technologies
Spur Growth in Recyling Water

by cheryl katz
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.
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Interview

Examining How Marine Life
Might Adapt to Acidified Oceans

by elizabeth grossman
In an interview with Yale Environment 360, marine biologist Gretchen Hofmann discusses how well mollusks and other shell-building organisms might evolve to live in increasingly corrosive ocean conditions caused by soaring CO2 emissions.
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Why Wave Power Has Lagged <br />Far Behind as Energy Source

Analysis

Why Wave Power Has Lagged
Far Behind as Energy Source

by dave levitan
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.
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New Satellite Boosts Research <br />On Global Rainfall and Climate

Analysis

New Satellite Boosts Research
On Global Rainfall and Climate

by nicola jones
Although it may seem simple, measuring rainfall worldwide has proven to be a difficult job for scientists. But a recently launched satellite is set to change that, providing data that could help in understanding whether global rainfall really is increasing as the planet warms.
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Scientists Focus on Polar Waters <br />As Threat of Acidification Grows

Report

Scientists Focus on Polar Waters
As Threat of Acidification Grows

by jo chandler
A sophisticated and challenging experiment in Antarctica is the latest effort to study ocean acidification in the polar regions, where frigid waters are expected to feel most acutely the ecological impacts of acidic conditions not seen in millions of years.
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Rebuilding the Natural World: <br />A Shift in Ecological Restoration

Analysis

Rebuilding the Natural World:
A Shift in Ecological Restoration

by richard conniff
From forests in Queens to wetlands in China, planners and scientists are promoting a new approach that incorporates experiments into landscape restoration projects to determine what works to the long-term benefit of nature and what does not.
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Soil as Carbon Storehouse: <br />New Weapon in Climate Fight?

Analysis

Soil as Carbon Storehouse:
New Weapon in Climate Fight?

by judith d. schwartz
The degradation of soils from unsustainable agriculture and other development has released billions of tons of carbon into the atmosphere. But new research shows how effective land restoration could play a major role in sequestering CO2 and slowing climate change.
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In a Host of Small Sources, <br />Scientists See Energy Windfall

Report

In a Host of Small Sources,
Scientists See Energy Windfall

by cheryl katz
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.
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Is Weird Winter Weather <br />Related to Climate Change?

Analysis

Is Weird Winter Weather
Related to Climate Change?

by fred pearce
Scientists are trying to understand if the unusual weather in the Northern Hemisphere this winter — from record heat in Alaska to unprecedented flooding in Britain — is linked to climate change. One thing seems clear: Shifts in the jet stream play a key role and could become even more disruptive as the world warms.
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In Developing World, A Push to <br />Bring E-Waste Out of Shadows

Report

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

by mike ives
For decades, hazardous electronic waste from around the world has been processed in unsafe backyard recycling operations in Asia and Africa. Now, a small but growing movement is seeking to provide these informal collectors with incentives to sell e-waste to advanced recycling facilities.
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Growing Insects: Farmers Can <br />Help to Bring Back Pollinators

Report

Growing Insects: Farmers Can
Help to Bring Back Pollinators

by richard conniff
With a sharp decline in pollinating insects, farmers are being encouraged to grow flowering plants that can support these important insects. It’s a fledgling movement that could help restore the pollinators that are essential for world food production.
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How Rise of Citizen Science <br />Is Democratizing Research

Interview

How Rise of Citizen Science
Is Democratizing Research

by diane toomey
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.
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As Uses of Biochar Expand, <br />Climate Benefits Still Uncertain

Analysis

As Uses of Biochar Expand,
Climate Benefits Still Uncertain

by mark hertsgaard
Research shows that biochar made from plant fodder and even chicken manure can be used to scrub mercury from power plant emissions and clean up polluted soil. The big question is whether biochar can be produced on a sufficiently large scale to slow or reverse global warming.
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Indian Microgrids Aim to <br />Bring Millions Out of Darkness

Report

Indian Microgrids Aim to
Bring Millions Out of Darkness

by david ferris
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?
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The Case Against De-Extinction: <br />It’s a Fascinating but Dumb Idea

Point/Counterpoint: Reviving Extinct Species

The Case Against De-Extinction:
It’s a Fascinating but Dumb Idea

by paul r. ehrlich
Even if reviving extinct species is practical, it’s an awful idea. It would take resources away from saving endangered species and their habitats and would divert us from the critical work needed to protect the planet.
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De-Extinction Debate: Should We <br />Bring Back the Woolly Mammoth?

Point/Counterpoint: Reviving Extinct Species

De-Extinction Debate: Should We
Bring Back the Woolly Mammoth?

A group led by futurist Stewart Brand is spearheading a movement to try to use genetic technology to revive extinct species, such as the woolly mammoth and the passenger pigeon. In a Yale Environment 360 debate, Brand makes the case for trying to bring back long-gone species, while biologist Paul R. Ehrlich argues that the idea is ill conceived and morally wrong.
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Solar Geoengineering: Weighing <br />Costs of Blocking the Sun’s Rays

Report

Solar Geoengineering: Weighing
Costs of Blocking the Sun’s Rays

by nicola jones
With prominent scientists now calling for experiments to test whether pumping sulfates into the atmosphere could safely counteract global warming, critics worry that the world community may be moving a step closer to deploying this controversial technology.
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Urban Nature: How to Foster <br />Biodiversity in World’s Cities

Analysis

Urban Nature: How to Foster
Biodiversity in World’s Cities

by richard conniff
As the world becomes more urbanized, researchers and city managers from Baltimore to Britain are recognizing the importance of providing urban habitat that can support biodiversity. It just may be the start of an urban wildlife movement.
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In Imperiled Forests of Borneo, <br />A Rich Tropical Eden Endures

Report

In Imperiled Forests of Borneo,
A Rich Tropical Eden Endures

by william laurance
In Borneo's Danum Valley — one of the last, untouched forest reserves in a region ravaged by logging and oil palm cultivation — a team of international and Malaysian scientists is fighting to preserve an area of stunning biodiversity.
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Documenting the Swift Change <br />Wrought by Global Warming

Photo Essay

Documenting the Swift Change
Wrought by Global Warming

by peter essick
Photographer Peter Essick has traveled the world documenting the causes and consequences of climate change. In a Yale Environment 360 photo essay, we present a gallery of images Essick took while on assignment in Antarctica, Greenland, and other far-flung locales.
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A Scarcity of Rare Metals Is <br />Hindering Green Technologies

Report

A Scarcity of Rare Metals Is
Hindering Green Technologies

by nicola jones
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.
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Using Ocean Robots to Unlock <br />Mysteries of CO2 and the Seas

Interview

Using Ocean Robots to Unlock
Mysteries of CO2 and the Seas

by todd woody
Marine phytoplankton are vital in absorbing ever-increasing amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere. In a Yale Environment 360 interview, researcher Tracy Villareal explains how he is using remotely operated robots to better understand how this process mitigates climate change.
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Rising Waters: How Fast and <br />How Far Will Sea Levels Rise?

Analysis

Rising Waters: How Fast and
How Far Will Sea Levels Rise?

by nicola jones
Although the latest U.N. climate report significantly increases its projections for sea level rise this century, some scientists warn even those estimates are overly conservative. But one thing is certain: Predicting sea level rise far into the future is a very tricky task.
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Microbiomes at the Roots: <br />A New Look at Forest Ecology

Analysis

Microbiomes at the Roots:
A New Look at Forest Ecology

by richard conniff
With advances in genetic sequencing technology, scientists are now able to readily identify the microbes living in and around the roots of trees. This information is proving to have important implications for everything from tropical forest restoration to climate change planning.
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Forum

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

Yale Environment 360 asked some leading climate scientists to discuss what they consider to be the most noteworthy or surprising findings in the recently released report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s working group on the physical science of a warming world.
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Iceland Seeks to Cash In On <br />Its Abundant Renewable Energy

Report

Iceland Seeks to Cash In On
Its Abundant Renewable Energy

by cheryl katz
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.
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In Galápagos, An Insidious <br />Threat to Darwin's Finches

Report

In Galápagos, An Insidious
Threat to Darwin's Finches

by elizabeth kolbert
The birds that have come to be known as Darwin's finches have long intrigued students of evolution. But now a parasitic fly introduced to the Galápagos Islands is threatening the future of one or more of these iconic finch species.
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How Tiny Fish Could Reveal <br />Effects of Chemical Exposure

Report

How Tiny Fish Could Reveal
Effects of Chemical Exposure

by elizabeth grossman
Researchers at a lab at Oregon State University are using zebrafish to assess the impacts of multiple chemical exposures. Their findings could help lead to a better understanding of how chemicals in the environment and in consumer products affect human health.
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How High Tech is Helping <br /> Bring Clean Water to India

Interview

How High Tech is Helping
Bring Clean Water to India

by todd woody
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.
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With Rooftop Solar on Rise, <br />U.S. Utilities Are Striking Back

Report

With Rooftop Solar on Rise,
U.S. Utilities Are Striking Back

by marc gunther
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.
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Why Pushing Alternate Fuels <br /> Makes for Bad Public Policy

Opinion

Why Pushing Alternate Fuels
Makes for Bad Public Policy

by john decicco
Every U.S. president since Ronald Reagan has backed programs to develop alternative transportation fuels. But there are better ways to foster energy independence and reduce greenhouse gas emissions than using subsidies and mandates to promote politically favored fuels.
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Molecular Detective Work<br /> Yields Big Gains for Ecology

Report

Molecular Detective Work
Yields Big Gains for Ecology

by madeline bodin
The field of stable isotope analysis was once the realm of geologists and anthropologists. But rapid advances and plummeting costs mean that environmental scientists are increasingly using the technology to gain insight into the migration and behavior of various animals.
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Megadrought in U.S. Southwest:<br /> A Bad Omen for Forests Globally

Analysis

Megadrought in U.S. Southwest:
A Bad Omen for Forests Globally

by caroline fraser
Scientists studying a prolonged and severe drought in the southwestern U.S. say that extensive damage done to trees in that region portends what lies in store as other forests worldwide face rising temperatures, diminished rainfall, and devastating fires.
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Michael Pollan on the Links<br /> Between Biodiversity and Health

Interview

Michael Pollan on the Links
Between Biodiversity and Health

by jack hitt
Author Michael Pollan has often written about people’s relationship to the natural world. In a Yale Environment 360 interview, he talks about researching his latest book and what he learned about the connections between ecology and human health.
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Research on Microbes Points<br /> To New Tools for Conservation

Analysis

Research on Microbes Points
To New Tools for Conservation

by richard conniff
Improvements in DNA technology now make it possible for biologists to identify every living organism in and around a species. Scientists say this could have profound implications for everything from protecting amphibians from a deadly fungus to reintroducing species into the wild.
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For Africa’s Solar Sisters,<br /> Off-Grid Electricity is Power

Interview

For Africa’s Solar Sisters,
Off-Grid Electricity is Power

by diane toomey
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.
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Son of Climate Science Pioneer<br /> Ponders A Sobering Milestone

Interview

Son of Climate Science Pioneer
Ponders A Sobering Milestone

by fen montaigne
Climate scientist Ralph Keeling has followed in the footsteps of his father, who pioneered the measurement of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, the younger Keeling talks about the implications of crossing an alarming CO2 threshold this month.
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Ginkgo: The Life Story of<br /> The Oldest Tree on Earth

Interview

Ginkgo: The Life Story of
The Oldest Tree on Earth

by roger cohn
Revered for its beauty and its longevity, the ginkgo is a living fossil, unchanged for more than 200 million years. Botanist Peter Crane, who has a written what he calls a biography of this unique tree, talks to Yale Environment 360 about the inspiring history and cultural significance of the ginkgo.
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Declining Bee Populations Pose<br /> A Threat to Global Agriculture

Report

Declining Bee Populations Pose
A Threat to Global Agriculture

by elizabeth grossman
The danger that the decline of bees and other pollinators represents to the world’s food supply was highlighted this week when the European Commission decided to ban a class of pesticides suspected of playing a role in so-called “colony collapse disorder.”
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As Final U.S. Decision Nears,<br /> A Lively Debate on GM Salmon

Opinion

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

In an online debate for Yale Environment 360, Elliot Entis, whose company has created a genetically modified salmon that may soon be for sale in the U.S., discusses the environmental and health impacts of this controversial technology with author Paul Greenberg, a critic of GM fish.
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Tracking the Causes of Sharp <br/> Decline of the Monarch Butterfly

Interview

Tracking the Causes of Sharp
Decline of the Monarch Butterfly

by richard conniff
A new census found this winter’s population of North American monarch butterflies in Mexico was at the lowest level ever measured. Insect ecologist Orley Taylor talks to Yale Environment 360 about how the planting of genetically modified crops and the resulting use of herbicides has contributed to the monarchs’ decline.
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The Scientist as Guardian:<br /> A Tool for Protecting the Wild

Analysis

The Scientist as Guardian:
A Tool for Protecting the Wild

by william laurance
An expanding body of evidence shows that the presence of field biologists and their assistants is playing an important part in deterring poaching, illegal logging, and other destructive activities in the world’s parks and wildlife reserves.
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A Leading Marine Biologist<br /> Works to Create a ‘Wired Ocean’

Interview

A Leading Marine Biologist
Works to Create a ‘Wired Ocean’

by ben goldfarb
Stanford University scientist Barbara Block heads a program that has placed satellite tags on thousands of sharks, bluefin tuna, and other marine predators to better understand their life cycles. Now, using data available on mobile devices, she hopes to enlist public support for protecting these threatened creatures.
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Why a Highly Promising<br /> Electric Car Start-Up Is Failing

Report

Why a Highly Promising
Electric Car Start-Up Is Failing

by marc gunther
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.
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Probing Impact of Warming<br /> On the World's Food Supply

Interview

Probing Impact of Warming
On the World's Food Supply

by olive heffernan
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.
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To Tackle Runoff, Cities<br /> Turn to Green Initiatives

Report

To Tackle Runoff, Cities
Turn to Green Initiatives

by dave levitan
Urban stormwater runoff is a serious problem, overloading sewage treatment plants and polluting waterways. Now, various U.S. cities are creating innovative green infrastructure — such as rain gardens and roadside plantings — that mimics the way nature collects and cleanses water.
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Charting a New Course for<br /> The U.S. and the Environment

Interview

Charting a New Course for
The U.S. and the Environment

by roger cohn
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.
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What’s Damaging Marshes on<br /> U.S. Coast and Why It Matters

Interview

What’s Damaging Marshes on
U.S. Coast and Why It Matters

by kevin dennehy
A nine-year study led by researcher Linda Deegan points to the damage that human-caused nutrients inflict on salt marshes along the U.S. East Coast. In a Yale Environment 360 interview, she describes what these findings mean for an ecosystem that provides critical services, from nourishing marine life to buffering the coast from storms like Sandy.
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Creating Clouds in the Lab <br /> To Better Understand Climate

Interview

Creating Clouds in the Lab
To Better Understand Climate

by rae ellen bichell
Scientists are conducting a lab experiment to help solve a key riddle: the role of clouds in climate change. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, research leader Jasper Kirkby discusses the mysteries of clouds and why it’s important to know if clouds are contributing to global warming.
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How Data and Social Pressure<br /> Can Reduce Home Energy Use

Report

How Data and Social Pressure
Can Reduce Home Energy Use

by dave levitan
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.
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Why Are Environmentalists<br /> Taking Anti-Science Positions?

Opinion

Why Are Environmentalists
Taking Anti-Science Positions?

by fred pearce
On issues ranging from genetically modified crops to nuclear power, environmentalists are increasingly refusing to listen to scientific arguments that challenge standard green positions. This approach risks weakening the environmental movement and empowering climate contrarians.
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Green Crude: The Quest to <br /> Unlock Algae’s Energy Potential

Report

Green Crude: The Quest to
Unlock Algae’s Energy Potential

by marc gunther
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.”
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How No-Flush Toilets Can<br /> Help Make a Healthier World

Report

How No-Flush Toilets Can
Help Make a Healthier World

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

Analysis

The Next Pandemic: Why
It Will Come from Wildlife

by david quammen
Experts believe the next deadly human pandemic will almost certainly be a virus that spills over from wildlife to humans. The reasons why have a lot to do with the frenetic pace with which we are destroying wild places and disrupting ecosystems.
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How the Web Can Help Identify<br /> Countless Undiscovered Species

Interview

How the Web Can Help Identify
Countless Undiscovered Species

by diane toomey
Taxonomist Quentin Wheeler is calling for a concerted effort to classify the millions of unidentified species in the world. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, he talks about the new field of “cybertaxonomy” and how it is harnessing the Web to speed up the effort to catalog life on earth.
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High-Altitude Wind Energy:<br /> Huge Potential — And Hurdles

Report

High-Altitude Wind Energy:
Huge Potential — And Hurdles

by dave levitan
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.
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Tracking the Big Snakes<br /> Devouring the Everglades

Interview

Tracking the Big Snakes
Devouring the Everglades

by kevin dennehy
The invasive Burmese python has altered ecosystems in Florida’s Everglades, decimating populations of native animals. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, python expert Michael Dorcas describes the ecological damage these huge snakes have caused and why it will be nearly impossible to get rid of them.
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At Edge of Peruvian Andes,<br /> Tracking Impacts of Warming

Report

At Edge of Peruvian Andes,
Tracking Impacts of Warming

by elizabeth kolbert
The Andes in eastern Peru, with steep slopes and remarkable biodiversity, are what one scientist calls a “perfect laboratory” for studying the effects of climate change. E360 contributor Elizabeth Kolbert trekked there with researchers seeking to determine if tree populations can move uphill fast enough to survive warming temperatures.
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For Electric Car Batteries, <br /> The Race for a Rapid Charge

Report

For Electric Car Batteries,
The Race for a Rapid Charge

by dave levitan
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.
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Arctic Tipping Point:<br /> A North Pole Without Ice

Report

Arctic Tipping Point:
A North Pole Without Ice

by fen montaigne
Scientists say this year’s record declines in Arctic sea ice extent and volume are powerful evidence that the giant cap of ice at the top of the planet is on a trajectory to largely disappear in summer within a decade or two, with profound global consequences.
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Gauging the Impact of Warming<br /> On Asia’s Life-Giving Monsoons

Report

Gauging the Impact of Warming
On Asia’s Life-Giving Monsoons

by christina larson
In Mongolia, U.S. scientists are studying climate clues in ancient tree rings to help answer a crucial question: How will global warming affect Asia’s monsoon rains, which supply water for agriculture and drinking to half the world’s population?
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Easing The Collateral Damage<br /> That Fisheries Inflict on Seabirds

Report

Easing The Collateral Damage
That Fisheries Inflict on Seabirds

by jeremy hance
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.
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Are Fast-Breeder Reactors<br /> A Nuclear Power Panacea?

Analysis

Are Fast-Breeder Reactors
A Nuclear Power Panacea?

by fred pearce
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.
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Self-Driving Cars: Coming <br />Soon to a Highway Near You

Report

Self-Driving Cars: Coming
Soon to a Highway Near You

by dave levitan
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.
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Helping U.S. Farmers Increase<br /> Production and Protect the Land

Analysis

Helping U.S. Farmers Increase
Production and Protect the Land

by julie menter
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.
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Maya Lin’s Memorial to Vanishing Nature

Interview

Maya Lin’s Memorial to Vanishing Nature

by diane toomey
The designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is now focused on the mass extinction of species, a threat she is highlighting on an interactive Web site. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Maya Lin talks about her “What is Missing” project, which she calls her “last memorial.”
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Can Environmentalists Learn<br /> To Love a Texas Coal Plant?

Report

Can Environmentalists Learn
To Love a Texas Coal Plant?

by marc gunther
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?
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The Vital Chain: Connecting<br /> The Ecosystems of Land and Sea

Analysis

The Vital Chain: Connecting
The Ecosystems of Land and Sea

by carl zimmer
A new study from a Pacific atoll reveals the links between native trees, bird guano, and the giant manta rays that live off the coast. In unraveling this intricate web, the researchers point to the often little-understood interconnectedness between terrestrial and marine ecosystems.
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Taking Green Chemistry Out<br /> Of The Lab and into Products

Interview

Taking Green Chemistry Out
Of The Lab and into Products

by roger cohn
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.
READ MORE

Could a Changing Climate<br /> Set Off Volcanoes and Quakes?

Analysis

Could a Changing Climate
Set Off Volcanoes and Quakes?

by fred pearce
A British scientist argues that global warming could lead to a future of more intense volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. And while some dismiss his views as preposterous, he points to a body of recent research that shows a troubling link between climate change and the Earth’s most destructive geological events.
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The Folly of Big Agriculture:<br /> Why Nature Always Wins

Opinion

The Folly of Big Agriculture:
Why Nature Always Wins

by verlyn klinkenborg
Large-scale industrial agriculture depends on engineering the land to ensure the absence of natural diversity. But as the recent emergence of herbicide-tolerant weeds on U.S. farms has shown, nature ultimately finds a way to subvert uniformity and assert itself.
READ MORE

Betting on Technology to<br /> Help Turn Consumers Green

Report

Betting on Technology to
Help Turn Consumers Green

by marc gunther
U.S. consumers tell researchers they want to buy environmentally friendly products, but so far they haven’t been doing that on a large scale. Now a host of companies and nonprofits are trying to use new technology — from smartphones to social networking — to make it easier for buyers to make the green choice.
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Can Reforming the Farm Bill<br /> Help Change U.S. Agriculture?

Report

Can Reforming the Farm Bill
Help Change U.S. Agriculture?

by jim robbins
For decades, farm bills in the U.S. Congress have supported large-scale agriculture. But with the 2012 Farm Bill now up for debate, advocates say seismic shifts in the way the nation views food production may lead to new policies that tilt more toward local, sustainable agriculture.
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Scientists Warn of Low-Dose<br /> Risks of Chemical Exposure

Report

Scientists Warn of Low-Dose
Risks of Chemical Exposure

by elizabeth grossman
A new study finds that even low doses of hormone-disrupting chemicals — used in everything from plastics to pesticides – can have serious effects on human health. These findings, the researchers say, point to the need for basic changes in how chemical safety testing is conducted.
READ MORE

Linking Weird Weather to<br /> Rapid Warming of the Arctic

Analysis

Linking Weird Weather to
Rapid Warming of the Arctic

by jennifer francis
The loss of Arctic summer sea ice and the rapid warming of the Far North are altering the jet stream over North America, Europe, and Russia. Scientists are now just beginning to understand how these profound shifts may be increasing the likelihood of more persistent and extreme weather.
READ MORE

Rethinking Carbon Dioxide:<br /> From a Pollutant to an Asset

Analysis

Rethinking Carbon Dioxide:
From a Pollutant to an Asset

by marc gunther
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.
READ MORE

Mysteries of Killer Whales<br /> Uncovered in the Antarctic

Dispatch

Mysteries of Killer Whales
Uncovered in the Antarctic

by fen montaigne
Two of the world’s leading experts on the world’s top marine predator are now in Antarctica, tagging and photographing a creature whose remarkably cooperative hunting behavior and transmission of knowledge across generations may be rivaled only by humans.
READ MORE

Putting a Price on<br /> The Real Value of Nature

Interview

Putting a Price on
The Real Value of Nature

by roger cohn
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.
READ MORE

What Rising Temperatures May<br /> Mean for World’s Wine Industry

Report

What Rising Temperatures May
Mean for World’s Wine Industry

by john mcquaid
Warming temperatures associated with climate change are already affecting vineyards from France to Chile, often in beneficial ways. But as the world continues to warm, some traditional winemaking regions are scrambling to adapt, while other areas see themselves as new wine frontiers.
READ MORE

Can ‘Climate-Smart’ Agriculture<br /> Help Both Africa and the Planet?

Report

Can ‘Climate-Smart’ Agriculture
Help Both Africa and the Planet?

by fred pearce
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.
READ MORE

A Defender of World’s Whales<br /> Sees Only a Tenuous Recovery

Interview

A Defender of World’s Whales
Sees Only a Tenuous Recovery

by christina m. russo
Biologist Roger Payne played a key role in helping end the wholesale slaughter of whales. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Payne discusses the mysteries of these legendary marine mammals and the threats they continue to face.
READ MORE

Camera Traps Emerge as<br /> Key Tool in Wildlife Research

Report

Camera Traps Emerge as
Key Tool in Wildlife Research

by jeremy hance
Scientists and conservationists are increasingly relying on heat- and motion-activated camera traps to study rare or reclusive species in remote habitats. And the striking images they provide are proving to be a boon for raising conservation awareness worldwide.
READ MORE

A Rise in Fungal Diseases is<br /> Taking Growing Toll on Wildlife

Report

A Rise in Fungal Diseases is
Taking Growing Toll on Wildlife

by michelle nijhuis
In an increasingly interconnected world, fungal diseases are spreading at an alarming rate and have led to deadly outbreaks in amphibian, bat, and bee populations. And in the last decade, researchers note, some of the most virulent strains have infected people.
READ MORE

Thinking the Unthinkable:<br /> Engineering Earth’s Climate

Interview

Thinking the Unthinkable:
Engineering Earth’s Climate

A U.S. panel has called for a concerted effort to study proposals to manipulate the climate to slow global warming — a heretical notion among some environmentalists. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Jane C. S. Long, the group’s chairwoman, explains why we need to know more about the possibilities and perils of geoengineering.
READ MORE

Climate Relicts: Seeking Clues<br /> On How Some Species Survive

Report

Climate Relicts: Seeking Clues
On How Some Species Survive

by carl zimmer
In pockets ranging from mountain peaks to bogs, scientists are discovering plants and animals that survived previous eras of climate change. Now, conservation biologists say, these climate “relicts” could shed light on how some species may hang on in the coming centuries.
READ MORE

The Long Strange Journey<br /> Of Earth’s Traveling Microbes

Analysis

The Long Strange Journey
Of Earth’s Traveling Microbes

by fred pearce
Airborne microbes can travel thousands of miles and high into the stratosphere. Now scientists are beginning to understand the possible role of these microbes — such as bacteria, fungal spores, and tiny algae — in creating clouds, causing rain, spreading disease, and even changing climate.
READ MORE

Probing the Role of the Sun<br /> In an Era of Global Warming

Analysis

Probing the Role of the Sun
In an Era of Global Warming

by michael d. lemonick
Some skeptics have suggested the real culprit behind rising temperatures is increased solar activity. But a wide variety of data and experiments still provide no solid evidence to refute the scientific consensus that greenhouse gas emissions are the major reason the planet is heating up.
READ MORE

Tapping Social Media’s Potential<br /> To Muster a Vast Green Army

Report

Tapping Social Media’s Potential
To Muster a Vast Green Army

by caroline fraser
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.
READ MORE

Phosphate: A Critical Resource<br /> Misused and Now Running Low

Report

Phosphate: A Critical Resource
Misused and Now Running Low

by fred pearce
Phosphate has been essential to feeding the world since the Green Revolution, but its excessive use as a fertilizer has led to widespread pollution and eutrophication. Now, many of the world’s remaining reserves are starting to be depleted.
READ MORE

Brown to Green: A New Use<br /> For Blighted Industrial Sites

Report

Brown to Green: A New Use
For Blighted Industrial Sites

by dave levitan
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.
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Using the Power of the Web<br /> To Protect Africa’s Wildlife

Interview

Using the Power of the Web
To Protect Africa’s Wildlife

by christina m. russo
Paula Kahumbu runs a conservation organization with a distinctly 21st-century mission: Posting field blogs from conservationists to attract global support for wildlife protection. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Kahumbu talks about her group’s triumphs and struggles as it battles to preserve Africa’s magnificent animals.
READ MORE

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

Forum

Forum: Is Extreme Weather
Linked to Global Warming?


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

READ MORE

Using CO2 to Make Fuel:<br /> A Long Shot for Green Energy

Report

Using CO2 to Make Fuel:
A Long Shot for Green Energy

by david biello
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.
READ MORE

Facing the Dirty Truth<br /> About Recyclable Plastics

Analysis

Facing the Dirty Truth
About Recyclable Plastics

by daniel goleman
The recyclable plastic bags you get at the green grocer are not biodegradable. But product life-cycle assessments, which are about to become more prominent in the marketplace, fail to consider whether those bags will break down in landfills or just end up as litter.
READ MORE

Nissan’s Carlos Ghosn Seeks<br /> Revenge for the Electric Car

Interview

Nissan’s Carlos Ghosn Seeks
Revenge for the Electric Car

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.
READ MORE

The World’s Tropical Forests<br /> Are Already Feeling the Heat

Analysis

The World’s Tropical Forests
Are Already Feeling the Heat

by william laurance
Much attention has been paid to how global warming is affecting the world’s polar regions and glaciers. But a leading authority on tropical forests warns that rising temperatures could have an equally profound impact on rainforests and are already taking a toll on some tropical species.
READ MORE

What’s With the Weather?<br /> Is Climate Change to Blame?

Analysis

What’s With the Weather?
Is Climate Change to Blame?

by alyson kenward
One of the thorniest questions facing climate scientists is whether human-induced climate change is leading to more heat waves, floods, and extreme weather events. Now, employing increasingly sophisticated methods of studying weather extremes, climatologists say they are closer to answering that key question.
READ MORE

In Aeolus Cave, A Search for the<br /> Vanishing Bats of the Northeast

Report

In Aeolus Cave, A Search for the
Vanishing Bats of the Northeast

by elizabeth kolbert
When wildlife biologists ventured into a Vermont cave this month, they found disturbing evidence that white-nose syndrome was continuing to take its toll on once-abundant bat populations. But the question remains: What can be done to halt the spread of this still-mysterious ailment?
READ MORE

Tracking the Destructive Power<br /> Of the Pacific Ocean’s Tsunamis

Interview

Tracking the Destructive Power
Of the Pacific Ocean’s Tsunamis

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.
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Anatomy of a Nuclear Crisis:<br /> A Chronology of Fukushima

Analysis

Anatomy of a Nuclear Crisis:
A Chronology of Fukushima

by david biello
The world’s worst nuclear reactor mishap in 25 years was caused by a massive natural calamity but compounded by what appear to be surprising mistakes by Japanese engineers. The result has been a fast-moving disaster that has left officials careening from one emergency to the next.
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U.S. High-Speed Rail: Time to<br /> Hop Aboard or Be Left Behind

Opinion

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

by andy kunz
In recent months, several conservative governors have rejected federal funds to begin constructing high-speed rail lines in their states. But a high-speed rail advocate argues that such ideologically driven actions are folly, as other U.S. states and countries around the world are moving swiftly to embrace a technology that is essential for competitive 21st-century economies.
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‘Fracking’ Comes to Europe,<br /> Sparking Rising Controversy

Report

‘Fracking’ Comes to Europe,
Sparking Rising Controversy

by ben schiller
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.
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Alien Species Reconsidered:<br /> Finding a Value in Non-Natives

Report

Alien Species Reconsidered:
Finding a Value in Non-Natives

by carl zimmer
One of the tenets of conservation management holds that alien species are ecologically harmful. But a new study is pointing to research that demonstrates that some non-native plants and animals can have beneficial impacts.
READ MORE

Living in the Anthropocene:<br /> Toward a New Global Ethos

Opinion

Living in the Anthropocene:
Toward a New Global Ethos

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

Can We Trust Climate Models?<br /> Increasingly, the Answer is ‘Yes’

Analysis

Can We Trust Climate Models?
Increasingly, the Answer is ‘Yes’

by michael d. lemonick
Forecasting what the Earth’s climate might look like a century from now has long presented a huge challenge to climate scientists. But better understanding of the climate system, improved observations of the current climate, and rapidly improving computing power are slowly leading to more reliable methods.
READ MORE

Green Roofs are Starting<br /> To Sprout in American Cities

Report

Green Roofs are Starting
To Sprout in American Cities

by bruce stutz
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.
READ MORE

China Turns to Biogas to<br /> Ease Impact of Factory Farms

Report

China Turns to Biogas to
Ease Impact of Factory Farms

by eliza barclay
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.
READ MORE

China Takes First Steps<br /> In the Fight Against Acid Rain

Report

China Takes First Steps
In the Fight Against Acid Rain

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

Rising Hopes that Electric Cars<br /> Can Play a Key Role on the Grid

Report

Rising Hopes that Electric Cars
Can Play a Key Role on the Grid

by dave levitan
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.
READ MORE

Climate Forecasts: The Case<br /> For Living with Uncertainty

Analysis

Climate Forecasts: The Case
For Living with Uncertainty

by fred pearce
As climate science advances, predictions about the extent of future warming and its effects are likely to become less — not more — precise. That may make it more difficult to convince the public of the reality of climate change, but it hardly diminishes the urgency of taking action.
READ MORE

New Hope for Pavlovsk Station<br /> And Russia’s Rare Plant Reserve

Report

New Hope for Pavlovsk Station
And Russia’s Rare Plant Reserve

by fred pearce
In the early 20th century, Russian botanist Nikolai Vavilov created a preserve outside St. Petersburg that today contains one of the world’s largest collections of rare seeds and crops. Now, scientists and conservationists are waging an international campaign to save the reserve’s fields from being bulldozed for housing development.
READ MORE

The Effect of Clouds on Climate:<br /> A Key Mystery for Researchers

Analysis

The Effect of Clouds on Climate:
A Key Mystery for Researchers

by michael d. lemonick
As climate scientists wrestle with the complexities of how the planet will react to rising greenhouse-gas levels, no variable is more difficult to decipher than the impact of clouds. But thanks to new satellite data and other technologies, clues are emerging that may help solve the puzzle.
READ MORE

High Above the Earth,<br /> Satellites Track Melting Ice

Report

High Above the Earth,
Satellites Track Melting Ice

by michael d. lemonick
The surest sign of a warming Earth is the steady melting of its ice zones, from disappearing sea ice in the Arctic to shrinking glaciers worldwide. Now, scientists are using increasingly sophisticated satellite technology to measure the extent, thickness, and height of ice, assembling an essential picture of a planet in transition.
READ MORE

The Microbe Factor and <br />Its Role in Our Climate Future

Analysis

The Microbe Factor and
Its Role in Our Climate Future

by carl zimmer
Within the planet’s oceans and soils are trillions of bacteria that store and release far more carbon dioxide than all of the Earth’s trees and plants. Now, scientists are attempting to understand how the world’s bacteria will influence — and be influenced by — a warming climate.
READ MORE

The Anthropocene Debate: <br /> Marking Humanity’s Impact

Analysis

The Anthropocene Debate:
Marking Humanity’s Impact

by elizabeth kolbert
Is human activity altering the planet on a scale comparable to major geological events of the past? Scientists are now considering whether to officially designate a new geological epoch to reflect the changes that homo sapiens have wrought: the Anthropocene.
READ MORE

Companies Put Restrictions<br /> On Research into GM Crops

Report

Companies Put Restrictions
On Research into GM Crops

by bruce stutz
A battle is quietly being waged between the industry that produces genetically modified seeds and scientists trying to investigate the environmental impacts of engineered crops. Although companies such as Monsanto have recently given ground, researchers say these firms are still loath to allow independent analyses of their patented — and profitable — seeds.
READ MORE

Turning to Greener Weapons <br /> In the Battle Against Malaria

Report

Turning to Greener Weapons
In the Battle Against Malaria

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

The Case Against Biofuels:<br /> Probing Ethanol’s Hidden Costs

Opinion

The Case Against Biofuels:
Probing Ethanol’s Hidden Costs

by c. ford runge
Despite strong evidence that growing food crops to produce ethanol is harmful to the environment and the world’s poor, the Obama administration is backing subsidies and programs that will ensure that half of the U.S.’s corn crop will soon go to biofuel production. It’s time to recognize that biofuels are anything but green.
READ MORE

A High-Tech Entrepreneur<br /> On the Front Lines of Solar

Interview

A High-Tech Entrepreneur
On the Front Lines of Solar

by todd woody
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.
READ MORE

Opinion/Climate Science Under Fire

Major Change Is Needed
If the IPCC Hopes to Survive

by roger a. pielke jr.
Well before the recent controversies, the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was marred by an unwillingness to listen to dissenting points of view, an inadequate system for dealing with errors, conflicts of interest, and political advocacy. The latest allegations of inaccuracies should be an impetus for sweeping reform.
READ MORE

Network Theory: A Key to<br /> Unraveling How Nature Works

Analysis

Network Theory: A Key to
Unraveling How Nature Works

by carl zimmer
In the last two decades, network theory has emerged as a way of making sense of everything from the World Wide Web to the human brain. Now, as ecologists have begun applying this theory to ecosystems, they are gaining insights into how species are interconnected and how to foster biodiversity.
READ MORE

Geoengineering the Planet:<br /> The Possibilities and the Pitfalls

Interview

Geoengineering the Planet:
The Possibilities and the Pitfalls

Interfering with the Earth’s climate system to counteract global warming is a controversial concept. But in an interview with Yale Environment 360, climate scientist Ken Caldeira talks about why he believes the world needs to better understand which geoengineering schemes might work and which are fantasy — or worse.audio
READ MORE

Why I Still Oppose<Br> Genetically Modified Crops

Opinion

Why I Still Oppose
Genetically Modified Crops

by verlyn klinkenborg
Introduced more than a decade ago, genetically modified crops are now planted on millions of acres throughout the world. But the fundamental questions about them remain — both about their safety and their long-term impact on global food security and the environment.
READ MORE

New York City Girds Itself<br /> for Heat and Rising Seas

Report

New York City Girds Itself
for Heat and Rising Seas

by bruce stutz
By the end of the century, New York’s climate could resemble that of present-day Raleigh, North Carolina and its harbor could easily rise by two feet or more. Faced with this prospect, the city is among the first urban centers to begin changing the way it builds its infrastructure — and the way it thinks about its future.
READ MORE

Solar Power from Space:<br /> Moving Beyond Science Fiction

Report

Solar Power from Space:
Moving Beyond Science Fiction

by michael d. lemonick
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.
READ MORE

Obama’s Science Adviser<br /> Urges Leadership on Climate

Interview

Obama’s Science Adviser
Urges Leadership on Climate

by elizabeth kolbert
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.audio
READ MORE

First Comes Global Warming,<br /> Then an Evolutionary Explosion

Report

First Comes Global Warming,
Then an Evolutionary Explosion

by carl zimmer
In a matter of years or decades, researchers believe, animals and plants already are adapting to life in a warmer world. Some species will be unable to change quickly enough and will go extinct, but others will evolve, as natural selection enables them to carry on in an altered environment.
READ MORE

The Challenge for Green Energy:<br /> How to Store Excess Electricity

Report

The Challenge for Green Energy:
How to Store Excess Electricity

by jon r. luoma
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.
READ MORE

From the Sewage Plant,<br /> the Promise of Biofuel

Report

From the Sewage Plant,
the Promise of Biofuel

by greg breining
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.
READ MORE

Hailed as a Miracle Biofuel,<br /> Jatropha Falls Short of Hype

Report

Hailed as a Miracle Biofuel,
Jatropha Falls Short of Hype

by jon r. luoma
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.
READ MORE

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

Report

Satellites and Google Earth
Prove Potent Conservation Tool

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

On His Bicentennial,<br />  Mr. Darwin’s Questions Endure

Opinion

On His Bicentennial,
Mr. Darwin’s Questions Endure

by verlyn klinkenborg
Charles Darwin brought an insatiable inquisitiveness to his view of the natural world. On the bicentennial of his birth, author Verlyn Klinkenborg reflects on what Darwin’s most fundamental observations mean to us.
READ MORE

What’s Killing<br/> the Tasmanian Devil?

Report

What’s Killing
the Tasmanian Devil?

by david quammen
Scientists have been trying to identify the cause of a cancer epidemic that is wiping out Australia’s Tasmanian devils. Now new research points to an alarming conclusion: because of the species’ low genetic diversity, the cancer is contagious and is spreading from one devil to another.
READ MORE

Saving the Seeds of the<br /> Next Green Revolution

Analysis

Saving the Seeds of the
Next Green Revolution

by fred pearce
With food prices skyrocketing and climate change looming, the world needs a green revolution like the one a generation ago. But many valuable seed varieties have been lost – and scientists now are scrambling to protect those that remain before they vanish down the genetic drain.
READ MORE

Report

Solar’s Time Has Finally Arrived

by jon r. luoma
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.
READ MORE

Analysis

After Bush, Restoring Science
to Environmental Policy

by chris mooney
The Bush administration has been widely criticized for placing politics over science when it comes to environmental policy-making. The next president must act to reverse that trend.
READ MORE

Analysis

Nanotech: The Unknown Risks

by carole bass
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.
READ MORE

The Limits of Climate Modeling

Report

The Limits of Climate Modeling

by fred pearce
As the public seeks answers about the future impacts of climate change, some climatologists are growing increasingly uneasy about the localized predictions they are being asked to make.
READ MORE

Opinion

Climate Solutions:
Charting a Bold Course

by denis hayes
A cap-and-trade system is not the answer, according to a leading alternative-energy advocate. To really tackle climate change, the United States must revolutionize its entire energy strategy.
READ MORE

Analysis

Carbon’s Burden on the World’s Oceans

by carl safina and marah j. hardt
The burgeoning amount of carbon dioxide in oceans is affecting a lot more than coral reefs. It is also damaging marine life and, most ominously, threatening the future survival of marine populations.
READ MORE

Opinion

The Ethics of Climate Change

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

DNA Technology: <br />Discovering New Species

Report

DNA Technology:
Discovering New Species

by jon r. luoma
By taking bits of a single gene, scientists are using DNA barcoding to identify new species. If a portable hand-held scanning device can be developed, one ecologist says, it could “do for biodiversity what the printing press did for literacy.”
READ MORE

e360 digest

RELATED e360 DIGEST ITEMS


12 Sep 2014: New High-Resolution Maps Show
Greenhouse Gas Emissions at City-Level

Researchers have developed a new method for mapping global carbon emissions for individual cities on an

Click to Enlarge

Emissions before and after financial crisis
hourly basis — a major improvement over previous techniques, which quantified greenhouse emissions less accurately and at coarser scales, according to researchers at Arizona State University. The maps are derived from worldwide databases of population, power plants, and national fuel use statistics, and they encompass 15 years of data. Among other findings, the analysis revealed increased emissions in China, India, Europe, and the northern U.S. in 2010, after the peak of the global financial crisis. The researchers say this reflects faster recoveries from the crisis in those regions compared to, for example, the southeastern U.S., where emissions lagged in 2010. The results of the analysis match ground-level measurements, confirming the accuracy of the maps, the researchers say.
PERMALINK

 

04 Sep 2014: Buying Video Games on Disc Is
More Energy Efficient than Downloading

Downloading video games from the Internet creates a larger carbon footprint than driving to the store to purchase the same game on a Blu-ray disc, according to findings published in the

PlayStation game console and Blu-ray disc
Journal of Industrial Ecology. For an 8.8-gigabyte PlayStation video game file — the average size of video games in 2010 — the resources required to produce, distribute, and dispose of Blu-ray discs are far less than the energy required to power servers, routers, and networks involved in downloading the game file, researchers say. The advantages of discs decrease as file sizes shrink, the analysis found, and for game files less than 1.3 gigabytes, downloading has a smaller carbon footprint than purchasing the game on Blu-ray. Between 2010 and 2013, however, game file sizes actually doubled for PlayStation4 and increased by 25 percent for PlayStation3. The analysis illustrates why it is not always true that digital distribution of media will have lower carbon emissions than distribution by physical means, the researchers say.
PERMALINK

 

03 Sep 2014: Mobile Phone Networks Can
Help Monitor Global Rainfall, Study Says

New research shows that mobile phone networks, which cover 90 percent of the world's population, can help track rainfall events — a task that has proven difficult for both advanced satellite systems and ground-level observation networks. By compiling data on signal disruptions from mobile phone networks in Burkina Faso in West Africa, a team of researchers was able to calculate with 95 percent accuracy both the location and volume of rain that fell, even during short-lived storms, according to a report in Geophysical Research Letters. Mobile phone companies maintain detailed records on signal disruptions, which can occur when water droplets block and deflect signals between antennae, to determine whether their networks are functioning properly. By tapping into those records, researchers could distill data on rainfall events at extremely fine spatial and temporal scales. As mobile phone networks expand across the globe, such data could be used to create highly accurate rainfall maps, researchers say, although gaining access to records could prove difficult.
PERMALINK

 

22 Aug 2014: Drought in Western U.S.
Has Caused Land to Rise, Researchers Say

The western U.S. has lost so much water during the ongoing severe drought that the land has sprung up by

GPS station in California's Inyo Mountains
as much as 15 millimeters (0.6 inches), according to a study in the journal Science. Water at the surface of the earth typically weighs down the land, but the region has lost enough water that the tectonic plate underlying the western U.S. has undergone rapid uplift, much like an uncoiling spring, researchers explain. California's water deficit over the past 18 months has caused some of its mountain ranges to rise by more than half an inch, and the West overall has risen by 0.15 inches, according to the study. Using ground positioning data from GPS stations throughout the region, researchers from the University of California, San Diego, estimate the water loss to be 240 gigatons (63 trillion gallons) — equivalent to a nearly four-inch layer of water spread out over the entire western U.S.
PERMALINK

 

21 Aug 2014: Antarctica and Greenland
Losing Ice at Fastest Rate Ever Recorded

Ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica are losing mass at an unprecedented rate of 500 cubic kilometers per

Click to Enlarge

Antarctic ice elevation
year — enough ice to cover the Chicago metropolitan area with a layer of ice 600 meters thick — according to German researchers. Using data from the European Space Agency's CryoSat 2 satellite from 2011 to 2014, the team created the most detailed maps to date of ice elevations across Antarctica and Greenland, accurate to a few meters in height. The results reveal that Greenland alone is losing ice volume by about 375 cubic kilometers per year, doubling since 2009, the scientists report. Ice loss in the West Antarctic Ice Sheet has increased by a factor of three over the same period. Combined, the two ice sheets are thinning at the highest rate observed since altimetry satellite records began about 20 years ago, the study found. Data show that East Antarctica is gaining ice volume, but at a moderate rate that doesn’t compensate the losses on the continent's other side.
PERMALINK

 

Interview: Drones Are Emerging
As Valuable Conservation Tool

Ecologist Lian Pin Koh is co-founder of a project called ConservationDrones.org, which is pioneering the use of
Lian Pin Koh
Lian Pin Koh
low-cost drones in conservation efforts and biological research across the globe. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Koh, a researcher at the University of Adelaide, explains how drones – also known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) – can help monitor protected areas, collect data in inaccessible regions, and even deter poachers. “In just the last couple of months,” he says, “there has been tremendous interest from universities and other research institutes that finally see the value in this technology.”
Read the interview.
View a gallery.
PERMALINK

 

18 Aug 2014: Recent Glacier Losses Are
Mostly Driven by Human Activity, Study Says

Roughly one-quarter of the global glacier mass loss between the years 1851 and 2010 can be attributed to

Artesonraju Glacier in Cordillera Blanca, Peru
human activities, and that fraction increased to more than two-thirds between 1991 and 2010, according to research published in the journal Science. The study is the first to document the extent of human contribution to glacier mass loss, which is driven by both naturally caused climate factors, such as fluctuations in solar radiation, and anthropogenic influences. “In the 19th and first half of 20th century we observed that glacier mass loss attributable to human activity is hardly noticeable but since then has steadily increased,” the lead researcher said. The analysis was based on data from the recently established Randolph Glacier Inventory and included all glaciers outside of Antarctica. Changes in glaciers in the Alps and North America were particularly well documented and seem to be definitively influenced by human activities, the researchers said.
PERMALINK

 

15 Aug 2014: New Citizen Science Software
Aims to Document and Curb Illegal Fishing

Citizen scientists can now report — and potentially help stop — illegal fishing with the snap of a photo thanks to

Illegal shark fin catch
a new smartphone app developed by the Nature Conservancy. The software, called ShipWatch, was developed this summer during a "Fishackathon," a series of workshops hosted by the U.S. State Department to foster technology development and collaboration among computer programmers. ShipWatch allows users to upload photos of illegal fishing activities to a database, where they are labeled with date and location information and plotted on a central map. The developers hope the data will help authorities enforce existing fishing laws by, for example, developing flight maps for surveillance drones or strategically deploying enforcement authorities. "There are laws in place to say [the fishing] is illegal. The problem is they lack any kind of reporting mechanism," developers told Fast Co.Exist.
PERMALINK

 

12 Aug 2014: Media Still Disproportionately
Including Views of Climate Change Skeptics

Despite strong agreement among a majority of climate scientists that human activities are contributing to

Click to Enlarge

Media coverage of climate scientists
global warming, media coverage still disproportionately includes the views of contrarian scientists, according to a study published in Environmental Science and Technology. In a survey of roughly 1,900 scientists, 90 percent of the respondents who had published more than 10 peer-reviewed climate science articles "explicitly agreed with anthropogenic greenhouse gases being the dominant driver of recent global warming." However, when asked how often they were contacted by the media to comment on climate change issues, 30 percent of scientists who view greenhouse gases' impact to be “insignificant or cooling” reported being featured frequently or very frequently in the media, as opposed to 15 percent of scientists who view greenhouse gases as strongly contributing to warming.
PERMALINK

 

Green Innovations Are Bringing
Energy-Saving Technology Home

Advances in technology and consumer demand for energy-saving devices have made green technology

Solar shingles
increasingly accessible. Many innovations are geared toward homeowners looking to lower not only their energy bills, but also the carbon footprints of their homes and daily activities. From solar-harvesting shingles and windows to shoe insoles that can power a smartphone, this Yale Environment 360 gallery explores a few of these energy-saving technologies.
View the gallery.
PERMALINK

 

23 Jul 2014: Earth Observation Satellites Help
Scientists Understand Global Change


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

 

14 Jul 2014: Human Activity Has Caused
Long-term Australian Drought, Model Shows

A new high-resolution climate model shows that southwestern Australia's long-term decline in fall and winter rainfall, which began around 1970 and has increased over the last four decades, is caused by

Click to Enlarge
Projected drying in Australia

Projected rainfall trends in Australia
increases in man-made greenhouse gas emissions and ozone depletion, according to research published in Nature Geoscience. Simulating both natural and man-made climate effects, scientists showed that the decline in rainfall is primarily driven by human activity. Rises in greenhouse gas emissions and thinning of the ozone hole have led to changes in large-scale atmospheric circulation, including a poleward movement of the westerly winds and increasing atmospheric surface pressure over parts of southern Australia. This has led to decreased rainfall, the study said. The drying is most severe over southwest Australia, where the model forecasts a 40 percent decline in average rainfall by the late 21st century, with significant implications for regional water resources.
PERMALINK

 

10 Jul 2014: A Possible Advance in Fight
To Combat a Deadly Amphibian Fungus

Scientists have discovered that a certain kind of toad can acquire immunity to the deadly chytrid fungus, which has caused widespread mortality among amphibians worldwide. Reporting in Nature, the scientists say they have conferred immunity in oak toads to the chytrid fungus after repeatedly exposing them to the organism that causes the disease. The lead author of the study, Jason Rohr of the University of South Florida, said the discovery means it might be possible to confer immunity on entire communities of amphibians in the wild by lacing local water sources with dead versions of the fungus that could be absorbed by the amphibians. But Rohr said many questions remain, including how long immunity lasts, what concentration of released antigen would confer immunity, and whether such releases would harm other organisms. The chytrid fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, attacks the skin of amphibians, thickening it and preventing the animals from absorbing water and vital salts.
PERMALINK

 

02 Jul 2014: Roughly $80 Billion Wasted on
Power for Networked Devices, Report Says

The world’s 14 billion online electronic devices, such as modems, printers, game consoles, and cable boxes, waste around $80 billion in electricity annually because of inefficient technology, according to a new reportby

Click to Enlarge
Game console energy consumption

Energy consumption of a typical game console.
the International Energy Agency (IEA). In 2013, networked devices consumed around 616 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity, with most of that used in standby mode. Roughly 400 TWh — equivalent to the combined annual electricity consumption of the United Kingdom and Norway — was wasted because of inefficient technology. The problem will worsen by 2020, the agency projects, with an estimated $120 billion wasted as devices such as refrigerators, washing machines, and thermostats become networked. Much of the problem boils down to inefficient “network standby,” or maintaining a network connection while in standby mode. Most network-enabled devices draw as much power in this mode as when fully active, the report notes. Using today's best technology could cut energy consumption by 65 percent, the IEA said.
PERMALINK

 

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

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

 

25 Jun 2014: Blizzard Helps Scientists
Visualize Airflow Around Wind Turbines

A Minnesota blizzard has helped scientists understand airflow patterns around large wind turbines, paving the way for more efficient turbine designs and wind farm

Watch Video
wind turbine airflow during blizzard

Airflow patterns are visible during blizzard.
configurations, researchers report in Nature Communications. Wind farms lose roughly 10 to 20 percent of the potential energy they could harvest, and complex airflow patterns play the largest role in those energy losses. Studying airflow around large turbines, which can be more than 100 meters tall, is not feasible in lab settings, so scientists typically test smaller turbine models in wind tunnels and use tracer particles to visualize airflow patterns. Researchers from the University of Minnesota realized they could scale up their experiments to real-world conditions by using heavy snowfall during a blizzard to trace airflow patterns, as shown in this video. Their findings show that airflow patterns under real-world conditions differ from smaller-scale laboratory tests in important ways, and those differences should be taken into account when designing turbines and wind farms.
PERMALINK

 

24 Jun 2014: Concentrated Solar Power
Could Compete with Natural Gas, Study Says

Concentrated solar power (CSP) could meet a substantial percentage of current energy demand in some parts of the world, according to research
CSP plant near San Bernardino, CA

CSP plant in San Bernardino County, CA
published in the journal Nature Climate Change. In the Mediterranean region, for example, the study shows that a grid-connected CSP network could provide 70 to 80 percent of current electricity demand, at no extra cost compared to natural gas-fired power plants. CSP could also feasibly meet energy demands in parts of southern Africa, according to researchers. CSP systems use mirrors or lenses to concentrate solar rays into a small area. The concentrated energy heats a liquid that produces steam to drive turbines, which means that the collected energy can be stored as heat and converted to electricity when needed — a major advantage over solar panels, which store energy much less efficiently.
PERMALINK

 

23 Jun 2014: How Citizen Scientists Are Using
The Web to Track the Natural World


By making the recording and sharing of environmental data easier than ever, web-based technology has fostered the rapid growth of so-called citizen scientists — volunteers who collaborate with scientists to collect and interpret data. Numerous Internet-based projects now make use of citizen scientists to monitor environmental health and to track sensitive plant and wildlife populations. From counting butterflies, frogs, and bats across the globe, to piloting personal drones capable of high-definition infrared imaging, citizen scientists are playing a crucial role in collecting data that will help researchers understand the environment. Here is a sampling of some of these projects.
View the gallery.
PERMALINK

 

16 Jun 2014: Skyscraper-Size Ice Structures
Discovered at Base of Greenland Ice Sheet

Melting and refreezing at the base of the Greenland ice sheet has created massive, complex structures the height of skyscrapers and the width of Manhattan, according to research published in Nature Geoscience.

Click to Enlarge
Ice structures at base of Greenland ice sheet

Massive structures below Greenland ice sheet.
The hidden formations more than a mile below the surface stand in stark contrast to the nearly flat, smooth exterior of the ice sheet and may accelerate its flow toward the sea, researchers say. Scientists had previously interpreted the irregular topography at the base of the ice as hills or mountains, but ice-penetrating radar revealed that the structures were made of ice rather than rock. Scientists from Columbia University explained that as meltwater at the bottom refreezes over hundreds or thousands of years, it radiates heat into the surrounding ice sheet, making it pick up its pace as the ice becomes softer and flows more easily. Greenland's glaciers appear to be moving more rapidly toward the sea as climate warms, but it's unclear how the refreezing process will influence this trend, researchers said.
PERMALINK

 

10 Jun 2014: Air Pollution Smartphone App
Seeks to Shame China's Polluting Factories

A new smartphone app seeks to shine a spotlight on major Chinese polluters by letting users see in real-time which factories are violating air pollution emissions
China air pollution app

App monitors factories' air pollution in China.
limits. The app, developed by the Beijing-based Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs (IPE), uses data from some 15,000 factories throughout China that are now required to report emissions to local officials and the Environment Ministry on an hourly basis. The government made all the data public at the beginning of this year, but now, for the first time, those data are available in one place through IPE's app and website. The app allows users to check air quality data for 190 cities and share air emissions data from polluters in those areas. Factories producing excessive emissions are shown in red. "If the air quality is bad you can switch (to the factory map) and see who is in your neighborhood," IPE's senior project manager explained.
PERMALINK

 

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