Department: Forum

What Pope Francis Should Say <br />In His Upcoming UN Address

What Pope Francis Should Say
In His Upcoming UN Address

Pope Francis will speak to the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 25 about poverty, the environment, and sustainable development. In a Yale Environment 360 forum, seven leading thinkers on the environment and religion describe what they would like to hear the pope say.

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.

Forum: How Daring is<br /> Obama's New Climate Plan?

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

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

Forum: Assessing Obama’s <br /> Record on the Environment

Forum: Assessing Obama’s
Record on the Environment

When Barack Obama won the presidency in 2008, environmentalists were optimistic that their issues would finally become a priority at the White House. So how is Obama doing? Yale Environment 360 asked a group of environmentalists and energy experts for their verdicts on the president's performance.

Forum: Just How Safe <br /> Is ‘Fracking’ of Natural Gas?

Forum: Just How Safe
Is ‘Fracking’ of Natural Gas?

New technologies for freeing natural gas from underground shale formations have led to a hydraulic fracturing boom across the U.S. that is now spreading to other countries. In a Yale Environment 360 forum, eight experts discuss whether “fracking” can be done without serious harm to water and air quality and what environmental safeguards may be needed.


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

Forum: Is Extreme Weather
Linked to Global Warming?

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


As Copenhagen Talks Near,
What Are Prospects for Success?

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

The Waxman-Markey Bill:
A Good Start or a Non-Starter?

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

Putting a Price on Carbon:
An Emissions Cap or a Tax?

The days of freely dumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere are coming to an end, but how best to price carbon emissions remains in dispute. As the U.S. Congress debates the issue, Yale Environment 360 asked eight experts to discuss the merits of a cap-and-trade system versus a carbon tax.

A Green Agenda for the
President’s First 100 Days

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

e360 digest

The Moth Snowstorm: Finding
True Value in Nature’s Riches

It is the blizzard of moths that Michael McCarthy remembers most vividly. As a boy, his family would take summer nighttime drives to the English coast,
English butterfly

and the car headlights and windshield would soon be so splattered with moths they would have to stop to clean them off. “That phenomenon has gone,” says McCarthy. “It’s disappeared because there has been a horrendous crash in moth numbers in the U.K.” His recent book, The Moth Snowstorm: Nature and Joy, offers a defense of the natural world rooted in the joy and spiritual nourishment it provides. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, McCarthy, a British journalist, talks about the loss of wildlife; how the decline in species abundance, as opposed to extinctions, is overlooked; and why he thinks putting a monetary value on so-called ecosystem services is too limiting. “You can say mangrove swamps are worth so many billion dollars,” he says. “But what about birdsong? How much is birdsong worth?”
Read the interview.

24 Oct 2016: Pope Francis’ Call for Climate
Action Fails to Sway Many Americans

A direct call to action by the Pope has apparently failed to inspire people to be concerned about climate change, according to a new national survey by

Pope Francis.
public policy researchers at the University of Pennsylvania. Last year, Pope Francis release a 200-page papal letter entitled “Laudato Si,” or “Be Praised,” that urged 1.1 billion Catholics to address climate change and live more sustainably. The new survey, published in the journal Climatic Change, found those who had heard of the encyclical — both Catholics and non-Catholics — were no more concerned about global warming than those who hadn’t. Those who knew about the encyclical were also more politically polarized in their acceptance or denial of climate change. The scientists used data from 1,381 20-minute phone interviews one week before the encyclical’s release and two weeks after it was published.


Public Art or Renewable Energy?
New Designs Aim to Produce Both

When the topic of energy infrastructure comes up, works of art don’t usually come to mind. But hundreds of such hybrid creations — part renewable power generators,

A vegetable farm off the Santa Monica Pier.
part large-scale art installations — now exist, at least on paper, as the result of a sustainable design competition known as the Land Art Generator Initiative. Multi-disciplinary teams across the world have taken up the challenge to come up with buildable designs that produce renewable energy and “add value to public space, inspire, and educate.” In a photo essay, Yale Environment 360 highlights eight submissions to this year’s biennial competition, including the three winners announced this week. All designed for the waters off the Santa Monica Pier in Southern California, the systems range from a ring-shaped farm floating offshore to sail-like structures that harvest drinking water from fog.

21 Oct 2016: Scientists Report Finding DNA
Mutations That Caused Snakes to Lose Legs

A mutation in the DNA of some reptiles about 150 million years ago switched off the gene responsible for forming limbs — leading to the

A green tree python.
creation of modern day snakes, according to two studies published week. The findings were discovered by two independent teams of researchers, which reported their results separately in the journals Current Biology and Cell. Some snakes, including pythons and boas, still have tiny leg bones inside their bodies, remnants of this evolutionary history; but most species lost their legs starting about100 million years ago. The scientists traced the mutation back to a docking site for proteins, known as an enhancer, situated in front of the Sonic hedgehog gene, which controls limb development. They found that the enhancer is simply switched off, not broken. When the missing DNA was fixed and the modified enhancer was put in mice, they grew legs like normal.


What’s Killing the Native Birds in
The Mountain Forests of Kauai?

The few remaining species of native forest birds left on the Hawaiian island of Kauai have suffered population declines so severe — 98 percent in one case — that some are near extinction.
Eben Paxton

Eben Paxton
The cause of the collapse, according to a recent study in the journal Science Advances, is not alien plants or predators, but rather warming temperatures that have enabled non-native mosquitoes carrying deadly avian malaria to invade the birds’ high-elevation strongholds. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Eben Paxton, an avian ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey and the study’s lead author, says his group’s research showed that the mosquitoes moved into the Alakai Plateau over the last decade, infecting the birds and pushing their populations to a tipping point. He cites a number of approaches for eradicating the mosquitoes, including releasing irradiated infertile males and using genetically modified mosquitoes. “The way that we view Kauai,” he says, “is that it's an early warning system for the rest of the islands.”
Read the interview.

19 Oct 2016: Can We Turn CO2 into a Useable
Fuel? Scientists Say They Have Found a Way

Scientists at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee report that they have found a way to convert carbon dioxide into ethanol, a usable fuel. The team used a spiky nanotechnology-based catalyst made out of carbon, copper, and nitrogen. When they applied voltage to the catalyst, CO2 dissolved in water turned into ethanol, with a yield of 63 percent. “We discovered somewhat by accident that this material works,” said Adam Rondinone, the Oak Ridge scientist that led the research. Because the materials are relatively cheap and the reaction can happen at room temperature, the researchers say the technique could be scaled up to store renewable energy as ethanol, for example, or to convert CO2 emissions into fuel. Finding new ways to use CO2 “in order to displace a fossil feedstock,” the scientists wrote in the study, “is an appropriate intermediate step towards a carbon-free future.”

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Yale School of Forestry
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A look at how acidifying oceans could threaten the Dungeness crab, one of the most valuable fisheries on the U.S. West Coast.
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