Region: Europe


Greenpeace’s Kumi Naidoo on <br />Russia and the Climate Struggle

Interview

Greenpeace’s Kumi Naidoo on
Russia and the Climate Struggle

by diane toomey
In a Yale Environment 360 interview, the outspoken executive director of Greenpeace discusses why his organization’s activists braved imprisonment in Russia to stop Arctic oil drilling and what needs to be done to make a sharp turn away from fossil fuels and toward a green energy economy.
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A Successful Push to Restore <br />Europe’s Long-Abused Rivers

Analysis

A Successful Push to Restore
Europe’s Long-Abused Rivers

by fred pearce
From Britain to the Czech Republic, European nations have been restoring rivers to their natural state — taking down dams, removing levees, and reviving floodplains. For a continent that long viewed rivers as little more than shipping canals and sewers, it is a striking change.
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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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Will Offshore Wind Finally <br />Take Off on U.S. East Coast?

Report

Will Offshore Wind Finally
Take Off on U.S. East Coast?

by dave levitan
After years of delays and legal battles, several offshore wind projects seem poised to be launched off the U.S. East Coast. But the lack of stable government incentives and tax credits may continue to hobble an industry that already has a strong foothold in Europe.
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Incineration Versus Recycling: <br /> In Europe, A Debate Over Trash

Report

Incineration Versus Recycling:
In Europe, A Debate Over Trash

by nate seltenrich
Increasingly common in Europe, municipal “waste-to-energy” incinerators are being touted as a green trash-disposal alternative. But critics contend that these large-scale incinerators tend to discourage recycling and lead to greater waste.
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Leaving Our Descendants<br /> A Whopping Rise in Sea Levels

Interview

Leaving Our Descendants
A Whopping Rise in Sea Levels

by fen montaigne
German scientist Anders Levermann and his colleagues have released research that warns of major sea level increases far into the future. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, he raises important questions about how much we really care about the world we will leave to those who come after us.
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An Economic Boom in Turkey<br /> Takes a Toll on Marine Life

Report

An Economic Boom in Turkey
Takes a Toll on Marine Life

by sulmaan khan
The development-at-any-cost policies of Turkish Prime Minister Recip Tayyip Erdogan — a key factor behind the protests and clashes in Istanbul’s Taksim Square — are also playing a role in the steady decline of the nation’s porpoises, dolphins, and other marine life.
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A Key Experiment to Probe the<br /> Future of Our Acidifying Oceans

Report

A Key Experiment to Probe the
Future of Our Acidifying Oceans

by peter friederici
In a Swedish fjord, European researchers are conducting an ambitious experiment aimed at better understanding how ocean acidification will affect marine life. Ultimately, these scientists hope to determine which species might win and which might lose in a more acidic ocean.
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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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Copenhagen’s Ambitious Push<br /> To Be Carbon Neutral by 2025

Report

Copenhagen’s Ambitious Push
To Be Carbon Neutral by 2025

by justin gerdes
The Danish capital is moving rapidly toward a zero-carbon future, as it erects wind farms, transforms its citywide heating systems, promotes energy efficiency, and lures more people out of their cars and onto public transportation and bikes.
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Will Reform Finally End The<br /> Plunder of Europe’s Fisheries?

Analysis

Will Reform Finally End The
Plunder of Europe’s Fisheries?

by christian schwägerl
Maria Damanaki, Europe’s crusading fisheries minister, is making major headway in changing a cozy, “old boys” network that over-subsidized the European fishing industry and brought about the severe overfishing of the continent’s marine bounty.
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To Control Floods, The Dutch<br /> Turn to Nature for Inspiration

Report

To Control Floods, The Dutch
Turn to Nature for Inspiration

by cheryl katz
The Netherlands’ system of dikes and sea gates has long been the best in the world. But as the country confronts the challenges of climate change, it is increasingly relying on techniques that mimic natural systems and harness nature’s power to hold back the sea.
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Reviving Europe’s Biodiversity<br /> By Importing Exotic Animals

Report

Reviving Europe’s Biodiversity
By Importing Exotic Animals

by christian schwägerl
Scientists are conducting intriguing — and counterintuitive — experiments at several sites in Germany: Bringing back long-lost herbivores, such as water buffalo, to encourage the spread of native plants that have fared poorly in Europe’s human-dominated landscape.
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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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Designing the Urban Landscape<br /> To Meet 21st Century Challenges

Interview

Designing the Urban Landscape
To Meet 21st Century Challenges

by diane toomey
Martha Schwartz, a professor at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, explains in a Yale Environment 360 interview how creative landscape architecture can help cities become models of sustainability in a world facing daunting environmental challenges.
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Forget the Kyoto Accord<br /> And Tax Carbon Consumption

Opinion

Forget the Kyoto Accord
And Tax Carbon Consumption

by dieter helm
Given the failure of international climate negotiations, a tax on carbon consumption is the most effective way of lowering CO2 emissions. If nations are serious about addressing climate change, then they must pay for the carbon pollution caused by what they consume.
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With Funding Tight, Cities are<br /> Turning to Green Infrastructure

Report

With Funding Tight, Cities are
Turning to Green Infrastructure

by jim robbins
From Seattle to Sweden, an ever-growing number of city and regional governments are using roof gardens, specially designed wetlands, and other forms of “green infrastructure” to rein in pollution from countless diffuse sources — and to save money.
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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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An Influential Global Voice<br /> Warns of Runaway Emissions

Interview

An Influential Global Voice
Warns of Runaway Emissions

by fen montaigne
Few international figures have been as consistent in warning about the threat posed by global warming as economist Fatih Birol, of the International Energy Agency. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Birol explains why the situation is worsening and what needs to be done to significantly slow emissions.
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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.
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Sweden’s Green Veneer Hides<br /> Unsustainable Logging Practices

Report

Sweden’s Green Veneer Hides
Unsustainable Logging Practices

by erik hoffner
Sweden has a reputation as being one of the world’s most environmentally progressive nations. But its surprisingly lax forestry laws often leave decisions about logging to the timber companies — and as a result, large swaths of biologically-rich boreal forest are being lost.
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The New Story of Stuff:<br /> Can We Consume Less?

Analysis

The New Story of Stuff:
Can We Consume Less?

by fred pearce
A new study finds that Britons are consuming less than they did a decade ago, with similar patterns being seen across Europe. Could this be the beginning of a trend in developed countries? Might we be reaching “peak stuff”?
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Britain’s Mark Lynas Riles<br /> His Green Movement Allies

Interview

Britain’s Mark Lynas Riles
His Green Movement Allies

by keith kloor
Activist Mark Lynas has alienated his green colleagues by renouncing long-held views and becoming an advocate for nuclear power and genetically modified crops. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, he explains why he rethought his positions and turned to technology for solutions.
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The Big Payback from<br /> Bringing Back Peat Bogs

Report

The Big Payback from
Bringing Back Peat Bogs

by fred pearce
The draining and burning of peat bogs is a major global source of CO2 emissions. Now, a pilot project in Russia — where wildfires burned vast areas of dried-out bogs last summer — is looking to re-flood and restore tens of thousands of acres to their natural state.
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In Berlin, Bringing Bees<br /> Back to the Heart of the City

Report

In Berlin, Bringing Bees
Back to the Heart of the City

by christian schwägerl
In Germany’s capital — and in cities as diverse as Hong Kong and Chicago — raising bees on rooftops and in small gardens has become increasingly popular, as urban beekeepers find they can reconnect with nature and maybe even make a profit.
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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.
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A Planetary Crisis Is<br /> A Terrible Thing to Waste

Opinion

A Planetary Crisis Is
A Terrible Thing to Waste

by christian schwägerl
There are striking similarities between the current economic and ecological crises — both involve indulgent over-consumption and a failure to consider the impacts on future generations. But it’s not too late to look to new economic and environmental models and to dramatically change course.
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On Biking, Why Can’t the U.S.<br /> Learn Lessons from Europe?

Opinion

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

by elisabeth rosenthal
Building bike paths alone will not get people out of their cars in the U.S. and onto bicycles. To create a thriving bike culture in America’s cities, people must begin to view bicycling as Europeans do — not just as a way of exercising, but as a serious form of urban mass transportation.
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Germany’s Unlikely Champion<br /> Of a Radical Green Energy Path

Report

Germany’s Unlikely Champion
Of a Radical Green Energy Path

by christian schwägerl
The disaster at the Fukushima plant in Japan convinced German Chancellor Angela Merkel that nuclear power would never again be a viable option for her country. Now Merkel has embarked on the world’s most ambitious plan to power an industrial economy on renewable sources of energy.
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Europe’s CO2 Trading Scheme:<br /> Is It Time for a Major Overhaul?

Report

Europe’s CO2 Trading Scheme:
Is It Time for a Major Overhaul?

by ben schiller
Now in its seventh year, the EU’s carbon emissions trading system is the only international program designed to use market mechanisms to control CO2 emissions. But critics contend it has done little to slow the release of CO2 and argue that it should be significantly reformed — or scrapped.
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Along Scar from Iron Curtain,<br /> A Green Belt Rises in Germany

Report

Along Scar from Iron Curtain,
A Green Belt Rises in Germany

by christian schwägerl
A forbidding, 870-mile network of fences and guard towers once ran the length of Germany, separating East and West. Now, one of the world’s most unique nature reserves is being created along the old “Death Strip,” turning a monument to repression into a symbol of renewal.
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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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‘Perverse’ Carbon Payments<br /> Send Flood of Money to China

Report

‘Perverse’ Carbon Payments
Send Flood of Money to China

by mark schapiro
To offset their own carbon emissions, European companies have been overpaying China to incinerate a powerful greenhouse gas known as hfc 23. And in a bizarre twist, those payments have spurred the manufacture of a harmful refrigerant that is being smuggled into the U.S. and used illegally.
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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.
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In Scotland’s Search for Roots, <br />A Push to Restore Wild Lands

Report

In Scotland’s Search for Roots,
A Push to Restore Wild Lands

by caroline fraser
As Scotland asserts its identity and its autonomy, environmentalists are working to restore its denuded landscape – planting native forests, creating wildlife corridors, and reintroducing species that were wiped out centuries ago.
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Steady Growth of Wind Industry <br />Moves EU Closer to Green Goals

Interview

Steady Growth of Wind Industry
Moves EU Closer to Green Goals

by fen montaigne
Europe is in the midst of a wind energy boom, with the continent now installing more wind power capacity than any other form of energy. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, the European Wind Energy Association's Christian Kjaer describes his vision of how wind can lead the way in making Europe’s electricity generation 100 percent renewable by 2050.
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A Steady, Steep Decline for<br /> The Lowly, Uncharismatic Eel

Report

A Steady, Steep Decline for
The Lowly, Uncharismatic Eel

by james prosek
The freshwater eel, which spawns in the middle of the ocean, was once abundant in much of the world. But the proliferation of dams, coastal development, and overfishing have drastically reduced eel populations, with few defenders coming to the aid of these fascinating — though still not fully understood — creatures.
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Climategate: Anatomy of<br /> A Public Relations Disaster

Opinion

Climategate: Anatomy of
A Public Relations Disaster

by fred pearce
The way that climate scientists have handled the fallout from the leaking of hacked e-mails is a case study in how not to respond to a crisis. But it also points to the need for climate researchers to operate with greater transparency and to provide more open access to data.
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The Pursuit of New Ways<br /> to Boost Solar Development

Report

The Pursuit of New Ways
to Boost Solar Development

by jon r. luoma
The solar power boom in Germany, Spain, and parts of the United States has been fueled by government subsidies. But now some U.S. states — led by New Jersey, of all places — are pioneering a different approach: issuing tradable credits that can be sold on the open market. So far, the results have been promising.
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What Makes Europe<br /> Greener than the U.S.?

Opinion

What Makes Europe
Greener than the U.S.?

by elisabeth rosenthal
The average American produces three times the amount of CO2 emissions as a person in France. A U.S. journalist now living in Europe explains how she learned to love her clothesline and sweating in summer.
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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.
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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.
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A Potential Breakthrough<br /> in Harnessing the Sun’s Energy

Report

A Potential Breakthrough
in Harnessing the Sun’s Energy

by david biello
New solar thermal technology overcomes a major challenge facing solar power – how to store the sun’s heat for use at night or on a rainy day. As researchers tout its promise, solar thermal plants are under construction or planned from Spain to Australia to the American Southwest.
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The New Urbanists: <br />Tackling Europe’s Sprawl

Analysis

The New Urbanists:
Tackling Europe’s Sprawl

by bruce stutz
In the last few decades, urban sprawl, once regarded as largely a U.S. phenomenon, has spread across Europe. Now an emerging group of planners is promoting a new kind of development — mixed-use, low-carbon communities that are pedestrian-friendly and mass-transit-oriented.
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Opinion

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

by fred pearce
Europe’s backpedaling last month on toughening its carbon trading system may have signaled the end of its leadership on climate change. Now, with a new administration and Congress, America appears ready to commit itself to tackling global warming.
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Regulators Are Pushing<br /> Bluefin Tuna to the Brink

Opinion

Regulators Are Pushing
Bluefin Tuna to the Brink

by carl safina
The international commission charged with protecting the giant bluefin tuna is once again failing to do its job. Its recent decision to ignore scientists’ recommendations for reducing catch limits may spell doom for this magnificent – and endangered – fish.
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Melting Arctic Ocean Raises Threat of ‘Methane Time Bomb’

Report

Melting Arctic Ocean Raises Threat of ‘Methane Time Bomb’

by susan q. stranahan
Scientists have long believed that thawing permafrost in Arctic soils could release huge amounts of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Now they are watching with increasing concern as methane begins to bubble up from the bottom of the fast-melting Arctic Ocean.
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Despite Global Recession, Focus on Climate Change Critical

Interview

Despite Global Recession, Focus on Climate Change Critical

Stavros Dimas, environmental commissioner for the European Union, says the global economic crisis is no reason to lose focus on efforts to fight climate change. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, he talked about the lessons of the EU's emissions trading system, and why the U.S. should not give away permits in a cap-and-trade system — it should get something for them.audio
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Report

Deep Geothermal: The Untapped Renewable Energy Source

by david biello
Until now, geothermal technology has only been used on a small scale to produce power. But with major new projects now underway, deep geothermal systems may soon begin making a significant contribution to the world’s energy needs.
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A Corporate Approach to <br />Rescuing the World’s Fisheries

Report

A Corporate Approach to
Rescuing the World’s Fisheries

by nicholas day
The commitment by Wal-Mart, McDonald’s, and other major companies to buy only sustainably-caught seafood is an encouraging sign in an otherwise bleak global fisheries picture. After decades of government inaction and ineffective consumer campaigns, corporate pressure may finally be starting to turn the tide on reckless overfishing.
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Opinion

Has the Population Bomb Been Defused?

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

Analysis

Biodiversity in the Balance

by carl zimmer
Paleontologists and geologists are looking to the ancient past for clues about whether global warming will result in mass extinctions. What they're finding is not encouraging.
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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.
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14 Mar 2014: Major Winds Have Lashed
North Atlantic This Winter, NOAA Map Shows

Forty-three hurricane-force winter storms have lashed the North Atlantic since late October, boosting the region's average wind speed in January and February by more than 12 miles per hour, as shown in this map from

Click to Enlarge
North Atlantic wind speeds

January-February wind speed anomalies
the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The blue colors indicate areas where wind speeds exceeded the 1981-2010 average; browns indicate winds that were lower than average. In the North Atlantic, an unusually high number of hurricane-force storms, with winds exceeding 74 mph, battered southeastern Greenland, Norway, and the coast of western Europe. The U.K. Met Office recently issued a report on the December and January storms that ravaged the British coast, saying, "For England and Wales this was one of, if not the most, exceptional (two month) periods of winter rainfall in at least 248 years." No studies have confirmed a link between these intense winter storms and climate change, but some scientists think climate-driven changes in the jet stream may be behind the wild weather.
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29 Jan 2014: Driven by State Incentives
Electric Cars Top Vehicle Sales in Norway

Norwegians have been snapping up electric cars: In the last three months of 2013, the Tesla Model S and Nissan Leaf outsold all other cars, including conventionally fueled models. But rather than environmental concerns,
Oslo EV
An EV charges up in Oslo
a host of government incentives — totaling an estimated $8,300 per vehicle — are largely driving the boom, the Guardian reports. Norway, a country of only 5 million people, currently has around 21,000 electric vehicles (EVs) on the roads, compared to 70,000 EVs among 313 million Americans and 5,000 EVs among 63 million people in the UK. More than 1,200 EVs are being sold in Norway per month thanks to incentives that include free electricity for recharging, lower sales tax rates, waived tolls, free parking, insurance discounts, and permission to drive in bus lanes, which are less crowded. The EV rush is expected to slow, however, as bus lanes become more crowded, and the government plans to end financial incentives once 50,000 EVs are registered, which could occur by 2016.
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Interview: Activist Kumi Naidoo
On Russia and the Climate Struggle

Kumi Naidoo, the international executive director of Greenpeace, is intimately familiar with the Prirazlomnaya drilling platform in the Russian Arctic. In 2012, he and five other Greenpeace activists were hosed down with frigid water and pelted with pieces of metal as they attempted to climb aboard the platform.
“Kumi
Kumi Naidoo
Greenpeace and Prirazlomnaya were back in the news recently when 28 Greenpeace members were arrested and held for several months for storming the rig before being released in December. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Naidoo talks about what’s needed to get global climate talks off the ground and launch a green energy revolution, and the reason his activist organization has decided to take such a strong stand against oil drilling in the rapidly melting Arctic Ocean. "We went back [to Prirazlomnaya]," says Naidoo, "because we’re trying to draw a line in the ice, because once this starts it will have breached another threshold of meeting our rapacious appetite for oil and gas in the most fragile of environments."
Read the interview.
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30 Dec 2013: Hydropower "Battery" Could
Even Out Wind Energy Supply, Scientists Say

Norwegian hydropower stations could be linked to wind farms and serve as giant "batteries" to even out power supply fluctuations, a Scandinavian research organization says. A major hurdle for renewable energy suppliers is intermittent power production — sometimes too much power is generated, other times too little, and periods of peak demand often don't coincide with periods of peak supply. By using excess electricity from windy periods to pump water uphill into reservoirs, hydroelectric power stations could smooth out the intermittent power supplied by large wind farms, Scandinavian researchers from the firm SINTEF say. At times of low wind energy supply, the stored water could be released through dam turbines and hydroelectricity would fill the gap. The plan requires updating and refurbishing existing Norwegian hydropower plants, which could increase their output potential by 11 to 18 gigawatts, enough to provide an adequate backup power supply.
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21 Nov 2013: U.K. Government Pledges
To Stop Backing Foreign Coal Power Plants

The United Kingdom has joined the U.S. in pledging to stop using government funds to finance coal-fired power plants in other countries. "The two governments are going to work together to secure the support of other countries ... and the multilateral development banks to adopt similar policies," Britain's energy secretary told journalists gathered in Warsaw at the U.N. climate talks. The U.S. made the same pledge last month in an attempt to slow CO2 emissions from the world's coal-fired power plants. The International Energy Agency reports that coal accounted for 44 percent of global carbon emissions in 2011, and the fossil fuel remains the world's largest source of electricity and heat. While many diplomats applaud the U.K.'s move, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and environmental groups are pushing for even stronger action, including more spending on renewable energy. "The rapid development of low-carbon infrastructure needs large injections of public capital," Ki-moon said.
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28 Oct 2013: Underground Heat From
Cities Could Help Power Them, Study Says

The heat generated by urban areas and their buildings, factories, sewers, and transportation systems could be used to power those cities, according to a new study by German and Swiss researchers. Thermal energy produced by the so-called "urban heat island effect" warms shallow aquifers lying below cities, and geothermal and groundwater heat pumps could tap into those warm reservoirs to heat and cool buildings, the scientists say. In the southwest German city of Karlsruhe, the researchers found that the city of 300,000 generated 1 petajoule of heat per year — enough to heat 18,000 households. Karlsruhe's underground heat production increased by about 10 percent over the past three decades, the team reported in Environmental Science and Technology. The biggest contributors to the city's underground heat flux were its densely populated residential areas and surface temperature increases associated with paving. Sewage pipes, underground district heating networks, and thermal waste water discharges also contribute to warming shallow aquifers, the study found.
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21 Oct 2013: French Utility Company
Agrees to Build Major Nuclear Plant in U.K.

The British government and the French state-controlled utility company, EDF Group, have agreed to build the U.K.'s first nuclear power plant in a generation. The new plant, to be built at Hinkley Point in southwest England, is part of the British government's ongoing efforts to cut carbon emissions in half by the mid-2020s. To meet that goal, the U.K. plans to renew some of its existing nuclear plants and build several new plants to replace aging ones, the New York Times reports. Once completed, the Hinkley Point nuclear power station will supply 7 percent of the country's electricity — enough to power 6 million homes. Consumers and taxpayers will cover most of the projected £16 ($26 billion) overall cost, but the proposed project is expected to face opposition since EDF will be guaranteed a price of roughly £90 ($145) per megawatt hour for 35 years, a rate that is considerably higher than current electricity costs.
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15 Oct 2013: Nine in 10 Europeans in Cities
Breathe Dangerous, Polluted Air, Study Says

More than 90 percent of Europeans living in cities are exposed to harmful levels of air pollutants, according to a new assessment from the European Environment Agency. Concentrations of ground-level ozone, or smog,
Autobahn air pollution
Zakysant/Wikimedia
German Autobahn
pose a danger to 97 percent of city populations, and levels of fine particulate matter (particles with a diameter less than 2.5 microns, known as PM2.5) exceed European standards for 91 to 96 percent of city-dwellers — and European standards for both pollutants exceed World Health Organization recommendations. A new study of European mothers linked higher PM2.5 exposure to lower birth weight, a standard indicator of fetal development. Eastern European countries have the highest levels of PM2.5, whereas ground-level ozone is worst in northern Italy. Although emissions of most air pollutants have steadily declined over the past 10 years — lead and carbon monoxide levels, for example, now meet international standards in most areas — emissions haven't fallen as much as predicted.
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30 Sep 2013: Ikea to Sell Home Solar Panels
In All British Stores Within a Year

The Swedish furniture retailer Ikea will begin selling residential solar panels in its 17 UK stores within the next 10 months. The basic package's $9,500 price tag will include 18 panels, installation, maintenance,
Ikea rooftop solar
Elisseeva/Shutterstock
design consultation, and energy monitoring. With energy savings and current green energy subsidies in the UK, consumers should typically earn as much as $1,244 per year and break even in about seven years, Ikea said. Great Britain's heavily subsidized green energy market is smaller than other European countries', but it has shown steady growth, rising 25 percent in the last year, the Guardian reports. The decision by the world's largest furniture retailer comes after a successful test run at a store outside London, where solar panel sales averaged one unit per day. Ikea has not announced plans to sell units in the U.S., where some utility companies have sought an end to public subsidies of residential solar installations.
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Counterpoint: Two Scientists Offer
A Dissenting View on Ascension Island

Ecologists Daniel Simberloff, of the University of Tennessee, and Donald Strong, of the University of California, Davis, have written a critical appraisal of a recent Yale Environment 360 article by Fred Pearce about Ascension Island. In their critique, the two scientists contend that Pearce failed to accurately describe what has occurred on the island and misrepresented the science of restoration ecology.
Read more.
PERMALINK

 

Yale Environment 360 Articles Are
Now Available in Spanish and Portuguese

Yale Environment 360 has increased its international reach with a new partnership launched this month with Universia, a Spanish online education network. As part of this joint effort, Universia will translate selected Yale Environment 360 articles into Spanish and Portuguese
e360 Universia banner
and feature them on its website, which has more than 10 million unique viewers each month. The articles will be featured on a special e360 page on the Universia site at e360yale.universia.net. Universia is an institutional network of 1,242 universities in Spain, Portugal, and 21 countries throughout Latin America, and through this partnership, Yale Environment 360 will significantly expand its international audience and influence. You can find the new e360/Universia page at e360yale.universia.net.
PERMALINK

 

30 Aug 2013: Greenland Ice Hides Gorge
Longer than the Grand Canyon

A massive gorge nearly twice as long as the Grand Canyon is hidden under Greenland's ice sheet, reports a team of researchers from the U.K., Canada, and Italy.

Click to enlarge
Greenland's grand canyon

NASA
Canyon below Greenland's ice
With a width of about six miles and a maximum depth of 2,600 feet, the previously undiscovered canyon is as wide as its Arizona counterpart and nearly half as deep. Flowing water likely carved the canyon long before the formation of the mile-deep ice sheet that has blanketed it for the past few million years. Researchers found the feature using ice-penetrating radar equipment, they reported in Science. The canyon does not yet have a name. "It's remarkable to find something like this when many people believe the surface of the earth is so well mapped," said lead author Jonathan Bamber, of the University of Bristol.
PERMALINK

 

26 Aug 2013: Ocean Acidification Could
Amplify Global Warming, Study Says

The increasing acidification of the world’s oceans caused by rising concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide not only poses a threat to marine creatures, but also could lead to an intensification of planetary warming, according to a new study. A team of U.S., British, and German researchers conducted experiments in seawater enclosures, known as mesocosms, showing that the increasing acidification of the ocean leads to a drop in production of an important sulfur compound, dimethylsulphide, or DMS. Marine emissions of DMS are the largest natural source of atmospheric sulfur, and those sulfur aerosols play an important role in reflecting the sun’s energy back into space and cooling the planet. Reporting in the journal Nature Climate Change, the scientists found that when they created acidic conditions in the seawater enclosures that match pH levels expected in 2100, emissions of DMS fell by roughly 18 percent. The scientists said their study was the first to prove the link between rising ocean acidification and the potential decrease in planet-cooling sulfur dioxide aerosols.
PERMALINK

 

13 Aug 2013: Too Many Urban Beehives
May Do More Harm Than Good, Experts Say

A surge in urban beekeeping may be doing more harm than good to honeybee populations, according to UK scientists. As the number of rooftop hives increases in cities worldwide— including London, where there are
city beekeeping impacts
Matthias Walendy
A Berlin beekeeper
now 10 hives per square kilometer — two researchers from the University of Sussex warn that too many hives can be detrimental. Writing in The Biologist, the magazine of the Society of Biology, they suggest that inexperienced beekeepers can create conditions in which there isn’t enough food for their insects. “If there are too many colonies in an area, then the food supply will be insufficient,” Francis Ratnieks, a professor at the university’s Laboratory of Apiculture and Social Insects, told the BBC. “This will mean that colonies do not thrive, and may also affect other species that also visit flowers.”
PERMALINK

 

01 Aug 2013: Whales Shown to Flee
From Mid-Frequency Military Sonar

Two new studies show that the use of military sonar can provoke whales to flee, providing evidence that the naval operations may be a factor in mass strandings of whales and dolphins worldwide. According to one study,
Blue whale sonar study
Wikimedia Commons
A blue whale
most marine mammal strandings related to naval sonar exercises involve beaked whales, a notoriously shy species that responds to noise levels well below those used by the U.S. Navy. Scientists believe the beaked whales may interpret the sonar noises as the sounds of killer whales. A separate study found that even mid-frequency sonar affected the behavior of blue whales, the largest animals on earth, especially during feeding. After exposing tagged blue whales to simulated military sonar and other mid-frequency sounds, the animals often ceased feeding, increased swimming speeds, and traveled away from the sound. “Noise pollution threatens vulnerable populations, driving them away from areas important to their survival, and at worst injuring or even causing the deaths of some whales and dolphins,” Sarah Dolman of the non-profit group Whale and Dolphin Conservation told the Guardian.
PERMALINK

 

31 Jul 2013: Desert Tree Plantings
Could Lower Atmospheric CO2 Levels

The large-scale planting of jatropha trees in the world’s arid regions could help reduce atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide, a new study says. Using computer models and data from plantations in Egypt, India, and
Jatropha
Jatropha.org
Jatropha tree
Madagascar, a team of German scientists calculated that plantations of the durable, scrubby jatropha — which can also be used as a biofuel — could capture 17 to 25 tons of carbon dioxide per hectare annually. Jatropha is particularly suited for so-called “carbon farming” because it can grow in hot, dry regions where the soil is unsuitable for food crops, according to the study, published in the journal Earth System Dynamics. In addition, the researchers estimate that there are about 1 billion hectares of “unused and marginal” land suitable for cultivating such tree plantations. Since jatropha trees do require some water, the authors suggest they should be planted near coastal regions where desalinated seawater could be accessible.
PERMALINK

 

29 Jul 2013: Wired Honeybees Show
Harmful Impacts of Pesticides on Navigation

Using tiny radar antennae glued to the backs of honeybees, European scientists have found that bees exposed to neonicotinoid pesticides were more likely to become disoriented and separated from their hives.
Honeybee Radar Study
Handout
Honeybee wired with radar antennae
After attaching the small transponders to 200 bees, including some that were fed pesticide-laced syrup, scientists discovered that the exposed bees had difficulty navigating and were unable to retrace the path back to their hives. “We find the control bees are just fantastic — they use their landscape and their vector memory and they do fine,” Randolf Menzel, an insect neurobiologist at the Free University in Berlin, told the London Telegraph. “The treated bees, depending on the doses of the substance, are more confused.” The findings appear to support a theory that neonicotinoids make bees more vulnerable to pathogens and could be a factor in so-called “colony collapse disorder,” a phenomenon that has decimated honeybee populations in recent years.
PERMALINK

 

24 Jul 2013: European Investment Bank
Will Not Finance Most Coal Power Stations

The European Investment Bank (EIB), the main lending arm of the European Union, has decided to stop financing most coal-fired power plants, part of an effort to help the 28-nation bloc meet ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets by 2030. The EIB says that new and refurbished coal-fired power stations will be ineligible for funding unless they emit less than 550 grams of carbon dioxide per kilowatt hour, a standard that traditional coal power plants would be unable to meet. Power stations that burn coal would only be able to meet the standards if they also produce heat for municipal or commercial heating systems or burned biomass. The EIB says it plans to further tighten its emissions standards for coal- and natural gas-fired power plants in the future.
PERMALINK

 

Interview: Leaving Our Descendants
A Whopping Increase in Sea Levels

Last week, a group of scientists led by Anders Levermann of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Change Research released a paper that made a stark forecast:
Anders Levermann Interview
Anders Levermann
For every 1 degree Celsius of temperature increase, the world will eventually experience a 2.3-meter increase in sea level. That means that should carbon emissions continue to rise at or near current rates, and temperatures soar 4 to 5 degrees C in the next century or two, the world could well experience sea level increases of many meters — dozens of feet — in the centuries and millennia to come. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Levermann discusses how he and his colleagues reached their conclusions, how much disruption such large sea level increases might cause, and why we need to ponder the effect of our actions on future generations. “Society needs to decide about how much damage it wants to do in the future and how much damage future generations can actually cope with,” he says.
Read the interview
PERMALINK

 

19 Jul 2013: European Fish Stocks
Show Signs of Recovery, Study Says

A major assessment of fish stocks in the northeast Atlantic Ocean shows that many species are recovering and are now being fished sustainably. The surprising findings, reported in the journal Current Biology, are based on data from government research institutes that collected millions of measurements of fish, both at sea and in markets. The study showed that for the first time in decades the majority of fish stocks in the northeast Atlantic are recovering, thanks to reforms instituted by individual nations and the European Union in 2002. This good news comes amid widespread criticism of EU fisheries policies, which recently have undergone further reform. “We should be aware that low fishing pressure needs to be maintained until stocks recover,” said researcher Robin Cook of the University of Strathclyde in Scotland. “This is only the first step. Now we need to see numbers increase as a result of continued low fishing pressure.”
PERMALINK

 

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