Environment + Energy – Articles, Analysis, Opinion

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A medium-size passenger jet burns roughly 750 gallons of fuel per hour. www.shutterstock.com

Jet fuel from sugarcane? It’s not a flight of fancy

Scientists have engineered sugarcane to increase its oil content and are developing renewable jet aircraft fuel from the oil. The engineered sugarcane could become a valuable energy crop.
USFWS

Trophy hunting: 5 essential reads

Is trophy hunting wholesome sport or pointless violence? The Trump administration moved last week to allow imports of trophy parts from African elephants, but met heavy protest and is reconsidering.
Breezy Point, New York off the coast of Long Island after the storm surge from Superstorm Sandy. AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

Storms hit poorer people harder, from Superstorm Sandy to Hurricane Maria

Five years after Superstorm Sandy, we see how disadvantaged social groups suffered more from the storm before and after – much as we're seeing in Hurricanes Harvey and Maria.
Transportation is the biggest contributor to greenhouse gases by sector. Converting the U.S. fleet to cleaner electric vehicles would likely take decades. AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin

Why meeting the Paris climate goals is an existential threat to fossil fuel industries

What if the world really got serious about meeting global climate goals? Doing the math on current emissions and the pace of energy transitions shows how quickly fossil fuels need to be phased out.
COP 22 President Salaheddine Mezouar from Morocco, right, hands over a gavel to Fiji’s prime minister and president of COP 23 Frank Bainimarama, left, during the opening of the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany, Monday, Nov. 6, 2017. AP Photo/Martin Meissner

Many small island nations can adapt to climate change with global support

Although climate change threatens the world's small island nations, many can find ways to adapt and preserve their homes and cultures – especially if wealthy countries cut emissions and provide support.
Solar home designed by University of Maryland students for the Department of Energy’s 2017 Solar Decathlon. DOE Solar Decathlon

Subsidizing coal and nuclear power could drive customers off the grid

Energy Secretary Rick Perry says the US needs to subsidize nuclear and coal power plants to keep the grid stable. But this policy would raise energy costs and could drive consumers off-grid instead.
The intensity of heavy downpours in Houston has increased dramatically since the 1950s, leading some people to argue the city’s disaster planning and infrastructure are not up-to-date. AP Photo/David J. Phillip

Can cities get smarter about extreme weather?

It's not just about rebuilding infrastructure after storms: Cities need to systematically rethink their knowledge systems which are at the heart of urban resilience.
Flooding in Port Arthur, Texas during Hurricane Harvey, Aug. 31, 2017. According to the Climate Science Special Report released on Nov. 2, heavy precipitation events are becoming more frequent and intense in most regions of the world. SC National Guard

The climate science report Trump hoped to ignore will resonate outside of Washington, DC

On Nov. 2 the White House posted a detailed climate science report without comment. The Trump administration is unlikely to heed it, but it could boost state, local and private sector action.
Refugee women from Darfur, Sudan return to their camp in eastern Chad with wood for their households in 2011. European Commission DG ECHO

Improving women’s lives through energy: What Rick Perry got right and wrong

With better access to energy, women in developing nations could spend more time working or in school. But Energy Secretary Rick Perry's claim that fossil fuels improve women's lives misses the mark.
Wildfire threatens a home near Possum Kingdom, Texas, April 19, 2011. State Farm

As wildfires expand, fire science needs to keep up

Many countries around the world are vulnerable to wildfires, but a fire engineer warns that most are not spending enough on research into how fires spread and ways to reduce risks.
At least in Connecticut, legal advocates can now represent the interests of abused animals. Spillikin/Shutterstock.com

How dogs and cats can get their day in court

When lawyers represent the interests of abused animals in the courtroom, they help human victims too.
Falling back or staying put? Romolo Tavani/Shutterstock.com

Is daylight saving time worth the trouble? Research says no

Advocates say daylight saving time saves energy and wins wars. But studies show that injuries and illnesses rise when the clocks change. Some states may end the practice; others could make it permanent.
Riders on San Francisco’s Muni light rail system. David Lytle

What public transit can learn from Uber and Lyft

Millions of Americans rely on public transit to get to school, work or stores, but many can't get the service they need. 'Uberizing' transit by offering more options on demand could fill the gaps.
Burned area in Santa Rosa, California, Oct. 11, 2017. US Department of Defense

Why were California’s wine country fires so destructive?

Fire is part of the ecology in much of California, but recent wildfires have caused much more damage than past burns of similar size. A fire ecologist points to two key factors: winds and population growth.
In explaining the causes of wildfires, the media and policymakers typically point to environmental factors, but that’s not the whole story. AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

Don’t blame California wildfires on a ‘perfect storm’ of weather events

The media and policymakers often say a 'perfect storm' of environmental factors cause wildfires but that ignores the role of irresponsible urban planning and development in raising fire risks.
Crews clean up debris in a neighborhood flooded by Hurricane Harvey in Beaumont, Texas, Sept. 26, 2017. AP Photo/David Goldman

Scientist at work: Measuring public health impacts after disasters

Epidemiologists study disease outbreaks in populations to determine who gets sick and why. In the wake of this year's hurricanes, they are assessing impacts from mold, toxic leaks and other threats.
Smallholder agriculture in southern Ethiopia. Smallholder farmers are particularly vulnerable to food insecurity. Leah Samberg

World hunger is increasing thanks to wars and climate change

According to the UN, world hunger is rising for the first time in 15 years. The answer is not only growing more food, but also buffering small-scale farmers against climate change and armed conflicts.