Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies

Dry times lead to the blues: Drought takes a mental toll on public health

Drought is a common and widespread occurrence in the United States. A new study explores the complex relationship between drought and mental health by creating a causal process diagram that can be used to guide further prevention efforts, public health programming, and vulnerability, and risk assessment.

Global health community is needed to help fight climate change

A team of medical professionals and scientists says that experts from different disciplines need to work together in order to prevent, diminish, or adjust to the negative consequences of climate change. 

Does nature hold the answer to sustainability? Biomimicry as ecological innovation

Biomimicry is the science of studying nature’s models and taking inspiration from it to solve human problem. A recent study examines this concept and its philosophical origins — and whether it can help humankind tackle the challenges of sustainability.

Why go green? A look into motives for buying green products

Acknowledging the variety of reasons for purchasing environmentally friendly products, researchers conduct a study across the EU to find out the main determinants for buying green.

Cool-green tech: Using plants as sunglasses for roofs

A team of engineers in Italy examined the two leading energy-efficient roof technologies: green roofs and cool roofs. Finding gaps in both technologies, they devised a way to combine them for even better efficiency, reducing the amount of energy needed to cool buildings. 

When it comes to efficiency of green buildings, size matters

A recent study in Germany shows that large housing companies refurbish apartment buildings at a much higher level of energy efficiency than private landlords do

Green versus gray infrastructure: The economics of flood adaptation in Fiji

Despite their relative obscurity, green infrastructure that incorporates natural processes offers significant economic advantages over conventional gray infrastructure, as demonstrated by a recent study of flood adaptation options in Fiji.

Future scenarios for waste generation: Is a peak coming?

Monitoring global waste generation might help estimate when we might see a peak in waste generation and how this problem should be addressed.  

Meatless revolution: A future where humans no longer eat animals?

Through new technologies, a recent study finds, humankind could begin a whole new era of food production – one where meat can be produced in laboratories and may even reduce the environmental costs of the livestock industry.  

Healthy planet, healthy you: Investing in new energy solutions proves a boon for health and climate.

Energy efficiency and renewable energy installation produce both public health and climate benefits. These benefits also have significant dollar values that can be estimated using an integrated model assessment, a recent study says. 

Inviting more people to the table: The pros and cons of ‘participatory monitoring’

A new technique to improve conservation programs, known as participatory monitoring, involves collaboration between citizens, government, NGOs, and researchers to assess environmental issues. Since researchers alone might not have enough time or funding to collect adequate long term data, educating and training local people may prove to have more long term potential for conservation goals.

Keep the fish in the sea: An approach from environmental criminology

Illegal fishing is one of the main causes of fish stocks depletion. Provocative new research draws on environmental criminology to understand what is driving illegal fishing globally.

Ocean acidification: A pressing threat to coral reefs

Climate change is making oceans more acidic. Will coral reefs survive in those conditions? A new publication investigates the effects of ocean acidification on corals, and the results are terrifying.

Adapt and overcome? In rural Nigeria, communities face down climate change

In a recent report scientists in Nigeria took a close look at the impacts of climate change on rural communities, and how these communities are trying to adapt. They explain the tangible effects that people are experiencing as a result of environmental change — and evaluate the best adaptation strategies.

Climate change: Plan locally, think globally

When planning for climate change at the local level, it may seem irrelevant to consider events that occur far away. Two researches give examples and provide a framework that explain why we must think globally to plan locally.

Does climate skepticism necessarily mean climate inaction?

Climate skeptics have argued that additional action towards mitigating climate change should not be taken until we know what drives it. A recent paper, however, suggests that skeptics have reason to take action towards emission reduction precisely to understand the drivers of climate change.

Can a ‘climate club’ help solve global warming crisis?

A leading climate economist recently analyzed the projected outcomes of creating an international climate change club. To join the club, countries must agree to put a price on carbon domestically, and to tax imported goods from non-member countries — creating a strong incentive to join the club.

Quantifying regional climate trends in the U.S.

A recent study quantified climate change trends across the U.S.’s National Ecological Observatory Network regions, informing future efforts to research and mitigate climate change. 

Evaluating Latin American efforts to reduce future emissions

A new study on greenhouse gas emissions trends in Latin American shows that current policy efforts to reduce or prevent those emissions are not enough. The region should prepare for the coming challenges of a new climate agenda.

What is happening with the bees?

The diversity of bees and other pollinator populations has declined, leading to a potential global pollination crisis. Many factors influence this crisis, researchers say, making it necessary to find a variety of solutions. 

What does technology have to do with sustainable agriculture?

A recent study investigates the relationship among the adoption of precision agriculture, the economic welfare of the farm, the environmental impacts from the farm operations and the effectiveness of agro-environmental policy. 

Deadlier than intended? Pesticides might be killing beneficial insects beyond their targets

Insecticides are used widely with the objective of protecting crops from insects and increasing agricultural yields. A new study suggests that with some insecticides the opposite may be happening.

The promise and challenges of ‘zero-acreage farming’

Zero-acreage farming, or ZFarming, is a new branch of agriculture involving production in or on urban structures. In scale, it’s a small and new global trend but a potentially important one through which innovators are attempting to address some of the many issues we experience in urbanization. 

Drought and cooperation in a conflict zone

Despite decades of tension, a new case study reveals that Muslim Bedouin herders and Jewish farmers cooperated during the severe drought of 1957 to 1963, offering new insights into how societies deal with environmental changes.

Protected, but how well? Evaluating management effectiveness of protected areas

Managing protected areas is a challenge. While creating new areas for protection is the first step, the pace of biodiversity conservation will be determined by specific management actions. A new study reveals which ones.

Ethnic migration in protected area landscapes: The causes and consequences

Population growth in the areas near a national park in western Uganda has transformed the landscape surrounding the park. A recent study explores the consequences of this population growth, and the need for appropriate policies to manage how humans interact with the park.

Designing more sustainable hiking trails

How can natural areas managers foster ecotourism while protecting the health of natural systems? A recent study shows how emphasizing different features of trails can help spread out visitor impacts over space and time.

How does your community measure up when it comes to resilience?

Emerging research provides an integrated and empirical approach to measuring disaster resilience in communities across the U.S. The metric is designed for widespread use and is deployable as an analysis tool for local-scale planning and policy development.

How will future generations remember me? Strengthening climate action by tapping into ‘legacy desires’

Prompting people to think about their legacy and how they can positively impact the lives of future generations results in increased donations to support environmental protection, a new study finds.

What the frack? Gas extraction costs stay local while benefits leave town

Researchers show that shale gas extraction in Denton, Texas bombards local residents with health issues, contaminated water, and nuisance problems while profits, jobs, and other benefits leave with non-local corporations.

‘Negative’ carbon emissions needed to meet 2-degree warming targets

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change has increasingly emphasized the 2 degree C global warming target as a benchmark for future policies and strategies. Through modeling of future scenarios, researchers justify the physical need for negative emissions if this temperature target goal is to be remotely achievable.

The influence of corporate funding on the climate change debate

It has been widely thought that money wields power, and that corporate funding fuels climate change deniers. A recent study finds who these corporate funders are and just how much power they have.

Investment banks: An unlikely ally for conservation

Financial institutions like banks historically have played a critical role in the face of global challenges, from restructuring industry after World War II to the financing of the industrial revolutions. A new study argues that banks can play a similar role in helping society transition to a low-carbon footprint model.

A tale of two cities: Equity, environment, and economic growth in urban areas

As city planners seek to foster green economies, environmental justice advocates worry that its gentrifying effects and disproportionate benefits to the consumer class. Through case studies in Chicago and Seattle, a recent study explores how community efforts have the potential to incorporate social equity into the vision of the green economy.

Can an invasive species actually help lemurs in Madagascar?

Tropical forests are being lost due to timber harvest and cultivation, and ecosystems are being threatened by the spread of exotic and invasive species that outcompetes native ones. A recent study shows how an exotic plant species can be beneficial in connecting forest fragments, which promotes healthy wildlife populations.

Mealworms and their plastics-eating ‘super power’

In a recent study, Chinese scientists show how some insects’ larvae might represent a viable option for managing persistent plastics waste. 

As climate changes, butterflies find refuge in protected areas

As species shift out of their historic habitats in response to climate change, the role of protected areas is in question. Can the current global system of stationary bubbles of biodiversity protection help fauna on the move?

Does your Colombian coffee endanger species?

What coffee did you choose this morning? A new study shows that shade coffee can help endangered monkeys conservation in the Colombian forests.

Coffee plantations provide refuge for small mammals

Agriculture and preserving habitat are constantly at odds. A new study assesses how farming can benefit farmers and small mammal species, and help preserve habitat.

Making clothes that last: Surprising design insights from Norway

Is it possible to delay clothing disposal through better design? A recent study uses user-centered design methods and quantitative consumer research to suggest four strategies to delay clothing disposal.

Do not disturb? How social norms influence green behavior among hotel guests

Different messaging techniques on the reuse of towels in hotels are found to have a significant impact on guest behavior — and can save significant amounts of energy and water. This low-cost method may be of interest to businesses, who can save money on utility costs while furthering their environmental reputation as well.

The power of neighborhood-scale actions – and urban agriculture – in New Orleans

New research reveals the political potential of neighborhood greening in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, shedding light on the long-term benefits of community-led urban agriculture.

How the great fire of 1906 transformed the neighborhoods of San Francisco

A great fire that devastated San Francisco following the 1906 earthquake had both short-term and long-term impacts on urban land use in the city, a recent study finds. Specifically, the disaster helped remove various barriers to redevelopment, leading to higher density of residential buildings in razed areas relative to unburned areas in prominent neighborhoods.

Assessing the environmental burdens of e-waste recycling in China

Every year, 25 million tons of electronic waste are produced around the world and China is receiving most of it. Chinese scientists are exploring the burdens of electronic waste treatment, an increasingly pressing national issue.

Understanding the emergence of China’s environmental courts

From 2007 to 2013 more than 130 environmental courts were established in China. A recent paper examines the political context underlying the establishment of the courts — and exposes their limited role in addressing environmental issues.

Incorporating sustainability into America’s dietary guidelines

The American diet was under debate last fall as part of the run-up to the 2015 release of the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Historically, the American diet is harmful to the environment and the people who consume it. With a shift toward a more sustainable food system, this was a promising strategy to heal the planet and ourselves.

Calorie offsets: Using environmental policy as a model for curtailing obesity

Epidemiologists have proposed using environmental policy as a model for combatting the obesity epidemic. Based on the carbon offset aspect of many cap and trade programs, the authors explain how similar offsets could be used to create change in the food and beverage industry.

Index-based insurance for climate risk mitigation: A case study from Syria

The consequences of a rise in extreme weather events worldwide due to climate change can be particularly catastrophic in politically unstable countries. A recent study analyzes the role that index-based insurance can play in the highly volatile Syrian market and its potential to increase the adaptive confidence of farmers in a changing climate.

Unraveling variability in U.S. opinion on climate change

Although much research shows there are significant differences in public opinion on climate change beliefs, national scale statistics conceal this heterogeneity. Using an approach known as multilevel regression and poststratification, a team of researchers finds significant variability in opinion on important climate-related issues and behaviors at all levels of comparison.

Rescue from the urban heat island

One way to mitigate the effect of overheating in cities is to construct reflective or green roofs. A recent study reveals the potential and limits of reflective and green roof technologies.

Eeny, meeny, miny, moe: Trade offs integral to building resilience in urban areas

New research shows that approaches to building resilience are often over-simplified when put to practice. Trade offs are inherent to decision-making, yet the implications to the long-term resilience of urban areas are often overlooked.

Learning to share: How a network with diverse goals changed the way the Colorado River Delta is governed

A transnational network in the Colorado River Delta successfully shifted governance toward environmental restoration. Through information sharing, capacity building, and rule setting, this network paved the way for science-based solutions and public participation.

What does ecology ‘restoration’ mean? It depends who you ask

Environmental science guides the design of environmental policies and regulations. But what  happens when science does not align with law and policy? A recent study shows that a mismatch between the science of ecological “restoration” and the policy mechanism of environmental interventions has unintended consequences.

The great hope of biofuels

A recent study suggests that it is possible — and worthwhile — to tackle greenhouse gases emissions using CO2 from power plants to produce algae biofuels.

Reframing greenhouse gas removal technologies as a viable climate solution

Greenhouse gas removal technologies provide a valuable option to decrease emissions beyond mitigation. While climate policy to this point has not included these important technologies, researchers in the United Kingdom have developed four pillars upon which to reframe the policy approach.

Protecting livelihoods in climate change adaptation

Shocks from climate change are felt by all, but it’s the poorer communities that are more sensitive to these disturbances. A recent study looks critically at the lens through which we view climate adaptation and asks: Are we building a resilience that accounts for the livelihoods of all, including the most vulnerable populations?

Bridging the gap between ecology and law

Environmental management is an interdisciplinary art. One important topic is the relationship between science and policy. A recent article identifies the barriers of integrating ecology and law in environmental management, and proposes “resilience-based adaptive governance” as a way to facilitate integration.

Burning problems: Estimating the social and environmental costs of coal mining in Colombia

Through an in-depth economic analysis of coal mining in Cesar, Colombia, a researcher concludes that the environmental and social costs of coal mining outweighs the coal’s market price — even when the global cost of carbon is not taken into account.

Why do people leave? Environmental change motivates human migration

It is widely accepted that environmental change can influence human migration, but often these effects are most understood at the local scale, leaving the global picture obscure. A recent study uses spatial tools and global data to draw a clearer picture of what environmental conditions motivate human migration at the global scale.

Moths, bats, and climate change: How changing weather could threaten migration

Weather can change the day-to-day life of agricultural pests, like the corn earworm moth. But how do weather systems affect large groups of migrating moths and the migrating bats that prey on them? And how might shifts to those systems caused by climate change impact agriculture?

Study evaluates health impacts of 2010 oil spill on Vietnamese American shrimp consumers

Following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, concerns about potential seafood contamination prompted closures of commercial fisheries as federal regulators screened the safety of the fishery. Their population assumptions, while likely protective of the vast majority of Americans, excluded vulnerable Vietnamese Americans in the coastal region.

Linking climate impacts and public health: Just what the doctor ordered

Climate change poses a significant threat to both the environment and public health providing the opportunity to maximize co-benefits through mitigation and adaptation planning.

Taboo trade offs in ecosystem services and human well-being

Management of multiple ecosystem services involves balancing multiple stakeholders and their respective value systems. This involves making trade offs, but not all trade offs are equal. A recent article analyzes how these decisions affect management decisions in a small-scale tropical fishery.

The unexpected role of rural farmers in promoting environmental protection

Many view agriculture as a major threat to the environment. But by integrating conservation techniques with agriculture and ranching, farmers movements can promote the protection of the environment while securing their food production.

Simplifying nature: Human land use erodes biodiversity

Increasing intensity of human land-use makes ecological communities progressively more similar to one another, leading to an overall loss of diversity. Ecological metrics used to quantify diversity loss could provide helpful conservation benchmarks.

The deficit uncovered: Huge arable land use imbalance in global commodity trade

A recent study finds a striking imbalance in the global trade of arable land use. The imbalance is not only one between countries, but also one between the underdogs and top dogs of the global supply chain.

Disappearing glaciers pose downstream threat in Pacific Northwest

Glaciers are melting at high rates worldwide due to changes in global temperature. New research shows that in Canada most glaciers present in inland areas will disappear by 2100, creating water supply challenges throughout the Pacific Northwest.

A blueprint for managing water resources through collaboration

Sustainable water management requires collaborative partnerships between diverse stakeholders. A research team describes the range of partnerships possible.

Virtual water flows and trade: The complex relationship between agriculture and water

What can a snapshot of virtual water flows tell us about the agricultural sector? Where is it vulnerable? How does it compare to global virtual water trade?

Using innovation to ‘green’ national accounting

A recent study explores how to value and map ecosystem services in a way that can be consistent with national accounts. 

What does sea level rise have to do with an inland spring?

While disappearing beaches and coastal flooding are the most commonly considered impacts of sea level rise, a recent study shows that the impacts will extend to inland springs.

Sustainable procurement reporting found lacking in India

Public sector enterprises dealing with mining, energy and power sectors of India are weak in reporting environmental elements than economic and development reporting.

Piecemeal nature: fragmented forests show long-term losses in biodiversity and ecosystem services

Analysis of global forest cover reveals that over 70 percent of remaining forests are within 1 kilometer of non-forest edge. Synthesis of long-term studies show that this will result in pervasive loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Updating the ‘planetary boundaries’: A science-based approach to sustainable development

In a recent paper, scientists refined the proposed concept of Earth Systems global thresholds, revising the nine defined Planetary Boundaries 

Energy innovation and emissions reduction strategies overlook the poor

There is a distinct lack of innovation in energy technologies despite the need to curb emissions. Worse yet is the bigger void of innovation geared towards expanding energy access to the world’s poor. A team of experts analyzed the reasons for this gap and outlined potential solutions.

When it comes to offsetting pollution, wind power outperforms solar

New research suggests there are significant differences in the pollution offset by an additional unit of wind power versus solar power. The evidence suggests environmental policy subsidizing renewable energy instead of addressing emissions directly is inefficient and unnecessarily costly.

Does climate change really have negative impacts on agricultural production?

Economic research certainly back up the notion that climate change is reducing agricultural production in parts of the world. But what if we take into account farmers’ adaptation strategies?

A story of global pesticide contamination

For the first time, a meta-study shows risks of insecticide exposure to surface waters — even in countries with stricter environmental regulation.

The necessary link between food security and sustainability

Without a shift to a more sustainable world, food security may be impossible to achieve. Hunger, a worldwide epidemic is only going to get worse without organized intervention. Can we turn this ship around?

Illustrating the co-benefits of climate action can encourage collective action

While the scientific community is in overwhelming agreement about climate change, public and political action on climate change face powerful ideological obstacles. A recent study shows that identifying the co-benefits of addressing climate change impacts can motivate pro-environmental behavior.

Climate policies lead to higher GDP and employment rates

A new study offers encouraging news about prospective climate policy impacts on employment and GDP. Comparing two scenarios to a “business as usual” model, a team of economists present two scenarios that could achieve the European Union’s emissions reduction target by 2030 and also generate higher GDP and employment rates.

How important is land use to building environmental impact?

A review of land use impact assessment methods, widely used to measure life cycle environmental impacts, shows both the importance of considering land use and the disparity of results.

Lessons learned from large-scale river restoration

Public-private partnership approaches to natural resource management are on the rise. Members of the Dolores River Restoration Partnership share how they collectively work toward large-scale river restoration.

Urban mining: A solution to China’s resource crisis?

China’s mineral resource shortage and excessive dependence on foreign mineral resources can be addressed through a strong focus on urban mining. 

In water conservation, a ‘gentle nudge’ can go a long way

While previous studies have shown that social approaches to reduce water use are effective in the short-term, recent findings indicate that the effects are persistent in the long-term as well. 

Land-use history influences rates of tropical forest regeneration

Differences in land use history may significantly alter the speed and ability of tropical forests to regenerate, which may have substantial implications for carbon budgets.

Can you trust the ‘farmer’s voice’? It depends

Injecting “the farmer’s voice” can be a powerful tool when weighing in on a contentious agricultural issue. However, the ways in which researchers collect the beliefs of farmers are often subject to bias which can limit the meaningfulness and accuracy of a study’s claims about the farmer experience.

Is climate change a security threat?

Every year an average of 114,000 people migrate from their homes world-wide due to large, catastrophic floods. A recent study proves that such flood-induced migration can ignite existing civil conflicts and pose a security threat in weak and fragile countries.

Does recycling make up for driving a car? Measuring compensatory green beliefs

Social or psychological “nudges” — such as showing people how their water use compares to their neighbors or asking people to voluntarily reduce their electricity consumption — have become a popular tool for policymakers trying to encourage pro-environmental behavior. Little is known, however, about the possible competing effects of compensatory green beliefs.

Fungi can improve agricultural efficiency and sustainability

A recent study shows that soil microorganisms can improve the production of major crops like corn and wheat, while also reducing the environmental impact of excess fertilizers.

Validated global estimates of environmental flow requirements

Environmental demands for freshwater have received limited consideration in assessments of global water availability. Until now.

Industrial waste account to boost industrial symbiosis

National industrial waste input-output accounts are a great asset to uncover waste exchange opportunities, reduce industrial wastes and promote industrial symbiosis at a national scale. 

No silver bullet: Addressing urban climate adaptation in the global south

Different planning pathways with innovative and collaborative stakeholder involvement approaches are required to effectively pursue adaptation planning of urban sectors, a recent study found.

A (free-flowing) river runs through it

Every water management decision is a tradeoff: Scientists argue that the cost of ecosystem services lost when free-flowing rivers are modified should make its way into decision-making tools and assessment protocols.

Effects of war pollution on Iraqi children: Neurodevelopmental disorders and birth defects

A recent study links the use of open-air burn-pits, banned by the U.S. Congress in 2010, with  neurodevelopmental disorders and birth defects in Iraqi children.

U.S. drought risk for the 21st century is worsened by a changing climate

The Southwest and Central Plains are likely to experience conditions that rival the worst droughts of the past 1000 years.

Nutrient dynamics of forest growth affect climate change model outcomes

Accounting for nitrogen and phosphorous limitations on forest growth significantly alters projections of future climate change scenarios.

Children in school may benefit from a breath of fresh air, literally

The typical American child spends more time indoors than outside. Indoor environments, however, are rarely subject to mandatory health-based standards. New research shows that students can achieve better test scores when schools improve their indoor air quality.

Land tenure and agricultural efficiency: The limits of the land rental market

A new study finds that formal ownership of land fails to produce an efficient rental market, highlighting the limitations of this land reform strategy to increase land access in order to reduce farmland expansion into more vulnerable areas.

Protecting the flow: Study explores market scenarios for water

Existing systems for allocating water could leave some rivers high and dry. A recent study explored how a marketplace for water might better protect critical water resources.

Logging causes more forest loss than oil palm in Indonesia

Logging concessions and plantations for fiber species were the biggest contributors to forest loss in Indonesia from 2000-2010, but also comprise the country’s largest existing carbon stocks.

In China, the potential for harnessing the power of waste cooking oil

While China is the world’s largest waste oil producer there are interesting win-win situations for developing both renewable energy and reducing illegal use of gutter oil in cooking.

Finding a common language for the study of desertification

Desertification is one of the most pressing issues facing the world’s drylands. However, the term “desertification” is only vaguely defined, leading to complications in monitoring and management at all scales.

Carrot or stick? Effects of differing incentives in disposable bag use

Taxes on plastic bags are found to be more effective at reducing plastic bag use than bonuses for reusable bags.

Small talk: Addressing challenges to modern day land conservation

Successful land conservation efforts require transparency and collaboration between all individuals involved, a recent analysis found. The first step is for stakeholders to engage in conversation.

Are virtual water calculations helpful in informing regional water policy?

In water scarce regions, the concept of “virtual water” may help communities make tough decisions regarding competing water uses.

The prestige of buying green: The Prius case

Consumers are increasingly willing to pay for pricier hybrid cars, expecting social recognition and prestige in exchange for their environmentally friendly consumption habits, a study finds. Society and the environment stand to benefit.

Risk financing instruments to minimize impacts of climate extremes

Different types of financing instruments are required to address the impacts and frequency of climate extremes in vulnerable developing countries, a recent analysis finds.

Ecocognition: Finding the economic benefits of reduced environmental impacts

Innovative examples from corporations around the globe show that the tools of industrial ecology can be used to recognize and develop the multiple benefits associated with reducing environmental impact and enhancing competitive advantage.

Water crowding, precipitation shifts, and a new paradigm in water governance

Cumulative pressures on the global water cycle threaten social stability. An integrated approach to water management that crosses traditional boundaries between business, political, and ecological systems is required to ensure harmonious social and economic development.

From refining sugar to growing tomatoes: A case study of industrial symbiosis

While British Sugar’s primary business is producing sugar, the company in recent years has expanded its operations to include the production of animal feed, electricity, tomatoes, and bioethanol. A recent study illustrates how the company is a case study of a fundamental principle of industrial ecology — industrial symbiosis.

Land degradation in war and conflict regions

What happens to land under years of war and conflict? Satellite data and integrated modelling are helping to predict land degradation in war-torn regions of northern Lebanon.

With efficacy of property rights, function can be more important than form

New research on land tenure in China’s agrarian provinces highlights the importance of evaluating property rights in context, dismissing the typical attributes used to compare insecure or communal versus secure or private systems. The study suggests that understanding the social credibility of land ownership structures is central to appreciating how well specific structures function in a given location.

A business case for ecosystem service valuation: Water in the Brazos

A recent study explored how businesses might value the critical ecosystem services provided by water — and how valuations could drive decision-making.

Carbon capture: Tree size matters

A new study shows that large trees capture carbon more efficiently than smaller trees, suggesting that they have a disproportionate effect on how forests influence global climate change.

Emergency pleas for energy conservation may have unintended consequences

When the demand for electricity threatens to exceed supply, electric utilities often issue public requests for households to dial down their energy usage during peak hours. A recent study suggests that those appeals may inadvertently have the opposite effect.

The compounding effects of multiple stressors on freshwater environments

Water scarcity intensifies freshwater ecosystem degradation. A new study evaluates the compounding effects of several stressors on water-scarce ecosystems in order to construct better management strategies.

Hunting animals kills forest trees, too

Overhunting animal consumers of seeds increases extinction risk in tropical trees, and could change structure and ecological dynamics of tropical forests.

Produce or preserve? Examining the biofuel vs. reforestation debate

Ultimately, the factors that dictate the carbon footprints of producing biofuels versus reforesting degraded land are highly nuanced and vary from case to case

Voluntary environmental programs: Strategies for successful certification

Voluntary environmental programs (VEPs) offer the potential to encourage sustainable production and consumption. However, the authors outline four key considerations that are essential for a VEP’s success.

Mapping agricultural water contamination risk in California’s Central Valley

Groundwater contamination from agricultural sources threatens drinking water quality in California’s San Joaquin Valley. Application of a geospatial tool may help farmers, researchers, and regulators identify farmland contributing to the problem.

The costs of using ‘climate finance’

Transaction costs related to climate finance can be addressed not only by technological innovations but also by institutional innovations, researchers say. In a recent study, they found that considering all possible costs while undertaking economic assessments could lead to better policy and provide decision-makers with realistic cost to address climate change impacts.

Reducing environmental impact with green buildings

Adherence to three green building code and certifications systems demonstrates on average a 14-percent reduction in the environmental impact of a typical office building, with LEED results displaying worrisomely high variability in performance.

Another one bites the (road) dust: Study shows consequences of particulate matter

Road dust suspected to be the largest contributor to hospital admissions for heart and lung diseases from particulate matter pollutants in Connecticut and Massachusetts.

Earth’s biodiversity is declining faster than ever before

Species are going extinct 1,000 times faster than at any point in Earth’s history, and even with protected areas, biodiversity preservation remains sub-optimal due to knowledge gaps and low representation of ecological habitats.

The role for global food markets in water-stressed world

Rain-fed agriculture and international trade may help buffer the impacts of increasing world-wide water scarcity on food availability and economic welfare.

Fracking fluids in the Marcellus: Does it mix with groundwater?

The drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, requires the injection of specific mixtures of water, sand, and chemicals into the ground, a key concern around shale extraction. A recent study examined the movement of these fracturing fluids in groundwater.

Can private land conservation efforts adapt to climate change?

Conservation easements aimed at protecting privately owned land from development are self-limiting in the face of climate change. The time has come for land conservation organizations to reframe strategies that not only stand the test of time, but also a changing climate.

Human population and a sustainable future

Population reduction will likely benefit the planet in the long-term, but can it address our most pressing environmental concerns?

Incorporating the water-energy ‘nexus’ into policy talks

A recent paper explores how optimization can help industry’s water and energy understanding, usage, and policies.

Global study tells us how human land-use affects species and why

Across the world, animals are consistently imperiled by human land-use, but the magnitude of impact varies between species based on their innate features.

Sustainability index: Evaluating performance of energy technologies in rural India

A recent evaluation of sustainability performance of energy technology systems in rural India reveals that biomass has the highest relative performance followed by hydropower. The sustainability of new and emerging technologies like solar, wind, and their hybrids has improved since 2005.

Improving modern agriculture through ‘intercropping’

Integrating traditional practices with modern mechanized agriculture is one way of improving yields and reducing the environmental impact associated with agriculture in developed nations, but policy incentives will likely be required to encourage a meaningful shift in the industry.

Electrified vehicles: a solid choice

A comprehensive review of passenger vehicle life cycle assessments shows converging opinion that electric vehicles are better for the environment than previously believed.

Oases in the urban ‘food desert’?

Farmers markets, community gardens and other alternative sources of fresh food may alleviate the “food desert” effect in some urban neighborhoods.

Post-Fukushima: The impacts on Japanese public opinion of nuclear power

A recent paper explores how demographics, cognition and emotions characterize post-disaster opinions of nuclear energy in Japan.

A tale of two rivers: Comparing water management strategies at the Jordan and Colorado rivers

Although exhibited in different ways, similar forces drive water management decisions in Israel and in Arizona. Understanding these motivating factors is crucial when developing successful and effective water management approaches.

New performance indicator
helps inform corporate water decisions

In a recent study, researchers developed an approach to help companies make more informed water decisions based on which suppliers use more or less water throughout the supply chain.

Quantifying the primary causes of the urban heat island effect

Regional differences in the impacts of the urban heat island effect across the US are largely explained by variations in efficiency of heat convection to lower atmosphere and strongly influenced by humidity patterns rather than evapotranspiration.

Strength in numbers:
A guide to urban resilience

During natural disasters, urban centers with large numbers of flexible coping mechanisms may ultimately fare better than those with fewer, but currently effective, mechanisms.

Fish slow to adapt behaviors to climate change

Rising COlevels in the world’s oceans interfere with the ability of some fish to avoid predators, a condition to which fish will be slow to adapt.

Greening trade agreements:
Environmental impact analysis for policy

Environmental impact assessment of economic policies can help export-oriented countries manage environmental pressures and make smarter trade decisions.

New climate modeling
projects weather extremes for India

Recent climate projections for India, based on the regional climate models, identify that India would face more days of extreme rains and more consecutive dry days – which would lead to more floods and more droughts, towards the end of the 21st century.

Fungus in the forest:
How pathogens drive rainforest diversity

Miniscule fungi and diminutive insects that eat up seeds and seedlings of trees may hold the key to understanding the mindboggling diversity of tropical rainforests.

Reducing emissions in the U.S. housing sector will require multiple approaches

As carbon emissions climb, the US housing sector must embrace both energy retrofits and widespread adoption of green building in new construction to reduce their impacts.

Assessing effects of shale gas
extraction in water-scarce region

Multiplied by hundreds of wells, total shale gas use in the Wattenberg Shale in northeastern Colorado is in the vicinity of a billion gallons or more — and in a basin that is actively seeking new water sources to meet existing demand.

Massive groundwater losses detected in the Colorado River Basin

New research shows a staggering groundwater loss in the Colorado River Basin that threatens water supplies and future water security for seven Western states and Mexico. 

Does air pollution increase fresh water availability?

Why recent improvements in air pollution may have shrunk river flows in the northern hemisphere.

Healthy diets important for sustainable food production

A new model suggests it may be possible to feed the world’s growing population with minimal environmental impact, but doing so will require targeted policies to reduce food waste and incentives towards healthier diets in industrialized nations.

Can New York City be a global leader in energy efficient building design?

The buildings of New York City can be zero greenhouse gas emitting as early as 2050

Measuring ecosystem services at multiple scales

Can different methods of measuring ecosystem services for a region provide coherent, complementary results?

Wind, oil, and gas—categorizing the ecological footprint of energy sprawl

Spatial analysis can be utilized as a decision-support tool to make sure energy development occurs in the least ecologically sensitive areas.

Economic status and its influence on tree planting in urban areas

Communities with more tree cover benefit from increased shade, better water filtration, and a host of other positive externalities, but not all communities experience equal benefits.

Forest regrowth as a counterbalance to climate variability

A resurgence of forest cover in the North Carolina Piedmont has a significant effect on stream discharge and drought timing. 

Remote sensing reveals the rapid spread of gold mines in the Amazon

Researchers use cutting-edge technologies to track rapidly expanding gold mining operations in the Peruvian Amazon.

Animals as carbon-cycle mediators

Animals likely play a more instrumental role in carbon cycling and storage than previously understood, making wildlife management a potential avenue for mitigating carbon emissions. 

Carbon policies may neglect the interest of water scarce areas

A national carbon policy may exasperate water shortages in the western United States. Yet, the high cost of water reduction in the electricity sector makes it an unlikely candidate for mitigating water consumption in light of climate change and carbon policies. 

Working from the outside in

Green outdoor environments at the office promote positive workplace attitudes and reduce stress.

Is Fairtrade certification greening agricultural practices?

The effects of Fairtrade certification on agricultural practices may not be as strong as previous studies suggest.

Are we heading toward conscious consumption?

A sustainable future lies not only in the hands of individuals, but also in the collective efforts of the society.

Thirsty World: Hydrology alone doesn’t determine water supply in Peru’s Santa River Basin

Incorporating human behavior into hydrology models is critical to predicting water availability

Firms and sustainability frameworks: Strategizing for efficient materials management

Developing solutions through frameworks geared toward strategic and sustainable materials management.

Sea rises and high rises: A model approach

Integrating sea level rise projections with cost-benefit analysis can provide guidance in assessing the trade-offs between coastal development and conservation objectives. 

Improving phosphorus use in the United Kingdom

Substance flow analysis of phosphorous within the food production system in the UK identifies areas for improved efficiencies. 

Manifesto for new dimensions in large carnivore conservation

Human prosperity relies on functioning ecosystem processes. Large carnivores play an integral role in their human and natural surrounding; integrative conservation strategies are warranted to ensure their persistence.

Ecology drones: New methods for capturing low-cost tropical forest conservation data

Attaching the cameras to aerial drones allows conservation researchers to observe everything from illegal logging activity to elephant migrations.

Stranded nuclear fuel poses new challenges

Since nuclear fission was discovered in 1938, the world has built many bombs, dropped a few, provided low emission energy, and facilitated the creation of long-lived nuclear waste that currently has nowhere to go

Water usage in cities tied to greenhouse gas emissions

In Changzhou, China 10% of the city’s energy footprint is related to water usage. Through strategic water conservation efforts, policy-makers can simultaneously conserve water and energy, save taxpayer money, and reduce climate change impacts.

Arsenic control during aquifer storage and recovery cycle tests in the Floridan aquifer

Aquifer storage and recovery may represent an efficient, effective, and safe water storage option for maintaining drinking water and environmental supplies in Florida.

How personality traits are associated with environmental engagement

Scientists find that the Big Five personality traits are related to environmental values and behavior at the individual and national level. Policymakers can use this information to tailor programs and policies to yield changes in environmental behavior. 

Public attitudes towards bike-sharing

Cities can implement effective bicycle-friendly programs by examining how different groups of people view bike transportation

Bringing home the newly packaged bacon

Reducing the amount of packaging and using better materials can reduce overall environmental burdens.

Property tax incentives benefit forest connectivity

Forest property tax incentives are effective tools for ensuring landscape connectivity, yet what type of program forest owners participate in differs by type of forest and owners. Policymakers can use this information to tailor programs and policies to increase forest conservation programs.

Structural wood as secondary resources

Analysis of wood in demolished building stock of south-east Germany during 2011 reveal 45% can potentially be recovered for secondary uses.

Does river restoration help reptiles and amphibians?

Scientists examine how riparian restoration projects influence amphibian and reptile species and suggest several methods that natural resource managers can use to improve river rehabilitation projects.

Clarifying what it means to be “interdisciplinary”

Building models, frameworks, and skills to more effectively solve environmental problems.
 
“Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them.”
~Albert Einstein~

Material exchanges lead to real industrial savings

 A closer look at the industrial exchanges taking place at an industrial park in Hawai’i reveals greenhouse gas savings equal to 25% of the State’s reduction goals.

A new environmental profession: the knowledge broker

Scientists and policy makers operate under very different time frames and professional priorities. Environmental research organizations should consider hiring knowledge brokers to ensure timely translation of scientific discoveries into regulations.

Measuring progress towards the millennium development goals

Environmental indices such as Yale’s Environmental Performance Index can help monitor progress towards achieving global sustainable development goals despite persistent challenges.

How cooking method and practice affects energy consumption

Whether you like your potatoes hashed, mashed, baked, broiled, crinkle cut or barbecued you are going to need to use energy to cook those spuds, but just how you accomplish this task has a lot to say about the energy footprint of your home-cooking.  

Will green innovation sharpen your horn in the market?

As the ecological challenges continue to arise, environmental innovations may be the key to a firm’s market-share expansion and flexibility against economic downturn.

Hurricane Season: Do Warmer Oceans Mean More Cyclone Damage?

As ocean surface temperatures heat up and urban coastal populations continue to grow, climate models predict an increase in the number of intense storms and corresponding economic damage.

Can playing games protect cities from climate change?

Social strategy games can help urban planners and developers learn the complex trade-offs between climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies in cities.

Valuing South Africa's food waste

In countries like South Africa where food takes up as much as one-fifth of household spending, reducing waste from ‘farm to table’ is much more than a moral obligation - it is an economical way to maximize resources.

Bioenergy and Biochar – Two concepts brought together for sustainable land use?

Increasing carbon storage in soils through biochar and producing bioenergy from perennial plants can be a powerful means to mitigate climate change. Understanding soil microbial processes is crucial to achieve improved soil fertility, biodiversity, and carbon sequestration.

Melting ice in the arctic may change the equation on greenhouse gases

With sea-ice hitting an all-time low in September 2012, scientists are examining how the melt will affect the transfer of greenhouse gases in arctic plant communities.

Remote Sensing Closing in On Wildfire Prediction

Researchers are exploring the potential of using remote sensing of Live Fuel Moisture Content as a landscape level fire predictor.

Water for All, Disease for Some?

The most widespread techniques for increasing water supplies under climate uncertainty are also those with the greatest potential to spread disease. How can communities best adapt?

Repeated exposures may improve consumer acceptance of meat substitutes

Environmentally sustainable alternatives to meat have a greater chance of gaining a permanent place on the dinner plate if consumers increase familiarity of product.

Are wolves and road construction compatible?

Wolf movement is negatively affected by road construction, but more due to human activity than the presence of human infrastructure and machinery.

Diving tourists with environmental awareness can conserve oceans

Diving tourism can help conserve marine wildlife and coastal ecosystems. To live up to its potential to conserve nature as well as to sustain popularity diving management including environmental education is key.

Food for the city, by the city

The unprecedented growth of cities in African countries has the potential to convert urban farming, a historical means of survival, into a viable livelihood for urban dwellers.

Assessing tools for formalizing property rights

Offering property licenses to “squatter communities” may not make property rights more secure as investment and property markets fail to take newly registered property licenses seriously

How and why environmental issues are neglected

Understanding how and why people fail to recognize the importance of future environmental problems can be used to tailor responses to environmental information problems

Orchids flourish with assisted migration

Assisted migration is hotly debated as an aid for species adapting to climate change, but new research reveals survival success for orchids.

Utility demand-side management programs show lasting and lagged effects

Utility companies’ demand-side programs produced a 0.9 percent savings in electricity consumption over the period between 1992 and 2006 and a 1.8 percent savings overall. They also achieved their maximum impact a few years after launching and had a long-lasting effect.  Policy-makers should incorporate consideration of lasting and lagged effects of DSM programs into consideration.

Invasive species follow in human wake

Human population density is the strongest driving force behind invasive species in protected areas.

Identifying Waste Currents in Hawai’i

Local waste sources, accumulation points, and marine pathways around Hawai’i Island were determined to address the origin of the debris accumulating in Kamilo Point through the deployment of debris-catching booms and wooden drifter blocks.  

Quantifying the energy paradox: US consumers undervalue future fuel costs by 32 percent

When choosing fuel efficient vehicles, US consumers undervalue future fuel costs by valuing one dollar’s worth of future savings at 76 cents for the present price, a value gap of 32 percent.

Green spaces for all: A South African case study

Individuals of all economic backgrounds in developing countries demand public green spaces and are willing to give time and money for their maintenance. 

Fukushima radiation found in food webs in the Pacific

Radioactive material from the Fukushima disaster was detected in food webs in the Pacific. However, it isn’t substantial enough to be dangerous to humans or animals.

Developing national plans of action to protect sharks saves threatened species

Little is known about whether regional shark management plans are robust enough to sustainably manage shark stocks. However, implementing national action plans that adhere to international guidelines and that build on experiences from other fisheries can help save endangered shark species from extinction.

Friendliness linked to longer lives

Research into ancestral associations between personality and survival reveals that extraverted gorillas, like humans, live longer lives.

Can forests earn more money than oil palm plantations?

Sustainable forest management that aims at Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) includes payments to landowners and can provide economic benefits over alternative land uses such as oil palm plantations. If certain key factors are resolved, REDD+ can simultaneously achieve economic and social success while bringing ecological benefits and contributing to climate change mitigation.

Beer Hops Beneficial to Honey Bees

The key ingredient in beer is proven to reduce parasitic mite populations in honey bee colonies.

Using Land Use Policy and Zoning to protect environmentally sensitive areas from informal settlements

Scientists examine how zoning and land use policy can protect environmentally sensitive areas at the fringe of the cities from damage by shantytowns. Political and social factors can often cause these policies to fail.

Local solutions for local problems

In the search for effective adaptations to climate change, governments and international organizations may have little need to cast their nets far from home.

Shifting bee seasons could disrupt pollination

Spring is coming earlier for wild bees in the Northeast. This could have serious ecological consequences if bee seasons go out of sync with plant seasons.

Insect species with specialized diets may weather climate change after all

Butterflies and moths with specialized diets are utilizing human-altered environments to expand their ranges with climate change.

Finding wildlife habitat in urban areas

Scientists find that golf courses can be suitable nesting habitat for turtles.

Bed sheets and beyond: life cycle assessment results that can influence customer choice

Life-cycle assessments on bed sheets reveal criteria for ideal product.

Ecological and social price of mega-dam power projects might be too high

The Malaysian state of Sarawak started its implementation of a gigantic hydropower project with the goal to leapfrog into modernity. This causes a range of unfavorable consequences that should be carefully assessed by other countries in the region that plan to install similar projects.

Can cultural conservation pay biodiversity dividends?

Regions containing much of the biological diversity on Earth should be conserved for reasons beyond the plant and animal species within them.

Siting wind without the negative impacts

In Kansas, researchers are finding easy ways to minimize the negative impacts of wind energy while greatly surpassing the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2030 goals. 

Keeping track of storms to protect endangered turtles

Coastal managers must anticipate and follow tropical storm patterns to protect endangered sea turtle species more effectively.

End-of-life use for consumer cartons

Life-cycle assessments and carbon footprinting of viable recycling and reuse options for food cartons provides a quantitative look that can aid in decision-making processes.

Entrepreneur and decision makers’ attitudes matter in realizing tourism opportunities near national parks

Scientists explore how entrepreneurs and decision makers can make or break how a national park benefits a community

Smarter than the average bear: bears use nightfall to avoid hunters

Brown bears are escaping hunters by increasing their nocturnal activities. Yet their adaptations may come at a cost.

Economic impact of invasives in the Great Lakes

The Great Lakes – our largest global reserve of freshwater – are under attack from invasive species, and a new study provides an estimate of what this will cost us. 

Foreseeing and Managing the Water-Renewable Energy Nexus

The inevitable expansion in renewable energy infrastructure will require keen attention and careful management of restricted water supplies.

Prior engineering exacerbated effects of 'BP-Deepwater Horizon'

Recent studies at one of the BP-Deepwater Horizon oil spill sites has revealed that, preceding engineering activities diminished the resilience of the salt water marshes.

Coastal parks restore mental health, but environmental and weather conditions impact by how much

Coastal parks provide places for restoring psychological health, but climate change—which is predicted to change factors that impact perceived restorative value of beaches such as temperature, tide levels, and air and water quality—may affect society’s mental health. Leading scientists recommend that climate change adaptation plans include inland open space and shaded parks to provide places of mental restoration as beaches lose their restorative value.

The effect of price shocks and public appeals on energy consumption

Events that happened over a decade ago in California still provide insights into what could trigger consumers to cut back their energy use today.

Battling bed bugs: Over-the-counter foggers are ineffective

The do-it-yourself approach to bed bug control may be causing more harm to the indoor environment than good.

Only three countries lead 60 percent of global environmental technology innovations

Despite capital investment and regulatory initiatives worldwide, international environmental technology transfer between developed and developing country occurs rarely while 60 percent of related innovation is concentrated in 3 countries.

The challenge of solidifying safeguards in REDD+

The policies and measures aiming at reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) have proliferated, resulting in varying interpretations of “safeguards”. Now that REDD+ is maturing, direct trade-offs between monetized emissions reductions and social and biodiversity values call for more explicit regulations in this approach to climate change mitigation.

Invasive snakes threaten biodiversity in Florida

The invasive Burmese python has been linked to mammal declines Florida’s Everglades National park. Researchers fear that some of the endangered species of the region may be in danger. 

Think you’re saving energy? You might want to think again

Research finds that people who believe they are helping the environment may actually know less about energy conservation than the average person.

Hydraulic Fracturing "cheat sheet" for Peer-reviewed Literature

Though shale gas extraction with the use of hydraulic fracturing has been underway in the U.S. for about a decade, peer-reviewed literature looking at its impacts has only begun to be published. Some of the articles that were among the first published on the environmental impacts, and remain among the most talked about, are described here.

Possible contamination pathways from fracking

Previous research on hydraulic fracturing has indicated possible contamination of water wells by methane. A new research article attempts to model potential contamination pathways to aquifers from Marcellus shale gas beds.

Shale-gas extraction and hydraulic fracturing accompany methane contamination of drinking water

Scientists explore how and what kind of methane makes it into natural gas wells.

Fracking and the threat of drinking water contamination

Drinking water wells are only 60 to 90 meters below the surface, while the Marcellus Shale is at depths of 1,200 to 2,500 meters. Still, new research suggests that, because of the hydrology of northeastern Pennsylvania, hydraulic fracturing poses a risk to these shallow drinking water resources.

Shale-gas extraction calls for water awareness in Texas

A new study calculates the total water usage for shale-gas production in Texas. While the total water usage doesn’t overwhelm state resources currently, the variability in local conditions over time will call for more careful consideration of water resources in the future.

The U.S. is developing sustainably: Re-measuring wealth redefines economic growth and sustainable development

Why has sustainable development been so hard to achieve? It turns out we have been measuring it incorrectly.

The true cost of water quality violations

The government is supposed to provide clean drinking water.  But, in many cases, they aren’t and consumers are paying for it.

The current rate of ocean acidification has no precedent in 300 million years of Earth history

Peering into the past can help us to discern the future.  But, when it comes to ocean acidification, past events may offer little indication of what is in store. 

Climate warming doesn’t guarantee that tree lines will rise

It is often assumed that global warming will make mountain trees climb uphill. A new long-view study shows that this is not always the case, meaning that managers must take heed when planning the future of their forests.

The true cost of power outages

Being afraid of the dark is apparently justified. 

Responsible design of electronic textiles

Electronic textiles are on the verge of mass-commercialization. Now is the time to think about their potential impacts…and act.

Property tax changes may not motivate private landowners to conserve

Many conservationists and land planners look to property tax policy to encourage private landowners to keep their land undeveloped. While property tax can hold back the conversion of rural land to some extent, its impact is limited.

Jellyfish blooms cause marine ecosystems to leak energy

Jellyfish blooms are an increasingly frequent problem in many parts of the world.  While it has long been understood that these blooms deprive fish and other species of food, new research sheds light on how they disrupt the ecosystem in ways that reduce the productivity of the oceans.

Avoiding the next Katrina: preparing for sea-level rise in the U.S.

Local leaders must prepare for sea-level rise and coastal disaster management. Besides property damage, issues of social justice will arise because minorities, the poor, and the most vulnerable people are at greater risk than others.

Injustice in U.S. water distribution

Some populations – often those with the fewest resources and constituting a racial minority – ultimately pay more for basic water and sewer services than others.

Does Al Gore affect environmentally related behavior?

Information and advocacy campaigns can affect environmentally related behavior, but not for long.   

Confusion and communication about climate change

Common terms have different meanings to scientists and the general public. Recognizing this simple fact will help bridge the gap in the climate science debate.  

Improving participatory planning meetings: learning from the people involved

In the summer of 1993, over 12,000 people flocked to the otherwise remote Clayoquot Sound to protest the logging of old growth forest on Meares Island, British Columbia. This precipitated changes in the public participation process that are still evolving twenty years later.

Economic growth by stricter regulation

More stringent air pollution standards could encourage, rather than restrict, economic growth.

Biodiversity left behind in climate change scenarios

Climate change predictions are classifying species in the wrong way – putting biodiversity at risk.

Wind and solar energy can be a powerful combination in New York State

Almost 30% of New York State’s electricity demand can be met by wind and solar energy, and having both forms of renewable energy operating at the same time can significantly reduce the problem of intermittency.

Untreated wastewater kills coral

Coral reefs are one of the most critically endangered ecosystems on the planet, and untreated human waste is contributing to their decline.