Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies

Society and Environment (74 found)

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.

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. 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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. 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

Measuring ecosystem services at multiple scales

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

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.

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. 

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

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.

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

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.

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~

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.

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.

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?

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.

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

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.  

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. 

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.

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.

Finding wildlife habitat in urban areas

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Does Al Gore affect environmentally related behavior?

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