Blog

IEE's blog features a wide variety of researchers from around Penn State, including faculty members and graduate students. Each blog is an essay or op-ed on different energy and environmental topics.

Preparing for more extensive and frequent floods makes sense

As global temperatures rise, the implications of climate change are unfolding quickly. Political, cultural, economic, social, and psychological factors influence societal views about climate change adaptation. Although ignoring the implications of a changing climate can seem easier in the short run, avoidance will be costly in the long run. Ignoring the issue is especially problematic in areas with forecasts for more extensive and frequent floods. 

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Accelerating past zero: Helping Penn State achieve drawdown of its greenhouse gas pollution

Our production of greenhouse gas pollution and failure to eliminate it is worsening the fires, droughts, and storms that will kill and impoverish millions of people in this century and beyond due to climate change. But what can we at Penn State do in the face of this global challenge?

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Wildfires: The new normal is now

In 2011, we published a paper that predicted continued warming could transform the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem by mid-Century. I had no idea that just ten years later, I would bring my children to see this magical place, only to have it shrouded in wildfire smoke.

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The past, present, and future of Eastern California

  • Profile Photo
    Name
    Adam Benfield

How can an ecologist, hydrologist, or climate scientist predict the future? Not an easy task, but understanding the past – specifically, the recent geological past – can help tremendously. Geological perspectives on the ecology (plants, animals, wildfires) and climate (rainfall, temperature, etc) of vulnerable regions are vital to predicting the impacts of global warming on ecosystems around the world.

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Making climate policy models more relevant

To assist climate policy making, the research community has developed a powerful set of tools to combine insights from economics, technology, and climate science. However, according to Wei Peng (School of International Affairs), these tools miss a crucial factor that shapes climate policy in the real world: Politics. She and her team identify eight political insights that are important for the success of real-world climate policy.

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Climate and energy management require civic energy

Climate educators should step up to the plate and take civic action on climate change. The strategies and management approaches are already all around us. Now, it is just a matter of putting them together and holding the course. As educators and experts, we have seen firsthand the value we bring to our communities and our democracy at a time when our love of home and of country matter so much.

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Why are the new climate normals abnormal?

Each decade the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) releases a new set of U.S. Climate Normals, providing thirty-year temperature and precipitation averages that contain insight about both current weather and patterns in the near future. In early May, NOAA released the Climate Normals for 1991-2020, revealing the warmest recorded period to date.

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Social media use and perceptions of community resiliency during the COVID-19 pandemic

The concept of resilience originated from biophysics to describe the ability of a system to rebound after disturbances. Resilience at the community level is defined by social scientists in disaster management as the capacity of a community to withstand and recover from disturbing events. Though individual agency plays an important role in constructing community resilience, a group of resilient individuals does not form a resilient community. Community resilience is greater than the summation of its individual members’ resilience. 

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Penn State EnvironMentors, Changing the STEM narrative

  • Profile Photo
    Name
    Lorraine Taylor

First-generation, racially marginalized groups and women both remain underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education and careers. White women make up 18% of the STEM workforce compared to 49% of their white male counterparts. Racially marginalized groups continue to be in the single digits within the STEM workforce.

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How many trees are needed to take up the carbon dioxide I release every day?

Breathe in, and you consume oxygen. Breathe out, and you release carbon dioxide into the air. We know that burning fuels releases carbon dioxide, and our own “fuel,” or the food we eat, is no different. We capture the energy from the food we eat and then release the carbon from that food into the environment. On average, we eat about 2,000 calories a day and release about 2 pounds of carbon dioxide a day. Plants and trees use the energy in sunlight to take up carbon dioxide through their leaves and grow more biomass.

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