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EcoWatch is a community of experts publishing quality, science-based content on environmental issues, causes, and solutions for a healthier planet and life.
Native American tribes oppose a plan to build dams on the Little Colorado River (right side) upstream of Grand Canyon National Park. National Parks Service

A proposal to dam four parts of a Colorado River tributary for hydropower has drawn significant opposition from Native American tribes, environmentalists and regulatory agencies, according to the AP.

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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Linnea Harris

When I stepped onto the tarmac in Durango, I was hit with a dry wall of air. The 4 p.m. sun felt like it was dialed up – brighter, hotter, and harsher. I blinked enough dust out of my eyes to scan the parking lot for the red Dodge pickup truck that had come to collect me.

That morning, I'd left my Brooklyn apartment, and a city recovering from 14 months of a pandemic. I'd flown to a two-gate airport in a state I'd never been to, to get picked up by a stranger who would drive me to his rural farm with no cell phone service to live in a trailer and work for free. The significance of the situation – and everything that could go wrong – didn't hit me until that gust of hot, dry air did.

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Frederic Stevens/ Getty Images News / Getty Images

For nearly as long as solar panels have been gracing rooftops and barren land, creative people have been searching out additional surfaces that can be tiled with energy-generating photovoltaic (PV) panels. The idea has been pretty straightforward: if solar panels generate energy simply by facing the sun, then humans could collectively reduce our reliance on coal, oil, gas and other polluting fuels by maximizing our aggregate solar surface area.

So, what kind of unobstructed surfaces are built in every community and in between every major city across the globe? Highways and streets. With this in mind, the futuristic vision of laying thousands, or even millions, of solar panels on top of the asphalt of interstates and main streets was born.

While the concept art looked like a still from a sci-fi film, many inventors, businesses and investors saw these panels as a golden path toward clean energy and profit. Ultimately, though, the technology and economics ended up letting down those working behind each solar roadway project — from initial concepts in the early 2000s to the first solar roadway actually opened in France in 2016, they all flopped.

In the years since the concept of solar roadways went viral, solar PV has continued to improve in technology and drop in price. So, with a 2021 lens, is it time to re-run the numbers and see if a solar roadway could potentially deliver on that early promise? We dig in to find out.

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Icebergs near Ilulissat, Greenland on Oct. 7, 2020. Ulrik Pedersen / NurPhoto via Getty Images

By Brett Wilkins

Researchers warned of the need for urgent climate action as a study published Wednesday revealed that the world's mountain glaciers are melting at an unprecedented pace, with glacial thinning rates outside Antarctica and Greenland doubling this century.

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Trending
Permafrost is thawing across the Arctic, releasing microbes and organic materials that have been trapped in the frozen ground for thousands of years. NOAA / Wikimedia Commons

By Jessie Creamean and Thomas Hill

The Research Brief is a short take about interesting academic work.

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Panorama of Horseshoe Bend from Grandview at New River Gorge National River, West Virginia. National Park Service

The U.S. is beginning the new year with a new national park.

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The Rio San Antonio, in the headwaters basin of the Rio Grande in New Mexico, will lose federal protections under a new rule. Bob Wick / BLM California

By Tara Lohan

The Santa Fe River starts high in the forests of New Mexico's Sangre de Cristo mountains and flows 46 miles to the Rio Grande. Along the way it plays important roles for wildlife, irrigation, recreation and other cultural uses, and provides 40 percent of the water supply for the city of Santa Fe's 85,000 residents.

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A frozen Niagara Falls in Ontario, Canada is an example of the polar vortex influencing extreme weather. Seyit Aydogan / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

By Zachary Lawrence and Amy Butler

At the start of February 2021, a major snowstorm hit the northeast United States, with some areas receiving well over two feet of snow. Just a few weeks earlier, Spain experienced a historic and deadly snowstorm and dangerously low temperatures. Northern Siberia is no stranger to cold, but in mid-January 2021, some Siberian cities reported temperatures below minus 70 F. Media headlines hint that the polar vortex has arrived, as if it were some sort of ice tornado that wreaks wintry havoc wherever it strikes.

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Trending

By Daisy Simmons

Nevada City, California. Amidst a historic pandemic and social unrest, watching the accelerating impacts of climate change on the silver screen could create a sense of helplessness – or deepen the resolve to act. Emphasizing the latter, "Resilient by Nature" was the official theme of the recent Wild & Scenic Film Festival, an entirely virtual affair this year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Seabirds often follow fishing vessels to find easy meals. Alexander Petrov / TASS via Getty Images

By Jim Palardy

As 2021 dawns, people, ecosystems, and wildlife worldwide are facing a panoply of environmental issues. In an effort to help experts and policymakers determine where they might focus research, a panel of 25 scientists and practitioners — including me — from around the globe held discussions in the fall to identify emerging issues that deserve increased attention.

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Trending
A pika in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada. Ed Reschke / Stone / Getty Images

By Andrew Smith

Climate change is harming many special places and iconic species around our planet, from Glacier National Park's disappearing glaciers to California redwoods scorched by wildfires. But for the animal I study, the American pika (Ochotona princeps), there's actually some good news: It's not as threatened by climate change as many studies have warned.

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CIRA / NOAA

Hurricane Eta, the record-tying 28th named storm in an extremely active 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, is now menacing Nicaragua as a Category 4 storm.

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For the first time on record, the main nursery of Arctic sea ice in Siberia has yet to start freezing by late October. Euronews / YouTube

By Sharon Guynup

At this time of year, in Russia's far north Laptev Sea, the sun hovers near the horizon during the day, generating little warmth, as the region heads towards months of polar night. By late September or early October, the sea's shallow waters should be a vast, frozen expanse.

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EcoWatch is a community of experts publishing quality, science-based content on environmental issues, causes, and solutions for a healthier planet and life.
Native American tribes oppose a plan to build dams on the Little Colorado River (right side) upstream of Grand Canyon National Park. National Parks Service

A proposal to dam four parts of a Colorado River tributary for hydropower has drawn significant opposition from Native American tribes, environmentalists and regulatory agencies, according to the AP.

Read More Show Less
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Linnea Harris

When I stepped onto the tarmac in Durango, I was hit with a dry wall of air. The 4 p.m. sun felt like it was dialed up – brighter, hotter, and harsher. I blinked enough dust out of my eyes to scan the parking lot for the red Dodge pickup truck that had come to collect me.

That morning, I'd left my Brooklyn apartment, and a city recovering from 14 months of a pandemic. I'd flown to a two-gate airport in a state I'd never been to, to get picked up by a stranger who would drive me to his rural farm with no cell phone service to live in a trailer and work for free. The significance of the situation – and everything that could go wrong – didn't hit me until that gust of hot, dry air did.

Read More Show Less
Frederic Stevens/ Getty Images News / Getty Images

For nearly as long as solar panels have been gracing rooftops and barren land, creative people have been searching out additional surfaces that can be tiled with energy-generating photovoltaic (PV) panels. The idea has been pretty straightforward: if solar panels generate energy simply by facing the sun, then humans could collectively reduce our reliance on coal, oil, gas and other polluting fuels by maximizing our aggregate solar surface area.

So, what kind of unobstructed surfaces are built in every community and in between every major city across the globe? Highways and streets. With this in mind, the futuristic vision of laying thousands, or even millions, of solar panels on top of the asphalt of interstates and main streets was born.

While the concept art looked like a still from a sci-fi film, many inventors, businesses and investors saw these panels as a golden path toward clean energy and profit. Ultimately, though, the technology and economics ended up letting down those working behind each solar roadway project — from initial concepts in the early 2000s to the first solar roadway actually opened in France in 2016, they all flopped.

In the years since the concept of solar roadways went viral, solar PV has continued to improve in technology and drop in price. So, with a 2021 lens, is it time to re-run the numbers and see if a solar roadway could potentially deliver on that early promise? We dig in to find out.

Read More Show Less
Icebergs near Ilulissat, Greenland on Oct. 7, 2020. Ulrik Pedersen / NurPhoto via Getty Images

By Brett Wilkins

Researchers warned of the need for urgent climate action as a study published Wednesday revealed that the world's mountain glaciers are melting at an unprecedented pace, with glacial thinning rates outside Antarctica and Greenland doubling this century.

Read More Show Less
Trending
Permafrost is thawing across the Arctic, releasing microbes and organic materials that have been trapped in the frozen ground for thousands of years. NOAA / Wikimedia Commons

By Jessie Creamean and Thomas Hill

The Research Brief is a short take about interesting academic work.