Katherine Bagley is a reporter for InsideClimate News who covers the intersection of environmental science, politics and policy, with an emphasis on climate change. She is co-author of the InsideClimate News book "Bloomberg's Hidden Legacy: Climate Change and the Future of New York City," published in November 2013 and winner of the Deadline Club's Award for Reporting by Independent Digital Media. Her writing has also been included in the anthology Best American Science and Nature Writing.
She previously worked as a freelance journalist and editor, contributing print and multimedia work to Popular Science, Audubon, OnEarth and The Scientist, among other publications.
You can reach her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Climate denial campaigns have helped slow the public's acceptance of man-made climate change and delay political action for years, but a new study published last Thursday finds these contrarian arguments have also had an impact on climate scientists.
American lawmakers passed a bill last week that slashes funding for renewable energy, limits the federal government's ability to protect clean water, and prohibits agencies from planning for future climate impacts on infrastructure and military facilities. But it may prove only symbolic.
As Pope Francis steps up his moral campaign for global action on climate change, Republican Roman Catholics in Congress are more likely to listen to fossil fuel interests and party leaders than their pontiff, religious and political researchers say, based on lawmakers' track records.
The pope hosted a global warming summit at the Vatican this week with economists, scientists and religious and government leaders. The global leader of the Catholic Church plans this summer to issue the first-ever encyclical, a high-level Catholic teaching document, devoted to global warming and its effects on the world's poor.
But as much sway as the pope has with a sixth of the world's population, party doctrine will probably trump church doctrine in Congress, experts told InsideClimate News. The position of Pope Francis on climate change—and nearly every mainstream climate scientist—bucks that of American conservatives and fossil fuel interests such as the billionaire Koch brothers, who have spent millions of dollars casting doubt on the reality of human-driven climate change and supporting candidates who oppose action to address it.
"If the science hasn't persuaded Republican politicians, the Pope won't," said R.L. Miller, founder of Climate Hawks Vote, a super PAC that works to elect climate-conscious candidates. "American Catholics have been in the habit of mixing and matching parts of Catholic doctrine when it suits them for decades. I don't see this as an exception."
If countries' greenhouse gas emissions continue unchecked, one in every six species on the planet could go extinct.
That is the finding of new research published this week in the journal Science. Climate change is a big factor in what has been tagged "The Sixth Extinction," potentially the worst die-off in Earth's history since the dinosaurs disappeared 65 million years ago. Ecologists warn it could threaten our economy, food security and human health.
"Imagine if we lose an important predator for an agricultural pest," said Mark Urban, an expert in ecology and evolution at the University of Connecticut and author of the new study. "Suddenly we have a major pest problem that threatens our ability to grow food."
Environmental justice advocates may have found a climate champion in Mayor Bill De Blasio, who this week made income equality the centerpiece of his sweeping sustainability plan for New York City.
The plan, known as OneNYC, is a rebranding and revamping of the city's eight-year-old sustainability agenda PlaNYC, but the emphasis on economic justice came as an unexpected swerve. Urban development and environmental experts told InsideClimate News that OneNYC is the most ambitious strategy in the nation to link the fight against income inequality with climate action and may inspire officials in other municipalities to follow.
De Blasio's plan is a municipal-level equivalent to the thorny discussions between rich and poor nations over an international climate deal. There is now growing recognition that a climate deal that fails to lift poor nations out of energy poverty would not succeed. Guaranteeing people access to clean electricity would promote economic development, uplift the lives of the poor—and address the economic justice issues that have plagued climate progress.
Standing in Everglades National Park Wednesday, President Barack Obama called out Republican politicians for their continued denial that climate change is happening, is man-made and will pose serious risks to millions of Americans in coming decades.
Climate change "can't be edited out," Obama said. "It can no longer be omitted from the conversation, and action can no longer be delayed." The comment was in reference to Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott's decision to ban state employees from using global warming-related terms in official communications, according to published reports.
"This is not a problem for another generation," Obama said. "Not anymore. This is a problem now, and it has serious implications for the way we live right now."
The President's comments are part of a White House plan to make denial of climate change a political liability for Republicans heading into the 2016 political campaigns.
The BP drilling rig explosion five years ago sent 4.9 million barrels of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico, causing widespread damage to wildlife, ecosystems and livelihoods still seen today.
The Bureau of Ocean Management waited 20 months after the disaster to hold its first drilling lease sale—but it was a temporary disruption. "There was some pent up demand" in that first sale, which saw 20 companies spending $325 million on 181 drilling leases, said John Filostrat, a spokesman for the agency. It became clear that "companies are still investing in the Gulf."
Overall, lease sales have dropped 60 percent since the BP spill, but the areas being leased for exploration are significant, and reflect the industry's push into deeper and riskier waters far offshore. Companies have purchased the rights to drill on nearly 9 million acres since 2010—an area twice the size of New Jersey—and all of it in the Gulf of Mexico.
Republican policymakers who maintain climate denialist views are increasingly at odds with the majority of their constituents, according to a new analysis by researchers at Yale University.
The researchers compared votes by U.S. senators on a January climate change measure with their constituents' posture based on a new model that extrapolates localized climate views from polling data. The vote was on an amendment to recognize that "(1) climate change is real; and (2) human activity significantly contributes to climate change."
Republican Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, for example, voted no on the amendment. Yet 58 percent of Coloradans accept the scientific evidence for anthropogenic warming. Similarly, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida—a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination—also voted no, though 56 percent of Floridians say climate change is real and man-made. So did Sen. Dean Heller, a Republican from Nevada, where 57 percent would have voted yes.