August 12, 2020
During construction of the border wall, the Department of Homeland Security mixed concrete with water pumped from an Arizona aquifer, which the San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge relies on to support endangered fish populations. This is one consequence of foregone environmental reviews on the border wall project, High Country News reports.
In Baghdad, where the temperature hit 125.2 degrees Fahrenheit last month, insufferable heat has forced almost everyone indoors. As one of the fastest warming locations in the world, Baghdad shows what a future could look like as climate change takes hold. One recent study showed that the climate in Phoenix could resemble Baghdad's by 2050.
A U.S. District Court deemed the Trump administration's efforts to roll back a 100-year-old rule that protected migratory birds unlawful, calling the rule "unambiguous" in its language, which prohibits killing protected birds. Migratory birds are threatened by a number of environmental issues, including climate change.
The Michigan DNR has completed a review that could give Gov. Gretchen Whitmer power to shut down construction of Line 5, a controversial pipeline proposed by Canadian oil company Enbridge. The same company was responsible for a pipeline disaster a decade ago that spilled 1 million gallons of oil into the Kalamazoo River.
With the global pandemic causing oil prices to plunge, virgin plastics are becoming cheaper than recycled plastics. A European official is worried about how this will disrupt recycling markets and affect recycling rates in the European Union, where companies have vowed to use 10 million tons of recycled plastics in new products by 2025.
August 11, 2020
Arctic sea ice could disappear as soon as 2035, a new study warns, as mounting levels of atmospheric greenhouse gases punch holes in the ice, leading it to crumble at a rapidly increasing rate. Researchers blame melt ponds, which they found are forming earlier in the year and persisting longer than usual.
More than one million homes and businesses are without power across the Midwest after a wall of lightning, hail and deadly winds ripped through Chicago and elsewhere, tearing apart trees and homes. The line of storms, 160 miles wide, cut a path of destruction across Iowa, Illinois and Indiana on Monday—with wind gusts in some places clocking upwards of 100 miles per hour.
Joe Biden has won the backing of one of the nation's largest, oldest and most influential environmental organizations—the Sierra Club. The endorsement was widely expected, but still shows how Biden has consolidated environmentalists' support. It could also signal more support from youth voters, who are more likely to rank climate change as their top priority, our own reporting found.
Rising seas, storm surges and coastal flooding are displacing communities from Alaska to Louisiana to Maryland, and it's time for Congress to get serious about helping them find higher ground, a new report from the Government Accountability Office says. That includes identifying and providing assistance "for communities that express affirmative interest in relocation as a resilience strategy."
Grand Junction, Colorado, officially became the headquarters for the Bureau of Land Management on Monday, capping a move that has cost the agency nearly 70 percent of its Washington, D.C.-based employees. The Trump administration argues the move brings the headquarters closer to the land it oversees. Critics argue it distances the agency from the country's power brokers.
Delta Air Lines, widely considered by analysts as one of the best-run airlines in the country, is facing criticism for its decision in 2012 to purchase an oil refinery meant to offset fuel costs. The refinery, which has hardly been a money maker, is now a liability for the airline as the pandemic continues to pummel both the aviation and oil industries, The New York Times reports.
A coalition of environmental and other groups on Monday threatened to sue the Department of Energy over missed deadlines to update energy efficiency standards for products such as appliances. A notice of intent to sue filed by the organizations says they will take legal action against the agency in 60 days over its failure to update 26 standards.
A Japanese ship that ran aground on a reef off Mauritius two weeks ago has now stopped leaking oil into the Indian Ocean but the island nation must still prepare for "a worst case scenario", Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth said late on Monday. Conservationists said they were starting to find dead fish as well as seabirds covered in oil, increasing fears of an ecological catastrophe.
August 10, 2020
As Virginia Attorney General a decade ago, Ken Cuccinelli fought climate science in the courts and lost. Now as President Trump's Homeland Security deputy, he's playing a key role delivering the president's law-and-order message, including in the recent clashes between federal officers and protesters in Portland, Oregon.
It was only back in January when the world's largest asset manager declared climate change was redefining its business model and reshaping the industry. Then the pandemic hit, and analysts assumed investors would walk back their newfound commitment to safeguarding the environment. Instead, it drove the financial world to further move away from fossil fuels.
As climate change exacerbates toxic algal blooms around the world, scientists have been busy studying Lake Erie, where particularly bad blooms have proliferated for years. Today that work has helped researchers better predict and prevent future blooms, and they're hoping to apply those lessons to other bodies of water across the country.
A ship that ran aground off Mauritius leaking tons of oil into the ocean is cracking up, the country's prime minister has said, threatening an even greater ecological and economic disaster for the island nation. Already more than 1,000 tons of fuel has spilled from the ship, threatening coral reefs, white-sand beaches and pristine lagoons that lure tourists from around the world.
Hot and dry conditions on Sunday exacerbated the challenges faced by crews trying to control the very active Pine Gulch fire burning north of Grand Junction, Colorado Public Radio reports. The fire, which is burning in Mesa and Garfield counties, grew about 2,000 acres overnight Saturday to a total of about 37 square miles. The spread prompted fire officials to encourage some residents to evacuate.
As economies reopen, traffic has largely returned to pre-pandemic levels in the nation's large cities, with traffic actually getting worse in many states, the Washington Post reports. Experts now warn that climate change will exacerbate gridlock as increasingly frequent extreme weather events push the country's transportation infrastructure to its limit.
Since President Trump took office, his favorite Super Pac, America First Action, has raked in millions of dollars from a fossil fuel industry that has enjoyed three plus years of environmental deregulation, The Guardian reports. In June, Trump's campaign took in $10 million from a fundraiser hosted by oil pipeline billionaire Kelcy Warren.
August 7, 2020
The Catholic community remains divided on climate change. Five years after releasing guidance for Catholics to do more, Pope Francis continues to criticize the world's government for their "very weak" response to the climate crisis. Still, the Pope's position and Trump's unfettered fossil fuel agenda have inspired some in the Church to take action.
The pandemic lockdowns have led to a sharp drop in worldwide carbon emissions, but it will have "negligible" impact on the climate crisis, a new study warns. The analysis shows the lockdowns cutting warming by just 0.001 degrees Celsius by 2030. But it also suggests government stimulus plans geared toward transitioning to cleaner energy sources could keep warming below international climate targets.
Last month was the world's third-hottest July on record, new data show, the latest milestone in a global warming trend that has seen the three hottest Julys on record within the last five years. The heat has spurred record melting in the Arctic, where sea ice last month hit the lowest level for July since records began 40 years ago, according to the European Union's Copernicus Climate Change Service.
"They want to eliminate single-family zoning, bringing who knows into your suburbs," President Trump said on a July campaign call, signaling his latest political attacks will focus on controversies surrounding suburbs and single-family homes. For years, cities across the country have grappled with how zoning rules have deeply codified racial inequity and exacerbated climate change.
More than 50 Democratic lawmakers are asking the Trump administration to turn over documents after the White House directed agencies to create a shortlist of construction projects that could be fast tracked to boost the economy during the coronavirus pandemic. In June, President Trump used his emergency authorities to allow companies to skirt environmental regulations with little public notice.
For people living in the Arctic, climate change is hacking away at their foundation, as the region warms faster than the rest of the world and vital sea ice melts at a record pace. In the Canadian Arctic, as glaciers break off and slide into the Beaufort Sea, some families have been forced to move, and could be the country's very first climate change refugees.
A melting glacier as large as a cathedral is at risk of breaking apart due to a heatwave, forcing the evacuation of part of an Italian alpine valley. The alarm was raised on Wednesday afternoon when experts in helicopters realised that the Planpincieux glacier, at an altitude of about 2,800 metres in the Ferret Valley in the Mont Blanc massif, was slipping dangerously.
August 6, 2020
China's nylon industry may be overlooking its emissions of a potent greenhouse gas, with chemical plants potentially releasing hundreds of thousands of tons of nitrous oxide directly into the atmosphere. Our 6-month investigation found 11 plants that, together, are likely emitting greenhouse gases equivalent to 25 million cars, despite low-cost fixes available.
When California Sen. Kamala Harris and New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez introduced climate "equity" legislation on Thursday, activists saw it as a hopeful sign of Democratic unity less than three months before a hugely consequential election with both the White House and the Senate up for grabs. The bill aims to ensure environmental regulations consider impacts on low-income communities.
A U.S. appeals court on Wednesday reversed a lower court's determination that the Dakota Access Pipeline should be temporarily shut down, saying the ruling wasn't necessary. A district court ordered the pipeline to be shut down last month while the Army Corps of Engineers works to prepare an environmental impact statement for a rule relaxation that allowed it to cross the Missouri River.