September 4, 2018
Two scientists say U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials pressured them to downplay the risk of farming on an endangered beetle and asked them to rush their work in a way that was at odds with good scientific practice. They ended their work with the government, worried that their research would be used to downplay the threats.
Sea surface temperatures in the Gulf of Maine hit a near-record high of 68.93 degrees Fahrenheit, part of what scientists called a month-long "marine heat wave" in the normally chilly waters. In some areas, surface temperatures were nearly 11 degrees warmer than normal.
The UK government is "deliberately weakening" the environmental watchdog meant to hold the government to account after Brexit — particularly when it comes to climate policy, a Labour minister says.
In Germany, record temperatures and no rainfall since early April have led to a drought, and thousands of farmers are facing bankruptcy because of crop failure. Many are starting to question whether they can cope with climate change.
August 31, 2018
California's greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles continues to rise as the Trump administration is poised to revoke the state's right to set stricter tailpipe standards. Low gas prices and a lack of affordable urban housing are part of the problem, a new report from Next 10 says.
The EPA's Office Inspector General says it will review the process for EPA employees who report violations of scientific integrity, focusing on barriers for whistleblowers and employee concerns. A recent external survey of federal workers found widespread concern about political influence over their work.
Growing swarms of hungrier and hyperactive insects may wipe out big percentages of the world's three most important grain crops—wheat, corn and rice—even if the world manages to cap global warming at 2 degrees Celsius, scientists warn in a new study in the journal Science. The potential scale of the damage is so high, it could threaten global food security.
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says she's pulling the province out of Canada's national climate change plan to protest a court ruling on a major pipeline expansion that was meant to carry tar sands to the Pacific coast for export. Notley says the ruling leaves Canada hostage to the whims of the U.S.
Colorado says its rules for finding and stopping methane leaks are working — and they have industry support. Energy companies have repaired about 73,000 methane leaks since 2015 under state-required oil field inspections. Read more from ICN on the industry's methane leak problem.
The completion of some $1.4 billion in oil and gas wells in West Texas' Permian Basin could be delayed through 2019 due to pipeline constraints, a new report says. According to federal estimates, the number of wells there that had been drilled but not yet fracked was 80% higher this summer than a year earlier.
After the end of the last ice age, Earth's ecosystems were utterly transformed as sea levels and temperatures rose and glaciers receded. A sweeping survey of global fossil and temperature records from the past 20,000 years suggests terrestrial ecosystems are at risk of another, even faster transformation.
The city of Orlando has a goal of 100 percent clean and renewable electricity by 2050. The New York Times looks at the steps it's taking to get there, from solar-panel canopies over parking lots to net-zero-energy buildings. Read more from ICN about California's plan for 100 percent carbon-free electricity.
Bordeaux's climate is steadily getting hotter, and that has French winemakers on edge. Growers are rushing to harvest their fruit before it grows too sweet or too ripe, and scientists say they'll eventually have to start looking to more heat-hardy varieties of grapes. That's not an easy sell in Bordeaux.
August 30, 2018
A Canadian court overturned approval of the Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion, citing multiple flaws in a government assessment. It's a blow to the Canadian government, which agreed in May to buy the pipeline from Kinder Morgan to help get the expansion built. CBC reports Kinder Morgan shareholders approved the sale today, shortly after the ruling's release.
The Trump administration is reviewing and intends to replace a major regulation on mercury, a toxin linked to damage to the brain and nervous system and to fetal development, an EPA spokeswoman says. It would chiefly affect coal power plants, most of which have already complied with the rule.
A Colorado ballot initiative that would sharply increase the required distance between new oil wells and populated areas will go to voters in November, state officials announced. If approved, it would increase the distance from as little as 500 feet to at least 2,500 feet, which could affect the majority of development on non-federal lands, according to a 2016 state study.
Lake Mead's water levels have dropped so much they could trigger water use cutbacks within two years, and a new report says the situation is just as worrisome upstream at Lake Powell. The Colorado River basin, which provides water for about 40 million people, has long been over-allocated, and the strain is compounded by drought and climate change.
A pocket of warmer ocean water underneath the surface of the Canada Basin could melt a significant portion of the region's sea ice pack if it were to ascend, a new study suggests. Scientists believe the warmer water is coming from the edges of the basin, places like the Northern Chukchi Sea.
Between 2006 and 2015, the energy world was turned upside-down by an epic development in the oil industry: the fast expansion of fracking for extracting gas and oil from shale. Aubrey McClendon, founder of Chesapeake Energy, represented U.S. fracking to the world.
FirstEnergy Solutions announced plans to close its last Ohio coal-fired power plants, blaming wholesale markets that it says don't value old coal plants. Read more from ICN on the company's recent efforts to get the Trump administration to issue an emergency order to help it.
Lake Superior has been plagued this year by the largest mass of green, oozing algae ever detected there. Scientists generally agree that algae blooms are getting worse and more widespread, and are exacerbated by increased fertilizer runoff and by the warmer water and extreme weather associated with climate change.
British Columbia's wildfires this year have surpassed last year's catastrophic season, setting a new record with more than 5,000 square miles burned. Scientists point to a lack of controlled burning, aggressive firefighting efforts and a weather patterns driven by climate change that have pushed things over the edge with warmer, drier conditions. Read more from ICN about how wildfires contribute to climate change.
August 29, 2018
In a summer when California has been fighting record wildfires while facing off against the Trump administration's attempts to rollback climate policies, the state legislature is seeking to double down on its commitment to shift away from fossil fuels. The state Assembly last night approved a new goal of 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2045.
Canada has staked out a position that any changes to NAFTA must recognize climate change, a stance that is now facing a test as the Trump administration says it and Mexico are finalizing a revision. Based on the few details that have been released, the revised version doesn't mention climate change, and President Trump is urging Canada to sign on or face more tariffs.
A federal judge ruled that South Portland, Maine, didn't violate the Constitution with its ban on tar sands oil, one of the most carbon-intensive fuels on the planet. Legal experts say the small town's battle could offer a guide for other communities hoping to block fossil fuel projects to protect public health. Here's the backstory.
The Pentagon is the latest to criticize EPA's proposed policy to block the use of some scientific studies in policymaking. Health and science leaders also oppose the EPA proposal, long sought by fossil fuel interests, which could potentially be used to weaken health-based standards for limiting pollution caused by burning coal, oil and natural gas.
An advisory board appointed by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is recommending that the state rescind permits for two natural gas pipelines, putting the panel at odds with the governor, who says the regulatory process is working. The 15-member Advisory Council on Environmental Justice is raising questions about the pipelines' impact on health and the environment.
Wildfire smoke that has blanketed large parts of the West for days and weeks this summer is coming between the sun and ripening crops, farmers say. In addition to the crops struggling, farmworkers are dealing with smoke that can cause breathing problems, itchy eyes and dry throats.
Home values on Miami's coast are already worth 10 percent less than if climate change wasn't a factor, according to the co-author of a Harvard study that looks at the role of global warming in real estate markets. The study looked at the values of single-family homes across Miami going back 45 years and found that properties at higher elevations are increasingly worth more.
The area of Alexandria, Egypt, known as Little Venice is being transformed as authorities force residents to move out of homes near the rising water. The city and other parts of the Nile River Delta are suffering as climate change leads to increasing flood risk.