August 28, 2018
There is growing awareness that rising global temperatures are exacerbating the heat island effect that's baking urban centers by day and leaving them unable to cool down at night. Cities like Louisville are trying to respond, but they're discovering enormous challenges.
California's comprehensive new climate assessment warning of increasing wildfires, worsening droughts and more coastal flooding. It's a thick tome of evidence that advocates can now use to push climate legislation, pursue litigation, and attempt to sway public opinion as they take on industry and try to counter the Trump administration.
The Interior Department official who oversaw the drive last year to shrink Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in Utah has left to join the lobbying team at energy giant BP. Downey Magallanes was deputy chief of staff with a portfolio that included the push to expand oil, gas and mining on public lands and in federal waters.
A federal judge ruled that the coastal city of South Portland, Maine, did not violate the U.S. Constitution when it passed an ordinance that blocked a local pipeline company from bringing tar sands oil through its port. It was a surprise victory after years of fighting what felt like an impossible battle against some of the world's biggest oil companies.
The American Petroleum Institute (API) said it is "encouraged" by news that the Trump administration has an agreement with Mexico to rewrite the North American Free Trade Agreement. Last year, Mexico was the leading importer of American oil and petroleum products, according to the EIA. But, as Politico explains, the administration has a lot more negotiating to do.
France's environment minister, Nicolas Hulot, frustrated by the government's lack of action of green issues, unexpectedly announced his resignation live on national radio today. Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron urged patience, saying: "It's a fight that isn't won from one day to the next."
Research has shown that rising levels of carbon dioxide can make crops less nutritious. A new study now estimates that could damage the health of hundreds of millions of people by mid-century through nutrient deficiencies, with those the world's poorest regions likely to be hardest hit.
The statewide study of climate impacts in California shows that rising seas would potentially damage electricity substations operated by utilities. The assessment also includes a report on how well natural gas infrastructure in the region can withstand hotter weather.
At least five studies have been published in the last year looking at how global warming has affected the probability of a storm on the scale of Hurricane Harvey, and several others are in the pipeline. Among the things becoming clearer: extreme Harvey-like storms are likely to happen more often.
August 27, 2018
As Hurricane Lane's rain bands deluged the Hawaiian Islands over the weekend, scientists looked to the ocean temperature for evidence of connections to climate change and clues to what may be ahead for this region where hurricane landfalls have been rare.
Among the battles Sen. John McCain waged in his storied career, it is easy to overlook his fight for U.S. action on climate change. In the Senate chamber and on the campaign trail, the Arizona Republican did more than any other U.S. politician has done before or since to advance the conservative argument for climate action, as Marianne Lavelle explains.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel says calls to increase goals for cutting carbon dioxide would be counterproductive as countries struggle to meet their current goals, but she stresses that climate change is an urgent concern.
Disputes over climate change policy helped topple the Turnbull government in Australia last week. It's a glimpse into the challenges facing leaders in countries with powerful fossil fuel lobbies, including Australia, Canada and the United States.
An oil pipeline developer and local authorities in Louisiana are using a controversial new law to crack down on protests there, with at least nine people arrested this month within weeks of the law's entry into force. Read more from ICN on the spread of state-level anti-protest laws since the start of the Trump administration.
Voters in Houston and its surrounding county marked the anniversary of Hurricane Harvey by approving $2.5 billion for flood-control projects. About 85 percent of voters approved the referendum that will fund projects such as home buyouts in flood-prone areas and new storm water basins.
British consumers likely will see an increase in food prices of at least 5 percent because of extreme weather this year, economists warn. Extended spells of frigid and hot weather will increase household food prices, according to the Centre for Economics and Business Research.
A North Carolina pastor is working to revive Martin Luther King, Jr.'s, movement known as the Poor People's Campaign, this time with an emphasis on climate change and pollution. Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II is making environmental justice a pillar of a modern-day war on poverty.
August 24, 2018
Hawaii still burns oil to generate most of its electric power and relies on seaborne shipments. The unusual energy system makes the state particularly vulnerable during the rare hurricane that reaches it. Reuters reports that Hurricane Lane — still a powerful storm Friday morning — is moving slowly and causing torrential downpours and catastrophic flooding.
The Trump administration's proposed rewrite of climate rules could enable some of America's dirtiest remaining coal plants to be refurbished and keep running for years without adding modern pollution controls. Read more from ICN on five key ways the changes would affect health and climate.
The Tennessee Valley Authority's Board of Directors announced this week that it would review its generation fleet and consider shutting down two of its six remaining coal plants. The head of the government-owned utility, which has a mandate to provide electricity at the lowest feasible cost, said TVA would review whether all of its power plants were performing economically.
Europe faces a growing threat from tropical diseases as rising temperatures allow diseases brought by travellers to spread more easily, according to health experts. This can be seen in the spike in West Nile virus infections in Europe this summer, brought on by high temperatures and wet weather.
In its proposal to roll back climate rules, the Trump administration says each ton of carbon dioxide emitted by a car or coal plant in 2020 would cause only $1 to $7 in economic damage — much lower than the previous estimate of roughly $50. That change would make a big difference for the cost-benefit analyses that agencies will conduct for the new rules.
A group including environmentalists and supporters of Bernie Sanders is urging the DNC to undo its decision to allow donations from the fossil fuel industry. The group issued a letter saying it is "alarmed and dismayed" by the party's decisions to reverse a prior stance that it would not accept money from fossil fuel corporate political action committees.
The New Jersey town of Ocean City is one of many places along the Atlantic Coast feeling the pain from dropping home prices tied to sea-level rise. Increased tidal flooding has erased $14.1 billion in home values across eight states, with some of the greatest percentage changes happening in small towns, according to a First Street Foundation report.
A new plan would spend $50 million on flood mitigation in Ellicott City, Maryland, including the demolition about 5 percent of buildings in the city's historic district, which was severely damaged by recent extreme rainfall and flooding. The plan includes drastic changes for the main street.
The European Union will begin a ban on halogen light bulbs on Sept. 1, part of a continent-wide switch to LEDs. Changes to lighting are some of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to improve energy efficiency in buildings.
August 23, 2018
Texas is seeking billions of dollars to build a 60-mile defense against sea level rise. It would protect some of the crown jewels of the petroleum industry, which is blamed for contributing to global warming but wants the federal government to build safeguards against the consequences of it.
The extreme wildfires sweeping across parts of North America, Europe and Siberia this year are not only wreaking local damage and sending choking smoke downwind. They are also affecting the climate itself in important ways that will long outlast their flames.
Folded into the Trump administration's replacement for Obama-era climate rules is a change that may keep old coal plants in service for longer. Read more from ICN on five key ways the changes would affect health and climate.
Severe weather in Europe has coincided with poor growing conditions in other grain-producing zones, leading to the risk that supplies of cereal grains will be their smallest in years. Read more from ICN about the risks of simultaneous crop failures as global temperatures rise.