August 21, 2020

Loss of Greenland Ice Sheet Reached a Record Last Year

Greenland lost a record amount of ice in 2019, researchers reported Thursday. Nearly half the ice was lost in July, when the region roasted from an unusual heat wave. The net ice loss of more than 530 billion metric tons was more than twice the annual average since 2003, the scientists said. And July's loss alone equaled the amount lost in an average year.

Alaska’s Salmon Are Shrinking, and Climate Change May Be to Blame

Alaska's highly prized salmon are getting smaller, and climate change is a suspected culprit, a new study reported, documenting a trend that may pose a risk to a valuable fishery, indigenous people and wildlife. The study found that four of Alaska's five wild salmon species have shrunk in average size over the past six decades, with stunted growth becoming more pronounced since 2010.

Human Consumption of the Earth's Resources Declined in 2020

The rate at which humanity is consuming the Earth's resources declined sharply this year as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to researchers. Pandemic-related lockdowns led to a 9.3 percent reduction in resource consumption, but scientists still believe humans are consuming resources far quicker than nature's ability to regenerate them.

Mounting Climate Impacts Threaten U.S. Nuclear Reactors

Soaring temperatures, intensified flood risks and heightened water stress will threaten 57 U.S. nuclear plants over the next 20 years, forcing operators to take additional resiliency measures, according to a new report by Moody's Investors Service. "The consequences of climate change can affect every aspect of nuclear plant operations," the report said.

Greta Thunberg’s Climate Movement Targets Germany’s Angela Merkel

The pandemic has hobbled the weekly student protests that made Greta Thunberg and other campaigners a global phenomenon—so they're now hitting up politicians in person. German Chancellor Angela Merkel got a firsthand taste of that on Thursday, when Thunberg and three other youth activists met with her for 90 minutes to press for more aggressive German leadership on climate change.

August 20, 2020

Inside Clean Energy: What We Could Be Doing to Avoid Blackouts

A relentless heat wave has forced California utilities to use rolling blackouts to prevent an overload of the power grid, as air conditioners push electricity use way up. But rather than blaming companies or regulators for the blackouts, some experts say there is a relatively simple step that could help the situation right now: demand response.

Lawyers Question Moves to Leave Public Lands Chief in Power

The Trump administration's method of keeping William Pendley, the controversial acting head of the Bureau of Land Management, in power, even after his nomination was withdrawn, is probably not legal, law experts warn. President Trump withdrew Pendley's nomination over the weekend, yet Pendley continues to run the agency because of policies that dictate he do so until the director role is filled.

How the Gas Industry Is Waging War Against Climate Action

When Seattle lawmakers last year attempted to ban gas hookups in new buildings in an attempt to reduce a major source of the city's greenhouse gas emissions, they ran into significant opposition from local business owners. But newly obtained internal documents reveal that the opposition was actually a sophisticated plan organized by Seattle's gas supplier, Puget Sound Energy, The Guardian reports.

Dams Played a Key Role in Limiting Sea Level Rise, Study Says

The construction of large-scale dams has played a surprising role in limiting rising seas, new research says. Over the past century, melting glaciers and the thermal expansion of sea water have driven up ocean levels. But in the 1970s, the water that dams prevented from entering the ocean would have contributed around 12 percent more to the rate of annual sea level rise, the study found.

Louisiana Aims for Net-Zero Emissions by 2050

The state of Louisiana will aim to achieve net-zero emissions statewide by 2050 under a new executive order signed by the state's Democratic governor, John Bel Edwards. The order establishes a task force to make recommendations for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, and to help the state reach intermediate targets, including reducing state emissions 26 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.

August 19, 2020

California Ducked Another Outage. Its New Crisis: 155 Fires

As California on Tuesday avoided what would have been the state's biggest coordinated blackout of all time, it must now deal with its next crisis. A combination of dry lightning and extreme heat ignited 155 fires within 24 hours, with more expected to come. The blazes torched tens of thousands of acres, forcing people to flee their homes and prompting Gov. Gavin Newsom to declare a state of emergency. 

Democrats Drop Demand To End Fossil Fuel Subsidies From Party Platform

The Democratic National Committee this week quietly dropped language calling for an end to fossil fuel subsidies and tax breaks from its party platform, HuffPost reports. In July, a ledger of party demands included those calls, but the language disappeared from the final draft of the party platform circulated Monday, sparking outrage from environmental advocates.

14 States Sue Trump Administration Over Gas Transportation Rule

Fourteen states and Washington, D.C., are suing the Trump administration over a new rule that would allow for the transportation of liquefied natural gas by rail, citing health and safety risks. The rule, finalized this year, would allow for the fuel to be transported on rail tank cars. Previously, a special permit was needed for such transport.

Captain in Mauritius Oil Spill Disaster Is Arrested

The captain of the ship that ran aground in Mauritius and spilled about 1,000 tons of oil into the Indian Ocean has been arrested, The New York Times reports. The captain, Sunil Kumar Nandeshwar, was arraigned in a district court in the country's capital, Port Louis, on the charge of endangering the safe navigation of a vessel, an offense under Mauritian maritime laws.

August 18, 2020

Trump Administration Finalizes Plan to Open Arctic Refuge to Drilling

The Trump administration on Monday finalized its plan to open up part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to oil and gas development, a move that overturns six decades of protections for the largest remaining stretch of wilderness in the United States. The decision sets the stage for what is expected to be a fierce legal battle over the fate of the refuge.

New York's Heat-Vulnerable Neighborhoods Need to Go Green to Cool Off

New York City champions itself as a climate leader, but experts and organizers say its response to the ravages of climate change in marginalized communities—specifically, to extreme heat—have come up short. As the climate crisis worsens, activists say those neighborhoods need green and holistic solutions, such as access to higher quality affordable housing and benefits from green infrastructure.

California Expresses Frustration as Blackouts Enter 4th Day

Lawmakers and consumer groups expressed outrage on Monday that the operator of California's electricity grid had not adequately prepared for a heat wave and was resorting to rolling blackouts. Sweltering weather has smothered much of the West over the last week and is expected to strain the electric grid that serves about 80 percent of California.

California's Death Valley Could Have Just Had the Hottest Temperature on Record for the World

One of the hottest air temperatures recorded anywhere on the planet in at least a century, and possibly ever, was reached on Sunday afternoon at Death Valley in California's Mojave Desert, where it soared to 130 degrees Fahrenheit. The National Weather Service reported the record at the crest of an extreme heat wave in the region—an occurrence that is becoming more frequent as the climate warms.

August 17, 2020

Going, Going ... Gone: Greenland’s Melting Ice Sheet Passed a Point of No Return in the Early 2000s

For 150 years, the Greenland Ice Sheet withstood anthropogenic climate change—each winter, enough snow piled up to balance the ice lost to spring and summer melting. But that all changed 20 years ago, a new study warns, and the glacier's melting has now hit a point of no return. Even if warming was halted today, the country's ice would continue to disappear, researchers said.

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