August 17, 2020

China’s Summer of Floods is a Preview of Climate Disasters to Come

This summer, flooding in China's Yangtze River Basin wiped out farmland, prevented high school students from taking college entrance exams and destroyed huge amounts of merchandise. Now researchers warn that those disasters could play prelude to the climate crisis yet to come, saying that the country would be the worst impacted by inundation if the global temperature rises by 4 degrees Celsius.

Lights Dim and Worries Mount as a Heat Wave Roasts California

A heat wave rolling through the Southwest has forced intermittent power shut-offs in California, a state already struggling with wildfires and a recent surge in coronavirus cases, raising fears that the rising temperatures could turn deadly. The state shut off power to hundreds of thousands of customers for several hours on Friday to avoid a damaging overload.

Iowa Seeks About $4 Billion in Disaster Aid After Storm

Iowa is seeking about $4 billion in disaster relief after a storm packing hurricane-force winds tore across the Midwest last Monday, Governor Kim Reynolds said. The storm killed at least three people, Reuters reports, and caused widespread property damage in cities and rural towns, leaving more than half a million homes and businesses without power.

August 14, 2020

Hundreds Evacuated After Wildfires Destroy More Than 90,000 Acres Across 3 States

Firefighters across three Western states are battling wildfires that have destroyed more than 90,000 acres, CNN reports. More than 100 homes have been evacuated after officials in California, Oregon and Colorado issued orders to do so. The Lake Fire north of Los Angeles has already burned over 11,000 acres, fire officials said, and was 5 percent contained as of Thursday evening.

In a Move That Could be Catastrophic for the Climate, Trump’s EPA Rolls Back Methane Regulations

The Environmental Protection Agency announced a long-anticipated rollback of methane emission regulations for the oil and gas industry on Thursday, marking the Trump administration's latest attack on federal climate policy. The move comes at a time when global methane emissions from human activity are already rising and could result in a catastrophic increase of the climate "super-pollutant."

Seven Top Oil Firms Downgrade Assets by $87 Billion in 9 Months

The world's largest listed oil companies have wiped almost $90 billion from the value of their oil and gas assets in the last nine months as the coronavirus pandemic accelerates a global shift away from fossil fuels, The Guardian reports. Seven major oil firms, including Royal Dutch Shell, BP, Total and Chevron, have reported downgrades totaling $87 billion on the value of their assets.

Light Pollution from Coastal Cities Reaches Seafloor

Artificial light at night has long been suspected to disturb ecosystems on land and affect human health. Light from cities and ships also repels or attracts many species of fish, stresses coral reefs and disrupts the circadian rhythms of wood lice on sandy beaches. A new study published in Scientific Reports is the first to quantify how much light pollution reaches the seafloor near coastal cities, researchers say.

August 13, 2020

Inside Clean Energy: Biden’s Climate Plan Shows Net Zero is Now Mainstream

We're in the midst of a big moment in the clean energy transition, but you might not have noticed. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden recently proposed a climate and clean energy plan that aims to get the country to net-zero emissions by 2050—something that in the past would have generated significant backlash. It shows just how far the idea has permeated mainstream politics.

Antarctica’s Ice Shelves Have Lost Millions of Metric Tons of Ice

Antarctic ice shelves have lost nearly 4 trillion metric tons of ice since the mid-1990s, a new study analyzing satellite data from 1994 to 2018 found. Ocean water is melting them from the bottom up, causing them to lose mass faster than they can refreeze, it says, spelling bad news for the hundreds of glaciers along the Antarctic coastline and raising the threat of global sea level rise.

Global Warming Could Unlock Carbon From Tropical Soil

Humble dirt could pack an unexpected climate punch, according to a new study published in the journal Nature. An experiment that heated soil underneath a tropical rainforest to mimic temperatures expected in the coming decades found that hotter soils released 55 percent more planet-warming carbon dioxide than did nearby unwarmed areas.

Energy Department Proposes Showerhead Standards Rollback After Trump Complains

The Trump administration is moving to loosen environmental standards for showerheads following a string of public complaints from the president about low-flow fixtures designed to save water. The proposal, which drew swift criticism from consumer groups, would change the definition of a showerhead, allowing quicker water flow than current standards permit. 

August 12, 2020

On Climate, Kamala Harris Has a Record and Profile for Action

Joe Biden's pick for vice president recently introduced climate equity legislation into Congress and has advocated for holding fossil fuel companies accountable for climate pollution, though some environmentalists criticize her service as California's attorney general, claiming Harris did not go as far as other state law enforcers in pursuing litigation against the industry. 

6 Former EPA Bosses Call for Agency Reset After Election

A group of former EPA leaders from both Democratic and Republican administrations unveiled a "road map" intended to guide the next administration, stating that the group was "concerned about the current state of affairs at EPA." Though the statement does not mention Trump directly, it critiques actions taken by his administration's EPA. 

A Wildlife Refuge Under Siege at the Border

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. 

Risk of Covid-19 Plastic Trash Pile-up Worries Europe

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

One Million Without Power After Violent Storm Rips Midwest

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.

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