June 1, 2020
The Trump administration is proposing to fast track logging on public lands, introducing two proposals last week that would limit the environmental review of new projects. The Bureau of Land Management argues that its proposal to eliminate a 15-day public comment period on the agency's decisions would eliminate redundancies. Others say the move further cuts the public out of the conversation.
As countries begin rolling out plans to restart their economies after the brutal shock inflicted by the coronavirus pandemic, the three biggest producers of planet-warming gases—the European Union, the United States and China—are setting courses that push humanity in very different directions, the New York Times reports.
The official start of the Atlantic hurricane season, which forecasters anticipate to be above-average, could signal more steep losses for insurers and reinsurers already battered by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on their underwriting and investment positions.
One of the coldest regions on Earth has been experiencing a record-breaking heat wave in recent weeks amid growing fears about devastating wildfires and melting permafrost, NBC News reports. A town in Siberia's Arctic Circle registered highs of over 80 degrees Fahrenheit this week, far above the 59 degrees Fahrenheit historical average, as the whole of western Siberia basked in unseasonable warmth.
May 29, 2020
Forests across the world are transforming as the Earth heats up and as more frequent and severe droughts, wildfires and disease outbreaks destroy trees. In a new report published in Science magazine, researchers warn that climate change is accelerating the death of trees, stunting their growth and making forests across the world younger and shorter.
Climate scientist Detlev Helmig had gained a reputation as a thrifty researcher at the University of Colorado. His work also provided critical data regarding the state's fossil fuel emissions. So when the school suddenly fired him, accusing him of misusing funds, some saw the move as political as the state continues its heated fight over the future of the fracking industry.
Renewable energy consumption in the U.S. topped coal consumption in 2019, the first time this has occurred in more than 130 years, according to new Energy Information Administration data. Last year, coal consumption fell 15 percent while renewable consumption increased by 1 percent compared to 2018. It was the sixth consecutive year in which coal consumption dropped.
‘Zombie Fires’ Erupt in Alaska and Likely Siberia, Signaling Severe Arctic Fire Season May Lie Ahead
Zombie fires—blazes that continue to smolder even while covered by snow through the winter—are erupting this year in Alaska, and likely Siberia, where scientists say vast stores of organic matter are helping wildfires that started last summer stay alive. Those still-active blazes could compound on new ones, researchers warn, making for a particularly active fire season.
House Republicans have introduced a measure that would speed up permitting for mining projects in the U.S. in order to avoid importing critical minerals from countries like China. It's the latest effort from Republicans to shore up the domestic mining industry, following a report from the Department of Energy in April promoting the revival of American uranium mining.
California regulators on Thursday approved a plan that would allow the state's biggest utility, Pacific Gas & Electric, to emerge from the bankruptcy case it filed last year, clearing the last major hurdle the company faced. PG&E sought bankruptcy protection in January 2019 after it amassed $30 billion in liabilities related to wildfires caused by its equipment in recent years.
Investors worldwide are underestimating the financial risks from climate change, and companies need to start disclosing their exposure, according to the International Monetary Fund. As global temperatures rise, severe climate events may impact companies owning assets in areas hit by drought, floods, wildfires and storms, the fund said in its latest report. At present, asset prices fail to reflect the risk of extreme weather events that may cost $1 trillion annually starting in 2050, it said.
May 28, 2020
When scientist James Enstrom published a study concluding that there was no link between fine soot air pollution and premature death, it was criticized by groups like the American Cancer Association and was drastically at odds with the consensus of medical researchers. It also helped provide the underpinning for the Trump administration's wide-ranging assault on environmental protection policy.
Led by California, nearly two dozen states sued the Trump administration on Wednesday over its reversal of fuel-efficiency standards for cars and trucks, arguing that the move is based on erroneous science, and endangers public health. The lawsuit escalates a standoff between President Trump and a coalition of Democratic states that are attempting to stop the administration's aggressive deregulation efforts.
The coronavirus pandemic may have slashed global carbon emissions but a historic slump in global energy investment this year could threaten climate goals in the longer term, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency. Global investment could plunge by a record $400 billion this year, with spending expected to plummet across every major sector, including renewable energy.
States friendly to oil and gas development are trying to stop more local governments from banning natural gas connections in favor of electric hookups, which are seen as more climate-friendly, Bloomberg Law reports. Lawmakers in Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Arizona have all recently passed, or signed into law, bills that would ban municipalities from prohibiting gas hookups.
Fox News has been criticized for helping to spread misinformation regarding coronavirus, such as the unproven efficacy of the drug hydroxychloroquine as a treatment. Now a new report says the insurance agencies buying advertising during that coverage are the same companies that have also poured advertising dollars into supporting the network's efforts to downplay climate change.
In a rare move against Chevron Corp.'s board, shareholders of the U.S. oil giant are calling on the company to disclose lobbying efforts and ensure that they support international goals to combat global warming, Bloomberg reports. The proposal was the only one where a majority of Chevron's investors diverged from the board's recommendations in an annual meeting held virtually Wednesday.
An analysis by the New York Times found at least 192 references to climate change in songs that appeared on the Billboard charts in the last two decades, with 26 appearing on the charts in the last two years. The prevalence of the theme in pop music could be a bellwether for where the world is heading in terms of tackling the climate crisis.
May 27, 2020
In Setback to Industry, the Ninth Circuit Sends California Climate Liability Cases Back to State Courts
In a double setback for the fossil fuel industry, a federal court has ruled that two climate change-related lawsuits in California be heard in lower courts—rather than federal—where experts say the suits stand a better chance of succeeding. The ruling is seen as a win for cities and counties seeking to hold the industry financially liable for the effects of climate change.
International negotiations designed to address the sweeping global threat of climate change will quite likely be delayed by a full year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Britain, the host of the talks, which were initially scheduled to be held at the end of this year in Glasgow, proposed on Tuesday that they be postponed until November 2021.
It has been proposed as a simple solution to climate change by some, including President Trump: Plant a trillion trees, which will then soak up the rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere and convert it to oxygen. But scientists say the solution isn't that simple, and that reducing fossil fuel emissions is far more important to reining in global warming. Here's why.
A federal court in Montana invalidated 440 oil and gas leases sold across the West, ruling Friday the Trump administration did not properly follow an Obama-era plan to protect sage grouse habitat. The decision strikes down a 2018 memo that sought to change that plan and forces the government to return millions of dollars from the oil and gas contracts.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is calling for new power lines from upstate and Canada to promote clean energy and reinvigorate the state's ravaged economy in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The plan includes installing cables to bring wind and solar power down from the state's rural regions to New York City and its suburbs, as well as expediting efforts to deliver hydropower from Canada.
A massive swarm of crop eating insects are descending on India, as the country also copes with rising virus infections, heat waves and 100 million people out of work, The New York Times reports. While scientists say this plague is different from the recent outbreaks that ravaged East Africa, it's still being driven by climate change.
The European Commission unveiled a $826.3 billion package on Wednesday, which it says will put fighting climate change at the heart of the bloc's recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. Final details will be released Thursday, but a draft obtained by Reuters shows spending going toward building renovations, clean hydrogen and renewable energy, among other things.
The world's largest all-electric aircraft is about to take to the skies for the first time. The Cessna Caravan, retrofitted with an electric engine, is expected to fly for 20-30 minutes over Washington state on Thursday. It can cruise at a speed of 114 miles per hour and carry nine passengers, although a lone test pilot will helm its inaugural flight.
May 26, 2020
Rates of climate change in the world's ocean depths could be seven times higher than current levels by the second half of this century even if emissions of greenhouse gases were cut dramatically, according to new research. The temperature shifts could have major impacts on ocean wildlife, causing disconnects as species that rely on each other for survival are forced to move.
More than 15,000 dams across the country would likely kill people if they failed, and at least 2,300 of them are in poor or unsatisfactory condition, according to a recent update of federal data. Many of the nation's dams were built in the early 20th century, including the Michigan dams that failed, highlighting the increasing threat climate change poses on aging infrastructure.
The marshlands on the coast of Louisiana could disappear in the next 50 years as sea levels continue to rise due to global warming, according to a new study published in Science Advances. The wetlands at the base of the Mississippi River have crossed a "tipping point," according to the study, which is based on hundreds of measurements of the Mississippi Delta.
Video: Dreamer who Conceived of the Largest Arctic Science Expedition in History Now Racing to Save it
For 20 years, atmospheric scientist Matt Shupe dreamed of freezing a ship full of scientists into sea ice to drift toward the North Pole and study the surroundings. Today, he's racing to save that historic expedition from increasingly thinning ice and a pandemic. We take a look behind the scenes with ICN's Michael Kodas on what it was like reporting that story.