February 12, 2014 |
In the debate over how to confront climate change, carbon dioxide gets most of the attention. But at the city level, new research suggests, we ought to be looking just as critically at how urban growth is raising temperatures. A group of researchers found that as urban areas in the United States expand, so too will the “ heat island effect ,” in which pavement, rooftops, parking lots and other hard surfaces absorb heat and slowly release it, boosting temperatures higher than rural surroundings.
February 12, 2014 |
Today is Darwin Day, the 205th anniversary of the birth of the father of the theory of evolution. It's a scientific "holiday" that has had its evolutionary ups and downs. Five years ago, for the bicentennial of Darwin's birth and the 150th anniversary of his publication of " On the Origin of Species, " celebration was robust, with Darwin Days proclaimed on dozens of college campuses, in museums and in the halls of government. Today, well, not so much. The oldest known ancestor of the holiday, pushed these days by the American Humanist Assn., arose at Salem State University in Massachusetts, in 1980, which still holds a weeklong Darwin festival.
February 8, 2014
Re "Free the pipeline, Obama," Opinion, Feb. 4 Those who oppose Keystone XL aren't doing so primarily to make the pipeline a "litmus test issue for climate seriousness," as Jonah Goldberg writes. Rather, they're taking a principled stand. We must stop the juggernaut of business-as-usual that is leading inexorably to climate disruption. Environmentalists recognize that our civilization depends on vast amounts of energy and we cannot stop using fossil fuels overnight. But with more frequent extreme weather showing up right on schedule and rising sea levels, we absolutely must replace fossil fuels with sustainable energy as soon as possible.
February 6, 2014 |
The severe drought in California and much of the West is a reminder that civilized life is a paper-thin veneer that overlays the deep upheavals of nature. Humans carry on blithely, holding fast to the illusion that the natural world can be tamed and exploited with no unavoidable consequences. Then we get slammed by a hurricane, a flood, a tornado, a wildfire, a drought or a freezing polar vortex that lets us know how wrong we are. Yet, after each disaster, we forget again -- which is the reason so few of us give any sustained attention to the climate change peril.
February 5, 2014 |
WASHINGTON--The Obama administration has selected the locations for seven new regional centers that will help farmers and ranchers adjust to the increasing risks and extreme weather associated with climate change. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will announce the sites Wednesday, according to a White House official. President Obama unveiled the program this summer as part of his broader plan to address global warming. The centers, which the Agriculture Department calls climate hubs, will link local agriculture producers with universities, industry groups, state governments and federal agencies such as the Department of Interior and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
February 4, 2014 |
Welcome to the "year of action. " In last week's State of the Union address, the president vowed to do whatever he has to to help the economy, even if that means working around Congress: "What I offer tonight is a set of concrete, practical proposals to speed up growth, strengthen the middle class and build new ladders of opportunity into the middle class. Some require congressional action, and I'm eager to work with all of you. But America does not stand still, and neither will I. So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that's what I'm going to do. " The White House has touted the fact the president has a "phone and a pen" and he's not afraid to use them.
January 31, 2014 |
Global warming is changing the Arctic so quickly that experts say we should expect an ice-free Arctic Ocean in the summer within just a few decades. But a group of scientists says there is a way to spare the Arctic from more disastrous climate change. In a new paper, they say that reducing global carbon emissions now could cut Arctic warming nearly in half by century's end. Society already has released enough carbon dioxide into the Earth's atmosphere that over the next few decades temperatures in the Arctic will continue to rise two to three times faster than in Earth's middle latitudes, according to the study . “Over the next 20 or 30 years, the fix is in,” said James Overland, an oceanographer at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and lead author of the scientific paper.
January 31, 2014 |
Magellanic penguin chicks in Argentina have a new killer to fear -- death by climate change. The downy chicks were already vulnerable to predation and starvation in the first few weeks of their lives, but now they are threatened by increasing rainstorms caused by changing weather patterns. "Climate change is a new mortality factor," said Dee Boersma, a conservation biologist at the University of Washington. "It didn't use to kill these penguins and now it does. " Boersma and her team have been studying penguins for 28 years at Punta Tombo on the Atlantic side of Argentina -- home of the largest Magellanic penguin colony in the world.
January 28, 2014 |
WASHINGTON -- President Obama's discussion of energy and environmental issues in his State of the Union address was notable not just for what he said, but for what he didn't say. The president largely stuck to issues he had discussed before, such as how a good portion of the country's economic recovery, including the limited revival of manufacturing jobs, stems from the domestic fossil fuel boom, especially in natural gas. But he remained silent...