Climate Change & Environment
Latest stories
Republican Gets JFK Courage Award for Climate Stance

Republican Bob Inglis received the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award on Sunday for reversing his position on climate change despite the predictable political fallout that helped cost him his seat in Congress.

Kennedy's grandson, Jack Schlossberg, presented the award to Inglis on Sunday at the JFK Library in Boston.

W140 Full Story
Polar Bears Hit by Twin Threats of Pollution and Climate Change

Greenland’s polar bears have a thyroid problem. Their endocrine systems, too, are being disrupted.

In both cases the culprit agency is environmental pollution by a range of long-lived industrial chemicals and pesticides.

W140 Full Story
Here’s What China Closing Coal-Power Plants Means for Emissions

China’s recent scrapping of small coal plants will avoid the release of as much as 11.4 million metric tons annually of climate-warming carbon dioxide, helping the country cut emissions for the first time in more than a decade.

The impact is a sign of what’s to come as China pushes for a cap on coal and moves to shutter, or refit, its dirtiest coal-burning power plants. China overhauled or scrapped as much as 3.3 gigawatts of the facilities in 2014, according to a March statement from the National Bureau of Statistics.

W140 Full Story
Earth Day Scientists Say 75% of Known Fossil Fuel Reserves Must Stay in Ground

Three-quarters of known fossil fuel reserves must be kept in the ground if humanity is to avoid the worst effects of climate change, a group of leading scientists and economists have said in a statement timed to coincide with Earth Day.

The Earth League, which includes Nicholas Stern, the author of several influential reports on the economics of climate change; Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, a climate scientist and adviser to Angela Merkel; and the US economist Jeffrey Sachs, urged world leaders to follow up on their commitments to avoid dangerous global warming.

W140 Full Story
4 Surprising Reasons Why Clean Energy is Gaining on Fossil Fuels

Don’t hold your breath, but future historians may look back on 2015 as the year that the renewable energy ascendancy began, the moment when the world started to move decisively away from its reliance on fossil fuels. Those fuels — oil, natural gas, and coal — will, of course, continue to dominate the energy landscape for years to come, adding billions of tons of heat-trapping carbon to the atmosphere. For the first time, however, it appears that a shift to renewable energy sources is gaining momentum. If sustained, it will have momentous implications for the world economy — as profound as the shift from wood to coal or coal to oil in previous centuries.

Global economic growth has, of course, long been powered by an increasing supply of fossil fuels, especially petroleum. Beginning with the United States, countries that succeeded in mastering the extraction and utilization of oil gained immense economic and political power, while countries with huge reserves of oil to exploit and sell, like Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, became fabulously wealthy. The giant oil companies that engineered the rise of petroleum made legendary profits, accumulated vast wealth, and grew immensely powerful. Not surprisingly, the oil states and those energy corporations continue to dream of a future in which they will play a dominant role.

W140 Full Story
The Hidden Ocean Patch that Broke Climate Records

Nothing has caused climate scientists quite as much recent trouble as the so-called “global warming hiatus.” Not only did this approximately 14-year lull in the rise of global mean (or average) temperatures provide fodder for a variety of misguided climate change deniers (there have been other, longer pauses), but it also represented a genuine scientific mystery. Scientists knew it was being caused by falling ocean temperatures, but they also knew that the ocean, as a whole, was warming. Where was the extra heat being stored, and when would it make itself known?

Then this past November Axel Timmermann, a climate scientist at the University of Hawaii’s International Pacific Research Center, announced that global mean temperatures had finally resumed their rise, driven mainly by an unprecedented spike in sea surface temperatures in the northeast Pacific.

W140 Full Story
Lebanon’s 12% Renewable Energy Pledge and How to Get There

In 2009, the Government of Lebanon committed to reach 12% renewable energy in its energy mix by 2020. In addition, the Ministry of Energy and Water, in its Policy Paper for the Electricity Sector, plans to increase the electricity generation capacity based on diversity and security. Even though Lebanon’s share of emissions compared to global emissions is minimal, reaching for renewable energy technologies instead of fossil fuels ensures sustainability.

Now, there is somewhere to start; a cost optimization model has been developed by the UNDP Climate Change Coordination Unit project at the Ministry of Environment and the United Nations Development Program project at the Ministry of Finance to determine the optimal renewable energy mix based on a cost criterion using three technologies: hydropower, wind power and solar energy. The study then analyzes different scenarios while calculating the cost to the Lebanese economy and the government. After the results are presented, the study offers policy suggestions to follow through with the best scenario.

W140 Full Story
Oil from Russian Trawler Wreck Reaches Canaries' Beaches

Oil from the wreck of a Russian trawler that sank off the Canary Islands last week has washed up on the beaches of the picturesque tourist islands, Spain said on Friday.

"On Thursday and the morning (of Friday), 200 cubic meters (7,000 cubic feet) of sea water with oil residues were recovered. On the beaches, 200 kilograms (440 pounds) of oil have been removed," the government said in a statement.

W140 Full Story
Texas City Opts for 100% Renewable Energy – to Save Cash, not the Planet

News that a Texas city is to be powered by 100% renewable energy sparked surprise in an oil-obsessed, Republican-dominated state where fossil fuels are king and climate change activists were described as “the equivalent of the flat-earthers” by U.S. senator and GOP presidential hopeful Ted Cruz.

“I was called an Al Gore clone, a tree-hugger,” says Jim Briggs, interim city manager of Georgetown, a community of about 50,000 people some 25 miles north of Austin.

W140 Full Story
Electric Car Batteries Just Hit a Key Price Point

Electric vehicle demand in the past five years has soared in this country. The same is true worldwide. By the end of 2014, more than 700,000 total plug-in vehicles had been sold worldwide (plug-in hybrids and pure battery electrics), up from about 400,000 at the end of 2013. As of 2015, dozens of models of electric cars and vans are available for purchase, mostly in Europe, the United States, Japan, and China.

A major reason for the rapid jump in EV sales is the rapid drop in the cost of their key component -– batteries. The energy stored in a battery is measured by kilowatt-hour (kWh). The more kWh stored, the further the car can go on one charge, so a key metric for battery economics is the cost per kWh. The lower the cost, the cheaper it is to build an electric car with a significant range.

W140 Full Story