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climate change

Courtesy Kerry Emanuel via CIRA

It’s been five years since Superstorm Sandy struck New England. This hurricane season set a record for the most consecutive hurricanes and threatens to make that unprecedented storm seem run-of-the-mill. 

Environmental Successes: How We Can Make Them Happen Again

Oct 16, 2017
NASA shows how the ozone hole has recovered and how its recovery is expected to continue.
NASA / http://bit.ly/2yORtd5

Most of the time, the headlines are full of bad news. That’s especially true of environmental headlines. But Susan Solomon of MIT says we have a track record of environmental success stories that deserve more attention. 

Countries Move Forward on Climate Despite U.S. Withdrawal

Oct 16, 2017
In recent years, greenhouse gas emissions have actually dropped in developed countries. Europe and China are setting more abitious goals for the future.
Elsa Partan

The EPA has released its four-year plan and there’s no mention of climate change. Plus, they’ve officially begun the process of rescinding the Clean Power Plan. It’s the latest step in the Trump administration’s efforts to undo Obama-era climate policies. 

The Clean Power Plan was the Obama administration’s approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the face a GOP-controlled Congress opposed to climate legislation. So, is its rollback the end of U.S. action to address climate change? 

Between Harvey, Irma, and Maria, hurricanes have left hundreds of thousands of people in Texas, Florida, and the Caribbean with a gut-wrenching choice: rebuild, or relocate? It’s a question that some Massachusetts towns and property owners face on a regular – if less dramatic – basis.

Summer in the Gulf of Maine Getting Longer and Stronger

Sep 11, 2017
National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration and U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Woods Hole, MA Labels by Syagria / Public Domain

The waters off New England’s coast are warming faster than 99.9% of the world’s oceans. A new study finds that summer-like conditions in the Gulf of Maine now last two months longer than they did just a few decades ago. And that's not necessarily a good thing.

Scientists have known for a handful of years that the waters off the northeast coast are warming at an unusually rapid rate. Over the course of thirty three years, the average temperature has gone up about one degree. But the warming hasn't happened steadily.

Hurricanes Nudge Financial Policy

Sep 11, 2017
Paula DiPerna
Wikicommons / http://bit.ly/2wk9Z7C

The cost of extreme weather has increased dramatically in recent years. Hurricane Katrina was the most expensive weather event of past thirty years with a total price tag of more than $150 billion. Harvey is expected to be in that range, and we are still watching Irma and Jose unfold.

Are these economic impacts changing policy or behavior more broadly?

Harvey Would Have Been Bad; Climate Change Made It Worse

Sep 4, 2017
The Texas Army National Guard responds to Hurricane Harvey
Army National Guard / http://bit.ly/2wAHHrd

Hurricane Harvey dropped an unprecedented amount of rain on a vulnerable area. How much of that is the fault of human-caused climate change? Before the floodwaters had even left Houston, Michael Wehner was working on that question. He is a scientist in the Computational Research Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Woods Hole Climate Scientist Discusses the Leaked Report

Aug 14, 2017
The report says the Northeast will be strongly impacted by climate change.
Elsa Partan

A climate science report leaked to the New York Times this past week presents some unsettling warnings, both about our changing weather and our current political climate. That report is part of the fourth National Climate Assessment. These assessments are intended to provide guidance to lawmakers and officials – from federal to local.

Simulating the Future of Climate Policy

Jun 19, 2017
World Climate Simulation pairs mock U.N. negotiations with a climate model that shows participants the likely result of their actions.
Courtesy of John Sterman / Climate Interactive

In the two and a half weeks since President Trump announced that the US would withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, there’s been a lot of speculation about how the rest of the world will respond, and whether they can address climate change without the U.S. on board. An MIT researcher plans to test exactly this idea with a simulation this Thursday.

New England's Lobsters Could Face 'Smashing' New Predators

Jun 12, 2017
As water temperatures rise, southern New England is losing its lobsters.
Derek Keats, Wikimedia Commons / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en

When it comes to the iconic fisheries of New England, lobster is a close second only to cod. But lobsters are not faring well in the waters off southern New England. In fact, on a ten-point scale, lobster biologist Kari Lavalli of Boston University puts the population at a three.

Beth Casoni, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Lobstermen's Association, says lobsters south and west of Cape Cod have faced “a multitude of stressors.” Lavalli agrees, but points the finger primarily at climate change. Both say this is definitely not the fault of those who catch and eat lobsters.

Two Surprising Ways to Cut Carbon Emissions

Jun 6, 2017
Self-folding pasta could significantly cut the cost and carbon footprint of shipping dried pasta - a multi-billion dollar industry in the U.S.
Courtesy of Transformative Appetite / MIT Media Lab

President Trump has clearly signaled that his administration won't make an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but one initiative he proposed this week might do just that. And other cuts could come from unexpected places.

President Trump's announcement last week that he will withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement was not unexpected. Besides the fact that the news was leaked to the press a day in advance, Trump has been promising to do this since he was on the campaign trail. But Trump’s blatant disregard for climate science and his description of the Paris Agreement, itself, has drawn criticism from the science community.

Secretary Tillerson Signs the Scientific Cooperation Agreement at the 10th Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting in Fairbanks, AK.
U.S. Air Force / Public Domain

The Arctic Council held their tenth annual ministerial meeting last week and adopted a science cooperation agreement that puts climate change front and center. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signed that agreement, but also told council members that the U.S. will not rush and will “work to make the right decision for the United States” when it comes to climate policies.

Climate Change Is Hitting Home, And It's Not Fair

Apr 11, 2017
Japanese barberry is an invasive that will likely benefit from climate change.
Wikicommons

Surveys consistently show that a majority of Americans think climate change is happening, but that it won’t affect them. Scientists say otherwise. Researchers already are seeing impacts - often dramatic, sometimes counterintuitive - on both natural systems and human communities. And, while everyone will be affected, some will be hit sooner and harder.

Is Climate Change to Blame for Our Wacky Weather?

Mar 20, 2017
Crocuses sprang up with February's warmth, but got frozen in March.
Elsa Partan

For the start of spring, we thought we’d look back at the wacky weather we’ve been having over the past two months. Like the 71-degree Fahrenheit day in Boston on February 24, which set the record for the warmest day for that city for the month of February. Or the February 27th tornado in Western Massachusetts. Or the radical swing to arctic temperatures in March.

John Holdren, science advisor and director of OSTP under President Obama.
Elsa Partan / WCAI

President Donald Trump has yet to name a science advisor, a position that dates back to the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration. It wouldn't be the first time that a president has decided he's better off without one. 

President Nixon wasn’t happy with the advice he was getting from his Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).  He fired his science advisor and he dissolved the office of science and technology. But in 1976, Congress decided the executive branch really needed such an office and so it restored it by law.

Corals Could Help Predict the Asian Monsoon

Jan 23, 2017
Luis Lamar, WHOI

The South Asian monsoon provides the drinking water for 1.5 billion people each year. It brings more than two-thirds of India's rainfall and accounts for more than half of the water that Indian farmers use to grow crops.

Wiki Commons

Over the past several years, climate change has gained a reputation as a liberal agenda item. It wasn't always that way; it was President George H. W. Bush who brought the U.S. into international climate negotiations in 1992. Today, many GOP legislators reject the scientific consensus on human-caused climate change. But that science is clear – human activities are disrupting the global climate system, and that poses risks to people and institutions of all political persuasions.

New Study: Regional Carbon Cap-and-Trade Has Saved Lives

Jan 12, 2017
By United States National Institute of Health: Heart, Llung and Blood Institute [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

A new study this week finds that a regional carbon cap and trade system has saved hundreds of lives and billions of dollars for New Englanders. Officials from the nine participating states are currently working out the future of the program.

Leading diplomats celebrated the signing of the Paris Agreement last December. This year's negotiations begin today in Marakech, Morocco.
U.S. Department of State

Today is the first day of COP22, the twenty second annual meeting of international climate change negotiators. This year’s conference is like none of the previous ones, because – this time – there’s an international climate agreement in effect. The Paris Agreement entered into force last Friday, November 4th.

How to Clone a Mammoth (Or Should We?)

Oct 10, 2016
Wikicommons

Many scientists think we are in the midst of a sixth mass extinction, and it’s out fault.

The idea of bringing back extinct animals has gotten more attention in recent years as labs around the world get better at sequencing their genes. Could we once again have herds of woolly mammoths grazing the tundra of the north?

Rising Carbon Dioxide Levels Threaten Corals and Oysters

Apr 4, 2016
Wiki Commons

Tiny, thin-shelled oysters; crumbling coral reefs; fish unable to make sense of odors; decimated plankton populations. Those are some of the nightmare scenarios conjured by the prospect of a rapidly acidifying ocean caused by unchecked carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel burning.

How to Talk to Kids About Climate Change

Mar 14, 2016
Jamey Stillings and Esha Chiocchio

Climate change is heavy enough for adults to contemplate, but as a topic for children, it can be downright scary. Not to mention that the science is pretty complicated. How do we teach children what they need to know without terrifying them -- and in a way they can understand?

Developing Science Standards for 21st Century Students

Jan 26, 2016
George Joch / Courtesy Argonne National Laboratory

The Space Race inspired a generation of students interested in science. Today, the issues facing aspiring scientists are no less momentous. For one, there's NASA's efforts to put people on Mars. But, closer to home, science issues touch each of us, every day – from climate change, to genetically modified organisms, and cutting edge medical treatments. And, of course, most of us have access to the world's collective knowledge via tiny, powerful computers we carry around in our pockets.

Cold-stunned Turtles Still Washing Up On Cape Cod Shores

Jan 4, 2016
A recently rescued Kemp's ridley sea turtle floating in a recovery tank in the New England Aquarium's Quincy facility.
New England Aquarium

Each summer, young Kemp's ridley sea turtles follow the Gulf Stream north from the tropics to feed. Each fall, some number of those are caught off-guard by falling water temperatures and may wash ashore, dehydrated and paralyzed by cold. It's a story as old as Cape Cod, but it's been changing in recent years.

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