• “Mother nature always bats last, and she always bats 1,000": Rob Watson

    “[T]here’s an uncomfortable point that, so far, everyone is skating around: We knew this would happen, decades ago. We knew this would happen, and we didn’t care. Now is the time to say it as loudly as possible: Harvey is what climate change looks like. More specifically, Harvey is what climate change looks like in a world that has decided, over and over, that it doesn’t want to take climate change seriously” (Eric Holthaus).

  • Don’t blame climate change for the Hurricane Harvey disaster – blame society

    Yes, climate change can and does influence hurricanes. But climate change does not affect people’s vulnerabilities to the hurricane. Neither the climate nor the hurricane’s characteristics made Houston an industrial center of 2.3m people (2017 estimate), an increase of 40 percent since 1990. They did not force Texans to build along the coast or in floodplains without adequate measures, as occurs around the United States. They did not pave over green spaces leading to reduced rainfall absorption. Because vulnerability is not natural, many disaster researchers avoid the phrase “natural disaster.” A hurricane need not become a hurricane disaster – but society let a disaster happen. Blaming climate change, or even just the weather, for the hurricane disaster distracts from individuals’ and society’s responsibility for where we live, how we live and how we support people who cannot help themselves. This vulnerability, not nature and not climate change, causes hurricane disasters.

  • Analysis: Four things Houston-area leaders must do to prevent future flooding disasters

    An unprecedented amount of rain has fallen on the Houston area in the past few days, causing what is likely the worst flooding event that the nation’s sixth-largest metropolitan area has ever experienced — even worse than 2001’s Tropical Storm Allison. This may seem like a freak occurrence. But it is the third catastrophic flooding event this region of 6.5 million people has experienced in three years. And scientists and other experts say that much of the devastation could have been prevented. Here are four steps local leaders could have done to protect the Houston region from Harvey-related flooding — and what they must do to prevent such disasters in the future: Preserve and restore as much prairie land as possible; restrict development in floodplains and buy flood-prone homes; plan for climate change; educate the public.

  • Harvey likely to erode, over-wash, inundate 94 percent of Texas beaches

    New projections from the U.S. Geological Survey indicate Hurricane Harvey is likely to cause significant beach erosion along the Texas coastline, with water overtopping dunes and in some cases inundating areas. USGS Coastal Change Forecast model is predicting that 94 percent of Texas’s 367 miles of coastline will undergo some level of beach erosion from the storm surge and large waves Hurricane Harvey produces.

  • Why Houston isn't ready for Hurricane Harvey

    The brunt of Hurricane Harvey is projected to miss Houston, but the sprawling metropolis is likely to face massive flooding from its third crippling storm in the past three years. It underscores a new reality for the nation’s fourth-largest city: Climate change is making such storms more routine. Meanwhile, unchecked development in the Houston area is wiping out the pasture land that once soaked up floodwaters.

  • 139 countries could be powered by 100 percent wind, water, and solar energy by 2050

    The latest roadmap to a 100 percent renewable energy future from twenty-seven experts is the most specific global vision yet, outlining infrastructure changes that 139 countries can make to be entirely powered by wind, water, and sunlight by 2050 after electrification of all energy sectors. Such a transition could mean less worldwide energy consumption due to the efficiency of clean, renewable electricity; a net increase of over twenty-four million long-term jobs; an annual decrease in 4-7 million air pollution deaths per year; stabilization of energy prices; and annual savings of over $20 trillion in health and climate costs.

  • Climate change shifts timing of floods in Europe

    Researchers have identified a link between climate change and floods. A comprehensive study collected and analyzed fifty years of data from over 4,000 hydrometric stations from thirty-eight European countries, finding that the timing of the floods has shifted across much of Europe, dramatically in some areas.

  • Priorities for property buyouts in Florida’s flood-prone areas

    Flooding is the most common and damaging of all natural disasters in the United States. In 2016, 44 of the 46 major disaster declarations were related to storms, with flooding being a significant factor in almost 70 percent of them (30 events). In 2016, severe floods in the United States resulted in more than $17 billion in damages (six times higher than in 2015). Twelve individual weather and climate events caused more than $1 billion in damages each, and at least five severe 1,000-year precipitation events occurred in the United States in 2016. A new study proposes that government-funded buyouts, followed by structure demolition or relocation and the restoration of floodplain habitats, can support social, environmental, and economic objectives simultaneously.

  • Explaining rapid sea level rise along the East Coast

    Sea level rise hot spots — bursts of accelerated sea rise that last three to five years — happen along the U.S. East Coast thanks to a one-two punch from naturally occurring climate variations, according to a new study. The study shows that seas rose in the southeastern U.S. between 2011 and 2015 by more than six times the global average sea level rise that is already happening due to human-induced global warming.

  • Sea-level rise accelerating along U.S. East Coast

    Sea level rise on the East Coast has been much less than 1 millimeter (mm) per year for the entire period 0 AD to 1800 AD, and, since then, it has skyrocketed. In fact, the rate of sea level rise on the East Coast is the highest it has been for at least 2,000 years, and the rate of global sea level rise is above 1.7 mm per year. In New York City, the rate of sea level rise is more than 3 mm per year in an area that currently houses more than $25 billion of infrastructure at less than 1 meter above sea level.

  • Millions may face protein deficiency as a result of human-caused CO2 emissions

    If CO2 levels continue to rise as projected, the populations of eighteen countries may lose more than 5 percent of their dietary protein by 2050 due to a decline in the nutritional value of rice, wheat, and other staple crops. Researchers estimate that roughly an additional 150 million people may be placed at risk of protein deficiency because of elevated levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. This is the first study to quantify this risk.

  • Farming practices require dramatic changes to keep pace with climate change

    Major changes in agricultural practices will be required to offset increases in nutrient losses due to climate change. To combat repeated, damaging storm events, which strip agricultural land of soil and nutrients, farmers are already adopting measures to conserve these assets where they are needed. Researchers investigating nutrients in runoff from agricultural land warn that phosphorus losses will increase, due to climate change, unless this is mitigated by making major changes to agricultural practices.

  • ISIS and climate change leading security threats: Global survey

    People around the globe identify ISIS and climate change as the leading threats to national security, according to a new Pew Research Center report based on a survey of thirty-eight countries. The survey asked about eight possible threats: ISIS, global climate change, cyberattacks, the condition of the global economy, the large number of refugees leaving Iraq and Syria, and the power and influence of the United States, Russia, and China. While the level and focus of concern varies by region and country, ISIS and climate change clearly emerge as the most frequently cited security risks across the thirty-eight countries polled.

  • Climate change-driven increase in precipitation bad news for water quality

    If climate change is not curbed, increased precipitation could substantially overload U.S. waterways with excess nitrogen. Rainfall and other precipitation washes nutrients from human activities like agriculture and fossil fuel combustion into rivers and lakes. Excess nutrient pollution increases the likelihood of events that severely impair water quality. The impacts will be especially strong in the Midwest and Northeast.

  • Climate change threatens European electricity production

    The vulnerability of the European electricity sector to changes in water resources is set to worsen by 2030 as a consequence of climate change. Thermoelectric power stations—including coal, gas, and nuclear plants—use significant amounts of fresh water for cooling purposes. A large gas power station can use an Olympic-sized swimming pool of water per minute. If water is not available, or if it is too warm, power stations have to reduce electricity production, or cease production completely.