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Mississippi flood causes billions in damage, while local representatives deny climate threat

They've literally opened the floodgates.Photo: Gulf Restoration NetworkCross-posted from the Wonk Room. "Flooding along the Mississippi River has set a new water level record," according to the National Weather Service. "The massive flood churning its way down the Mississippi River will go down in history for its catastrophic, multi-billion dollar impact on the Midwestern economy." USA Today reported that "losses in Arkansas are estimated at more than $500 million, according to the state Farm Bureau. In Memphis, where the river crested Tuesday, damage was estimated at $320 million. Agricultural losses in Mississippi, including grain and catfish farms, could hit $800 million." The catastrophic flood, …

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Calling all artists: The climate movement needs you!

See related slideshowThroughout history, artists have joined forces with political movements to battle injustice and demand a better and more beautiful world. Picasso's "Guernica" captured the horrors of the German bombing of civilians in 1937. "Solidarity Forever," "We Shall Overcome," and "Give Peace a Chance" expressed the optimism and power of the labor, civil rights, and peace movements. Delacroix's "Liberty Leading the People" embodied the utopian fervor of the French Revolution. Shepard Fairey's Obama "Hope" silkscreen during the 2008 election captured America's yearning for a more visionary politics. Great upheavals demand great art. And now humanity faces the gravest of …

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Don’t want to face impossible decisions? Act now on climate

The Mississippi River on the rise.Photo: boxchainCross-posted from the Natural Resources Defense Council. As The Washington Post reported today, people along the Mississippi River and its swollen tributaries are facing a very difficult decision: Should they flood the farms to save the cities? That's a tough spot to be in, and one we are more likely to face as a result of climate change, according to a report released today, "America's Climate Choices," by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences. The report states: The impacts of climate change -- on coasts, water resources, agriculture, ecosystems, transportation …

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Protect the coral reefs — the life you save might be your own

Photo: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service -- Pacific RegionCoral reefs are in big trouble worldwide -- and that's not just bad news for snorkelers. It could mean death instead of life for millions of people ... maybe even you. Here's why: Coral already provides the elemental compounds for a growing number of crucial medicines and health products -- ranging from antiviral drugs like Ara-A and AZT to anti-inflammatories, painkillers, and even sunblocks. But science is in a race against time: We've just started to plumb the depths of coral's potential to attack the world's health issues ... only to have …

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Jon Huntsman, once a climate hawk, now disses cap-and-trade like all the other Republicans [UPDATED]

He's left China behind -- and climate hawkishness too.Photo: saucy panA couple of months ago, I asked, "Is Jon Huntsman the greenest GOP presidential hopeful?" In 2007, as Utah governor, he brought his state into the Western Climate Initiative, a regional cap-and-trade program. And up through 2009, when he took the post of ambassador to China, he called repeatedly for climate action. I noted that while many Republican presidential contenders had backed away from concern about climate change, Huntsman "has not backtracked -- at least not yet." Well, now the backtracking has begun. In his first big media interview since …

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Climate disasters: unlikely to be agents of progressive change

Disasters ain't gonna do it."Americans won't wake up and get serious about climate change until there's a disaster." I've been hearing people say that for years, but more and more lately. There's always an uptick after a political defeat like the failure of the climate bill. It's delivered with "more in sadness than in anger" earnestness, and of course no one will ever say they want a disaster to happen, but it's hard not to detect, beneath the surface, some small bit of relish at the thought of saying "I told you so." In more heated circles, there's even a …

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The Pope gets down with climate change

Is climate change a serious problem that requires drastic action? Does the Pope wear a funny hat? Finally, these two questions go together for reasons beyond heavy sarcasm. The Vatican's scientific advisory panel, the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, has issued a report calling for an urgent reduction in carbon emissions. "We appeal to all nations to develop and implement, without delay, effective and fair policies to reduce the causes and impacts of climate change on communities and ecosystems, including mountain glaciers and their watersheds, aware that we all live in the same home," says the report. Okay, so the current Pope …

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Climate crisis fueling Mississippi River’s historic floods

The Mississippi River flooding part of downtown Memphis.Photo: Chris WielandThe Mississippi River is experiencing its second "500-year flood" since 1993. That's no freak occurrence -- scientists say it's a result of human-made carbon pollution changing our climate. "All extreme weather events are now subject to human influence," said Peter Gleick, a climate and water scientist and the president of the Pacific Institute, at a Capitol Hill briefing on Monday organized by the American Meteorological Society (AMS). "We are loading the dice and painting higher numbers on them." Forecasters expected the Mississippi River to top out in Memphis on Monday night just inches below …

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Tired of the climate change battle? How about a climate change RAP battle?

Is that global warming, or am I just flushing in embarrassment? This awful/awesome rap about anthropogenic climate change lets actual climate scientists take the stage for once -- and then proceed to make fools of themselves. We learned several things from the video: There's no denying this: Climate change is real! (real real real) Climate scientists are really, REALLY white. No, I mean like, they are worse rappers than Flight of the Conchords. By a significant margin. Also, maybe not everything sounds better autotuned. On the other hand, you gotta give them props for going balls to the wall. How many …

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Bill Gates on energy philanthropy, R&D funding, & why the U.S. will out-innovate China

Bill Gates goes casual at the Climate Solutions breakfast.Photo: nonfictionmediaThe Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation -- the richest in the world, with an endowment of $37 billion -- doesn't have plans to focus on clean energy and climate change, Bill Gates said on Tuesday. Speaking at a fundraiser for Northwest nonprofit Climate Solutions, he argued that energy markets and investments are too large for philanthropic money to make much of a dent. But Gates is investing in energy-tech startups himself -- he called out nuclear company TerraPower in particular -- and he hopes those investments make money that can then …