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Like father, like daughter

Liz Cheney scorns climate action just as much as her dad

Liz and Dick Cheney
Reuters/Ruffin Prevost | spirit of america

Darth Vader and his Sith apprentice -- a.k.a. Dick Cheney and his daughter Liz -- are totally in synch about climate change. Here's how they responded to a question on the topic during a conversation with Politico's Mike Allen on Monday:

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Guess which two words can make your nonpartisan education reforms a hot potato?

globe in hands
Podoc

Depending on who you're talking to, the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)-- the first major national recommendations for teaching science to be made since 1996 -- either painfully water down the presentation of climate-change information or attempt to brainwash our nation's youth into believing climate change is real.

The backlash to the NGSS began last year, but now, we also have the backlash to the backlash -- an effort by the Union of Concerned Scientists, and others, to frame science education as a civil rights issue and mobilize a grassroots movement around the idea of a Climate Students Bill of Rights. The idea is to ensure that the new standards actually wind up getting taught.

If you're the kind of person who likes geeking out over curricula, you'll find the NGSS's website fascinating. How do we teach climate change? It's such an awkward thing to explain to children, who have not caused the problem and have yet to have a chance to help make it better. Or worse, for that matter.

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U.S. tariffs on Chinese solar panels break trade rules, WTO says

solar panels
Shutterstock

When it comes to global trade in solar panels and components, the U.S. trade representative wants to have his suncake and eat it too. Even as the trade rep has been hauling India before the World Trade Organization, complaining that the country's requirements for domestically produced solar panels violate global trade rules, the U.S. has been imposing new duties on panels imported from China and Taiwan. By some estimates, the U.S. duties could increase solar module costs in the country by 14 percent.

On Monday, WTO judges who were mulling China's complaint against the U.S. over its duties on solar panels and steel ruled in favor of -- you guessed it -- more world trade. Reuters reports:

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dude, where's my water?

America’s largest reservoir is hitting new record lows every day

A low Lake Mead
rjcox

The drought that's afflicting much of the American West has hoovered out a record-breaking amount of water from the reservoir that's held in place by the Hoover Dam.

Water levels in Lake Mead, the nation's largest reservoir, have fallen to a point not seen since the reservoir was created during the 1930s to store water from the Colorado River. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that the surface of the reservoir dipped below 1,082 feet above sea level last week:

Read more: Uncategorized

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Another court victory for EPA — this time on mountaintop-removal rules

mountaintop removal rules
Nicholas A. Tonelli

Blowing up mountains so that their coal-filled bellies can be stripped of their climate-changing innards doesn't just ruin Southern Appalachian forests. It also poisons the region's streams, as fragments of rock and soil previously known as mountaintops get dumped into valleys. A government-led study published two weeks ago concluded that this pollution is poisoning waterways, leading to "fewer species, lower abundances, and less biomass."

Concern about just this kind of water pollution is why the EPA stepped in five years ago using its Clean Water Act mandate to boost environmental oversight of mountaintop-removal mining, creating a joint review process with the Army Corps of Engineers to help that agency assess mining proposals under the Mining Control and Reclamation Act.

The EPA can't really do anything these days without the attorneys of polluters and the states that they pollute crying foul in court about "agency overreach." So it was with the EPA's 2009 "Enhanced Coordination Process." The National Mining Association, West Virginia, and Kentucky filed suit, and a federal court sided with them. But on Friday, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia reversed that decision, issuing a 3-0 ruling in favor of the EPA. The Charleston Gazette reports:

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Oklahoma hit by eight earthquakes in two days. Is the fracking industry to blame?

oil drill in Oklahoma
Shutterstock / Anthony Butler

The eight earthquakes that occurred in Oklahoma over the past couple of days may be yet another side effect the U.S.’s insidious fracking boom.

The quakes hit between Saturday morning and early Monday morning, most of them small enough that people didn’t realize the ground was shaking beneath them (they ranged from 2.6 to 4.3 on the Richter scale). But they’re part of a broader trend of increased seismic activity in the heartland over the last few years, a trend that correlates with the growth of fracking. As the L.A. Times reports, Oklahoma experienced 109 tremblors measuring 3.0 or greater in 2013, more than 5,000 percent above normal.

Fracking itself isn't thought to blame, but the disposal of fracking wastewater might be. Scientists have found that pumping the wastewater from fracking operations into wells likely triggers earthquakes because it messes with ground pressure, especially as those wells become more full. Like the wastewater well in Youngstown, Ohio, that triggered 167 earthquakes during a single year of operation. The biggest one, a sizable 5.7, happened the day after the Ohio Department of Natural Resources finally stepped in to shut the well down.

Read more: Climate & Energy

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A gassy, icy concoction

New shipping channel will carry natural gas through the Arctic

sea ice
Shutterstock

Most people think the thinning of the sea ice at the top of the world is a bad thing. But not shipping and fossil fuel interests.

Shipping companies this week announced that they would use icebreakers to carve a new Arctic shipping route to help them deliver natural gas from a processing plant in western Siberia to customers in Japan and China. The Wall Street Journal reports:

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Drowning in dangers

Climate change is flooding out American coastlines

Storm surge flooding
U.S. Coast Guard
Flooding caused by Hurricane Arthur on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Hurricane Arthur is no more than a holiday-dampening memory in the minds of many East Coast residents and visitors. But the 4.5-foot storm surge it produced along parts of North Carolina's shoreline on July 4 was a reminder that such tempests don't need to tear houses apart to cause damage.

As seas rise, shoreline development continues, and shoreline ecosystems are destroyed, the hazards posed by storm surges from hurricanes are growing more severe along the Gulf Coast and East Coast.

Two soggy prognoses for storm-surge vulnerabilities were published on Thursday. A Reuters analysis of 25 million hourly tide-gauge readings highlighted soaring risks in recent decades as sea levels have risen. Meanwhile, a company that analyzes property values warned of the dizzying financial risks that such surges now pose.

Read more: Climate & Energy

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keeping it cool

Another climate crackdown from Obama’s EPA

AC
Shutterstock

The Montreal Protocol, arguably the world's most successful environmental treaty, rapidly reduced CFC use around the globe -- and, in doing so, put us on the path to save the ozone layer from threatened annihilation. But the treaty had an unintended consequence. Many manufacturers switched from CFCs to HFCs, which we now know to be especially potent greenhouse gases.

So now we have to put out that fire. And on Thursday, the EPA took a major step toward doing just that, issuing new draft rules that would limit the use of the chemicals.

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A little slice of Saudi Arabia right at home

How hot will future summers be in your city?

U.S. map with red dots

Fancy spending a summer in Kuwait City? That's what scientists project summers will resemble in Phoenix by the end of the century. And summertime temperatures in Boston are expected to rise 10 degrees by 2100, resembling current mid-year heat in North Miami Beach.

Thanks to this nifty new tool from Climate Central, you can not only find out what temperatures your city is expected to average by 2100 -- you can compare that projected weather to current conditions in other metropolises.

1,001 Blistering Future Summers map

Read more: Climate & Energy