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UK Department for International Development / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

The Irma Diaries: Hurricane Irma Survivor Stories Should Be a Climate Change Wake-Up Call

By Lornet Turnbull

There's a popular quote often attributed to Mark Twain that was used in a radio ad in the Virgin Islands many years ago: "Everybody talks about the weather, but no one does anything about it…."

It always seemed strangely inappropriate in a place where people seldom talk about the weather, and where blue skies produce picture postcard days and temperatures seldom vary from the mid-80s. In the islands, the saying goes, as in much of the Caribbean, the weather is pretty predictable.

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Coastal Flooding X-Factor: Natural Climate Patterns Create Hot Spots of Rapid Sea Level Rise

By Arnoldo Valle-Levinson and Andrea Dutton

For Americans who live along the east and Gulf of Mexico coasts, the end of the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season on Nov. 30 was a relief. This year forecasters recorded 17 named storms, 10 of which became hurricanes. Six were major hurricanes (Category 3 or stronger), and three made landfall: Harvey in Texas, Irma in the Caribbean and Florida, and Maria in the Caribbean and Puerto Rico. It was the most costly season ever, inflicting more than $200 billion in damages.

Many scientists have found evidence that climate change is amplifying the impacts of hurricanes. For example, several studies just published this month conclude that human-induced climate change made rainfall during Hurricane Harvey more intense. But climate change is not the only factor making hurricanes more damaging.

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2017 Year in Review

As we look back on the most noteworthy environmental stories of 2017, one cannot help but start with the extreme weather that has caused so much destruction to so many around the globe. And with that, the year brought heightened concern for protecting our planet with focused attention on issues like renewable energy, electric vehicles and plastic pollution. And while 2017 was also marked by challenges with the U.S. pulling out of the Paris agreement and making other questionable environmental policy changes, we all enter a new year with the ability to make positive change.

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Neighborhood homes destroyed in the Thomas Fire burning in the Ventura area of California. KTLA / Twitter

Our Favorite Environmental Journalism of 2017

By Joe Sandler Clarke and Unearthed reporters

From the finest American journalism chronicling the worst excesses of the Trump administration to international stories showing the impact of climate change on the developing world, here are the stories we wish we had written this year.

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Wikimedia Commons

Hurricane Tree Recovery Campaign Aims to Plant 5 Million Trees in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico

Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria didn't just destroy buildings and dump several feet of water into several American communities—the powerful winds also snapped and downed innumerable trees, altering treasured landscapes.

That's why the Arbor Day Foundation launched its Hurricane Tree Recovery Campaign in an effort to help tree restoration efforts in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico following this year's string of devastating hurricanes. The program, which debuted in October, aims to plant a total of five million trees over the next five years as a way to contribute to the rebuilding efforts in the affected communities.

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CNN Shows Right Way to Report on Hurricanes and Climate Change

From the Dec. 2 edition of CNN Newsroom:

Clarissa Ward: Michael Mann is one of the country's top climate scientists. He has testified before Congress about the threat posed by climate change.

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Environmental activists in kayaks protest the arrival of the Polar Pioneer, an oil drilling rig owned by Shell Oil, in Seattle. Backbone Campaign / Flickr

Moyers and McKibben: What to Do When Time Is Running Out for the Planet

By Bill Moyers

I wasn't one of the 50,766 participants who finished the New York City Marathon last weekend. Instead, I spent the average marathon finish time of 4:39:07 to read a book—obviously a small book. In the interest of disclosure, I didn't even start the race, but that's another and even shorter story than Radio Free Vermont, the book from which I did occasionally look up and out the window to check on the stream of marathoners passing our apartment, their faces worn and haggard.

A shame, I thought, that I couldn't go outside and hand each one a copy of the book that had kept me smiling throughout the day while also restoring my soul; I was sure the resilience would quickly have returned to weary feet and sore muscles now draped in aluminum foil for healing's sake. I admire those athletes, but wouldn't have traded their run for my read, because Radio Free Vermont is funny, very funny, all the more so considering the author is one of the more serious men on the planet—the planet he has spent his adult life trying to save.

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With the power still out on Oct. 20, surgeons in Puerto Rico used cell phones as flashlights. @agarciapadilla / Twitter

Puerto Rico Continues to Suffer Worst Electricity Failure in U.S. History

Hurricane Maria caused the largest blackout in U.S. history, according to a new report. An analysis released this week from the Rhodium Group finds that the hurricane caused a net loss of 1.25 billion hours of electricity since hitting Puerto Rico on Sept. 20—the largest in recorded history.

Nine of the 10 most severe power outages in the U.S. were the result of hurricanes, according to the report. Weeks after Hurricanes Maria and Irma passed over the region, 75 percent of Puerto Rico's 3.4 million inhabitants remain without power.

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Flooding covered much of Jacksonville during Hurricane Irma. Will Dickey / Florida Times-Union

Florida Faces 3 Toxic Crises Triggered by Flooding

By Dipika Kadaba

Ah, Florida—home to famous natural landscapes and amazing wildlife, but also to more than 20 million people and billion-dollar industries. Decades of booming development in Florida—all of it built in the path of Atlantic hurricanes—have brought to a head some toxic problems the state still struggles to solve. Every major flooding event, like the one following this year's Hurricane Irma, leaches toxic waste into people's homes and drinking water.

Florida is particularly vulnerable to storm surges and flooding from hurricanes like Irma. Scroll down to explore the natural disaster risks facing Florida and increasing its residents' toxic risks:

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