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The USS Ashland, followed by the USS Green Bay, in the Philippine Sea on Jan. 21. U.S. Department of Defense

By Shana Udvardy

After a dearth of action on climate change and a record year of extreme events in 2017, the inclusion of climate change policies within the annual legislation Congress considers to outline its defense spending priorities (the National Defense Authorization Act) for fiscal year 2018 was welcome progress. House and Senate leaders pushed to include language that mandated that the Department of Defense (DoD) incorporate climate change in their facility planning (see more on what this section of the bill does here and here) as well as issue a report on the impacts of climate change on military installations. Unfortunately, what DoD produced fell far short of what was mandated.

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FEMA Director Brock Long testifying at a House hearing on disaster response in November 2018. Alex Wong / Getty Images

Brock Long, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) director who oversaw the agency's controversial response to Hurricane Maria, announced his resignation Wednesday.

"It has been a great honor to serve our country as @fema Administrator for the past two years. While this has been the opportunity of the lifetime, it is time for me to go home to my family," Long said in a tweet announcing his departure.

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A "chicken confinement system" in North Carolina. Friends of Family Farmers / CC BY-ND 2.0

North Carolina, a state known for the devastating environmental and public health impacts of industrial-scale hog production, now has more than twice as many poultry factory farms as swine operations, according to a new investigation from the Environmental Working Group and Waterkeeper Alliance.

The groups' research found that in 2018, manure from 515.3 million chickens and turkeys joined the waste from 9.7 million hogs already fouling waters and threatening North Carolinians' health. By scouring satellite data, examining U.S. Department of Agriculture imagery and conducting site visits, EWG and Waterkeeper experts identified more than 4,700 poultry and about 2,100 swine concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOS.

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A picture taken on Sept. 28, 2017 shows a house destroyed by Hurricane Maria in Yabucoa, in the eastern part of storm-battered Puerto Rico. HECTOR RETAMAL / AFP / Getty Images

By Jeff Turrentine

The costliest hurricane season in our nation's history took place two years ago, when 17 named storms—including three that went by the names of Harvey, Irma and Maria—all came ashore within a six-month period, killing more than 3,300 Americans and causing more than $300 billion in damage. So when the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced last April that it would be distributing nearly $16 billion in mitigation funding to the areas hit hardest by storm activity since 2015, officials in places like Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands must have breathed a little easier.

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Tidal flooding in Florida; despite voting for Trump in 2016, the state leads the nation in likely economic losses from climate change. B137 / CC BY-SA 4.0

U.S. opinion on climate change is still highly polarized, with 82 percent of Democrats and only around 25 percent of Republicans ranking it a "very serious" problem, according to a November poll from Monmouth University. However, that divide is weakening. The same poll found that 64 percent of Republicans now acknowledge that it is happening, compared to 49 percent three years ago.

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A woman and child at a memorial of shoes displayed in front of the Puerto Rican capital in honor of those who died in Hurricane Maria. RICARDO ARDUENGO / AFP / Getty Images

Since the death toll in Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria was officially raised to 2,975, it has been acknowledged as one of the deadliest disasters in U.S. history, and the deadliest hurricane in more than 100 years. But many have argued it didn't have to be that way, pointing to a less-than-adequate response from the federal government.

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Florida Fish and Wildlife officers responding after Hurricane Michael on Oct. 17, 2018. Gus Holzer / Florida Fish and Wildlife

A record number of Americans now say that global warming is "personally important" to them, according to the latest Climate Change and the American Mind survey released Tuesday by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication (YPCCC) and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication. That number has jumped to 72 percent, up nine percentage points since the survey was last conducted in March of 2018.

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Noah Berger / AFP / Getty Images

In terms of natural disasters, 2018 was a really bad year. Communities in the United States and around the world were devastated by record-breaking wildfires, hurricanes, earthquakes, floods and other catastrophes.

Lamentably, these weather and geophysical events caused 10,400 human deaths and $160 billion in estimated damages last year, reinsurance company Munich Re said on Tuesday.

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A trispot darter fish. USFWS

A small, bright fish found in Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama will start the new year on the Endangered Species list, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) reported Thursday.

The trispot darter fish was thought to be entirely extinct in Alabama for more than 50 years until it was discovered in 2008 in Little Canoe Creek. Now, 10 years later, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has finalized protections for the 1.5 inch fish, earmarking more than 180 miles of river as "critical habitat."

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Aerial view of Florence, Nichols, Conway and Waccamaw, South Carolina, impacted by floodwaters on Sept. 21. South Carolina Air National Guard

By Sharon Kelly

2018 is set to rank as the fourth warmest year on record—and the fourth year in a row reflecting a full degree Celsius (1.8° Fahrenheit) temperature rise from the late 1800s, climate scientists say.

This was the year that introduced us to fire tornadoes, bomb cyclones and in Death Valley, a five-day streak of 125°F temperatures, part of the hottest month ever documented at a U.S. weather station.

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