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Air Pollution From Industrial Shutdowns and Startups a Grave Danger to Public Health

By Nikolaos Zirogiannis, Alex J. Hollingsworth and David Konisky

When Hurricane Harvey struck the Texas coast in August 2017, many industrial facilities had to shut down their operations before the storm arrived and restart once rainfall and flooding had subsided.

These shutdowns and startups, as well as accidents caused by the hurricane, led to a significant release of air pollutants. Over a period of about two weeks, data we compiled from the Texas' Air Emission Event Report Database indicates these sites released 2,000 tons of sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds and other pollutants.

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Astronaut Randy Bresnik took this photo of Tropical Storm Harvey from the International Space Station. Flickr

Trump Wants to Cut 355 National Weather Service Jobs Despite Record-Breaking Disasters in 2017

With weather and climate disasters becoming more destructive and costlier than ever, accurate and reliable weather forecasting is absolutely critical to protect life and property.

However, President Trump's 2019 White House budget proposes to cut National Weather Service (NWS) funding by about 8 percent, a decrease of just over $75 million. It also proposes a reduction of 355 positions, including 248 forecasting jobs.

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Ted Glick

Puerto Rico Needs Your Help for Recovery, But Also for Reform

From Jan. 28 to Feb. 7 my wife and I were in Vieques, Puerto Rico, helping as best we could with recovery from Hurricane Maria, which hit on Sept. 20, 2017 almost five months ago. Help is very much still needed.

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Climate
New Castle Causeway. PREP Community / Facebook

How One State Bridged the Cultural Divide on Climate Change

By Cameron Wake

The year 2017 painted a grim picture of coastal storms in the eastern U.S. Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria were deadly and destructive harbingers of how climate change contributes to bigger storms with stronger winds, greater extreme precipitation, and higher storm surge due to rising seas.

Unfortunately, there's a long-standing cultural divide around climate change. On a political level, this has made it difficult for coastal states to act on—or even acknowledge—the growing risk of coastal flooding from climate change.

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A citizen of Barranquitas, Puerto Rico, returns home with water and food provided by FEMA on Oct. 17, 2017. U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Larry E. Reid Jr.

FEMA to Shut Off Food and Water Aid to Puerto Rico

UPDATE: Since the release of NPR report and a flood of angry reactions from politicians, FEMA said it never intended to stop giving aid to Puerto Rico and will continue to hand out supplies for as long as necessary.

William Booher, an agency spokesman, told the New York Times that Wednesday was not the actual shut off date but rather an internal planning date to evaluate if the island could still justify needing assistance. Booher also told NPR that date "was mistakenly provided."

"This aid is not stopping," Booher told the Times. "There was no, and is no, current plan to stop providing these commodities, as long as there continues to be an identified need for them."

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will "officially shut off" food and water aid to Puerto Rico four months after Hurricane Maria devastated the island.

"The reality is that we just need to look around. Supermarkets are open, and things are going back to normal," Alejandro De La Campa, FEMA's director in Puerto Rico, told NPR. "If we're giving free water and food, that means that families are not going to supermarkets to buy."

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A family near Utuado, Puerto Rico received food and water at the only room they had left after Hurricane Maria destroyed their home. U.S. Department of Agriculture / Flickr

Why Climate Change Is Worsening Public Health Problems

By Chelsey Kivland and Anne Sosin

Around the world, the health care debate often revolves around access.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the World Health Organization, recently announced, "All roads lead to universal health coverage." Discussions for how to translate this vision into a road map for action is central to the agenda of the WHO's executive board meeting this week in Geneva.

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Climate
Slava Bowman / Unsplash

How Can We Help Put a Human Face on Climate Change?

By John R. Platt

Communicating the truths about climate change isn't always easy. Sometimes the effects of climate change seem to hover in the future, or are occurring most visibly in other parts of the world. Other times they're subtle—at least for now. And of course, there are some people who just don't want to hear anything about it.

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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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Climate
The Thomas Fire burns in the hills above Los Padres National Forest in Dec. 2017. Forest Service / Stuart Palley

2017 Weather and Climate Disasters Cost U.S. Record $306 Billion

2017, one of the hottest years in modern history, was also an extremely costly year. According to a new report from the National Centers for Environmental Information, a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), "the U.S. experienced 16 weather and climate disasters with losses exceeding $1 billion, with total costs of approximately $306 billion—a new U.S. annual record."

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