climate change

It's not rare for a year to break record temperatures. But it's now happened two years in a row — and 2015 was "very, very clearly the warmest year by a long chalk," says Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

About a dozen demonstrators blocked the tracks at a Burlington Northern Santa Fe yard to protest oil trains.
Elaine Thompson / AP Images

Five activists who joined forces in an attempt to stop oil and coal  trains from traveling through the Northwest have been convicted of criminal trespassing. That’s after a jury in Lynnwood handed down its verdict on Friday.

The so-called “Delta 5” lost their key argument, about whether it was necessary to chain themselves to the train tracks along with a huge tripod and banner, designed to stop the trains.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

As lawmakers reconvene in Olympia, legislative proposals to limit carbon pollution are piling up. All are ideas that address how to curb the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.

Some involve a cap-and-trade system, similar to what California and some New England states have done.

Others are straight taxes, following British Columbia’s example.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

How to limit the carbon pollution that causes climate change and global warming is a key issue as lawmakers get going in Olympia this week. Dozens of legislative proposals have been submitted on the topic, some with multiple versions that use very minor changes in wording in attempts to see which proposals would have the best chances of passing.

New Bedford Whaling Museum Jarvis Collection

University of Washington scientists hope to better forecast climate change by harvesting weather data from 19th-century whaling boats.

For centuries, sailors have been making detailed observations about the weather, and that information has sat archived in yellowing log books. But now research scientist Kevin Wood of the UW and NOAA’s Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and the Ocean, says scientists can put that historical data to use.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

Activists from Seattle got the support of health care professionals and faith leaders in their call for the Gates Foundation to divest from fossil fuels.

The announcement of about a thousand new supporters of the divestment campaign came on the same day that Bill Gates made a major statement on climate change.

He joined forces with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and several other business leaders to launch a multi-billion dollar clean energy fund in Paris, where the U.N. climate talks are now underway. It’s an effort to promote things like solar energy and wind power.

Climate change isn't just something to worry about here on Earth. New research published today shows that Mars has undergone a dramatic climate shift in the past that has rendered much of the planet inhospitable to life.

About 3.8 billion years ago, Mars was a reasonably pleasant place. It had a thick atmosphere filled with carbon dioxide that kept it warm. Rivers trickled into lakes across its surface. Some researchers think there might even have been an ocean.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

Kids packed a courtroom in Seattle on Tuesday to hear oral arguments in a case about their future. Eight young teenagers are the plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the state Department of Ecology. They want to force action on climate change.

“It just feels like there’s not enough people who care about, like, animals and other things that can’t talk for themselves – babies who haven’t been born yet, people from the future, basically,” said 13-year-old Lara Fain.

Ted S. Warren / AP

More than 150 groups in Washington state have come together to form the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy. It’s an effort to fight climate change that some are calling “historic in scope.” The consortium has announced plans to put a statewide carbon-capping initiative before voters in 2016. 

Šarūnas Burdulis via Wikimedia Commons

The predicted effects of global climate change are grim, to say the least. Global warming is expected to cause more extreme weather events, as well as a rise in sea level, drought and flooding; it’s not a pretty picture.

But, according to weather blogger and KPLU commentator Cliff Mass, it won’t actually be that bad here in the Northwest.

Elaine Thompson / AP

  Royal Dutch Shell PLC says it's ceasing exploration in offshore Alaska for the foreseeable future.The company says an exploratory well drilled to 6,800 feet found oil and gas but not in sufficient quantities.

Shell USA President Marvin Odum says in an announcement early Monday in The Netherlands that it's a disappointing outcome for that part of the Chukchi Sea basin. Shell drilled in 150 feet of water about 80 miles off Alaska's northwest coast.The exploratory well was the first in the Chukchi in 24 years.

Ted S. Warren / AP

The administration of Washington Governor Jay Inslee has officially begun crafting new rules to cap greenhouse gas pollution from large industrial sources. Inslee is flexing his executive powers to bypass the state legislature, which has repeatedly chosen not to put a price on carbon.

Updated at 2 p.m. ET

The Environmental Protection Agency says Volkswagen intentionally violated the Clean Air Act by using sophisticated software in its diesel-powered cars that detects emissions testing — and "turns full emissions controls on only during the test."

Installed in four-cylinder cars, the software, which the EPA calls a "defeat device" that's meant to trick official tests, allowed diesel Jettas, Beetles and other cars to "emit up to 40 times more pollution" than allowed under U.S. emission standards.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

Mount Rainier is famous as the most glaciated peak in  the contiguous United States. But the massive flows of ice and snow that cover the mountain are retreating rapidly, likely more rapidly than ever in the record warmth of this summer.

Participants in the 2015 "Climate Boot Camp" put on by the Northwest Climate Science Center gathered this week in Mount Rainier National Park to learn more about the dynamics behind this phenomenon. 

AP Images

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray is in Rome this morning (Tues.)  for the first ever gathering of mayors at the Vatican.

They’re there to discuss human trafficking – as well as climate change and the role of cities in fighting it. 

Murray joins mayors from New York City, Boston, San Francisco and Portland as well as Mexico City, Berlin and Oslo, among others. Pope Francis invited the municipal leaders, calling for a renewed international conversation about ending social and environmental exploitation.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

In an effort to raise revenue for public schools and transportation projects, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee  wants to charge polluters for their carbon emissions.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

Small communities can be laboratories for societal change. That was one of the messages as a coalition of cities in King County celebrated commitments they’ve made to reducing greenhouse gas emissions

Leaders representing more than 60 percent of the county’s population have now signed on to goals outlined by the King County-Cities Climate Collaboration.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Gov. Jay Inslee says it’s time to make polluters pay for carbon emissions. He’s proposed a cap-and-trade system that he says will raise a billion dollars a year while helping the state drastically reduce its contribution to global warming. 

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

More than 100 Washington businesses are calling for action on climate change and urging others to join them.

Companies including Microsoft, Foss Maritime, REI and Virginia Mason Medical Center have signed an open declaration, saying climate change is real and happening and that more action is needed to address it.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

It may be tempting to attribute current weather trends like the record warmth and early rains on climate change caused by humans. 

But KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass says a newly-published paper should give us pause. It shows that the global warming of approximately 1 degree Celsius on the U.S. West Coast since 1900 appears more likely to be the result of natural variations than of human inputs of greenhouse gases.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Fall came in with a vengeance this week. An early atmospheric river dumped huge amounts of rain into the Northwest over the last few days, but it’s tapering off just in time for the weekend, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

“It actually looks like a decent weekend,” Mass said. 

Bjørn Giesenbauer photo / Flickr

Many of the region’s top researchers have gathered this week for the Pacific Northwest Climate Science Conference at the University of Washington.

Gov. Jay Inslee gave the keynote address and called on scientists to get more engaged in public policy.

Laura Rauch / AP Photo

Despite widespread concern about global warming, rising air temperatures have actually slowed down dramatically over the past 15 years. This so-called “hiatus” has posed a big puzzle for climate scientists.

Researchers at the University of Washington looked deep into the oceans for answers, and found that despite the surficial evidence, climate change has not stopped. 

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

There will be plenty of sunshine for Seafair weekend, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass, but dry conditions and a chance of lightning could mean trouble for firefighters.

Courtesy of King County Wastewater Division.

Gov. Jay Inslee took a walk through King County’s wastewater facility in Discovery Park on Tuesday as part of his tour of sites affected by climate change. 

Photo by andreyphoto.com Flickr

Global climate change is having tangible effects all over the country, including in Washington and the greater northwest.

That’s according to the latest National Climate Assessment released Tuesday by the Obama administration.

Evan Vucci / AP Photo

U.S. senators pulled an all-nighter Monday night to call attention to climate change. Democrats Brian Schatz of Hawaii and Barbara Boxer of California led the effort to shine light on the need for more curbs on carbon emissions.

Sen. Maria Cantwell and Sen. Patty Murray were both present for the event. Cantwell took the floor early Tuesday morning following more than 12 hours of testimony. She said the issue isn’t about the future; it’s about negative effects that industries here are already seeing.

Matthew Brown / AP Photo

Seattle has joined Spokane and Bellingham in passing a resolution to restrict oil shipments by rail until further review.

The Seattle City Council unanimously passed the resolution co-sponsored by council member Mike O’Brien and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray.

AP Photo

Seattle is on its way to joining Spokane and Bellingham in demanding tougher scrutiny of oil trains traveling through the city. A resolution that would restrict oil shipments until further review has passed out of a city council committee, and is scheduled for a vote before the full council on Monday.

AP Photo

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is preparing to take action on an issue that could secure his legacy, or complicate his re-election chances.

He wants to cap carbon, the biggest culprit in greenhouse gas emissions in Washington. It’s a controversial and potentially costly idea. But the Democrat believes it’s an economic and even moral imperative in the long term.

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