climate change

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.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

"The best classrooms are the ones without walls," said U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, standing inside a classroom at the University of Washington, her alma mater, on Tuesday.

The former CEO of Seattle-based REI spent two days at home this week, wrapping up her visit with a roundtable discussion about the president's Climate Action Plan and the local impacts of climate change. 

To illustrate the need to reduce carbon pollution, Jewell visited Mount Rainier National Park and toured areas affected by climate change.

Malcolm Ritter / AP Photo

Global warming behind the recent polar vortex? Nonsense, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

“There’s really no basis for this,” said Mass, adding there's a lot of misguided hype on both sides of the issue. 

Gov. Jay Inslee has been dealt a setback in his campaign to reduce carbon emissions. The governor’s climate change workgroup quickly adjourned Friday with no consensus and after some testy exchanges.

Inslee wanted the workgroup to adopt five recommendations to the Legislature, including a proposal for the state to enact a market-based cap on carbon pollution. But when it came time for the Republicans on the panel to weigh in, they made it clear all of the governor’s proposals were non-starters—at least without more information on the cost.

Elaine Thompson / Associated Press

King County is poised to join the city of Seattle and several other municipalities in passing a resolution banning the burning and the transportation of coal in Washington state. 

King County Council member Larry Philips is leading the charge to bring the county on board with what towns and cities all over the region have already done: saying loud and clear that coal is not the answer to the future of energy. The opponents are calling for a comprehensive environmental review of the effects of a proposed coal terminal at Cherry Point near Bellingham. 

WSHFC

Avi Jacobson was serving his first tour in Iraq in 2007 when he noticed his own unit's heavy reliance on a single generator. 

Jacobson’s Air Force base ran almost solely on the generator, which was overworked with computers and air conditioners almost daily. When the usage hit the generator’s tipping point, Jacobson said, “everything would die," triggering an eerie silence.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is among the political leaders who will be part of President Barack Obama's task force on climate issues.

The White House said Friday that Obama was establishing the panel to advice the administration on how the federal government can support local communities impacted by climate change. Inslee is one of eight governors named to the panel. The task force also includes local and tribal leaders.

Michael Schweppe / Flickr

Count the rings on a tree trunk to figure out its age.

Or, if you’re University of Washington climatologist Jim Johnstone, study the molecules of a redwood trunk and crack the code for natural weather data that could date back more than a thousand years.

Efforts to combat climate change got a boost from the West Coast as the leaders of Washington, Oregon, and California as well as the premier of British Columbia signed a new pact Monday.

Under the new plan, called the Pacific Coast Action Plan on Climate and Energy, Washington and Oregon have agreed to adopt policies similar to those already in place in British Columbia and California. B.C. put a tax on carbon emissions in 2008, and California adopted a cap-and-trade system early last year.

Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee on Monday laid out how he'd like the state to combat global warming pollution, including eliminating any electricity generated by coal and putting a statewide cap on greenhouse gas emissions. Legislative Republicans immediately raised concerns.

Back in 2008, the Washington Legislature set ambitious goals for reducing the state's carbon footprint. But they're just goals without enforcement mechanisms. Subsequently, a pact between 11 western states and provinces to put a price on greenhouse gas emissions fell apart. 

Dena Michele Rosko / Flickr

Gonzaga University has joined the official Catholic movement in support of environmental stewardship.

On Monday, Gonzaga University President Thayne McCulloh and the president of Gonzaga Preparatory high school both signed the St. Francis Pledge.

Steve Liptay Photo

This Saturday, environmental activist and author Bill McKibben will lead a rally against fossil fuel exports and the Keystone XL pipeline in Seattle. 

Known as one of the first voices to warn of the dangers of global warming, McKibben is on tour with his new book, Oil and Honey. He is also the founder of an international organization called 350.org, which he created to fight climate change. 

McKibben says 350 is "the most important number in the world, but nobody knew it until 2008, when Jim Hansen and his team at NASA published a paper saying we now know enough about carbon to know how much in the atmosphere is too much." 

Bellamy Pailthorp photo / KPLU News

Ocean health is at stake as Congress decides whether to confirm the next head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The nominee faced tough questions from Washington Senator Maria Cantwell, about funding for research of and adaptation to ocean acidification.

Erin Hennessey photo / KPLU News

Scoping hearings begin tomorrow on a proposed coal export terminal in Longview, near the Columbia River.  It’s one of two Washington terminals that would ship coal from the Powder River Basin in Montana and Wyoming to Asia.

A special guest will tour sites in the Skagit River Valley today. Nancy Sutley, the chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality will be in Mount Vernon to discuss the impacts of climate change on communities in Washington state.

You may know that on a hot, sunny day, it’s better to be sitting in a white car than a black one. White reflects sunlight, while black absorbs more of it.

The same concept applies to researchers trying to figure out what effect wildfires have on climate change. And part of the answer is whether the smoke particles are dark or reflective.

Update: The original version of this story incorrectly summarized this study as showing populations to be displaced by 2100 if current trends continue. Author Ben Strauss sent the following correction: "by 2100, we would most likely be *locked in* to such an outcome in a more distant future, time unspecified, but essentially inevitable." We have updated the story accordingly. 

The warming climate is causing sea levels to rise as oceans expand, and, combined with more frequent storms, the effects could be devastating.

A new map shows more than 1,400 towns in the U.S., 30 in Washington state, where half the population will be displaced  if current trends continue through the end of this century.

Puget Sound Energy

“It’s the change we have been waiting for.” That’s the response from the Sierra Club to President Obama’s speech on climate change. A major part of his action plan is new limits on carbon emissions from power plants.

The local chapter of the club says even though no new policies will take effect for several years, utilities need to start adjusting now.

Elaine Thompson / Associated Press

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has dealt a big blow to environmental groups fighting proposed coal export terminals in the Northwest.

During testimony before Congress, an official with the agency said the Corps is not planning a broad environmental study on the impact of coal exports, meaning the proposed terminals' effects on climate change won’t be considered during the review process.

In the coming months, Washington state will embark on a study of the best ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The research is one provision of a measure Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law Tuesday. It’s a key legislative win for the Democrat. So why are Republicans declaring victory?

The debate over proposed coal export terminals in the Northwest is heating up again after the governors of Washington and Oregon sent a letter to the White house on the issue.

A bill put forward by Gov. Jay Inslee directing the state to figure out how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions has passed both houses of the Legislature.

The passage is a big step forward for the environmental lobby and the governor, who has championed clean energy. But there is still a lot of pushback in Olympia.

Courtsey Seattle Public Utilities

Global climate change is a reality that few people now deny. 2012 was the warmest year on record. So what about Seattle’s water supply? 

Managers say they need to speed up about $30-million of investment in a backup plan.

About two thirds of Seattle’s water comes from one of the most pristine sources in the nation. The Cedar River Watershed lies in more than 90,000 acres of protected land southeast of the city, near North Bend.

Microbes are known to be able to thrive in extreme environments, from inside fiery volcanoes to down on the bottom of the ocean. Now scientists have found a surprising number of them living in storm clouds tens of thousands of feet above the Earth. And those airborne microbes could play a role in global climate.

Bellamy Pailthorp photo / KPLU News

It’s data that’s been collected and analyzed for several years now.

But predictions on how high tides and extreme storm events might combine to cause flooding in Seattle are seeming less and less like science fiction.

The City has unveiled a new map, showing huge areas that are much more likely to end up waterlogged during storms. And it says the estimates are no longer considered extreme. 

Bjørn Giesenbauer photo / Flickr

Imagine a future in which major areas of Seattle’s waterfront are flooded because of rising tides.

Businesses that front on Elliot Bay, including the famous Edgewater Hotel, or parks such as Myrtle Edwards or Golden Gardens, would have to adjust to storm surges more than six feet higher than we’re used to.

According to a new federal report on climate change, that future is just a few decades away. 

Arctic sea ice has melted dramatically this summer, smashing the previous record. The Arctic has warmed dramatically compared with the rest of the planet, and scientists say that's what's driving this loss of ice.

To be sure, ice on the Arctic Ocean always melts in the summer. Historically, about half of it is gone by mid-September. But this year, three-fourths of the ice has melted away, setting a dramatic new benchmark.

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