Climate Change

Obama attributes wildfires to climate change

SEATTLE (AP) — President Barack Obama says a wildfire that has burned nearly 400 square miles in the north-central part of Washington state, along with blazes in other Western areas, can be attributed to climate change.

Obama, speaking at a fundraiser Tuesday, offered federal help to deal with Washington's wildfire, the largest in the state's history.

He said Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Craig Fugate had authorized an emergency declaration to ensure electrical power.

Beef pollutes more than pork, poultry, study says

WASHINGTON (AP) — Raising beef for the American dinner table does far more damage to the environment than producing pork, poultry, eggs or dairy, a new study says.

Compared with the other animal proteins, beef produces five times more heat-trapping gases per calorie, puts out six times as much water-polluting nitrogen, takes 11 times more water for irrigation and uses 28 times the land, according to the study published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

NOAA

Warming trend continued in 2013: Annual State of the Climate Report

The world is continuing to get warmer faster according to the State of the Climate Report 2013, the annual look at global weather released Thursday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The report, compiled by 425 scientists in 57 countries, was published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.

Mary Robinson named UN envoy for climate change

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appointed former Irish president Mary Robinson as his special envoy for climate change.

She has a mandate to mobilize world leaders to take action at the climate summit the U.N. chief is hosting in September.

Work begins on wall for 2 Sandy-devastated towns

MANTOLOKING, N.J. (AP) — Two wealthy New Jersey shore towns that were among the hardest hit by Superstorm Sandy nearly two years ago began building a 4-mile-long steel wall Thursday, an expensive effort that the state says is needed to protect the communities but that some residents and environmentalists oppose.

State and local officials watched Thursday morning as the work began where the Atlantic Ocean tore through the sand and cut a channel into Barnegat Bay on the other side of the barrier island the communities share, destroying a major state highway and part of a crucial bridge during the Oct. 29, 2012, storm.

Ranchers taking advantage of USDA disaster program

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Department of Agriculture says farmers and ranchers who suffered heavy livestock and grazing losses due to extreme weather in the past three years have been quick to take advantage of newly available disaster relief funds.

The agency said in a progress report released Wednesday that it has distributed more than $1 billion in relief funds — a little less than half the overall amount predicted in the recently passed farm bill — in just over three months.

The USDA says it has processed and delivered more than 106,000 payments to farmers in 40 states as of July 2.

Feds doubt climate change's impact on wolverines

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A top federal wildlife official said there's too much uncertainty about climate change to prove it threatens the snow-loving wolverine — overruling agency scientists who warned of impending habitat loss for the "mountain devil."

There's no doubt the high-elevation range of wolverines is getting warmer, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Regional Director Noreen Walsh said. But any assumption about how that will change snowfall patterns is "speculation," she said.

Walsh told her staff to prepare to withdraw a proposal to protect the animals under the Endangered Species Act.

Study: Salamanders in the Appalachians are smaller

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Some scientists suggest it could be still another sign of climate change: Salamanders in the Appalachian Mountains are getting smaller, they say, because in a drier, warmer climate, the little cold-blooded creatures use more energy to stay alive.

"As their temperature rises, all their physiological rates increase," said Michael Sears, a Clemson University biologist. "All else being equal, that means there is less energy for growth."

In a study earlier this year in the journal Global Change Biology, Sears and other researchers compared museum specimens of salamanders collected over a half century beginning in 1957 with those measured at the same sites in 2011 and 2012.

NASA to launch global warming satellite after loss

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Five years after a NASA satellite to track carbon dioxide plunged into the ocean after liftoff, the space agency is launching a carbon copy — this time on a different rocket.

The $468 million mission is designed to study the main driver of climate change emitted from smokestacks and tailpipes. Some of the carbon dioxide is sucked up by trees and oceans, and the rest is lofted into the atmosphere, trapping the sun's heat and warming the planet.

But atmospheric CO2 levels fluctuate with the seasons and in different regions of the Earth. The natural and human activities that cause the changes are complicated. The Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2, or OCO-2 for short, will be able to take an ultra-detailed look at most of the Earth's surface to identify places responsible for producing or absorbing the greenhouse gas.

Groups seek protection of iconic Alaska tree

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Four conservation groups have petitioned the Interior Department to list an iconic Alaska tree as threatened or endangered because of climate change.

Yellow cedar for centuries has been carved by Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian people for canoe paddles and totem poles. They could remove a lengthwise strip of bark from a living tree to use for weaving baskets and hats, and as backing in blankets because the trees can compartmentalize the damage and heal themselves.

Yellow cedar can resist insects and rot and live more than 1,000 years but their shallow roots are vulnerable to freezing. Climate warming over the last century has been deadly.

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