Author Archive

Ice, ice, maybe: Snow and ice melting at record speed

Grist: You may have noticed it’s been a hot summer so far. June temperatures were above average across the world, and both NASA and NOAA ranked the month among the top five warmest since record keeping began in the late 1800s. Not surprisingly, snow extent in the Northern Hemisphere was at its third-lowest on record by June. But what makes the current paltry snow cover more significant is the fact that, just a few months ago, the Northern Hemisphere was unusually snowy - April 2013 had the ninth-highest...

Crude on the tracks: Oil spills from trains skyrocket

Grist: As more oil is being shipped by train across North America, more oil is being spilled from trains. EnergyWire reports: The number of spills and other accidents from railroad cars carrying crude oil has skyrocketed in recent years, up from one or two a year early in the previous decade to 88 last year. Most of the spills are relatively small - nothing like the deadly disaster in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, earlier this month - but with oil shipments on the rise, there`s cause to be concerned. Oil...

United States: How suburban sprawl makes wildfires more deadly

Grist: Last year’s wildfire season was one of the worst on record, and whether or not this year`s tops it (a likely outcome), it’s already off to a horrifically tragic start: 19 elite firefighters perished in a blaze outside Prescott, Ariz., on Sunday - the most to die fighting a single wildfire in 80 years. Even before the deadly Yarnell Hill blaze began, the usual suspects were asking: What does climate change have to do with wildfires? James West of Climate Desk addressed this maddening question a couple...

Study says tar-sands oil not more likely to leak; activists fault study

Grist: Supporters of the Keystone XL pipeline cheered Tuesday’s release of a study that deemed diluted bitumen - the heavy crude mined in Alberta’s tar sands that Keystone would carry to Texas - just as safe to transport via pipeline as other forms of crude oil. They see the results as further clearing the way for approval of the pipeline. But environmental groups criticized the methodology and limited scope of the study, which was conducted by the National Academy of Sciences. From Inside Climate News:...

Canada’s government is spending millions to get you to like the Keystone pipeline

Grist: Canada obviously has a huge stake in the fate of the Keystone XL pipeline. If President Obama fails to approve it - a decision he recently put off yet again -- the Canadian oil industry will have a tough time getting its abundant tar-sands crude to seaside ports. Prime Minister Stephen Harper recently came to the U.S. to make the case for the pipeline in person, as did Canada`s ministers of foreign affairs and natural resources and the premiers of Alberta and Saskatchewan. And now our neighbor...

Honeybee problem nearing a ‘critical point’

Grist: Anyone who's been stung by a bee knows they can inflict an outsized pain for such tiny insects. It makes a strange kind of sense, then, that their demise would create an outsized problem for the food system by placing the more than 70 crops they pollinate -- from almonds to apples to blueberries -- in peril. Although news about Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) has died down, commercial beekeepers have seen average population losses of about 30 percent each year since 2006, said Paul Towers, of the...