Climate Change

The Takeaway

Documenting Arctic Sea Ice Melt

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Arctic sea ice continues to shrink at record levels because of climate change. With polar ice melting at record rates, there is a strong desire to document the vanishing icebergs before they are lost forever. The Takeaway speaks with iceberg and storm photographer Camille Seaman about her painstaking efforts to capture the loss.

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It's A Free Country ®

That's My Issue: Climate Change Legislation

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

This total unawareness of climate change in countries like Kenya that are and will be most vulnerable to it, and yet have barely contributed to it, completely jarred me.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

Technology and the Fate of the Nation

Monday, August 27, 2012

James Howard Kunstler argues that the visions of future technologies that can solve all our problems have misled us. He presents a much more sober image of the future in Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology, and the Fate of the Nation and argues that we need pragmatic preparation for the future—and the many environmental problems we’ll likely face.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

Global Weirdness

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Michael D. Lemonick summarizes what we know about the science of climate change; explains what is likely to happen to the climate in the future; and lays out in practical terms what we can and cannot do to avoid further shifts. The 60 entries in the book Global Weirdness: Severe Storms, Deadly Heat Waves, Relentless Drought, Rising Seas and the Weather of the Future broaden our understanding of how climate change affects our daily lives, provides incontrovertible facts to make informed decisions about the future of the planet and of humankind.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

Heat and Drought

Monday, July 23, 2012

New Yorker staff writer Elizabeth Kolbert documents this summer’s extreme climate changes—particularly heat and drought—and looks at their dire consequences.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Warm Weather and Climate Change

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The first six months of 2012 were the hottest on record. Deke Arndt, chief of the climate monitoring branch of NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, takes a look at record warm temperatures across the county and the world and their connections to global warming.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

Fred Guterl on the Fate of the Species

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Fred Guterl, executive editor of Scientific American, argues that the sixth "mass extinction event" in the planet’s history is currently under way, cause by our own inventions. In The Fate of the Species: Why the Human Race May Cause Its Own Extinction and How We Can Stop It he explores the scenarios of rising sea levels, extinction, and epidemic diseases, and then looks at how technology can help us survive.

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The Takeaway

America's Changing Stance on Global Warming

Thursday, June 21, 2012

For as long as we can remember, America has been leading the charge against global warming. But at yesterday's Rio+20 Earth Summit, the President was conspicuously absent. And with the world economy taking up all the front pages, global warming has taken a back seat. 

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Transportation Nation

NYC Mayor Bloomberg: Cities Are Ahead Of Nations In Reducing Greenhouse Gases

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (photo by NYC Mayor's Office)

(New York, NY - WNYC) By the end of the decade, climate-related actions taken by cities around the world will reduce greenhouse gases by 250 million tons per year. That's what New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg told delegates at the Rio Earth Summit. He added that by 2030, the annual reduction of greenhouse gases by major cities could be a billion tons per year--the combined output of Mexico and Canada.

Bloomberg was addressing the Rio+C40 Summit, which he said includes 59 cities "from Bogota to Berlin, from Jakarta to Johannesburg, and from my New York."  One of every 12 people on the planet live in those cities, he said, and account for about 14 percent of the world’s total carbon footprint.

“The world is rapidly urbanizing," Bloomberg said. "Cities are becoming bigger and bigger. Our problems are sometimes harder and harder to tackle. Yet we continue to make major progress, even in times of tough budget cuts."

He said New York City has shrunk its carbon footprint by 13 percent in the past five years, and praised other cities for taking similar steps.

“Let me point out that nearly two-thirds of the climate change actions the C40 cities have taken have been paid for solely from our budgets – without support from our national governments," he said. "That’s because cities recognize our responsibilities to act; we haven’t waited for our national governments to go first."

Bloomberg also announced initiatives to improve the management of city solid waste, including reducing the release of methane and other greenhouse gases, and a web site "to provide a broad, deep, and constantly updated library on what the world’s cities are doing about climate change – and about the tools and resources cities can use to further their work."

Go here to read the mayor's full remarks.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

Underreported: Massive Algae Bloom Found Under Arctic Ice

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Scientists recently made an unlikely discovery under thinning arctic ice: a massive algae bloom. Kevin Arrigo, a biological oceanographer at Stanford University who led the NASA-sponsored mission that discovered the algae, explains how it changes our thinking about arctic ecosystems and how they’re responding to climate change.

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The Brian Lehrer Show


Friday, May 25, 2012

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Transportation Nation

Heat From Climate Change Will Kill More Americans This Century: Report

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

(photo by Lori Greig via flickr)

150,000 Americans will die from excessive heat by the end of this century if carbon pollution continues unabated.

That's according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), which released a report (pdf) Wednesday projecting future heat-related mortality in the U.S.'s 40 largest cities.

"We think, if anything, (those estimates) are low," said the NRDC's Dan Lashof, explaining during a conference call with reporters that researchers didn't adjust for expected increases in population. But, he said, these stark numbers show "climate change has real life and death consequences -- one of which is that carbon pollution, which is continuing to increase our atmosphere, is going to continue to make climate change worse and increase the number of dangerously hot days each summer."

Thirty seven of the 40 cities studied would see increases in deaths. Larry Kalkstein, a professor of geography and regional studies at the University of Miami and co-author of the research, said they found a "regional coherence" in the heatwave effect. And perhaps counterintuitively, cities in the South appear to be spared the worst.

According to the NRDC, the three cities with the highest number of total estimated heat-related deaths through 2099 are Louisville, Kentucky (19,000 deaths); Detroit (17,900); and Cleveland (16,600).

"The Midwest is particularly hard hit," Kalkstein said, explaining that cities that experience sharp temperature fluctuations are more at risk than those cities with more constant temperatures, even if they're hot.

"Take a typical day in Washington or Philadelphia or New York, where most of the summer days are in the eighties," he said. "And then all of a sudden you get a hot streak, where the temperature goes up to a hundred degrees plus for a week -- and that is what causes the problem. The fact that people are not used to this high variable climate, that all of a sudden you have a 20-degree rise in maximum temperature...for this reason, many less people die of the heat in cities in the deep South."

But just pinning down how many heat-related deaths there are each year is more of an art than a science. "People tend to understate the threat of heat, and the medical examiners tend to under-report the number of people that die from heat," said Kalkstein.

The NRDC praised cities like Chicago, New York, and Philadelphia, which it said have upped their game in responding to heat-related emergencies and have adopted strategies like cooling centers, "heatlines", and organized programs where neighbors look in on local at-risk residents. Some cities also won't cut off power to residents who have failed to pay an electric bill during a heat-related emergency.

Case in point: New York City, with its eight million residents, sees an average of 184 heat-related deaths each summer. But just across the Hudson River in Newark, New Jersey -- population 280,000 -- that number is 56.  "New York has one of the most aggressive local health departments in the country," Kalkstein said. "They're one of the few cities in the country where the Health Department calls the heat emergency, rather than the National Weather Service...they are doubling down on every effort to deal with heat."



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The Takeaway

March Heat Breaks Records Across the Country

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

According to newly released figures from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, more than 15,000 weather records were set in the United States last month. John Harold, a farmer in Olathe, Colorado, says it's been hard not to notice the strange weather fluctuations. Andrew Revkin, who writes the "Dot Earth" blog for The New York Times Op-Ed section, says this year's records are an indication of what to expect in the future.


The Takeaway

Mohamed Nasheed and Jon Shenk on the State of the Maldives

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Few places have come to symbolize climate change as much as the island nation of the Maldives. The nation's 1,200 small islands in the Indian Ocean sit, on average, about five feet above sea level. When Mohamed Nasheed became the first democratically elected president of the country in 2008, he made climate change his primary policy concern. Filmmaker Jon Shenk followed the president during his first year in office in his film "The Island President". The film culminates in the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Summit — but much has happened since then. President Nasheed resigned from office in what he has since called a coup, and the future of the country is again in political and environmental disarray.

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Transportation Nation

Andrea Bernstein To Lead Transit Museum Panel on Climate Change

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

NYC shut down its transit system in preparation for Hurricane Irene (photo by Kate Hinds)

Last fall, in the wake of Hurricane Irene, I did some reporting on the pressure New York and other large transit systems face  as sea levels rise and storms become more intense.

Tonight at the Transit Museum in downtown Brooklyn, I'll be hosting a panel with a number of experts on the issue.  Come listen, see, learn, and question!

Here's the release from the Museum:


When Hurricane Irene swept through New York City last August, fear and speculation about its strength – and potential to cause catastrophic flooding – brought the city’s entire mass transit system to an unprecedented halt. Although the storm’s impact was less severe than anticipated, Irene reminded New Yorkers of nature’s eminent power over human endeavors.
On Wednesday, March 28, WNYC journalist Andrea Bernstein, who is also Director of public radio’s Transportation Nation, will lead a panel discussion with three of New York City’s leadingexperts in issues related to transit and sustainability.
David Bragdon is Director of the mayor’s Office of Long-term Planning and Sustainability, a vital instrument in developing and coordinating various initiatives accordant with Mayor Bloomberg’s ambitious PlaNYC effort. Prior to becoming Mayor Bloomberg’s chief advisor on environmental policy, Mr. Bragdon oversaw environmental programs in Pottland Oregon as president of the Metro Council.

Projjal K. Dutta, is the Sustainability Initiatives Director at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and a leading expert in environmental design and transportation.

Dr. Klaus H. Jacob, is a professor at Columbia University’s Environmental Policy Program and a research scientist at the school’s distinguished Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. The panel is presented in conjunction with the international Planet Under Pressure conferencein London (, which seeks sustainable solutions addressing issues of climate change.

This informal, hour-long program also includes audience Q and A.
Admission is free. The program takes place at the New York Transit Museum in Brooklyn Heights at 6 pm, corner of Beorum Place & Schermerhorn Street; doors open at 5:30 pm.

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Rising Sea Levels to Encroach on City by 2020: Report

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Climate change has increased the chance of serious flooding in the New York region threefold, according to a new study by the Princeton, N.J.-based think tank Climate Central

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Transportation Nation

Final Irene-Damaged Road in New York is Fixed

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Upstate New York roads, as viewed by helicopter (photo by Karen DeWitt/NYS Public Radio/WXXI)

Six months after a pair of tropical storms slammed New York State, the last road closed by the storms has been reopened.

Route 42 in Greene County, in the Catskill Mountains, is now open to traffic.

Some 400 road segments and bridges were washed away during the storms, which came after the wettest August on record.

Despite repeated requests, the state has not said how much the repairs costs, nor issued a list of the roads that have been fixed.

Last year witnessed the most costly severe weather events on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The federal government says more extreme weather events are an inevitable result of climate change, even if greenhouse gas emissions are curtailed.



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The Leonard Lopate Show

What's Causing One of the Driest, Warmest Winters in History

Friday, February 03, 2012

Mark Fischetti, senior editor at Scientific American, explains why this winter has been unusually warm and dry across most of North America.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

Please Explain: How to Save the World—Climate Change and How to Stop It

Friday, February 03, 2012

This week’s Please Explain, the third in our series How to Save the World, is about climate change and how to stop it. David Archer, professor of geophysical sciences at the University of Chicago, and author of The Long Thaw: How Humans are Changing the Next 100,000 Years of the Earth’s Climate, and Global Warming: Understanding the Forecast; and Klaus Lackner, Director of the Lenfest Center for Sustainable Energy at Columbia University’s Earth Institute join us to talk about carbon in the atmosphere, how and why it is causing climate change, and how to slow or stop climate change by using sustainable energy and carbon sequestration.

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Weird Weather Confuses Plant Life

Friday, January 20, 2012

New York's plants and trees, like the city's human beings, are being forced to adapt to the winter's mood swings. First there was weeks of unusually warm weather. Now the air is freezing and a snowstorm is on the way.