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Journal Corrects Fracking Study Over Undisclosed Industry Funding

Fracking study that concluded drinking water not affected by methane gets an unusual correction following a report by InsideClimate News.

May 7, 2015

An influential science journal has issued a correction to a paper on fracking and water safety, after revelations that the authors did not disclose their financial ties to energy giant Chesapeake Energy. The correction was prompted by an article in InsideClimate News in April.

Big Food's Lax Attitude on Water Use Comes at a Cost

Study shows the world's top food producers have little regard for conservation, even as drought highlights the issue.

May 7, 2015

Many big-name food brands such as Hershey, Kraft and Perdue are wasting water resources through lax conservation practices and poor planning. And as climate change and other factors amplify the water risks plaguing the food industry, the bottom lines of these companies will suffer unless they change course, according to a new report.

The Boston-based sustainability group Ceres ranked 37 of the top food sector companies globally on their water risk management in a study released Thursday.

'Pollute at Will' Bill Enjoys Widespread Support From House Republicans

Move to slash budgets for clean air, clean energy and climate change planning called 'totally backwards' by critics.

May 6, 2015

American lawmakers passed a bill last week that slashes funding for renewable energy, limits the federal government's ability to protect clean water, and prohibits agencies from planning for future climate impacts on infrastructure and military facilities. But it may prove only symbolic.

Flawed Methane Monitor Underestimates Leaks at Oil and Gas Sites

Researchers find there may be drastically more methane in the air than is being reported to industry and government.

May 5, 2015

A popular scientific instrument used to measure methane leaks from oil and gas operations severely underestimates emissions under certain conditions, a preliminary study found. The results could have major implications for federal policies as the Obama administration moves to regulate methane from the natural gas industry.

Swarthmore Spurns Student Divestment Movement

A 32-day sit-in by students failed to persuade the school to pull its investments from fossil fuel interests.

May 4, 2015

Despite a large student protest and strong activist sentiment among its students and alumni, Swarthmore College opted to not divest its $1.9 billion endowment from fossil fuels after a vote by its board of managers on Saturday.

The decision was a major blow to those who led the divestment movement at Swarthmore, who had been steadily turning up the pressure on the school, and to the academic movement globally.

Willie Soon Out of Headlines, but Still in the Crosshairs

Climate contrarian has already lost his biggest fossil fuel industry funding, and Harvard-Smithsonian and the IRS may soon weigh in.

May 4, 2015

In the two months since Wei Hock "Willie" Soon's life turned inside out, his job doing research for Harvard-Smithsonian has continued without major repercussions. But that could soon change.

Pope Francis Unlikely to Sway Catholic Republicans on Climate Change

Party doctrine will probably trump church doctrine in Congress, experts say, where more than a quarter of lawmakers are Catholics.

May 1, 2015

As Pope Francis steps up his moral campaign for global action on climate change, Republican Roman Catholics in Congress are more likely to listen to fossil fuel interests and party leaders than their pontiff, religious and political researchers say, based on lawmakers' track records.

The pope hosted a global warming summit at the Vatican this week with economists, scientists and religious and government leaders. The global leader of the Catholic Church plans this summer to issue the first-ever encyclical, a high-level Catholic teaching document, devoted to global warming and its effects on the world's poor.

But as much sway as the pope has with a sixth of the world's population, party doctrine will probably trump church doctrine in Congress, experts told InsideClimate News. The position of Pope Francis on climate change—and nearly every mainstream climate scientist—bucks that of American conservatives and fossil fuel interests such as the billionaire Koch brothers, who have spent millions of dollars casting doubt on the reality of human-driven climate change and supporting candidates who oppose action to address it.

"If the science hasn't persuaded Republican politicians, the Pope won't," said R.L. Miller, founder of Climate Hawks Vote, a super PAC that works to elect climate-conscious candidates. "American Catholics have been in the habit of mixing and matching parts of Catholic doctrine when it suits them for decades. I don't see this as an exception."

Climate Change Could Wipe Out 16 Percent of World's Species

New research predicts widespread extinctions if global warming continues unabated.

Apr 30, 2015

If countries' greenhouse gas emissions continue unchecked, one in every six species on the planet could go extinct.

That is the finding of new research published this week in the journal Science. Climate change is a big factor in what has been tagged "The Sixth Extinction," potentially the worst die-off in Earth's history since the dinosaurs disappeared 65 million years ago. Ecologists warn it could threaten our economy, food security and human health.

"Imagine if we lose an important predator for an agricultural pest," said Mark Urban, an expert in ecology and evolution at the University of Connecticut and author of the new study. "Suddenly we have a major pest problem that threatens our ability to grow food."

Nearly Half the U.S. Population Still Breathes Polluted Air, Report Says

High ozone levels and particulate matter plague 138 million Americans, despite recent improvements, American Lung Association-backed study shows.

Apr 30, 2015

More than 138 million people, or nearly 44 percent of the nation, live in areas plagued with dirty air for part of the year, according to a new report.

Although the numbers show an improvement over recent years, too many people are still at risk of being exposed to toxic air, concluded the "State of the Air" study by the advocacy group American Lung Association.

Drought-Parched Lake Mead Could Leave Seven States High and Dry

Historic-low water levels in the Colorado River Basin's biggest lake spells trouble, and potential water restrictions, throughout the West.

Apr 29, 2015

Lake Mead, the nation's largest reservoir, reached historic low levels over the weekend, another indication of the persistent drought that grips the American West.

Saturday night, even after a prolonged rainstorm, the gauges at Lake Mead settled out at 1,080.13 feet. It's the lowest recorded lake elevation since the reservoir was filled in the 1930s, said Rose Davis, a spokeswoman for the Bureau of Reclamation, a federal agency that oversees water resources.

And it didn't stop there. By mid-afternoon Tuesday, the lake was at 1,079.76 feet. If lake levels are projected to fall below 1,075 feet in January 2016, it will trigger restrictions on the amount of water than can be drawn from the lake. Additional restrictions would follow if levels reach below 1,050 feet and 1,025 feet.

The city of Las Vegas, which gets 90 percent of its water from Lake Mead, is so concerned about falling reservoir levels that it is building a new intake pipeline deeper within the lake, to ensure it will be able withdraw water even if lake levels continue to decline.

Lake Mead is part of the Colorado River Basin, which provides a crucial source of water to seven states and Mexico. The region is in the midst of a 15-year drought, while the state of California is in its fourth consecutive dry year.