Helping climate science make sense.

Texas Court Rules Air Deserves Same Protection As Water

A court ruling in Texas this week may have significant implications for groups seeking to use the courts to force individual states to act on climate change.

Texas District Court Judge Gisela Triana ruled that the atmosphere is part of the “public trust,” which means it “must be protected for public use” under common law principles, according to the Associated Press.

The Texas Environmental Law Center, along with the nonprofit organization Our Children’s Trust, brought the case against the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). Our Children’s Trust is an advocacy group that works to protect the environment for future generations, including by using young people as plaintiffs in multiple lawsuits designed to spur state action on global warming, according to the AP.

Judge Triana's decision may open new doors for compelling greenhouse gas regulation. 
Credit: J.D. Pooley/Getty Images

In the case of the Texas lawsuit, the teenagers sued TCEQ for refusing to adopt a “proposed rule that would require reductions in statewide carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels,” according to a press release from Our Children’s Trust. The press release explained that the arguments centered around the “long established principle of the public trust doctrine, which requires all branches of government to protect and maintain certain shared resources fundamental for human health and survival.” Our Children’s Trust successfully argued that the air should fall under the public trust doctrine, while the TCEQ opposed this legal reasoning.

Water has for a long time been considere...

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Trillions at Stake in Sea Level Rise for 20 Global Port Cities

It’s easy enough to appreciate that sea level rise brought on by climate change poses a hazard to people and property. It’s not so easy, however, to predict exactly how many people are likely to be affected, and how much damage the rising seas are likely to do. Climate Central spent many months doing its own analysis for the U.S, for example, and found that nearly 5 million Americans will be at severely elevated risk from coastal floods by 2030 (you can calculate your own exposure with our searchable interactive Surging Seas map).

Now the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has weighed in with its own assessment — what it calls an environmental working paper, which looks at the risks to major port cities around the world. The report is rather dense for ordinary readers to plow through, but Bloomberg thoughtfully summarized the findings in a slideshow titled “Top 20 Cities with Billions at Risk from Climate Change.”

Miami is the city with the most to lose from rising seas in the entire world, says new analysis. Credit: Florida Insurance Claim Lawyer Blog.

Asian cities grabbed 13 of the 20 spots (including places you’ve probably never heard of, such as Qingdao and Ningbo, in China). But the dubious honor of first place goes to Miami, with $3.51 trillion and 4.8 million people at risk by 2070. Two other American cities made the Top 10 as well: New York City and Newark, N.J., share the No. 3 spot, with a combined $2.1 trillion in likely losses, and 2.9 million people at risk by 2070. Two more – New Orleans and Virginia Beach – were also in the Top 20, at Nos. 12 and 19,...

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No Average Year, No Average Book: ‘Global Weirdness’

By Climate Central

When Climate Central put the finishing touches on our new book a year or so ago, there was always the chance that we’d wind up with egg on our faces. The book, entitled Global Weirdness: Severe Storms, Deadly Heat Waves, Relentless Drought, Rising Seas and the Weather of the Future (which officially hits the stores on July 24), is an effort to tell the story of climate science and climate change in a straightforward, low-key way, without apocalyptic proclamations. Just the facts, as the best scientists are able to lay them out.

But climate doesn’t just change because of human greenhouse-gas emissions (see Chapter 2: Dinosaurs Didn’t Drive Gas-Guzzlers or Use Air-Conditioning). It varies somewhat from year to year, even when the overall trend is upward (see Chapter 23: Nobody Ever Said Global Warming Means Every Year Will be Hotter than the Last).

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Image of the Day: Tar Balls Hit the Beaches This Summer

Two years after the worst oil spill in history, tar balls and dead fish are still washing up on the shores of Louisiana and all along the Gulf coast. Environmentalist, scientists and local fisherman all over the Gulf coast are warning that the disaster is far from over. Fisherman say there are getting less shrimp now since the oil spill. Chemical dispersants, used to help dissipate the oil on the water, were sprayed directly into the ocean and many believe it is dangerous to the ecosystem as well.

Credit: NOAA's National Ocean Service

Media Heats Up with Coverage of Extreme Weather

By Alex Kasdin

CBS News and the Associated Press reported on the mass power outages that occurred across the mid-Atlantic region because of the severe thunderstorm event, known as a “derecho,” that occurred on June 29. The lack of power, and consequently the lack of air conditioning, has added to the public health risks from the late June and early July heat wave.

According to the Washington Post, the morning commute in and around Washington, D.C. was not as treacherous as feared since many traffic lights were without power. Many federal and state employees were told they could work from home on Monday to help alleviate the traffic. Workers from power companies descended upon the mid-Atlantic, some from hundreds of miles away, to help restore power supplies.

Credit: Getty Images

Power outages still plague the D.C. area. Almost 25 percent of customers in D.C., Northern Virginia, and Montgomery and Prince George’s counties are still without power, according to the Washington Post. Though this is a big improvement from Sunday afternoon’s 34 percent, power companies still have a long way to go to reach their goal of restoring power to 90 percent of customers by Friday night. Some summer camps and summer schools even had to close temporarily until they regained power and air conditioning.

Even with power, the extreme heat can be difficult to deal with, and it can have major economic consequences. The New York Times chronicled the story of Hill City, a small agricultural to...

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