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John Upton

John Upton

Editorial

John Upton is a Senior Science Writer at Climate Central. He is focused on shores and rising seas, and he also covers global climate policy, oceans research and wood energy. Upton has science and business degrees and a decade of international reporting experience. He has written for the New York Times, Slate, Nautilus, VICE, Grist, Pacific Standard, Modern Farmer, and Audubon magazine.

Most Recent News Entries:

Local Efforts to Save Coral Reefs May Be Futile

Local Efforts to Save Coral Reefs May Be Futile

Scientists agree that coral reefs will continue to be decimated if climate-changing pollution from fossil fuels, farming and deforestation is not addressed. They disagree, however, over whether local efforts to restrict fishing and reduce water pollution will make meaningful differences in a world of fast-rising temperatures.… Read More

California Drought, Marine Heat More Likely With Warming

California Drought, Marine Heat More Likely With Warming

A persistent wash of warm waters off the West Coast, which caused wildlife die-offs and blocked drought-quenching storms from reaching California, was caused by the happenstance interplay of natural ocean cycles, research findings published Monday show. The findings also suggested that while the drought and the blob of warm water were the result o… Read More

Dead Trees Adding to California Firefighters’ Battle

Dead Trees Adding to California Firefighters’ Battle

With drought and climate change conspiring to push California’s summer wildfire season into premature overdrive, the state’s lead wildfire agency has acquired a multimillion dollar arsenal to help it cope with unprecedented numbers of dying trees. California recently bought $6 million worth of chippers, mobile sawmills, portable incinerators and … Read More

Rodent Threat Defeated As Delmarva Battles Rising Seas

Rodent Threat Defeated As Delmarva Battles Rising Seas

A rodent resembling a rat was found dead in a trap on a warm day last spring in marshland popular with hunters and fishers. It was the last time anybody saw a nutria on the Delmarva Peninsula. A $1 million-a-year federal program that has killed 13,000 of the wetland-destroying pests on the peninsula since 2003 has failed to capture or detect signs… Read More

Fishing For Bright Spots in a World of Sick Reefs

Fishing For Bright Spots in a World of Sick Reefs

An unprecedented ecological analysis of fish survey findings from more than 2,500 reefs worldwide revealed on Wednesday that Muluk villagers of Karkar Island do better jobs than almost anybody in the West of managing fish stocks for the long term bounties they can provide. Karkar Island showed up as one of 15 “bright spots” in the analysis … Read More

Climate Impacts From Farming Are Getting Worse

Climate Impacts From Farming Are Getting Worse

As signs emerge that the global energy sector is beginning to rein in what once had been unbridled levels of climate-changing pollution, new United Nations figures show pollution from farming is continuing to get worse. Greenhouse gases released from the growing of crops and livestock directly increased by a little more than 1 percent in 2014 … Read More

The Weird Weather That Entrenched California’s Drought

The Weird Weather That Entrenched California’s Drought

Several months after storms fueled by a fierce El Niño exploded over the northern Sierra Nevada, California’s mountain snowpack has nearly disappeared. Scientists bid adieu last week to an El Niño that had been among the strongest on record, but that brought disappointingly few wintertime snowflakes and raindrops to the Southwest. Snow that … Read More

Bay Area Voters Approve Tax to Fix Marshes As Seas Rise

Bay Area Voters Approve Tax to Fix Marshes As Seas Rise

Voters in the San Francisco Bay Area approved an unprecedented tax Tuesday to help fund an ambitious vision for restoring lost marshlands, handing electoral victory to shorebirds, crabs and advocates of a muddy strategy for adapting to rising seas. Measure AA is projected to raise an estimated $25 million a year for 20 years. As of Wednesday … Read More

Overfishing and Pollution Kill Corals in a Warming World

Overfishing and Pollution Kill Corals in a Warming World

In the wild worlds of coral reefs, seaweeds and corals are locked in mortal battles and scientists have revealed how overfishing, sewage and farm pollution can tip the balance in favor of the weeds. Newly published findings from three years of field experiments in the ailing reefs of the Florida Keys have profound implications at a time when … Read More

Best Protected Great Barrier Reef Corals Are Now Dead

Best Protected Great Barrier Reef Corals Are Now Dead

In stunning new findings that have laid bare the limitations of marine parks as defenses against rapid environmental change, more than half of the corals surveyed in large chunks of this pristine stretch of the Great Barrier Reef are expected to soon be dead. “Reefs that are in better shape should fare better under climate change,” said John Pando… Read More

America’s Sickest Wetlands Are in the West, EPA Finds

America’s Sickest Wetlands Are in the West, EPA Finds

An exhaustive assessment released by the EPA this month based on more than 1,000 wetland surveys conducted in 2011 concluded that while nearly half of the remaining wetlands in the Lower 48 are in “good” condition, just one-fifth of the wetlands in the West are doing so well. The findings portend problems nationwide as seas rise, with planners… Read More

Acidifying Waters Put Dungeness Crabs at Risk

Acidifying Waters Put Dungeness Crabs at Risk

Research published this month could give a crab connoisseur a case of acid reflux. Scientists reported in the journal Marine Biology that ocean acidification, which is caused when carbon dioxide pollution dissolves into oceans, can kill and stunt young crabs, potentially jeopardizing whole populations. “It’s something that’s projected into the … Read More

Abrupt Atlantic Ocean Changes May Have Been Natural

Abrupt Atlantic Ocean Changes May Have Been Natural

Climate change may not have been to blame for an abrupt recent slowdown of a sweeping Atlantic Ocean current, a change that delivered an intense pulse of ocean warming and sea level rise through the Gulf of Maine and elsewhere along the East Coast. Modeling-based analysis by British scientists, published Monday in Nature Geoscience, concluded that … Read More

Marine Parks Help Global Fish Stocks Withstand Warming

Marine Parks Help Global Fish Stocks Withstand Warming

New and expanded marine parks and fishing rules could be powerful antidotes for threats of famine as fisheries dwindle from climate change and overfishing, new research has shown. An ambitious new analysis of big marine data produced from thousands of dives by citizen scientists has detected a powerful link between the biodiversity of a … Read More

Sea Level Rise Could Help Marshes Ease Flooding

Sea Level Rise Could Help Marshes Ease Flooding

Along the mid-Atlantic coast, where waters are rising quickly, marshes are on the march, consuming forestland, farms and yards. “Habitats are changing fast here,” said Matt Whitbeck, a biologist at the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Maryland, where dead trees still jut from young marshes. Newly published modeling shows that a looming… Read More

Ocean Acidification Making It Harder For Fish to Breathe

Ocean Acidification Making It Harder For Fish to Breathe

With carbon dioxide pollution dissolving into water bodies, causing them to acidify, laboratory experiments showed silversides in the sprawling Chesapeake Bay will find it harder to breathe in low-oxygen conditions. The findings have sweeping global implications. “These fish are superabundant — everything else eats them,” said Seth Miller, an… Read More

Florida Dredging Would Cut Path Across Corals in ‘Crisis’

Florida Dredging Would Cut Path Across Corals in ‘Crisis’

As America’s only barrier reefs bleach, dissolve and succumb to disease, experts worry that a $320 million plan to expand oil and cargo shipments through Florida’s corals could worsen flooding and threaten ecosystems crucial to fisheries and tourism businesses. In addition to being one of the world’s busiest cruise ship terminals, Port Everglades… Read More

Coral Deaths Threaten Coasts With Erosion, Flooding

Coral Deaths Threaten Coasts With Erosion, Flooding

Colorful corals draw snorkeling tourists to natural marine playlands along the Florida Keys, Mexican Riviera Maya and northeastern Australia, and new research shows the flailing ecosystems they underpin also protect beachfront hotels from erosion and floods. As coral reefs the world over bleach from warming waters, dissolve from acidification and … Read More

Global Warming Is Starving West Coast Waters of Oxygen

Global Warming Is Starving West Coast Waters of Oxygen

Rockfish populations that crashed off the southern Californian coast in the 1990s have been protected by fishing rules and marine parks. But climate change is making a natural threat to the fish even worse. As atmospheric pollution warms the planet and its seas, oxygen levels are declining in the oceans, making it harder for the bottom-dwelling… Read More

Climate Change is ‘Devastating’ The Great Barrier Reef

Climate Change is ‘Devastating’ The Great Barrier Reef

Warm ocean waters that sucked the color and vigor from sweeping stretches of the world’s greatest expanse of corals last month were driven by climate change, according to a new analysis by scientists, who are warning of worse impacts ahead. Climate change made it 170 times more likely that the surface waters of the Coral Sea, which off the… Read More

Carbon Fee Debate Goes Mainstream in Washington State

Carbon Fee Debate Goes Mainstream in Washington State

As governments worldwide begin imposing fees on pollution to try to protect the climate, a debate over dueling approaches — one that has long been restricted to conferences and academia — is becoming prominent in Washington state. Washington voters will decide in November whether to introduce a carbon tax on fossil fuels and electricity from coal … Read More

With The Paris Agreement Signed, Hard Work Begins

With The Paris Agreement Signed, Hard Work Begins

Diplomats and leaders representing more than half the world’s countries on Friday gave a global effort to slow climate change a ceremonial nudge forward. The signing in New York of the Paris Agreement, which is a United Nations climate treaty that was finalized during high-profile negotiations in France in December, was a symbolic overture to year … Read More

Fate of World’s Coastlines Rests on Melting Antarctic Ice

Fate of World’s Coastlines Rests on Melting Antarctic Ice

Mayors from small towns, planners from the world’s largest cities and U.N. diplomats are being guided on the details of a looming coastal crisis by sea level projections compiled by a U.N. science panel. The panel’s work includes warnings about the amount of flooding that could be caused by melting in Antarctica, and those warnings have been… Read More

Sinking Atlantic Coastline Meets Rapidly Rising Seas

Sinking Atlantic Coastline Meets Rapidly Rising Seas

Geological changes along the East Coast are causing land to sink along the seaboard. That’s exacerbating the flood-inducing effects of sea level rise, which has been occurring faster in the western Atlantic Ocean than elsewhere in recent years. New research using GPS and prehistoric data has shown that nearly the entire coast is affected, from… Read More

Carbon Pollution Seen As Key Driver of Sea Level Rise

Carbon Pollution Seen As Key Driver of Sea Level Rise

New computer modeling has shown that human influences were responsible for two-thirds of sea level rise from 1970 to 2005. By contrast, natural forces were responsible for about two-thirds of the rise in sea levels detected from 1900 to 1950. “We’re driving sea levels at the moment,” said Aimee Slangen, a researcher with Australia’s federal … Read More

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Hotter Years, More Fires The average number of large wildfires burning across the Western U.S. each year has tripled from the 1970s to the 2010s.

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