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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:

Drought-Hardy Yards Could Ease Californian Heat Waves

Drought-Hardy Yards Could Ease Californian Heat Waves

As drought-stricken residents of Los Angeles’s hottest neighborhoods replace thirsty lawns with native plants, pavers and bare soil, new research has shown how their local climates could begin tipping back in the direction of their desert-like origins. In a region beset this year by drought and powerful heat waves, the widespread adoption… Read More

California’s New Climate Rules, Explained

California’s New Climate Rules, Explained

A progressive culture and Silicon Valley-style innovation a decade ago thrust California toward the head of the worldwide pack when it comes to shifting away from polluting fossil fuels in favor of cleaner alternatives. This week, the state Assembly and Senate ensured the state’s leadership will be strengthened when lawmakers approved two key… Read More

Study Finds Biofuels Worse for Climate than Gasoline

Study Finds Biofuels Worse for Climate than Gasoline

Years of number crunching that had seemed to corroborate the climate benefits of American biofuels were starkly challenged in a science journal on Thursday, with a team of scientists using a new approach to conclude that the climate would be better off without them. Based largely on comparisons of tailpipe pollution and crop growth linked to biofu… Read More

Key Program in Doubt as California Climate Bill Approved

Key Program in Doubt as California Climate Bill Approved

California lawmakers cast key votes Tuesday for ambitious climate pollution reduction goals after 2020 — shortly before learning that an auction held under a program designed to help achieve those goals had flopped, hinting at major challenges ahead. The state Assembly voted 47-29 to approve SB32. The bill would require the state government to … Read More

With Warming, Western Fires May Sicken More People

With Warming, Western Fires May Sicken More People

Shrouded by smoke from a fire in California’s parched San Bernardino Mountains, schools in the Victor Valley closed their doors last week. The Pilot Fire was contained on Monday — shortly before the Blue Cut Fire broke out, billowing soot and ash over the valley afresh, forcing further closures. “This is a pretty unprecedented situation,” said … Read More

Biomass Power Slumps as EPA, Industry Spar on Science

Biomass Power Slumps as EPA, Industry Spar on Science

With the biomass power industry in financial tumult, its leaders are pinning hopes for revival on Congress’s potential willingness to interfere with climate science. The legislative language, introduced by some Republicans in the House and Senate and by a Democrat-aligned independent Senator, varies slightly. But it all requires that most wood… Read More

Legal Doubts Over California’s Cap-and-Trade Program

Legal Doubts Over California’s Cap-and-Trade Program

The opinion of lawyers working for California’s lawmakers became clear in the spring. Without new laws, the state’s prominent cap-and-trade program would be dead after 2020. Such a legal reality could put an end to the pollution reduction program, and with it billions in anticipated revenues and some the Golden State’s vaunted global leadership on… Read More

How a Volcano Hid the Acceleration of Sea Level Rise

How a Volcano Hid the Acceleration of Sea Level Rise

An uptick in sea level rise caused by greenhouse gas pollution during the past two decades has been hiding behind a volcano. The eruption of Mount Pinatubo in Indonesia in 1991 sent tens of millions of tons of sulphur dioxide into the stratosphere.… Read More

Europe Aims to Close Loophole on Wood Energy

Europe Aims to Close Loophole on Wood Energy

European officials are moving to close a loophole that promotes the burning of wood for electricity by an industry that’s felling American trees, and a new report they commissioned has laid bare the urgent need for reform.… Read More

Scientists Tease Out Climate Change’s Role in Zika Spread

Scientists Tease Out Climate Change’s Role in Zika Spread

Athletes and tourists converging on Brazil this week are crowding into a country where rapid environmental change and natural weather fluctuations nurtured a viral epidemic that has gone global. The Zika virus has exploded throughout South America, up through Mexico and Puerto Rico and into Florida, but the conditions it needed to fester in … Read More

Climate Pollution Can Complicate Fishes’ Sex Lives

Climate Pollution Can Complicate Fishes’ Sex Lives

The mating rituals of male ocellated wrasses are as intricate as their shimmering scales, and new research showing that carbon dioxide pollution can affect those rituals has some scientists fretting for the future of fish. Elevated levels of carbon dioxide — which dissolves from the atmosphere into oceans, where it changes acidity levels — can … Read More

Weather Disasters Can Fuel War in Volatile Countries

Weather Disasters Can Fuel War in Volatile Countries

Following the warmest two years on record and spikes in violence that fueled a global refugee crisis, climate scientists on Monday reported that armed fighting is prone to follow droughts, heatwaves and other weather-related calamities in turbulent countries. Nearly a quarter of deadly armed conflicts in the countries with the most diverse ethnic … Read More

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

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Arctic Paradox: Warmer Arctic May Mean Cold Blasts for Some Arctic warming and loss of sea ice may change atmospheric circulation patterns in parts of the northern hemisphere.

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