Climate Change

A judge has handed Exxon Mobil a victory in only the second climate change lawsuit to reach trial in the United States. The decision was a blow for the New York Attorney General's Office, which brought the case.

Justice Barry Ostrager of the New York State Supreme Court said that the attorney general failed to prove that the oil giant broke the law.

Bernadette Demientieff hails from a region marked by pristine panoramas, droves of Arctic wildlife and decades of controversy. For millennia, her people, the native Gwich'in Nation, have guarded the precious swath of Alaskan land today known by many as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

This year Thom Hawkins is missing his fourth family Thanksgiving back home in Minnesota, by choice.

The 82-year-old lives in Glendale, Calif., and hasn't visited his extended family of nieces, nephews and cousins since September 2016. That's when he decided he couldn't fly anymore because of environmental concerns. Ever since, he has missed weddings, birthdays and graduations, and he expects to miss funerals.

A house is flooded in Houston after Hurricane Harvey.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

About 2% of U.S. homes are at risk of being flooded by the end of the century, thanks to rising sea levels. And the reason for rising sea levels, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is climate change. But flood risk is not translating into lower property values in some areas along the coast.

William Munoz/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Texan, and former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson testified Wednesday in a Manhattan courtroom, where New York prosecutors are seeking to prove that Exxon Mobil lied to investors about the costs the company faced because of climate change. Tillerson is Exxon Mobil's former CEO.

Sandra Dahdah

From Texas Standard:

Water nourishes us. But it also forms borders between geographic regions, and has even become responsible for migration, as individuals and families make decisions about where to live based on the availability of this critical resource. In Texas Standard's series, "Drop by Drop," reporter Joy Diaz set out to learn how water affects politics, migration, the environment and economics. Diaz says she was motivated to produce the series by the growing importance of water in cross-border issues.

Julia Reihs/KUT

Low levels of toxic blue-green algae are still present in Lady Bird Lake. According to the Watershed Protection Department, which takes samples from the lake biweekly, there needs to be consistently cool temperatures and increased water flow before any major changes happen. 

Cars drive down East Seventh Street as the sun sets.
Julia Reihs / KUT

Austin is among 30 cities worldwide where emissions have peaked, according to a new analysis from a coalition of cities dedicated to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Mention the year 2011 to any Austinite who lived here then, and expect to get an earful. It was the hottest year recorded in Austin's history – so hot and so dry that living through it has become a kind of shared trauma for many.

LASA teacher David Walker looks out over the North Slope in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Karl Romanowicz

The Arctic is warming faster than any other place on Earth. Twice as fast.

That’s not easy to grasp when you’re thousands of miles away. But over the summer, one Austin high school teacher went to see it firsthand.

A man with his dog sitting at the intersection of Airport and I-35.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

There was a time when it seemed like summer could have gone differently: A wet spring and relatively mild June had us thinking maybe this year wouldn’t be so bad.

Boy, that didn’t last long. 

Parkside students Levi King, Savvy Horne-Lalande and Gabriel Guerrero hold signs demanding action on climate change.
Julia Reihs / KUT

Austin students rallied at the state Capitol today to raise awareness of the climate crisis as part of an international youth climate strike. Organizers said they expect millions of people to take part in rallies around the world, ahead of the United Nations Climate Action Summit in December.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

In Washington, D.C., on Thursday, the Environmental Protection Agency announced plans for a major rollback of rules aimed at reducing methane emissions from oil and gas infrastructure. In Texas, environmentalists and even some in the industry are arguing in favor of keeping the rules.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

This July is on track to be Earth’s hottest month ever recorded, and that spike in heat is part of a larger warming trend that could change the way governments and researchers measure extreme temperatures.

People across southern Louisiana are spending the weekend worried about flooding. The water is coming from every direction: the Mississippi River is swollen with rain that fell weeks ago farther north, and a storm called Barry is pushing ocean water onshore while it drops more rain from above.

It's a situation driven by climate change, and one that Louisiana has never dealt with, at least in recorded history. And it's raising questions about whether New Orleans and other communities are prepared for such an onslaught.

Wind turbines
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

The 2019 legislative session saw fights over renewable energy, climate resilience and pipeline construction. Now that the dust is settling on the field of battle, what do the results tell us about Texas lawmakers' priorities for energy and the environment?

Caroline Covington/Texas Standard

From Texas Standard:

Energy is the invisible driver of nearly everything we do. It gets us to work, lights our homes – it even powers the equipment we use to broadcast Texas Standard. Energy – and access to it – determines the wealth, health and growth of societies. Michael Webber explores how energy has shaped civilization in his new book “Power Trip: The Story Of Energy.

Webber says he became interested in the topic during an undergraduate history class at the University of Texas at Austin.

Up to 1 million of the estimated 8 million plant and animal species on Earth are at risk of extinction — many of them within decades — according to scientists and researchers who produced a sweeping U.N. report on how humanity's burgeoning growth is putting the world's biodiversity at perilous risk.

The Texas Vertebrate Paleontology Collection
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

This is a story about 10-million-year-old bones. But it starts in the 1930s.

KUT

From Texas Standard:

A new study shows Texas homeowners along the Gulf Coast have lost tens of millions of dollars of property value over a 12-year period ending in 2017 due to rising sea levels. The hardest hit city has been Galveston, followed by three other cities within 40 miles: Jamaica Beach, Bolivar Peninsula and Surfside Beach.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Wind power in Texas is often seen as one of the state’s great success stories. It’s grown so much in the last 20 years that the state now leads the country in the amount of electricity it generates from wind. Experts say that’s brought the price of electricity down and helped reduce air pollution.

But wind is facing a lot of opposition this year at the Texas Capitol. The fight centers around subsidies and incentives that have helped grow the industry here.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Central Texas residents were confronted this week with two conflicting forecasts for the upcoming wildflower season. But the reports did agree on one thing: Flowers are coming early again.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

If the oil and gas boom continues as projected, the planet could experience "catastrophic climate change" by 2050, according to an analysis released yesterday.

The report from Oil Change International, a coalition of environmental groups, says continued growth in fossil fuel extraction – much of which occurs in Texas – could derail any hope of avoiding dire effects of climate change.

Gabriel C. Pérez/KUT

From Texas Standard:

A somewhat old idea to address climate change is getting new life, now that it appears to have the backing of New York freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She and other progressives are pushing an idea called a "green new deal" – riffing on the title of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's plan to rescue the U.S. from the Great Depression.

Writing for The New York Times, Thomas Friedman used the phrase "green new deal" as early as 2007, to advocate transitioning to an economy based on renewable energy instead of fossil fuels. Among the proposals from today's green new dealers is legislation calling for the country to transition to using 100 percent renewable sources of energy over the next 10 years.

The editorial board of the Houston Chronicle argues this isn't a radical plan, and would be a natural one for Texas. Harold Jackson is a member of the board. He says that in addition to abundant oil and gas, Texas also has a lot of capacity to produce solar and wind energy.

Sangita Menon / KUT

Austin has been selected as one of 25 cities to receive up to $2.5 million in funding and support as part of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ American Cities Climate Challenge. The contest was established to support mayors and cities working to fight climate change, specifically in the buildings and transportation sectors.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Texas is not a state known for strong environmental protections. The fact is, many green groups head into legislative sessions more concerned about stopping bills that might do harm than supporting bills that might help.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

Just this week, C40 renewed the City of Austin's membership for three more years. C40 describes itself as "a network of the world’s megacities committed to addressing climate change."  So, how is Austin doing in reaching its goals to address climate change and manage the impacts that are already here?

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Friday, while millions of Americans recovered at home from Turkey-induced torpors, the Trump administration released a report on climate change that forecasts a grim future for Texas. 

Tom Reel/San Antonio Express-News

From Marfa Public Radio:

Senate candidates from Texas, Ted Cruz and Beto O'Rourke, have spent a lot of time discussing their stances on immigration, health care and the economy while on the campaign trail. But the environment is a topic that is seldom discussed.  

That's why Jon Gergen, a retired listener from Plano, asked Texas Decides: "Specifically what policies Mr. Cruz and Mr. O’Rourke are for, or against, to deal with what I perceive most of the scientific community believes is a severe climate problem."

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis "could" be considering a departure, Saudis can expect "severe punishment" for any involvement in the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, and climate change is probably real, but not caused by man, President Trump said in an interview aired Sunday on CBS' 60 Minutes.

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