On Tuesday, Arizona’s U.S. representative Raul Grijalva asked seven academics for their sources of funding and earlier drafts of testimony they have delivered before congressional committees. Since then, many have debated whether the requests cross the line into harassment or witch hunts or McCarthyism. Lost in the discussion around whether the requests are too broad is a bigger question to address: Why don’t we already know who funds the work of those who testify before Congress? Read More
February 26th, 2015
February 26th, 2015
For many years, small farmers in developing countries have been blamed for deforestation because of the way that they make breakfast. While in developed countries nearly everyone cooks with fossil fuels, or with electricity generated by fossil fuels or hydroelectricity, in developing countries firewood still predominates, especially among the poorest people in rural areas. But is this really an important driver of deforestation—and thus a major contributor to global warming? A new study—the most in-depth and comprehensive look at the subject yet—says no.
February 24th, 2015
This morning, Rep. Raul Grijalva sent letters to seven universities seeking documents related to academics who have testified before Congress on climate change. The requests come in the wake of revelations over the weekend that the Smithsonian Institution agreed not to disclose payments from the Southern Company, a major utility, to fund and review the work of Smithsonian aerospace engineer Willie Soon. As all of the researchers in question have been critical of mainstream climate science, some are wondering if Rep. Grijalva’s requests can be considered a witch hunt. So is it? Read More
Willie Soon’s Failure to Disclose Industry Funding for Contrarian Climate Research is Another Reason to Support Transparency
February 24th, 2015
My first job in science communication was as an “Explainer” in the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. The program helps visitors – particularly students – understand the forces of flight. Our uniforms included red polo shirts that said “The Explainer Program” on the front and had the name of the company that sponsored the program – Cessna Aircraft – on the sleeve.
I recall this old uniform because the Smithsonian is under scrutiny for an entirely different type of sponsorship that was hidden from public view. Read More
January 27th, 2015
Today we’re releasing an important report on what the world’s largest emitters of greenhouse gases could do to reduce the global warming pollution released by their land sectors—that is, their agriculture and forests. It’s called Halfway There? What the Land Sector Can Contribute to Closing the Emissions Gap.
January 16th, 2015
On Wednesday, the Obama Administration announced a new goal and course of action to cut methane emissions from the oil and gas industry by 40-45 percent from 2012 levels by 2025. It’s a sensible near-term target that helps address one of the most potent contributors to global warming. But will the measures the Administration plans to implement be enough to achieve the goal? Read More
Nicole Hernández Hammer
Consultant, Union of Concerned Scientists
December 19th, 2014
As the changing climate continues to transform the American landscape, we are beginning to realize the many ways in which our day-to-day lives and those of future generations will be different. Read More
December 1st, 2014
The new annual data on Amazon deforestation in Brazil has just come out, and it’s good news. For the latest year—August 2013 through July 2014—the annual total was 4,848 square kilometers. That’s 18 percent less than in the previous year, and the second-lowest figure ever. Read More
November 24th, 2014
My mother’s family is politically diverse. And opinionated. As my grandmother tells it, the last time she and my grandfather voted for the same president was Eisenhower. Like a lot of families, our discussions around the holidays can veer into national issues and politics. Sometimes those discussions are enlightening, but they can also devolve into arguments. Read More
November 20th, 2014
Today, NOAA announced another startling record-breaking month of elevated global temperatures. We have just experienced the hottest October since record keeping began 135 years ago. This year, May, June, August, September and now October – half the months so far – all smashed previous records for global land and ocean temperatures.
According to NOAA, “The January–October combined global land and ocean average surface temperature was the warmest such period on record, surpassing the previous record set in 1998 and 2010.”