climate change | KUOW News and Information

climate change

The Tesoro refinery in Anacortes, one of Washington's top 10 sources of greenhouse gases.
Flickr Photo/Scott Butner (CC BY NC ND 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/e4EJ5B

Supporters of a ballot measure to create a new carbon “fee” in Washington submitted 377,000 signatures to the Secretary of State's office this week, which should be more than enough for the initiative to qualify for the November ballot.

American pika in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Flickr Photo/Tony's Takes (CC BY NC ND 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/WYDpFq

Pikas are little rabbit-like mammals that could fit in the palm of your hand. They’re often seen scurrying around rocky alpine slopes with their mouths full of wildflowers.

Pikas like it cold, so, as the climate has warmed, they’ve disappeared from lower elevations where they used to live.

Beach-goers in Seattle enjoy a Puget Sound shore in Seattle.
AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

Kim Malcolm talks with Joe Casola about a new analysis that finds average temperatures in Washington have warmed more slowly than any other state in the country. Casola is deputy director of the University of Washington's Climate Impacts Group.

Scientists have completed the most exhaustive assessment of changes in Antarctica's ice sheet to date. And they found that it's melting faster than they thought.

Ice losses totaling 3 trillion tonnes (or more than 3.3 trillion tons) since 1992 have caused global sea levels to rise by 7.6 mm, nearly one third of an inch, according to a study published in Nature on Wednesday.

KUOW Photo / John Ryan

Complaints have poured in over the yellow, green and orange bikes that have sprouted like mushrooms across Seattle, yet 74 percent of Seattleites have a favorable opinion of the rapidly expanding bike share program, according to a Seattle Department of Transportation survey.


The High Mercury tanker in Haro Strait between San Juan and Vancouver islands on Feb. 15.
Courtesy of Jane Cogan

Two Canadian provinces’ feud over an oil pipeline could boost gasoline prices and oil tanker traffic here in Washington state.


A new study has found that if the climate warms as projected, warmer streams could compound the effects of global warming by adding more heat-trapping carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.

Scientists tested the carbon output of streams at seven locations across the globe, including watersheds in Oregon, Puerto Rico, Alaska and Australia.

Backers of a proposed carbon fee in Washington state say they’ve gathered 36,000 signatures and are on track to put their measure on the November ballot.

While searching for seabirds in July of 2017, biologist Luke Halpin instead saw a sea bubbling with about 200 bottlenose dolphins and 70 false killer whales. It would be an unusual sight anywhere — bottlenose generally travel in much smaller groups — but Halpin’s sighting was made more remarkable by where it happened. These usually tropical animals were off the west coast of Canada.

This take on congestion pricing might blow your mind

Apr 9, 2018
There are around 12,000 paid on-street spaces in Seattle (that does not include private parking) .
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

An urban planning professor at UCLA examines congestion pricing and its impact on the poor. Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan proposed the idea last week. 

Ocean conditions off the Pacific Northwest seem to be returning to normal after a three-year spike in water temperature.

It’s promising long-term news for fishermen who are looking ahead in the short term to yet another year of low salmon returns.

Amazon employee Andrea Neri stacks boxes in the back of a delivery truck on the ship dock at an Amazon fulfillment center on Friday, November 3, 2017, in Kent.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Seattle's impact on the climate in recent years could be a lot worse than the city acknowledges.

A new report from C40, a global coalition of large cities including Seattle, says the cities' greenhouse gas emissions are 60 percent higher than previously reported.

Artwork by Carol Rashawnna Williams
Courtesy of Carol Rashawnna Williams

Carol Rashawnna Williams is a visual artist in Seattle. Climate change is a frequent subject for her.

She believes art can be a powerful medium to help people understand the connections between climate change and racial inequality.


Over the next century, sea level rise is expected to wreak havoc on the U.S. coastlines – and a new analysis shows that the Northwest is not immune. Nearly all coastal wetlands in Oregon, Washington and California will be swamped at the highest predicted sea level change.

Sea level rise is a byproduct of climate change. It happens as the world’s oceans warm and physically expand.  Melting glaciers and ice sheets are also contributing.

New research from the U.S. Geological Survey gives the first ever insight to how specific bays, marshes and harbors will fare.

Courtesy of 350 Seattle/Alexandra Blakely

Thirteen kids are suing the state of Washington and its governor to protect their generation from climate change.

The plaintiffs range in age from 7 to 17.


About 10 miles off the Alabama coast, Ben Raines gently falls backward from a boat into the Gulf of Mexico, a scuba tank strapped to his back and handsaw on his belt. He's on a mission to collect cypress samples from 60 feet below.

"We're going to cut some pieces as if we were in a forest on land," says Raines, an environmental reporter with AL.com.

kids drawings
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Compost-pooping robot dog! Smog-cleaning penguins! Treehouses! Wikes (wind + bikes)!!! 

Those are just a few of the fantastic and whimsical ideas submitted to our drawing contest that asked kids to imagine one way Seattle can save energy.

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and Mt. Rainier
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Business at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport has been booming, and so has its carbon pollution. Airport officials say they can eliminate the climate-wrecking emissions without limiting the airport’s rapidly growing business.

But whether the wonder of air travel can be divorced from the global harm it does — let alone any time soon — is far from clear.


Ash Grove Cement Company is shown on Tuesday, December 12, 2017, in Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Yet another building with 400 offices, first-floor retail space, and underground parking is going up in Seattle’s South Lake Union.

One of the primary ingredients for the building is concrete. As each concrete truck empties its contents into the site, a new one pulls up: that’s a truckload of concrete every five minutes.

Parade-goers carry a blow-up planet Earth while marching in the Fremont Solstice Parade.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

OK, you’re a climate warrior: You take the bus, downtown or to California. You eat vegan.

But do you have to be so insufferable about it?

Some people don’t have all of the options that you do.

Nesib CB Shamah drives his Model S Tesla on Monday, December 11, 2017, near his home in Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Nesib CB Shamah hits the “gas,” and I’m slammed back into my seat by the brute acceleration. It’s a Tesla Model S, and it’s a glimpse of Seattle’s future — if the Emerald City is really serious about climate change.

Shamah’s an independent filmmaker who lives in North Ballard. He likes sports cars, but that’s not why he got one.


“This is a drawing of a bus that runs on electricity. More people will take the bus.”
Tala, Age 6

Hey parents, families or teachers! Do your kids like to draw? 

Invite them to enter KUOW’s climate-friendly drawing contest. Winners will take home prizes and may have a chance to discuss their ideas on air!

The contest is part of our series on climate change, The Burning Question.

sea levels seattle
Seattle.gov

Jack Block Park seems like an unlikely leisure spot, tucked among railroad tracks and Port of Seattle cranes. But it also provides a panoramic view of West Seattle, downtown and Harbor Island.

In maps created by Seattle Public Utilities, parts of Jack Block Park in West Seattle are colored red. Those are the areas that meteorologist and mapmaker James Rufo-Hill said could someday be underwater as sea levels rise due to climate change.


Ely Thomas, 7, runs from water spilling over a set of stairs that normally lead to the beach during a King Tide at Alki Beach Park on Friday, January 5, 2018, in West Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Tom and Marie Cawrse live on the far east side of Port Townsend, on the northeast point of Washington's Olympic Peninsula, right on the beach. 

Since their house was built three decades ago, ice caps have been melting and the ocean's been expanding as it warms up.


Smoke from an approaching wildfire looms over a home near Twisp, Wash., Aug. 19, 2015.
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

Kim Malcolm talks with Dr. Philip Mote about how climate change is changing Washington state. Mote is director of the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute. Previously, he was the Washington State Climatologist.

To get to zero carbon emissions by 2050, Seattle would have to make dramatic cuts, starting now.
KUOW Illustration by nope.ltd

For more than 15 years, leaders of the Emerald City have been promising that Seattle will lead the nation in fighting climate change.

But the lofty words have been matched by continuing clouds of carbon emissions: Seattle dumps as much heat-trapping carbon dioxide into the sky today as it did 25 years ago.


KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

More electric vehicles. More charging stations. More transit. Congestion pricing for cars. Funds for affordable housing. And lobbying for a statewide carbon tax. Those are just some of the ideas Mayor Jenny Durkan and her supporters are considering to help Seattle meet ambitious carbon-emissions goals.  


Washington’s commissioner of public lands is calling on the state legislature to put a price on carbon to try to curb emissions in the state.

But Hilary Franz differs with Gov. Jay Inslee about how to use the money.

A new study from Oregon State University scientists finds that old-growth forests could be an important refuge for songbirds in the face of climate change.

Lead author and ecologist Matt Betts tracked songbird populations in different kinds of forests – including old growth and mature tree plantations.

A warming planet due to human-induced climate change is likely to contribute to an increase in volcanic activity, according to

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