climate change

"I actually think we're going to solve this thing."

That's what President Obama said in a news conference just before he left a United Nations summit on climate change.

"Climate change is a massive problem," Obama said. "It is a generational problem. It's a problem that by definition is just about the hardest thing for a political system to absorb, because the effects are gradual, they're diffused. And yet despite all that ... I'm optimistic. I think we're going to solve it."

Washington Governor Jay Inslee.
Facebook Photo/Governor Jay Inslee

Bill Radke talks to KUOW environment reporter Ashley Ahearn about what Washington Governor Jay Inslee and other local leaders are doing in Paris for the UN climate summit.

The United States and 19 other countries on Monday promised to work toward doubling their spending over five years to support "clean energy" research.

At the same time, 28 private investors, including Microsoft's Bill Gates, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and Amazon's Jeff Bezos, pledged their own money to help build private businesses based on that public research.

Leaders from around the world are converging on Paris for the 2015 U.N. Climate Change Conference. The two-week event is designed to allow countries the chance to come to an agreement on stifling climate change.

Below are 10 questions and answers that should better prepare you for the conference and what to expect during and after its completion.

Click the audio link at the top of this page to listen to "Heating Up," NPR's special on climate change, hosted by Ari Shapiro. Share it, download it, take it with you.

Turning ice into fire. Iceland goes for drama.

Nov 27, 2015
Ari Daniel

The first thing you need to know is that Iceland is changing.

Icelander Sveinbjörn Steinþôrsson, a muscular guy in his 40s, grew up hiking on glaciers here. And he says he’s actually seen the changes.

"First trips to the glacier, I was, like, 14, 15 years old," Steinþôrsson says. "It was easy to find a spot on a glacier to see only white. You could not see the mountain in the north. And you thought you were alone in the world."

But now, when Steinþôrsson goes to those same places and looks out, he sees mountains and bare land poking through.

Seafloor Samples Reveal Ghosts Of Blobs Past

Nov 26, 2015

A huge mass of warm water in the Pacific Ocean is causing problems off the coast of Oregon and Washington. The so-called “blob” is being blamed for toxic algae blooms, which have caused marine mammal deaths and crabbing closures.

New evidence shows this isn’t the first time the blob has appeared off the Northwest coast.

Courtesy Washington Environmental Council

Microsoft is investing in 520 acres of forest land next to Mount Rainier National Park – but not to turn it into another corporate campus.

The software giant is trying to offset its carbon emissions by buying carbon credits.

The Wildfire Conundrum: The Climate Effect

Nov 19, 2015

Editor’s Note: The Wildfire Conundrum is a collaboration between the journalism nonprofit InvestigateWest and Jefferson Publ

Strip-mining spoil piles in background in Colstrip, Montana, June 1973.
Flickr Photo/U.S. National Archives (Public Domain)/http://bit.ly/1MAbdwV

David Hyde speaks with Montana Public Radio news director Eric Whitney about how a coal town in Colstrip, Montana could be shuttered by climate change.

The Coast Guard icebreaker HEALY has returned to Seattle. The summer ice has gotten easier to navigate, which made it possible for the HEALY to travel alone.
U.S. Coast Guard

An American icebreaker has returned home to Seattle after a historic mission to the North Pole.

The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Healy broke its first ice floe in August, just north of Alaska.

Much of the forestland above the Illinois River in Southwest Oregon is a tangled mess of manzanita, shrubby hardwoods and ceanothus. Bushwhacking through it is a branch-to-the-face, boot-snagging, poison-oaky horror.

And this is one of the easy spots, says Portland State University Ph.D. student Charles Maxwell.

“Yeah, this one is a pretty accessible site relatively. Some are quite a bit further in,” he says.

Scientists believe that Kivalina, population 457, will be the first casualty of climate change in the U.S., and that it will be inundated by sea water by 2025.
Suzanne Tennant

Ross Reynolds talks to journalist Elizabeth Arnold about how rural Alaskan communities are dealing with fast rising tides and severe storms caused by climate change.

On Thursday morning, Patricia was a relatively small Category 1 hurricane. By Friday afternoon, it was the most powerful storm ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere.

Is climate change to blame for this record-breaking storm's ferocious rise?

The answer is complex, and shows why it's so hard to tie a single weather event to global warming.

A tall rectangular building juts out of a mountainside on a Norwegian island just 800 miles from the North Pole. Narrow and sharply edged, the facility cuts an intimidating figure against the barren Arctic background. But the gray building holds the key to the earth's biodiversity.

Scientists today laid out a truly worst-case scenario for global warming — what would happen if we burned the Earth's entire supply of fossil fuels.

Virtually all of Antarctica's ice would melt, leading to a 160- to 200-foot sea level rise.

"If we burn it all, we're going to melt it all," says Ken Caldeira, a climate scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science.

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