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climate change

Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, right, speaks at the United Nations COP 21 climate change conference on Nov. 30, 2015.
Flickr Photo/BC Gov Photos (CC BY NC ND 2.0)/http://bit.ly/1OGXl7a

Bill Radke speaks with Vaughn Palmer, columnist for the Vancouver Sun, about Canada's role in the climate talks in Paris.

Seattle and Puget Sound.
Flickr Photo/Shannon Kringen (CC BY SA 2.0)/http://bit.ly/1SvhrSN

Bill Radke speaks with Jessica Finn Coven, director of Seattle's Office of Sustainability and Environment, about rising sea levels in Seattle and her trip to the climate talks in Paris this week. 

Activists deliver a petition asking the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to divest from fossil fuels.
KUOW Photo/John Ryan

While the world's richest man was meeting with world leaders in Paris at the global climate summit, climate activists marched on his foundation's Seattle headquarters Monday.

"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.

Melting glaciers and dry lakebeds may seem to be a purely negative result of global climate change, but they’ve had a positive impact for one group of people: archaeologists.

As previously inaccessible areas become exposed, thousands of new artifacts are being uncovered, leaving archaeologists scrambling to keep up and preserve what they can.

A view of the sea near Kivalina, Alaska, in May 2014. Normally the ice would have been solid into June.
Suzanne Tennant

President Barack Obama becomes the first sitting president to set foot on U.S. soil north of the Arctic Circle on Wednesday. Marcie Sillman talks to Nadine Fabbi, managing director of the Canadian Studies Center at the University of Washington, about why the Arctic is increasingly important to U.S. foreign policy.

Two teenagers in Kivalina, Alaska, play near a skinned polar bear. Scientists predict Kivalina, an Alaskan village, will be the first casualty of climate change and sea rising in the U.S.
Suzanne Tennant

President Barack Obama is coming to Alaska later this month.

The White House released a video Thursday morning to explain why he will be the first sitting president to visit Alaska’s Arctic. 

The folksy video (it starts with the president saying, “Hi, everybody”) features dripping glaciers, raging wildfires and Alaska Natives hanging salmon to dry.

Mt. Hood’s Timberline Resort is the only place offering a full summer ski season in North America. But not this year. The resort closed to the public on August 2 -- five weeks earlier than normal. And that’s after a dismal winter ski season.

Pope Francis today issued a sweeping 184-page papal letter, writing that climate change is a global problem with far reaching environmental and social consequences — especially for the poor. He blamed apathy and greed and called on developing countries to limit the use of nonrenewable energy and to assist poorer nations.

KUOW Photo/John Ryan

Protesters of Arctic drilling have run afoul of the ocean environment in their own small way.

In addition to assembling a flotilla of kayaks on Seattle's Elliott Bay last weekend, the activists brought in a construction barge. It's a solar-powered platform for protests against Shell Oil's plans to drill in the Arctic Ocean. But the protesters anchored their solar barge over one of Seattle's most popular sites for scuba diving. 

John Ryan / KUOW

Seattle planning officials say the Arctic drill rig at the Port of Seattle has to leave or get a new permit by June 4. 

The city issued a notice of violation to the Port of Seattle, Shell Oil and Foss Maritime on Monday afternoon.

The notice says the port's permit is only good for cargo ships, not oil rigs like the Polar Pioneer.

Protesters buzz along the West Seattle shore as the Polar Pioneer is hauled toward the Port of Seattle's Terminal 5 on Thursday, March 14, 2015.
KUOW Photo/Gil Aegerter

Shell Oil pulls into Elliott Bay, the University of Washington pulls out of coal and President Obama is pulled in two directions. KUOW's Bill Radke debates carbon and its alternatives with environmentalist Bill McKibben, Alaska North Slope Port Authority executive director Paul Fuhs and panelists Eli Sanders, Chris Vance and Joni Balter.

Plus: Should we ban smoking in Seattle parks? Do Washington legislators deserve a pay raise? And do Seattle "brogrammers" deserve blame for a changing Seattle?

Student activists Angela Feng, Sarra Tekola and Alex Lenferna of Divest UW appear before the UW Board of Regents on March 12, 2015 to urge the university to get rid of its coal investments.
KUOW Photo/John Ryan

David Hyde speaks with Vox.com writer David Roberts who says student activists at the UW and elsewhere are changing the debate about climate change by making it a moral issue.

A container ship at the Port of Seattle.
Flickr Photo/Bari Bookout (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Ross Reynolds speaks with economics reporter Jon Talton about climate change's affect the economy of the Pacific Northwest.

A snowpack that is less than 20 percent of the normal amount has farmers and ranchers in southern Oregon worried, but the region’s rafting guides say in spite of the limited snowfall they expect to have plenty of water to float on this summer.

Pete Wallstrom, a guide and owner of Momentum River Expeditions, says he’s getting lots of calls from clients wondering if they should cancel their trips on Oregon’s iconic Rogue River due to drought.

The Antarctic is far away, freezing and buried under a patchwork of ice sheets and glaciers. But a warming climate is altering that mosaic in unpredictable ways — research published Thursday shows that the pace of change in parts of the Antarctic is accelerating.

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