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climate change


  • Originally published 03/25/2014

    Lessons from the Little Ice Age

    The Little Ice Age of the seventeenth century triggered global disruptions to civilization. Policymakers need to heed the warning.

  • Originally published 08/08/2013

    Michael Klare: How to Fry a Planet

    When it comes to energy and economics in the climate-change era, nothing is what it seems.  Most of us believe (or want to believe) that the second carbon era, the Age of Oil, will soon be superseded by the Age of Renewables, just as oil had long since superseded the Age of Coal.  President Obama offered exactly this vision in a much-praised June address on climate change.  True, fossil fuels will be needed a little bit longer, he indicated, but soon enough they will be overtaken by renewable forms of energy.Many other experts share this view, assuring us that increased reliance on “clean” natural gas combined with expanded investments in wind and solar power will permit a smooth transition to a green energy future in which humanity will no longer be pouring carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.  All this sounds promising indeed.  There is only one fly in the ointment: it is not, in fact, the path we are presently headed down.  The energy industry is not investing in any significant way in renewables.  Instead, it is pouring its historic profits into new fossil-fuel projects, mainly involving the exploitation of what are called “unconventional” oil and gas reserves.

  • Originally published 03/18/2013

    Ancient rock art at risk from climate change

    Some of the world's ancient art is at risk of disappearing, Newcastle University experts have warned. Researchers from the  International Centre for Cultural and Heritage Studies (ICCHS)  and School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences (CEG) studied the physical underpinnings and condition of Neolithic and Bronze Age rock art panels in Northumberland. They conclude climate change could cause the art to vanish because new evidence suggests stones may deteriorate more rapidly in the future.

  • Originally published 03/05/2013

    Historic town walls crumbling 'because of climate change'

    For centuries they stood firm against marauding Welsh invaders but now the historic walls of Ludlow are said to be under threat from a new enemy – climate change.Residents living near one section of the medieval structure were this weekend advised to leave their homes temporarily after engineers found that it was unsafe.Three other sections of the wall in the picturesque Shropshire town have collapsed in the past fortnight....

  • Originally published 01/29/2013

    Sealing Norse Greenlanders’ fate?

    The mystery of what happened to Greenland’s Norse population is one step closer to being solved, as new evidence suggests that the colony did not die out because its inhabitants were unable to adapt to their new environment.The first Viking settlers arrived in c.AD 1000, and over time their population swelled to around 3,000 people. By the 15th century, however, they had vanished, with no explanation provided by contemporary written sources. This disappearance has long been debated by archaeologists, with some suggesting that the farming communities were defeated by climate change, which made it difficult to cultivate cereal crops for bread and beer, and limited wild plant resources....

  • Originally published 01/25/2013

    Juan Cole: Global Warming Is a Domestic Crisis

    Juan R.I. Cole is the Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan.As President Obama made clear in his inaugural address Monday, failing to confront the threat of climate change in his second term would be a betrayal of future generations. “Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science,” Obama said, “but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought and more powerful storms.” Actually, there are some who can avoid fires, drought and storms, but most of them voted for Mitt Romney.At a time of continued unemployment and Republican assaults on workers’ rights, the climate crisis may not seem like a pressing bread and butter concern. However it is vital for the president and his allies in Congress to remember that those Americans most defenseless against extreme weather and natural disasters form the backbone of the Democratic Party.

  • Originally published 01/22/2013

    How high could the tide go?

    BREDASDORP, South Africa — A scruffy crew of scientists barreled down a dirt road, their two-car caravan kicking up dust. After searching all day for ancient beaches miles inland from the modern shoreline, they were about to give up.Suddenly, the lead car screeched to a halt. Paul J. Hearty, a geologist from North Carolina, leapt out and seized a white object on the side of the road: a fossilized seashell. He beamed. In minutes, the team had collected dozens more.Using satellite gear, they determined they were seven miles inland and 64 feet above South Africa’s modern coastline....In any given era, the earth’s climate responds to whatever factors are pushing it to change.Scientists who study climate history, known as paleoclimatologists, focus much of their research on episodes when wobbles in the earth’s orbit caused it to cool down or warm up, causing sea level to rise or fall by hundreds of feet....

  • Originally published 01/16/2013

    Lawrence M. Krauss: Deafness at Doomsday

    Lawrence M. Krauss, a theoretical physicist at Arizona State University, is the author, most recently, of “A Universe From Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather Than Nothing.”TO our great peril, the scientific community has had little success in recent years influencing policy on global security. Perhaps this is because the best scientists today are not directly responsible for the very weapons that threaten our safety, and are therefore no longer the high priests of destruction, to be consulted as oracles as they were after World War II.The problems scientists confront today are actually much harder than they were at the dawn of the nuclear age, and their successes more heartily earned. This is why it is so distressing that even Stephen Hawking, perhaps the world’s most famous living scientist, gets more attention for his views on space aliens than his views on nuclear weapons.Scientists’ voices are crucial in the debates over the global challenges of climate change, nuclear proliferation and the potential creation of new and deadly pathogens. But unlike in the past, their voices aren’t being heard....

  • Originally published 07/27/2014

    In Foreign Affairs, Not Doing Anything is the Thing to Do

    The heartbreaking violence in the Middle East, Ukraine, and elsewhere carries many messages, but here’s one Americans shouldn’t miss: The United States — no matter who the president is — cannot manage world conflict. The corollary is that when a president tries to manage it,things will usually get worse. Foresight is always defective, and tragic unintended consequences will prevail.