Most Americans Agree That Climate Change Makes Hurricanes More Intense

Does climate change make hurricanes worse? Yes – warmer ocean waters make them wetter, more powerful, windier and, as is increasingly the case, more likely to cause wanton destruction. There are a few variables to this, and the overall damage really depends on where the hurricane makes landfall and if it slows down or not, but in a nutshell, this link is a surefire bet.

Now it seems that, for the first time, the majority of Americans accept this viewpoint too. According to a new poll by ABC News and the Washington Post, 55 percent of the public say that the severity of recent hurricanes is down to climate change, whereas 41 percent say that it’s just severe weather that happens sometimes.

This is a huge jump from the last time this poll was conducted (then by Pew), in September 2005 – just after Hurricane Katrina hit the US. Back then, just 25 percent said that climate change was ramping up the strength of hurricanes, whereas 66 percent disagreed.

The shift is primarily down to Democratic-leaning members of the public. This year, 78 percent of them attribute the severity of the recent hurricanes to climate change, a 47 percent increase from 2005. Independents, too, have contributed to the swing: 56 percent chose the climate change option, a 27 point bump from 2005.

Republicans, however, have shown almost no change at all. Just after Katrina hit, just 16 percent said that climate change made it worse. Today, that figure is 23 percent.

This is a curious finding, particularly as a recent survey hinted that Republican’s tendency to accept scientific consensus had no correlation with their political beliefs. In contrast, Democrats were more likely to accept scientific consensus as they gained more education, regardless of their political affiliation.

Overall, the most likely people to attribute the severity of the recent tropical cyclones were liberals or moderates, and those with college degrees, particularly women.

In any case, it’s another piece of evidence revealing that much of the American public – contrary to popular opinion – is actually scientifically literate, and aware of the emerging truths coming from academia. Despite the fact that 2017 is the age of Alternative Facts, scientific censorship, and looming funding cuts, there is hope after all that people are tuned in to what’s real, and what’s fake news.

It’s a shame, though, that sometimes climate change needs to be a visceral danger – one that essentially slaps you in the face – to make you realize it’s a clear and present threat.

Is Rick Scott Re-Evaluating His Stance on Climate Change Post-Irma?

“Clearly, our environment changes all the time,” the Republican leader said after touring Irma’s devastation. “And whether that’s cycles we’re going through or whether that’s man-made, I wouldn’t be able to tell you which one it is.”

It’s good to see Scott pondering those wacky ideas we’ve all heard floating around: Human-caused climate changemore intense hurricanesrising sea levels, etc. Coming to terms with climate change is a journey we all must pursue at our own pace! It’s not urgent or anything.

So what is Scott feeling sure about? Let’s hear it:

This is a catastrophic storm our state has never seen,” he warned on Saturday before Irma hit Florida.

“We ought to go solve problems. I know we have beach renourishment issues. I know we have flood-mitigation issues,” he said in the wake of Irma.

“I’m worried about another hurricane,” he shared with reporters while touring the Florida Keys this week. We feel ya, Scott.

Big ideas! Perhaps a fellow Florida Republican could illuminate their common thread.

“[I]t’s certainly not irresponsible to highlight how this storm was probably fueled — in part — by conditions that were caused by human-induced climate change,” Florida congressman Carlos Curbelo said this week.

In fact, it just might be necessary.

What Role Is Climate Change Playing In The Development Of Hurricanes?

Hurricane Irma is hovering somewhere between being the most- and second-most powerful hurricane recorded in the Atlantic. It follows Harvey, which dumped trillions of gallons of water on South Texas. And now, Hurricane Jose is falling into step behind Irma, and gathering strength.

Is this what climate change scientists predicted?

In a word, yes. Climate scientists such as Michael Mann at Penn State says, “The science is now fairly clear that climate change will make stronger storms stronger.” Or wetter.

Scientists are quick to point out that Harvey and Irma would have been big storms before the atmosphere and oceans started warming dramatically about 75 years ago. But now storms are apt to grow bigger. That’s because the oceans and atmosphere are, on average, warmer now than they used to be. And heat is the fuel that takes garden-variety storms and supercharges them.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted that the Atlantic hurricane season this year would be big. It said the most likely scenario would be five to nine hurricanes and three to five major hurricanes, which is above the long-term average.

Some of its reasoning is based on climate change. The eastern tropical Atlantic Ocean is the fuel tank of hurricanes, if you will, and big parts of the sea surface have been between 0.5 and 1 degree Celsius warmer than average this summer. Now, the Atlantic goes through normal cycles of warming and cooling that have nothing to do with climate change, such as in response to the El Nino and La Nina weather cycles. But this year neither cycle is active.

And whether or not Irma was emboldened by climate change, what’s more telling are hurricane trends. Big hurricanes in the Pacific as well as the Atlantic appear to be happening more often and are packing more punch than normal.

Climate scientist Kevin Trenberth from the National Center for Atmospheric Research explains: “Previous very active (hurricane) years were 2005 and 2010,” he says, and along with 2017, they experienced warm Atlantic Ocean temperatures. “So this sets the stage. So the overall trend is global warming from human activities.”

It’s worth noting that there are other things that made Irma big that have no clear association with climate change. Vertical wind shear in the hurricane “nursery” region of the Atlantic are weak this year. Strong wind shear at the right altitude can in essence “behead” a hurricane as it forms, so Irma has free rein to build. There’s also a long-term cycle in the Atlantic — the Atlantic Multi-Decadel Oscillation — that affects hurricane-forming conditions. Since 1995, the AMO is in the “on” position for good hurricane conditions, and in fact the period since then has been quite active for storms and hurricanes.

So, as with Harvey, these superstorms have always happened due to natural causes, but the underlying conditions in the oceans and atmosphere have primed the pump. You don’t need much effort now to turn a trickle into a gusher.

No Such Thing As Climate Change Huh? An Iceberg The Size of Delaware Just Broke Off Antarctica

An iceberg the size of Delaware has broken free from an Antarctic ice shelf, leaving the rest of the shelf vulnerable to collapse and serving as a harbinger of future sea-level rise that could pose a serious threat to coastal communities.

The break in the Larsen C ice shelf — the most northern major ice shelf in the region occurred Wednesday, according to Project MIDAS, a UK-based monitoring group.

Ice shelves are the thick, floating ice at the edge of the continent, and they serve as buttresses, keeping onshore glaciers from sliding into the sea. Researchers have been monitoring the rift in the Larsen C shelf for years and became alarmed in December when the breach widened dramatically. At one point this spring, the rift grew by 11 miles in less than a week, leaving only eight miles left and raising fears that a complete break was imminent. More than six months later — in the middle of the Antarctic winter — the break has occurred.

“The situation with the Larsen [C] ice shelf is a combination of fascinating and troubling, a tangible piece of a larger slow-motion disaster unfolding in front of our eyes,” said Michael Oppenheimer, professor of geosciences and international affairs at Princeton University. “We are seeing a microcosm of the future… a future that may already be inevitable and, if not, will likely be so if we transgress the 2º C warming target.”

Larsen C is about 1100 feet thick and rests at the edge of West Antarctica, blocking the glaciers that feed into it. All of the region’s ice shelves, including Larsens A, B, and C, impede the movement of Antarctic glaciers, which, if they float into the ocean, can hasten sea-level rise.

The Larsen A ice shelf collapsed in 1995 and the Larsen B shelf suddenly crumbled in 2002 after a similar rift developed.

“One of the processes causing the disintegration of the Larsen… is also implicated in the rapid changes in the Amundsen Sea area of West Antarctica — Thwaites glacier, Pine Island glacier,’’ said Oppenheimer, a long-time participant in the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. When land-based ice goes into the ocean, it causes sea-level rise.

“There is a relatively small amount of ice behind the Larsen, so even if it all disintegrated, the contribution to sea-level rise would be modest, a few inches,’’ he said. Still, even a few inches of sea-level rise is meaningful, especially when combined with storm surge in low-lying areas.

And what is happening with Larsen C is not an isolated problem. Cracks in other Antarctic ice shelves also have developed.

“There is several meters worth of ice behind the other ice shelves and more behind vulnerable ice shelves in East Antarctica. So what we are seeing is a vivid demonstration of what warm water and warm air can do to an ice shelf and the land-based ice sheet that the shelf has been restraining,” Oppenheimer said.

With the break, Larsen C lost more than 10 percent of its area, leaving the ice front at the most retreated position on record, according to Project Midas, a UK-based Antarctic research effort.

“This is just the latest empirical evidence for what scientists have increasingly concluded in recent years,” said Michael Mann, professor of meteorology at Pennsylvania State University and director of its Earth System Science Center. “Namely, that the West Antarctic ice sheet is less stable with respect to global warming than once thought, and its demise is occurring ahead of schedule, and with it, so is global sea-level rise.’’

Kevin E. Trenberth, a senior climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, said there have been conflicting theories surrounding the impact of climate change on the region.

“Warming of the atmosphere means that moisture can be carried farther inland, and one prospect that has been mentioned is that more snow could occur in Antarctica, which could contribute to lowering of sea level, countering trends elsewhere,” he said. “Observations of precipitation are poor, and we do not have good information on this aspect.”

Trenberth explained that waters around Antarctica are warming more than anywhere, undermining ice shelves. “This has gained support from various studies over time, so once again the outcome is more icebergs breaking away from Antarctica.”

“The key question is, ‘What does this mean overall?’” he said. “Is the West Antarctic ice sheet unstable and may become ungrounded, resulting in it melting and 20 feet of sea-level rise ultimately? The uncertainties are huge and the topic is important.”

Richard Alley, a glaciologist at Pennsylvania State University, agreed. Alley believes the shrinking of Antarctic Peninsula ice shelves is likely do to warming, though uncertainties abound.

“Think of all the ceramic coffee cups you have ever seen dropped on the floor,” he said. “Some have bounced, some chipped, some broken in two, some smashed. We all know that dropping a ceramic coffee cup on the floor risks breakage, but we would be hard-pressed to predict exactly what one cup will do. Exactly where this break will go on Larsen C, and how it will affect the probability of additional breaks behind it, fall into the category of predicting one break.

“We can surely improve our data, our understanding of the setting, and our models, and reduce the uncertainties for similar events in the future,” he said. “But there will always be some uncertainty. If one wishes to avoid really costly breakage… leading to meters of sea-level rise, the approach… is to leave a wide safety margin, which would mean limiting warming.”

As for the fate of the breakaway iceberg, climate scientists have developed models that can predict its journey. Researchers at the Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research have figured out how Antarctic icebergs drift through the Southern Ocean.

When it comes to huge icebergs like the Larsen C, its motion is largely dictated by its weight and by the fact that the surface of the Southern Ocean is not flat but typically leans to the north. The sea level can be up to half a meter higher on the southern edge of the Weddell Sea or along the Antarctic Peninsula than at its center. How far it will drift depends on whether it remains intact or breaks up into smaller pieces, the researchers said. The iceberg also could run aground for a while.

“If it doesn’t break up, chances are good that it will first drift for about a year through the Weddell Sea, along the coast of the Antarctic Peninsula,” said Thomas Rackow, a climate modeler at the Wegener Institute and first author of the study. “Then it will most likely follow a northeasterly course, heading roughly for South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.”

Because it is so heavy, Larsen C likely will survive for eight to ten years, according to the scientists’ computer models, a period regarded as the maximum life expectancy for even the largest of icebergs.

New Study Says Florida Will Be One Of The States To Be Hit Hardest by Climate Change

A new study from the Climate Impact Lab, a consortium of 25 economists and policy experts from across the country, shows that the American South will be more affected by climate change than any other region in the United States. The analysis also shows that the effects of climate change will transfer wealth from poor counties in the Midwest and Southeast to wealthier counties on the coasts and in the Northeast. This will aggravate the trend of economic inequality in the U.S. that already exists.

States that are already warm or hot such as Florida, Arizona, Texas, and the states of the Deep South will therefore lose income potential when jobs and other benefits migrate to cooler areas. Counties in states that border the Gulf of Mexico in particular are likely to experience the equivalent of a 20 percent, county-level income tax solely attributable to climate change. This “tax” will come in the form of skyrocketing summer energy costs, struggling harvests, rising seas that engulf real estate, and heatwaves that trigger public health crises and inflate mortality rates.

The U.S. GDP will decrease by around 1.2 percent for every additional degree Celsius of warming. Although the Paris Agreement terms would allow a rise of four degrees Celsius by the end of this century, but even if we didn’t surpass that limit, the GDP of our country will still contract by 1.6 to 5.6 percent. If the Paris terms are not met, the damage will be more severe. (To put this into perspective, the biggest drop in GDP during the Great Recession was 6.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008. It took years to recover from the drop, and the ramifications were felt all over the world.)

The study is an exhaustive, detailed effort, which models every single day of weather in each county in the U.S. during the 21st century in order to simulate the economic costs of climate change. It is by far the most in-depth economic assessment of human-caused climate change to date. It is also highly significant because it takes a bottom-up approach, building on multiple microeconomic studies with regional economic data to provide a more detailed picture of the future of the U.S.

As detailed as the study is, the team omitted many serious risks of climate change because they lacked sufficiently detailed data to include them. For example, although the researchers could agree that biodiversity and other “non-market goods” are important, without a concrete way to assess the costs of those losses they didn’t feel they could include them in the study. They also omitted increased chance of “tail risks,” which are unlikely yet catastrophic events like mass migration, violent civil or military conflicts, massive droughts, or major polar ice collapses.

The study’s economic projections also end in 2099. While certain regions in the Northern regions of the U.S. might initially benefit from the pain the Southern states are feeling thanks to climate change, that won’t last. The authors of the study point out that the North will also experience more severe economic damages should climate change continue unchecked into the next century.

Your Favorite Coffee Could Be Going Extinct Thanks To Climate Change

Ethiopia, the birthplace of the coffee bean, is poised to lose up to 60% of its suitable farming land by the end of this century thanks in large part to climate change, a new study published in the journal Nature Plants reported.

The coffee bean, specifically Arabica coffee, provides the African nation with nearly one quarter of its export earnings, totaling more than $800 million, according to the study. But soon farmers will have to find new land at either higher altitudes or cooler temperatures to produce the coffee the world over knows and loves.

“There is a pathway to resilience, even under climate change,” Aaron Davis, from the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew who conducted research work with Ethiopian scientists, told the Guardian. “But it is a hugely daunting task. Millions of farmers would have to change.”

The pathway Davis describes will ask farmers to move into the mountain regions and bring their crop to a higher altitude where temperatures are more stable and more friendly to the fickle crop. But, the move would be an absolute last-ditch effort. As Davis said, “It literally reaches the ceiling, because you don’t have any higher place to go.”

And while moving the crop into a more habitable climate would save production, it would ultimately change the taste of coffee forever.

As CNN reported, higher temperatures, like those caused by climate change, cause coffee beans to ripen too quickly, creating less flavorful beans.

But, moving the beans to a cooler climate will present its own challenges. By moving the plants farmers will likely have to change the plant varieties, Popular Science noted, and “at a minimum you’ll have different soil quality up there.” So either way, the taste and quality of your favorite coffee will likely be a little off.

And it’s not just Ethiopia’s coffee industry who could feel the effects of climate change sooner rather than later: If Brazil, the world’s largest coffee producer, sees temperature rise of 3 degrees Celsius, it would experience a two-thirds drop in sustainable farming area for coffee, the Guardian reported. Additionally, the Guardian pointed out that in 2016 a group of researchers predicted that climate change could soon halve the world’s coffee-growing area.

And caffeine is simply an addiction the world can’t kick. In the United States alone, 54% of adults self-identify as daily coffee drinkers, according to the National Coffee Association. Although the average American already drinks 3.1 cups of coffee per day, the World Coffee Research report found that demand for the caffeinated beverage will double by 2050.

As for what consumers can do now to help support farmers, Mike Kapos, Vice President of Marketing and third generation owner of Downeast Coffee Roasters, said to simply learn about where your coffee products come from and use your purchasing power for good.

“Pay attention to what you’re buying and try to support shops that offer sustainably sourced coffee,” Kapos said. “If the farmers are paid a fair price they’ll be in a better position to take the necessary steps in fighting this.”

A Bunch of Trump Properties Could Be Underwater Due to Rising Sea Levels

President Donald Trump’s fancy for coastal real estate is going to get him in a lot of trouble in the coming decades. Around the world, he’s been putting his name on building and golf clubs on beaches that will be increasingly threatened by rising tides and bigger storms caused by climate change.

The maps below are projections from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for what the U.S. will look like with six feet of sea level rise — the upper end of what the federal government thinks we could see by 2100.

And that’s just how they would like at an average high tide. Even today a storm surge could easily raise water levels another six feet in these places. Any sea level rise makes storm surges worse than they would otherwise be, and on top of that climate change is brewing stronger and more frequent hurricanes.\

Climate change and all its dangerous effects could be coming faster thanks to Trump’s pledge to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on global warming.

Mar-a-Lago, Florida

Trump calls Mar-a-Lago his Southern White House, and he’s spent nearly as many weekends there as he has in Washington since the inauguration. But six feet of sea level rise would swamp half the property, including all five of the outdoor tennis courts.

Trump Grande and Trump Towers, Sunny Isles, Florida

These two properties count six soaring towers between them. And while certainly most of the stories will stay dry in a future of sea level rise, the whole region is going to become a lot less desirable once all the low-lying areas are inundated. Costs to save just the patch of land the buildings sit on from erosion will be enormous, let alone if the guests and residents actually want to sit on a beach.

Trump Hollywood, Florida

Southern Florida is the poster child for sea level rise in the United States, and for good reason. So much of the land is within a few feet of sea level and is very densely populated. It doesn’t help that beachfront property happens to be expensive property — rich people wield the influence required to convince politicians that continued coastal development is a good idea, even when the future looks like this.

Trump National Doral, Florida

Trump National Doral’s four championship golf courses are in big trouble when Miami floods. The most surprising part is that the resort is located miles inland from the coast — which just goes to show how bad things are going to look for Florida as sea levels climb. One recent study pegs flood damages at $2.5 billion annually by 2050 for Miami alone.

Trump National Golf Club Jupiter, Florida

The green areas of the map are technically below sea level at six feet of sea level rise, though they are buffered from the tides by higher pieces of land between them. Whether or not that land will actually protect golfers from getting their feet wet remains to be seen, and certainly the whole area will be getting a lot more boggy and soggy.

Trump International Hotel & Tower, Hawaii

It’s not looking good for Waikiki Beach, where Trump has a couple of hotel and condominium properties. Parts of Honolulu and Waikiki could flood not only from encroaching tides but from groundwater that swells up from below because of the rising ocean.

Trump Plaza, New Jersey

It’s not just beautiful ocean-side resorts that will suffer from sea level rise. Lots of the world’s major centers are right on the ocean, including Trump’s hometown of New York City. Just across the Hudson River in Jersey City, Trump owns a 55-story condominium building that is absolutely threatened by rising seas and bigger storms.

These examples are taken just from the Trump Organization’s properties in the Unites States. The company also has coastal properties around the world, including in Panama, Uruguay, and the United Arab Emirates.

Despite Trump’s public denials of global warming, the real estate developer appears to recognize some problems ahead. His organization recently applied to install a seawall at its golf course in Doonbeg, Ireland, citing the need to protect it from “global warming and its effects.”

Climate Change Lawsuits Are On The Rise

Governments around the world are increasingly being challenged in court to do more to combat the threat of climate change, with litigation ranging from a group’s attempt to stop an airport runway in Austria to a Pakistani farmer suing his government over its failure to adapt to rising temperatures, a new study has found.

The lion’s share of the litigation is in the U.S., but the number of countries with such cases has tripled since 2014.

U.N. Environment and Columbia Law School, which undertook the research, found a “proliferation” of cases instigated by citizens and environmental groups demanding action on areas such as sea-level rise, coal-fired power plants, and oil drilling.

“It’s patently clear we need more concrete action on climate change, including addressing the root causes and helping communities adapt to the consequences,” said Erik Solheim, head of U.N. Environment. “The science can stand up in a court of law, and governments need to make sure their responses to the problem do too.”

The U.S. has been the staging ground for 654 climate-related cases, almost three times that of the rest of the world combined. Some of these cases have proved pivotal, such as a 2007 case where various states and cities demanded the EPA regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions.

The Supreme Court ruled against George W. Bush’s administration, leading to the EPA determining that greenhouse gases are a public health threat and opening the way for Barack Obama’s executive action on climate change.

Other cases are continuing, such as the 21 children who are represented in a lawsuit against the federal government, claiming that its failure to sufficiently cut emissions violates their constitutional right to life, liberty, and property. The Sierra Club, an environmental group, said the case would “upend climate law as we know it” should it be successful.

Australia, with 80 cases, and the U.K., with 49 cases, are the next largest national sources of climate litigation, although the report notes that legal action is starting to emanate from all corners of the world. The issue of “climate refugees,” where people have had to flee their country due to flood or drought, is gaining traction, following a case where a man from Kiribati sought refuge in New Zealand.

In the Netherlands, an environmental group called the Urgenda Foundation joined with several hundred Dutch citizens to sue the government over its decision to lower its greenhouse gas reduction target. The court concluded the case had merit based on the Dutch constitution, the European Convention on Human Rights, and the “no harm” principle of international law.

In a separate case, several groups managed to overturn the approval of a third runway at Vienna’s main airport, while in yet another case, a court in Pakistan ruled in favor of Ashgar Leghari, a farmer, over his government’s “delay and lethargy” in implementing its climate change adaption policies.

Not all cases have been as successful. A Peruvian man sued a German energy company over the climate impacts suffered in his homeland, with the case ultimately dismissed.

“We haven’t seen any major wins filed in actions against fossil fuel companies, but there have been successes in lawsuits against governments,” said Michael Burger, executive director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia. “A lot of this legal action is in the U.S. because America is a litigious society, but also because there is such a partisan divide over the fundamental reality of climate change, which doesn’t really exist elsewhere in the world.”

Burger said legal action will prove significant in pushing the countries closer to their agreed target of avoiding global warming of 2 degrees C or more compared to the era shortly before the advent of heavy industry. The world is currently on course to breach this limit, causing ever more dangerous climate change, even with the emissions reduction pledges agreed in the Paris climate deal.

“The role of litigation will be different in each country but we will continue to see an increase in climate lawsuits that make explicit reference to the Paris Agreement,” he said. “In the U.S., I don’t think that any court will hold the government to account over Paris, as it’s not binding, but other courts in other countries may give it different weight.

“Legal action will be used to stave off the worst aspects of climate change. Litigation has been absolutely essential in instigating action in the U.S. and elsewhere, and it will continue to be so.”

The March for Science Is Happening This Weekend

Since taking office in January, President Donald Trump has not only started a rhetorical war with the media and potentially real wars with North Korea and Russia-backed Syria, but he’s also engaged in what critics call a “war on science.”

This weekend, members of the nation’s scientific community are battling back with an Earth Day March for Science at the nation’s capital.

The March for Science initiative is a cooperative partnership between more than 200 scientific and academic institutions as well as nonprofits, uniting to “defend the vital role science plays in our health, safety, economies and governments,” according to the campaign’s website.

On March 28, President Trump signed his Energy Independence executive order, rolling back former President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan to reduce carbon emissions from coal plants across the country. It was a policy move in line with a position Trump has held since at least 2012, when he tweeted that climate change was a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese, a claim he denied making last year during a debate with Hillary Clinton.

The Washington Post reports prior to Trump’s China conspiracy tweet, he argued climate change was, in fact, real, signing a 2009 letter to Congress urging law makers to support a clean-energy economy.

In a November New York Times interview after winning the election, however, Trump acknowledged “some connectivity” between carbon emissions and climate change but added his position on reform “depends on how much it’s going to cost our companies.”

“You have to understand, our companies are noncompetitive right now,” he added.

The White House’s website removed all previous mentions of the phrase, “climate change” in January.

A July Sierra Club report acknowledged then-candidate Trump as the only potential national leader on the planet who doesn’t think climate change is real, the Associated Press reports.

Consequently in November, an anonymous Trump administration source told Reuters the president’s advisers had been examining not only ending the U.S.’ involvement with the 2015 Paris Agreement — on which Time reports Trump’s team is indecisive. The source says some of Trump’s advisers support pulling out of the preceding 1992 Framework Convention on Climate Change treaty, which established global cooperation to reduce carbon emissions 25 years ago.

“It was reckless for the Paris agreement to enter into force before the election” the anonymous source told Reuters.

The president in December appointed staunch EPA critic and climate change denier Scott Pruitt to head an agency Pruitt once described as having “an activist agenda,” according to NPR.

Pruitt previously sued the EPA 14 times while serving as Oklahoma attorney general. He also has served with an alliance of Republican AGs partnering with some of the nation’s top energy producers to persuade Congress not to support climate change initiatives, according to the New York Times.

Free Public Radio reports almost 800 outgoing EPA members signed a February petition opposing Pruitt taking the EPA helm, but since beginning his new job, Pruitt has declined to do what many climate change deniers have been clamoring for the most.

Politico reports conservative critics in March called for Pruitt’s head when he refused to challenge Obama’s 2009 EPA “endangerment finding,” the old EPA’s Clean Air Act assertion that CO2 emissions themselves endanger public health and welfare by warming the planet.

The U.S. Supreme Court in June declined to review legal challenges to the endangerment finding, which in 2012 was upheld in federal court, The Hill reports.

Pruitt, ironically, has argued to Trump any reversal of the endangerment finding would likely be overruled the courts, according to the New York Times.

On Jan. 24, the Urban Policy Initiative reports President Trump signed an executive order to continue creation of the Dakota Access Pipeline, reversing the Obama administration’s pause on the initiative.

After weeks of unending protests from members of the local Standing Rock Sioux native tribe and its allies last year, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in December declined to approve an easement for further construction on the pipeline. CNN reported the Sioux tribe and its supporters have argued the pipeline encroaches on sacred land, and according to Salon, potential oil leaks could contaminate its water supply.

The launch of a new water treatment plant stationed away from the pipeline may greatly reduce the risk of water supply contamination, though Standing Rock supporters are skeptical, Reuters reported.

NOAA Predicts A Warmer Than Usual Spring

It may be difficult for those in the Northeast to imagine, what with all the snow, but spring is just around the corner, and it’s going to be a warm one.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center released its spring 2017 outlook forecast this week, and it predicts warmer-than-average temperatures for much of the United States. The chances for these warmer temperatures range from 33 percent for southwestern California, and a 50 to 80 percent chance for much of the southern Plains, Great Lake and the Eastern seaboard regions. (And if you think you’ll have usual temperature in Alaska or Hawaii, think again. Warmer weather is expected there, too.)

NOAA is also predicting a heavy flooding season due to these warmer temperatures. North Dakota, in particular, is at risk.

“If you’re in northern North Dakota, or in the Snake River basin in Idaho, prepare for moderate to major flooding this spring,” said Tom Graziano, Ph.D., director of NOAA’s Office of Water Prediction. “Snowpack is heavy in the West and northern plains, and if our long term warm-up coincides with spring rains, already saturated soils will not be able to absorb the increased water, which would lead to increased runoff and potential flooding.”

The warmer than usual temperatures probably aren’t a surprise. After all, 2016 was the second warmest year on record for the continental U.S., just part of a larger trend of average annual temperatures surpassing the 20th century average.