In Passing

Impact of changing climate on bee populations remains poorly understood

Bumblebees are key pollinators, helping restock blueberries, tomatoes, peppers and other plants. Data suggest they may be dwindling in Texas. New research seeks to plug knowledge gaps and identify conservation priorities.

TCN Journal

Bloomberg jabs at Trump’s climate record in Rice address on honor, honesty

TCN Journal HEALTH+CLIMATE

Occupational health physicians respond to climate-change challenges

TCN Journal DC DISPATCHES

Trump administration targets Obama-era rules to limit methane emissions

In Passing

Most Houston-area residents call climate change a ‘very serious problem’

The “very serious” view prevails in the oil capital by a whopping 30-point margin, a respected Rice University opinion survey found. Two-thirds of area residents blame human activities as the main reason the climate is changing.

TCN Journal

New Gallup Poll finds partisan divide over global warming continues to grow

The polling results are no surprise, says Sheril Kirshenbaum, former director of the UT Energy Poll. They reflect an increasingly polarized political landscape where “we're influenced more by how we feel than facts.”

In Passing

Border wall threatens ‘substantial’ harm to biodiversity, scientists warn

Texas will be hardest hit with ecosystem damage from new barriers on the U.S.-Mexico border, a team of biologists reported after reviewing 14 scientific publications. Barriers will destroy and fragment habitat, they wrote.

In Passing HEALTH+CLIMATE

Walkable cities are friendlier – but what if climate change makes it too hot to walk?

Just a few extra degrees can turn a healthy walk harmful. Human-scale urban design will have to protect walkers from rising temperatures. Texas A&M researchers aimed to quantify how much vegetation is needed.

TCN Journal

Scientists continue hunt for causes of die-off at marine sanctuary in Gulf

Members of many species perished at the Flower Garden Banks in the “highly localized mortality event” in 2016. The protected area's coral reefs are relatively healthy, but coral is stressed by climate change worldwide.

Features

Texas’ shoreline is swamped by plastic trash – the most of any state

Currents deposit about 10 times more marine debris on the Lone Star coast than the eastern Gulf. Neil Strassman reports from an international conference in San Diego on plastic and other rubbish in oceans, lakes and rivers.

TCN Journal

Trump’s plan to expand offshore drilling: Will it fish or cut bait?

Problems began quickly for the proposal. Many coastal states don’t want offshore drilling. Oil prices and lawsuits also tangle the issue. TCN’s Washington correspondent, Joseph A. Davis, unravels and explains it.

Features

Their skepticism waning, TV forecasters increasingly talk climate change

Broadcast meteorologists' views on climate change are evolving and so is the way they teach about climate science in their forecasts. Young people, especially, are eager for the lessons, one San Antonio forecaster said.

TCN Journal

Scientists: More protection needed just to keep river-flood risks the same

Texans know well the devastation river flooding can bring. A new study says climate change caused by past greenhouse-gas emissions will greatly increase risks from storm-swollen rivers in North America and elsewhere.

Features AAAS IN AUSTIN

Dispatches from the American Association for the Advancement of Science

The AAAS annual meeting, premier science gathering in the United States, was held this year in Austin. Ruth SoRelle, a veteran medical and science journalist, covered it for TCN in this updated series of reports.

Features AAAS IN AUSTIN

Materials like personal care products are now a dominant source of air pollution

In a surprising finding, researchers determined products including pesticides, coatings, cleaning agents and personal care products make up the bulk of a key kind of air pollution in industrialized cities.

In Passing

White House yanks nomination of Texan White for key environmental slot

Kathleen Hartnett White’s doubts about climate science drew opposition from scientists, environmentalists and Democrats. She faced an uphill climb in the Senate where several Republicans declined to commit to voting for her.

Features

Rising ocean temperatures threaten sea turtles’ long-term reproduction

Reproduction could become increasingly challenging for sea turtles, including those that nest on Texas beaches, if warming oceans cause a dangerous drop in the number of male turtles, biologists warn.

TCN Journal

Trump’s dismissal of climate concerns likely to hit headwind at Davos forum

In advance of the president’s appearance at the annual meeting of global leaders, new reports confirmed Earth’s continuing warming trend and ranked climate and weather hazards among the biggest dangers facing the planet.

In Passing

Texan Kathleen Hartnett White again faces a Senate confirmation gantlet

White’s stalled nomination to head the White House environmental council has drawn intense opposition from scientists and others. A Houston Chronicle editorial said she “recklessly dismisses” the threats of climate change.

Features

What comes after capitalism? An interview with UT’s Raj Patel

A challenging new book co-written by Patel, a professor, writer and activist at the LBJ School, argues that our economic system can’t survive the looming end of “cheap things,” including “cheap nature” and “cheap energy.”

TCN Journal

Rick Perry’s plan to prop up declining coal, nuclear industries proves DOA

Texans were among many praising independent regulators' rejection of the energy secretary's claim that closing coal and nuclear plants imperils “grid reliability.” But coal is scoring other big wins with the administration.

TCN Journal CITIES+CLIMATE

Texas’ suburbs outpace central urban areas as greenhouse-gas producers

Long commutes and big homes help push CO2 emissions higher in outlying areas. A few local initiatives in Texas seek to steer new development toward inner cities, but research suggests cutting emissions requires more than that.

In Passing

Senate panel OKs Texan science doubter to head U.S. environmental council

Kathleen Hartnett White has voiced doubt about the sweeping scientific consensus on climate change for years. A fellow at a conservative think tank, she formerly led Texas' principal environmental regulatory agency.

Features

Attwater’s prairie chicken population hit hard by Harvey

Science writer Melissa Gaskill reports that while long-term impact of the storm on Texas’ endangered species remains to be seen, initial information suggests whooping cranes and sea turtles fared better than the already threatened grouse.

In Passing

Perry signals return to his earlier science-denying stance on climate change

The Energy Department chief mocked climate science as Texas governor. Now he dismisses researchers’ consensus conclusion – that pollution mainly drives climate change. Scientists are trying to school him.

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