New research asks a big question: Is there such a thing as a sustainable civilization, perhaps one that lies far beyond our own galaxy? Or are all civilizations doomed to destroy themselves?
I am afraid my message is going to be controversial. You see, I think there are deep problems with the standard climate change narrative, which has equated "green" with carbon reduction.
Australia is a continent defined by extremes, and recent decades have seen some extraordinary climate events. But droughts, floods, heatwaves, and fires have battered Australia for millennia. Are recent extreme events really worse than those in the past?
The targets set in the Paris Agreement on climate change are ambitious but necessary. Failure to meet them will lead to widespread drought, disease and desperation in some of the world’s poorest regions.
Almost every climate scientist agrees human-caused climate change is a major global threat. Yet, despite efforts over the past 30 years to do something about it, emissions keep increasing.
Scientists have known for a long time that as climate change started to heat up the Earth, its effects would be most pronounced in the Arctic.
Many projections suggest that burning fossil fuels and the resulting climate change will make it harder to grow enough food for everyone in the coming decades.
The ocean currents that help warm the Atlantic coasts of Europe and North America have significantly slowed since the 1800s and are at their weakest in 1600 years, according to new research my colleagues and I have conducted.
Science fiction writers can’t seem to agree on the rules of time travel. Sometimes, as in Doctor Who, characters can travel in time and affect small events without appearing to alter the grand course of history.
Land degradation can take many forms, but always entails a serious disruption of a healthy balance between five key ecosystem functions.
On Campbell Island in the Southern Ocean, some 400 miles south of New Zealand, is a single Sitka spruce. More than 170 miles from any other tree, it is often credited as the “world’s loneliest tree”.
For every 10 degrees north from the equator you move, spring arrives about four days earlier than it did a decade ago, a new study suggests.
Much of the public discussion about climate science consists of a stream of assertions. The climate is changing or it isn’t; carbon dioxide causes global warming or it doesn’t; humans are partly responsible or they are not; scientists have a rigorous process of peer review or they don’t, and so on.
Over the last 30 years, floods have killed more than 500,000 people globally, and displaced about 650m more. In a paper published by the Centre for Economic Performance, we examined why so many people are hit by devastating floods.
If you read or listen to almost any article about climate change, it’s likely the story refers in some way to the “2 degrees Celsius limit.” The story often mentions greatly increased risks if the climate exceeds 2°C and even “catastrophic” impacts to our world if we warm more than the target.
When fires, floods and other major disruptions alter natural areas, our first instinct is to restore what’s lost. But moving forward may mean leaving some treasured things behind.
The Trump administration, and its allies in Congress, are fighting a losing war. They continue to press forward for the development of oil, gas, and coal when the rest of the world understands the implication of that folly. Global warming is the most pressing issue for our time.
Damage from extreme weather events during 2017 racked up the biggest-ever bills for the U.S. Most of these events involved conditions that align intuitively with global warming: heat records, drought, wildfires, coastal flooding, hurricane damage and heavy rainfall.
Many scientists have found evidence that climate change is amplifying the impacts of hurricanes. For example, several studies just published in December 2017 conclude that human-induced climate change made rainfall during Hurricane Harvey more intense. But climate change is not the only factor making hurricanes more damaging.
Many observers of China’s escalating global program of foreign investment and infrastructure development are crossing their fingers and hoping for the best.
Even before this year’s devastating hurricane season, the team of demographers I work with at Penn State and the Puerto Rico Institute of Statistics had predicted that the population of Puerto Rico would decline over the next few decades.
In August 2016, a third of the residents of the North Island township Havelock North fell acutely ill with gastroenteritis after their water was contaminated with campylobacter.
Humans are probably contributing more methane to the atmosphere through fossil fuel use and extraction than scientists previously believed, report researchers.
More than 95% of people still eat meat and don’t like being told that it is wrong and bad for the planet to do so. But it is now well established that meat production is responsible for a substantial proportion of human greenhouse gas emissions, not to mention issues around animal welfare.
Around the globe, about 815 million people – 11 percent of the world’s population – went hungry in 2016, according to the latest data from the United Nations. This was the first increase in more than 15 years.
Melting of Antarctica’s ice can trigger rapid warming on the other side of the planet, according to our new research which details how just such an abrupt climate event happened 30,000 years ago, in which the North Atlantic region warmed dramatically.
Some aspects of climate change could benefit certain forms of agriculture in the Northeastern United States, new research suggests—though the researchers caution that there are many variables in the future scenario they envision.
Microbes in permafrost that eat sun-weakened carbon and convert it into carbon dioxide may be providing a major pathway for the greenhouse gas to enter the atmosphere, new research suggests.
A new study outlines some of the effects that climate change will have on northern cities with cold climates, including in Europe and the North America.
There has been no let up since Hurricane Harvey dumped record-breaking rains on the Houston area of Texas. Hurricane Irma lashed parts of the Caribbean and Cuba and devastated the Florida Keys and the state’s west coast.
What we believe and how we act don’t always stack up. Recently, in considering what it means to live in a post-truth world, I had cause to examine my understanding of how the world works and my actions on sustainability.
The rainfall from Harvey has now exceeded the amount from the previous record-bearer, Tropical Storm Amelia in 1978.
If you read or listen to almost any article about climate change, it’s likely the story refers in some way to the “2 degrees Celsius limit.”
The largest wildfire ever recorded in Greenland was recently spotted close to the west coast town of Sisimiut, not far from Disko Island where I research retreating glaciers.
Our worry is that putting too much emphasis on the climate overlooks the role of political and socio-economic factors in determining a community’s vulnerability to environmental stress.
Multiple lines of evidence are now telling us a convincing story that boreal fires are changing — they are getting bigger, larger. And if this continues, there is a good chance that...
One of the largest icebergs ever recorded has just broken away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica.
In the year 2100, 2 billion people—about one-fifth of the world’s population—could become refugees due to rising ocean levels.
Urban Canadians are feeling the impact of climate change. Flooding in Quebec this spring damaged nearly 1,900 homes in 126 municipalities, causing widespread psychological distress.
Deadly heat stress is projected to affect hundreds of millions more people each year under relatively little additional climate warming.
The hottest year on record was 2016. It was also the year scientists advised that Earth’s citizens were now living in the Anthropocene Epoch.
Seeing how a new crop or missing animal affects the food web of the Ancestral Puebloan southwestern United States could shed light on the future of our food.
If citizens have heard anything about the upheaval in the U.S. coal industry, it is probably the insistence that President Obama and the EPA have waged a “war on coal.”
When we think of coasts, we are likely to think about the great sandy beaches that have been the destination for many day trips and long weekends.
Warming in the 21st century has reduced Colorado River flows by at least 0.5 million acre-feet—about the amount of water used by 2 million people for one year, a new study warns.
While increases in population and wealth will lift global demand for food by up to 70% by 2050, agriculture is already feeling the effects of climate change.
Australia’s summer is officially over, and it’s certainly been a weird one. The centre and east of the continent have had severe heat with many temperature records falling, particularly in New South Wales and Queensland.
The heatwave that engulfed southeastern Australia at the end of last week has seen heat records continue to tumble like Jenga blocks.
Prior to President Donald Trump taking office, there was a push to require oil and gas companies to inform their investors about the risks of climate change.
In the geographical heart of Africa lies a huge wetland. After years of exploring these remote swamps, our research shows that the region contains the most extensive tropical peatland on Earth.
The increase in large-scale tornado outbreaks in the US doesn’t appear to be clearly linked to climate change, a new study suggests.
What, quantitatively, is the social cost of carbon dioxide—the economic damage caused by a 1-ton increase in emissions or the benefits of a 1-ton decrease?
After lying largely forgotten in a museum for decades, a set of fossilised footprints have revealed a new glimpse of the world when reptiles began taking over from amphibians as the dominant land animals.
Ocean acidification is an inevitable consequence of increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. That’s a matter of fact. The journalist James Delingpole disagrees.
Technological advances wouldn’t protect US agriculture from a drought on the scale of the legendary Dust Bowl crisis of the 1930s, research shows.
Global climate change has already impacted every aspect of life on Earth, from genes to entire ecosystems, according to a new study in Science.
Beijing, London, Mexico City, New Delhi and Paris are among the cities that have drawn attention for their dangerously high air pollution levels in 2016 – but they’re not alone.
Almost half of plant and animal species have experienced local extinctions due to climate change, research reveals, with the tropics suffering the most pronounced loss.
There is no doubt that 2016 has been a record-breaking year for Earth’s climate.
A warming climate is exposing the Arctic to the possibility of radical changes that could affect the rest of the planet, scientists say.
As demand for grain increases to feed a rising population, scientists warn that global warming could seriously reduce wheat productivity.
President-elect Donald Trump has been unclear so far on how many of his campaign pledges he actually intends to see through. Hopeful Democrats and moderates have clung to this uncertainty as reason to hope that a Trump presidency wouldn’t be as bad as they feared.
The consequences of climate change are already being felt all over the globe. But some regions are particularly affected. These so-called “hotspots” are areas where strong physical and ecological effects of climate change come together with large numbers of vulnerable and poor people and communities.
The high ambition of the Paris Agreement, to limit global warming to “well below 2°C”, was driven by concern over long-term sea level rise. A warmer climate inevitably means melting ice – you don’t need a computer model to predict this, it is simple common sense.
More than a dozen authors from different universities and nongovernmental organizations around the world have concluded, based on an analysis of hundreds of studies, that almost every aspect of life on Earth has been affected by climate change.
Climate-related catastrophes are expensive, whether they come on suddenly, like the thousand-year flood in Louisiana in August 2016, or move slowly and inexorably, like desertification in Turkey.
A report based on fossilised evidence reveals that plant biodiversity in Europe and North America is changing profoundly as the world heats up.
The new president will take office at a singular time in the history of our planet. The year 2016 is the first in well over a million in which the concentration of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere did not fall below 400 parts per million.
Hurricane and tropical storm development from three million years ago might give today’s forecasters a good blueprint for 21st-century storms.
Scientists now agree: warmer weather in the Arctic and a wavy jet stream are influencing winter weather in the UK and US.
Bolivia’s glaciers have shrunk by more than 40% in the past few decades. This puts further pressure on an already stressed water supply, while the meltwater lakes left behind risk collapsing in sudden and catastrophic outburst floods.
The destructive nature of Hurricane Matthew—which resulted in hundreds of deaths in Haiti, dozens more in the US, and extensive damage still being assessed—was a test of strength in communications systems, infrastructure, and ultimately the resilience of communities.
New York City can expect nine-foot floods, as intense as the one produced by 2012’s Superstorm Sandy, at least three times more frequently over the next century—and possibly as much as 17 times more frequently, say researchers.
New study finds that man-made global warming is the root cause of a relentless increase in forest fires in the US.
In this presidential election year we have heard much about some issues, such as immigration and trade, and less about others.
The unprecedented West Coast toxic algal bloom of 2015 appears to be linked to the unusually warm ocean conditions—nicknamed “the blob”—in the winter and spring of that year.
Hurricane Matthew has slammed into the Florida coast after hammering Haiti. Close to 2 million people were asked to evacuate to escape its winds and rain.
New study shows that the speed of climate change is now much too great for grassland species of vital food crops to adapt and survive.
Spring arrives and the warming weather encourages the plants in our gardens and parks to burst into life, commencing their annual reproductive cycle.
The planet could pass the critical 1.5°C global temperature threshold in a decade—and is already two-thirds of the way to hit that warming limit, climate scientists warned on Thursday.
New scientific studies address lack of awareness of the adverse economic, social and biodiversity effects that climate change is already having.
With the impacts of climate change threatening food supply as population grows, China is buying land on other continents to grow more crops.
As global warming cuts crop yields, trade liberalisation in agricultural commodities will be needed to avoid food shortages and economic hardships.
Trees are dying across Yosemite and Yellowstone national parks. Glaciers are melting in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve in Alaska. Corals are bleaching in Virgin Islands National Park.
The role of drought in the fall of ancient Mayan civilisation highlights the vital need today for water management in fighting the impacts of climate change.
Record high temperatures in Arctic Russia are believed to be one of the main factors behind the emergence of the deadly anthrax disease in northwestern Siberia.
With a heat wave pushing the heat index well above 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 Celsius) through much of the U.S., most of us are happy to stay indoors and crank the air conditioning.
Ethicist Peter Singer told Q&A that climate change-related sea level rises are “estimated to cause something like 750 million refugees just moving away from that flooding”.
Southern Africa is noted for its wealth of biological diversity and for its high proportion of endemic species. These are species that are unique to a specific location and are found nowhere else in the world. Many of the region’s endemic species can be found in South Africa’s fynbos and succulent Karoo biomes.
Serious tree loss and stunted growth caused by repeated droughts in the Amazon Basin have damaged the rainforest’s vital ability to store atmospheric carbon.
Every so often, in regions too remote for the TV cameras, satellite images reveal vast fires covering thousands of square kilometres in smoke. This is what’s happening in Siberia, right now.
Smoldering peat gives off massive quantities of carbon dioxide and other pollutants, but the search for solutions is on.
Researchers warn that thawing soils in the Arctic tundra’s permafrost will release increasing quantities of carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere.
Creeping desertification in China is swallowing thousands of square kilometres of productive soil every year. It’s a challenge of gigantic and unprecedented proportions.
On May 19, India’s all-time temperature record was smashed in the northern city of Phalodi in the state of Rajasthan. Temperatures soared to 51℃, beating the previous record set in 1956 by 0.4℃.
Squid, octopus and cuttlefish populations are booming across the world. These fast-growing, adaptable creatures are perfectly equipped to exploit the gaps left by extreme climate changes and overfishing, according to a study colleagues and I published in the journal Current Biology.
Dramatic images of out-of-control wildfires in western North American forests have appeared on our television and computer screens with increasing regularity in recent decades, while costs of fire suppression have soared.
A huge glacier in the frozen wastes of East Antarctica, a region previously thought stable, could melt much faster than expected, scientists say.
Temperatures in the Middle East and North Africa could reach unbearably high levels that would make some regions uninhabitable and increase the pressures of climate refugees.
Sea-level rise, erosion and coastal flooding are some of the greatest challenges facing humanity from climate change.