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Minnesota Public Radio
MPR News Chief Meteorologist Paul Huttner discusses the latest research on our changing climate.
3 hours ago
Crop failure rate for wild rice is increasing with climate change
Climate change is taking a significant toll on wild rice in Minnesota and Wisconsin. The crop failure rate has gone from 25 percent to 50 percent on some lakes, and the plant's significance to Ojibwe communities makes finding a solution all the more delicate — and dire.
7 days ago
Climate change may have contributed to millions of stillbirths, preterm births
Of more than 32 million births in the United States, more than 80 percent had problems associated with heat or air pollution, suggesting that climate change is significantly affecting birth outcomes.
Jun 18, 2020
For black climate expert, fight is against 'two inhospitable climates'
Sam Grant, the executive director of MN350, says the mainstream environmental movement needs to recognize ‘people are a part of nature.'
Jun 11, 2020
New Jersey now requires comprehensive climate change education — what about Minnesota?
New Jersey has become the first state to require climate change lessons across grade levels and disciplines.
Jun 4, 2020
Doctor: Preventing the worst effects of climate change, the next pandemic go hand in hand
Climate change has exacerbated some of the health inequities behind disparities in COVID-19 cases.
Jun 4, 2020
Team that made early climate predictions marks 30 years, 'spot on' accuracy
The team predicted global temperatures would rise half a degree Celsius by 2020.
May 21, 2020
Climate Cast: How hurricanes impact supply chains
The Atlantic hurricane season officially starts June 1, but 2020 marks the sixth consecutive season a tropical cyclone has formed before the official June 1 start date. This year, Tropical Storm Arthur formed on May 16. The science shows climate change and warmer oceans is changing hurricane seasons and intensity, but when hurricanes hit, how do they impact supply chains to cities? Paul Huttner talked with Chris Shughrue, a researcher with the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Shughrue said the impacts of hurricanes like Katrina were felt across the South. “Following that storm, there was major devastation throughout New Orleans, but we also saw that this led to regional impacts throughout the American South on various economic sectors due to shortages of materials and subsequent changes in employment as people left New Orleans and moved to other parts of the South,” he said. Click the audio player above to hear Huttner’s interview with Shughrue.
May 7, 2020
First climate change, now COVID-19: Tips for managing the stress
In the past few years, many psychologists report seeing patients with physical and emotional symptoms related to climate change. Now add coronavirus, and it’s easy for some of us to feel overwhelmed, even hopeless. But mental health professionals say hope can be an effective antidote.
Apr 30, 2020
Climate change isn't just shifting how the world feels, it's changing how it sounds
As climate change affects animal habitats and biology, the sounds they make are changing. And New York Times science writer Emily Anthes says that could have consequences for their survival. This piece includes audio from Thierry Lengagne, Peter Narins and Tullio Rossi.
Apr 23, 2020
How a drop in oil prices today could fuel tomorrow's energy transition
Demand for oil will increase when stay-at-home orders are lifted. But the oil industry may be slow to meet that demand, sending oil prices soaring — along with consumers’ interest in alternatives.
Apr 16, 2020
Here are some climate change resources for kids learning at home
Millions of students are learning at home these days, and if you’re a teacher or student looking for online climate change curriculum, you’re in luck.
Apr 9, 2020
Good news: Almost half of Minnesota's power is now carbon-free
A new fact sheet from the Business Council for Sustainable Energy, a group that represents energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable energy companies, says Minnesota is rapidly reducing greenhouse gas emissions from electric power. It says 25 percent of the state’s electric power came from renewables last year, and 49 percent of power generation was carbon-free when you include nuclear power.
Apr 2, 2020
Coronavirus pandemic expected to slow transition to clean energy
The coronavirus pandemic has shuttered major sectors of the global economy, and renewable energy is not immune. Solar and wind projects are on hold. Government attention is, understandably, elsewhere. So what does that mean for progress on climate change? “The big picture is that the supply side seems to be holding up OK, meaning that projects can get the parts they need, but the demand side is in big trouble,” said Dan Gearino, who’s been writing on the subject for Inside Climate News. “The companies that are developing projects are running into financial difficulties. They're running into difficulties just getting workers to be able to do work.” And those delays come during a particularly crucial year. Many of the subsidies and tax credits these businesses are relying on for their projects to pencil out expire or ramp down this year. “Much of what is putting pressure on them to do projects in 2020 is that the projects get more expensive after that,” Gearino said. While…
Mar 24, 2020
Minneapolis development to use groundwater to heat and cool buildings
A reduction in carbon-emitting coal plants has increased reliance on natural gas, especially in colder climates like Minnesota. But natural gas is still a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, so the city Minneapolis is beginning to eye aquifer thermal energy as a cleaner alternative. The technology uses groundwater to heat and cool buildings and is planned for four buildings in the upcoming Towerside Innovation District along University Avenue in the Prospect Park neighborhood of Minneapolis. “But the capacity of the system is fairly limitless, so once its infrastructure is in place, all new development in that area would have the potential to connect,” said Nina Axelson, vice president of sustainability and outreach for Ever-Green Energy, an energy nonprofit partnering on the project. Axelson said the system draws heat from buildings during warmer months and stores that energy in the aquifer beneath the building. In the colder months, that energy combined with the aquifer’s…
Mar 19, 2020
Climate change experts find hope in global action to contain coronavirus
As the world economy rolls to a near halt with COVID-19 quarantines and ongoing uncertainty, so have greenhouse gas emissions. Energy use and emissions in China dropped 25 percent during a two week period in February, according to the climate website Carbon Brief. And the BBC reports carbon emissions from cars have been cut in half in New York. But experts say what seems like a silver lining to the coronavirus crisis isn’t a sterling solution. They say emissions could rise drastically when the pandemic is over; China’s savings are expected to result in a 1 percent drop overall by the end of the year. And self-distancing isn’t the kind of market overhaul needed to sustain long-term progress. ”The difference between this and actually making very intentional policies and measures to reduce greenhouse gases is that the economic consequences of the coronavirus are fundamentally negative,” said Christiana Figueres, a former United Nations Climate Change Conference executive secreta…
Mar 12, 2020
Coming soon to a store near you: carbon labels
We're all familiar with food labels that detail calories, carbohydrates and fat content. Now there's a push to add labels that detail a product’s carbon footprint. Organizations that certify companies’ carbon math and offer the labels have been cropping up across the globe. “When I spoke to the Carbon Trust here in the U.K.,” said WIRED UK commissioning editor Oliver Franklin-Wallis, “they said that the demand for this has just gone crazy in the last 18 months, both from consumers and from companies who now see it as a competitive advantage to be seen to be taking action on the climate crisis.” Franklin-Wallis recently wrote about the trend and said the idea, which has been around for many years, is also taking off because it’s gotten easier to calculate a product’s carbon footprint. He used a carton of eggs as an example. "It is actually quite complicated because it's not just, you know, the trucks that you're delivering the eggs in. It's the feed of the chickens. It's…
Mar 5, 2020
Cities are trying to limit gas hookups in new buildings — chefs are 'horrified'
Burning natural gas emits about half the carbon of coal, but producing and burning natural gas is still a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. That's why some cities, including San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York City, are trying to limit or outright ban gas hookups for new buildings. In their climate action plans, Minneapolis and St. Paul say they also want to transition away from natural gas appliances. But what would that mean for those who love to cook over a natural gas flame? “Chefs are horrified at the idea of giving up their gas stoves,” said Tom Philpott, the food and agriculture correspondent for Mother Jones. He recently wrote about the topic. “I talked to a chef in Chicago. He said that he would exit the business if he had to give up his gas stove,” Philpott said. “I think that there is this clinging to the idea of seeing the flame come up and calibrating how hot you're cooking medium is by looking at the flame.” Gas stoves only account for about 3 perc…
Feb 28, 2020
Summit shows you don't have to be lobbyist — or adult — to lobby your state representative
Climate change experts tell us that, while changing your personal behavior will help, it's going to take major policy change to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. So, what can you do to help shift policy? Dozens of Minnesota teens found out at the Youth Climate Justice Summit at the state Capitol this week. Organized by Youth Environmental Activists Minnesota and Climate Generation, the event gave students pointers on how to advocate for change and a chance to put them to work in meetings with lawmakers. If that sounds intimidating, 15-year-old Adri Arquin of St. Paul said it shouldn’t. “Lawmakers are people. They're all former teachers. They all held other jobs within their lifetime and they've just decided to run for office,” he said. “They're not scary.” Arquin sits on the Minnesota Youth Council, which advises legislators and the governor on issues that young people care about. In 2017, he went to Germany for a UN Climate Summit. And last year he helped organize t…
Feb 20, 2020
Your social media could give scientists a more accurate picture of climate change
Climate change means more flooding, but the way we traditionally measure flooding isn't telling us how much more. There are just 132 tidal gauges along the East and Gulf coasts’ 3,700 miles. So a new study in the journal Nature Communications turned to the millions of people along the coasts who are walking around with smartphones that can photograph and tweet about floods. It focused on “nuisance” floods that may not be reported but can disrupt daily life. “Major, disastrous flooding events do generate a lot of attention. They are very consequential and they are costly. But climate change also presents us with these kind of chronic impacts that are also costly — particularly if they are affecting a large number of people and they're doing it very regularly,” said Frances Moore, a co-author on the study and University of California Davis environmental science professor. “People are not able to get to school, not able to get to work. The driving conditions are dangerous. T…
Feb 13, 2020
How cities are preparing their water infrastructure for bigger storms
Gov. Tim Walz is asking the legislature to approve a $293 million bond program to retrofit the state’s water infrastructure to keep up with climate change. Last year, more than 20 places in Minnesota set annual precipitation records. That includes the Twin Cities and Rochester, where more than 55 inches fell. Minnesota is now about five inches wetter on average than in 1980. These heavier 21st century rains are overwhelming our 20th century stormwater infrastructure. “Not only are we getting wetter in general, but more of our rainfall is coming in more intense storms,” said Randy Neprash, a stormwater regulatory specialist with Stantec Consulting and the Minnesota Cities Stormwater Coalition. “Everybody has seen what a really intense storm does to an urban stormwater system, but you can get those sort of impacts at scales where you have real problems, where you can jeopardize property, where people can get injured or even killed.” Neprash said most cities are using computer m…
Feb 6, 2020
MN students were in Puerto Rico learning about energy resilience when a quake knocked the power out
When a 6.4 magnitude earthquake rattled Puerto Rico in the early morning of Jan. 7, a group of University of Minnesota students and faculty were shaken out of bed. They were on the island to study how it was adapting its power grid in the wake of Hurricane Maria. Parts of the island were without power for a full year after the 2017 storm. This month’s earthquake cut power again, giving the students a front-row seat to the kind of scenarios they’ll be planning for as future regional planners and civic leaders. The frequency and intensity of disasters such as storms, fires and flooding are expected to worsen under climate change. “It's one thing to think about climate change and think about the impacts from afar, or to think about sustainability,” graduate student Shannon Evans Engstrom said. “But to actually see the impact it has on people's lives, or to see them really thinking about how they're going to have move now because they can't go back to their apartments on the 10th…
Jan 24, 2020
Climate Cast: A record-breaking year for ocean temperatures
This week, President Trump denounced “climate alarmists” during the global economic forum at Davos, Switzerland. But a new study shows Americans increasingly disagree with his assessment. Almost 6 in 10 Americans are either "alarmed" or "concerned" by global warming, an all-time high. It follows the news that 2019 was the hottest year yet for the world’s oceans, part of a long-term trend. That benchmark is particularly alarming to oceanographers, because the majority of the excess heat caused by greenhouse gases is absorbed by the ocean. Friday on a special edition of Climate Cast, MPR chief meteorologist Paul Huttner spoke with two climate scientists about how a rapidly warming ocean affects even those of us in landlocked Minnesota. Guests: John Abraham is a professor of thermal sciences at the University of St. Thomas School of Engineering. Kim Cobb is a climate scientist and a professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology. T…
Jan 16, 2020
In a changing climate, the work of botanical artists takes on new meaning
Railroad titan James J. Hill added a gallery to his sprawling 1891 house on Summit Avenue in St. Paul to showcase his expansive art collection. The room, with its high glass ceiling, still functions as a gallery to show off that collection. But starting Saturday, it will display new works. The pieces, by ten Minnesota botanical artists, will be just as classic in style, but their subject matter will be a contemporary one: climate change. “Normally we exhibit work here that focuses on our permanent collection, which consists of many images of [the Minnesota] landscape. So I thought it was an interesting contemporary bookend to our collection to focus on botanically trained artists who are taking a very scientific approach, in a very quiet in a sort of way, to our changing climate,” said Minnesota Historical Society curator Brian Szott. The pieces in “Art from the Edge of the Boreal Forest: Reflecting Biodiversity” focus on the tree species in northern Minnesota that are most vul…
Jan 9, 2020
St. Paul libraries want to foster a communitywide conversation about climate change
Australia's deadly wildfires is the latest climate crisis to shake people across the globe. Some are shaken to action while others are in stunned paralysis. So how do people in both camps move forward? It's a conversation St. Paul Public Libraries is hoping to foster with its Read Brave program. The annual reading program and event series asks residents to collectively focus on a big issue, and this year it’s climate change. “Our goal with this program is not to give any prescriptive solutions. We don’t have the answers. But what we know is that all of us together can probably figure this out,” said libraries Director Catherine Penkert. “We think this is a way we can play a role in sparking those conversations.” Penkert offered book recommendations for all age groups on this week’s Climate Cast. And the author of one of those books weighs in on the deadly wildfires in Australia.
Jan 3, 2020
When it comes to ice melt, 'what happens in Greenland doesn't stay in Greenland'
A recent study in the journal Nature says the Greenland ice sheet is now melting seven times faster than in the ‘90s. Why should we care? Faster melt means faster sea level rise, and that puts an extra 400 million people at flood risk by 2100, according to the same study. It was a hot topic among attendees at last month's American Geophysical Union conference in San Francisco. Two of them, University of St. Thomas professor John Abraham and world-renowned climate scientist Kevin Trenberth sent Climate Cast an audio postcard with their thoughts. To hear it, click play on the audio player above.
Dec 26, 2019
The climate crisis is changing consumer demand — and corporate investments
Oil giant Chevron recently wrote down over $10 billion in fossil fuel assets — things like natural gas projects and oil fields that are losing value. Some analysts suggest a glut of natural gas supply is driving the move, but many observers see a deeper climate change connection: the need to cut emissions is changing consumer demand. “Investors are quite concerned that companies like Chevron that are producing fossil fuels will continually be caught with assets that they can't sell. If utilities can buy solar at a cheaper rate than natural gas, that will impact Chevron,” said Danielle Fugere, president and chief counsel of shareholder advocacy group As You Sow.
Dec 19, 2019
Minnesota among 25 states on track to meet Paris climate goals
Many climate observers are frustrated world leaders at the COP25 climate summit in Madrid failed to get on the same page when it comes accountability in emissions reductions. But 25 U.S. states — including Minnesota — are on the same page, and they're reducing greenhouse gas emissions faster than the rest of the country. They’re part of the U.S. Climate Alliance and have pledged to work toward the United Nations’ emissions reduction targets with or without the federal government. A new progress report from the alliance show member states reduced emissions by 16 percent between 2005 and 2017, compared to 7 percent for non-member states. And they did it while growing their economies three times faster than those states. The report also says member states are on track to reduce emissions 20 to 27 percent below the 2005 baseline by 2025. The U.S. government had agreed to a 26 to 28 percent reduction when it signed the Paris climate agreement, which it is currently in the process of…
Dec 12, 2019
Minnesotans in the mix at UN climate summit in Madrid
Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change Patricia Espinosa kicked off this final week of the COP25 climate summit in Madrid by urging delegates to lay the groundwork needed to make progress on the Paris climate goals starting next year. “Each year at the COP, we’re told that window of opportunity could close soon. Ministers, the window of opportunity is closing now,” she said. “We need your decisions. We need your leadership. We are out of time.” The summit comes on the heels of new research showing the earth has continued to warm, and just ahead of 2020, when signatories on the Paris accord promised to reverse emissions trends. So what kinds of decisions do leaders need to make at this summit? Sarah Goodspeed is the youth and policy manager at Minnesota’s Climate Generation, and spoke with Climate Cast from the meetings in Madrid. “Well, there are a lot of different working groups trying to work out the rule book on the Paris agreement,” Goodspeed said. “So this incl…