Rebecca Hersher

The first thing Larry McCanney fell in love with was the tree in the front yard. It cast shade on the porch of a house that, if he were honest, needed some work. But McCanney is handy, the price was right and the location was perfect, just a couple of miles from his childhood home in Burlington, N.J.

Here's a sentence that's basically unintelligible to most people: Humans must mitigate global warming by pursuing an unprecedented transition to a carbon neutral economy.

A recent study found that some of the most common terms in climate science are confusing to the general public. The study tested words that are frequently used in international climate reports, and it concluded that the most confusing terms were "mitigation," "carbon neutral" and "unprecedented transition."

Global warming is driving dangerous and disruptive flooding in underground rail systems around the world. Flooded tunnels and stations have disrupted service and stranded passengers in Boston, London, San Francisco, Taipei, Bangkok, Washington, D.C., and a host of other cities in recent years.

But the problem has taken on added urgency this summer, with multiple, high-profile subway floods driven by summer rainstorms.

Ida was a fierce Category 4 hurricane when it came ashore Sunday in Louisiana. With sustained winds of about 150 mph, the storm ripped roofs off buildings and snapped power poles. It pushed a wall of water powerful enough to sweep homes off foundations and tear boats and barges from their moorings.

Climate change helped Ida rapidly gain strength right before it made landfall. In about 24 hours, it jumped from a Category 1 to a Category 4 storm as it moved over abnormally hot water in the Gulf of Mexico.

The rain fell fast and hard in Middle Tennessee over the weekend, harder than it has ever fallen before. Up to 17 inches of rain inundated parts of the state in less than 24 hours on Saturday. Streets turned into rivers. Water barreled through homes. At least 21 people died, and more are still missing.

Global climate change is accelerating and human-caused emissions of greenhouse gases are the overwhelming cause, according to a landmark report released Monday by the United Nations. There is still time to avoid catastrophic warming this century, but only if countries around the world stop burning fossil fuels as quickly as possible, the authors warn.

The message to world leaders is more dire, and more unequivocal, than ever before.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

SARAH MCCAMMON, HOST:

Cutting greenhouse gas emissions quickly would save tens of millions of lives worldwide, a new study finds. It's the latest indication that climate change is deadly to humans, and that the benefits of transitioning to a cleaner economy could be profound.

More than 200 of the world's leading climate scientists will begin meeting today to finalize a landmark report summarizing how Earth's climate has already changed, and what humans can expect for the rest of the century.

Coastal neighborhoods around the U.S. are seeing a steady increase in high tide flooding, as sea level rise accelerates and sends seawater into homes, sewers and streets. The problem is expected to get worse in the coming years, federal scientists warn.

Big bodies are good for cold places.

That's the gist of a foundational rule in ecology that has been around since the mid-1800s: Animals that live in colder places tend to have larger bodies, especially birds and mammals that need to regulate their body temperatures. For example, some of the largest whale and bear species have evolved in the coldest reaches of the planet.

The Speights' mobile home in DeQuincy, La., is at the end of an unpaved road in a stand of tall longleaf pines. Donnie and Stephen Speight bought the land and the house 11 years ago after Stephen retired from his job as a pipe fitter at a local petrochemical plant.

More than half of the buildings in the contiguous U.S. are in disaster hotspots, a new study finds. Tens of millions of homes, businesses and other buildings are concentrated in areas with the most risk from hurricanes, floods, wildfires, tornadoes and earthquakes.

The findings underscore how development patterns exacerbate damage from climate change.

The Environmental Protection Agency is cracking down on a powerful class of greenhouse gases that are used in refrigerators, air conditioners and building insulation. On Monday, the agency announced a new regulation that would dramatically decrease production and use of hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, over the next 15 years.

It's the first concrete regulatory step the Biden administration has taken to tackle planet-warming emissions since the president announced ambitious goals 10 days ago to cut U.S. emissions by half in the next decade.

The Biden administration says addressing climate change and health inequities are among its top priorities, and it will need to lean heavily on federal scientists to achieve ambitious goals. But decades of underfunding, political interference and systemic race and gender bias have undercut trust among many government scientists and have led to a disproportionately white, male workforce.

Updated April 22, 2021 at 6:14 AM ET

On Thursday, the White House kicked off a two-day summit on climate change where leaders from 40 countries are discussing plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions and ultimately reverse global warming.

The summit highlights the United States' return to the Paris climate agreement, and it is the Biden administration's first major opportunity to reestablish the country as a trustworthy player in international climate diplomacy.

In the next several days, the Biden administration is expected to announce plans across the economy to reduce America's greenhouse gas emissions dramatically by 2030.

There are officially more storms occurring during the Atlantic hurricane season, according to updated storm records from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

NOAA defines the average number of storms based on activity over a 30-year period. On Friday, the agency announced the new period runs from 1991-2020. Previously, NOAA used the period from 1981-2010.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration upgraded the computer model that forecasters use to predict the weather one to two weeks in the future, called the Global Forecast System. The new model is better at predicting where hurricanes will form and how intense they will be as well as where and when snowstorms and rainstorms will occur, and how much precipitation will fall.

"This is going to have a fundamental impact on the forecasts that are provided day to day," says Louis Uccellini, director of the National Weather Service.

Humans have changed the Earth in such profound ways that scientists say we have entered a new geological period: the Anthropocene Epoch.

But when did the new epoch officially begin? And how, exactly, should it be defined?

Those are the questions that geologists are pursuing with increasing urgency at sites around the world. Teams are studying 11 locations on five continents, looking for a place where rock, mud or ice perfectly capture the global impact of humans.

Pastor Aaron Trigg was at home when the water arrived in Rainelle. It had been raining hard all day, filling the creeks and rivers that run through southern West Virginia. In the past, such intense downpours would last only a few hours, but this storm brought wave after wave of torrential rain.

"You could hear the water up in the mountains just crashing trees," Trigg remembers.

Rainelle is a small town in a steep valley. When the creek near downtown jumped its banks on the evening of June 23, 2016, the water immediately flooded into every home on Trigg's block.

A suspected oil tanker leak off the coast of Israel last week has led to Israel's biggest maritime ecological disaster in many years, with authorities closing the country's beaches and beginning a massive cleanup effort.

Millions of Texas residents suffered last week when a winter storm caused a statewide electrical grid failure. But those who had power, even intermittently, are also paying a price — literally.

Many residents face enormous bills for the electricity they used during the storm.

Residents with variable-rate power plans are being hit the hardest. Such plans charge different prices for electricity depending on how much demand there is. The more demand, the higher the price.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Federal scientists have confirmed that 2020 basically tied with 2016 for the hottest year recorded since 1880. The Earth is about 2 degrees Fahrenheit warmer today than it was in the mid-20th century. Scientists warn that humans must keep global temperatures from rising more than about 3 degrees Fahrenheit in order to avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change.

Devon Hall has lived most of his nearly seven decades in Duplin County, N.C. The land is flat and green there in the southeastern part of the state, about an hour's drive from the coast. It's lovely unless you live downwind of one of the county's many industrial hog farms.

"It can get really bad," says Hall, the co-founder of the Rural Empowerment Association for Community Help in Duplin County.

Updated at 2:30 p.m. ET

The Supreme Court heard arguments on Tuesday in a case brought by the city of Baltimore against more than a dozen major oil and gas companies including BP, ExxonMobil and Shell. The city government argued that the fossil fuel giants must pay for the costs of climate change because they knew that their products cause potentially catastrophic global warming.

The Environmental Protection Agency adopted a new rule restricting the types of scientific studies its own regulators can use to rein in pollution, in the Trump administration's latest effort to undercut the use of science in establishing public health standards.

With just a few weeks left, 2020 is in a dead-heat tie for the hottest year on record. But whether it claims the top spot misses the point, climate scientists say. There is no shortage of disquieting statistics about what is happening to the Earth.

President-elect Joe Biden will name Michael Regan, North Carolina's environment secretary and a former EPA official, to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, according to a source familiar with the decision who spoke about private conversations on the basis of anonymity.

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