Five noteworthy climate stories from 2017

By Dan Drollette Jr | December 21, 2017

December is a good time to look back at the stories on climate change that the Bulletin has done over the past year, to try to decide which ones are our favorites. It’s always hard: Go with the one that covered an area that was under-reported, or the one that came from a wholly unexpected quarter—such as the story about the group of Republican elder statesmen who called on the Trump administration for a tax on carbon emissions, in an “only Nixon could go to China” moment? What about that story that contained a wonderfully illuminating quote about a tricky technical subject —such as the researcher who described El Ninos as “kryptonite for hurricanes”? Should we go with the stories that all-too-accurately describe how dreadful the situation is for the planet’s climate, or for the ones that offer a ray of hope at a time of gloom. (After all, it is the holiday season, and no one wants to be Scrooge.)

And don’t forget the stories that are just flat-out interesting!

With all these caveats in mind, here is a far-too-short list of our favorite climate change stories in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists from 2017.

“Toasted, roasted, and grilled” or already over the hump?

By Dana Nuccitelli

How to navigate the roller coaster of climate change news cycles, from the point of view of an environmental scientist.

The trouble with geoengineers “hacking the planet”

By Raymond T. Pierrehumbert

Despite all the hype, a proposed technological fix to climate change would not be simple or easy, or a one-time solution, or buy us any time. In fact, geoengineering would be a difficult undertaking that humanity would have to commit to essentially forever—and it would still be a bandaid, treating the symptom and not the disease. Assuming geoengineering can even do that much, says one of our Board members, a Cambridge University professor of physics.

Suing oil companies to pay for climate change?

By Seth Shulman

Cities and towns are using the latest new, hard data about the worst climate abusers to file lawsuits against specific companies. By a prize-winning author at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Real world headwinds for Trump climate change policy

By Joseph Aldy

It’s been more than 12 months since a man was elected to the Oval Office who had once called the scientific evidence for climate change “a hoax,” who had vowed to gut the EPA and bring back jobs that he claimed were lost as a result of combatting the rise in global atmospheric temperatures. That makes this a good time to examine the president’s words and deeds regarding climate change, as a sort of first-year job performance review.

So, just how bad are things?

On the one hand, for example, the US pulled out of the Paris Agreement. On the other, coal is not coming back. A Harvard professor of public policy gives his view as to where we stand.

Scientists of the world, unite!

By Erica Chenoweth

If movements to resist Trump’s climate agenda and promote the use of fact, objectivity, intellectual freedom, and scientific rigor are to succeed, they must meet four critical tasks. Written by a professor whom Foreign Policy magazine ranked among their Top 100 Global Thinkers in 2013 for her efforts to promote the empirical study of civil resistance.

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