Top 10 Climate Stories of 2017 — my first Climate Central byline

I wrote my first story for Climate Central!

Yeah yeah, I know I’m a little slow. Despite being there for 2.5 years writing copy for thousands of tweets and Facebook posts, and now for our newly-launched social videos, I’ve never written a bylined piece. But now I have!

I polled our social followers about what they thought the top stories of 2017 in the climate realm were, and they picked the following — the blockbuster hurricane season, new, terrifying sea level rise projections , the government (and its denial, among other things), Tesla and Elon Musk’s innovative projects across the world, the West’s terrifying wildfire season (which is never-ending, it seems), global heat records continually being broken, the social injustice of climate change, solar energy shining, the shift to transportation pollution being the biggest carbon emitter, and deadly heatwaves.

Read about it right over here. 


The March for Science (and Climate)

2017 marks the first year I marched — starting with the Science March in D.C. on Earth Day and continuing on with the People’s Climate March in New York City a week later.

I’m not the marching type, but all bets are off with our current administration threatening to take away national monuments, removing climate information from various government websites, considering exiting the Paris Agreement…. and the list goes on.

Being a part of the March for Science was surreal. Despite the rain, the streets surrounding the National Mall were flooded with scientists protesting the administration’s threat to science and science funding. And it wasn’t just regular people (like me). Climate Central’s chief scientist, Heidi Cullen, spoke to a soggy crowd about the value of extreme weather reporting and attribution science. Jason Box, climate researcher (and an important part of my favorite climate film), spoke to the importance of melting Greenland on the world’s coastlines (in case you didn’t know, sea level rise is coming for us all, and estimates keep getting more extreme), while Bill Nye stressed to lawmakers that “science is for all.”

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Signs at the March for Science in D.C. on Earth Day, 2017.

The People’s Climate March hoped to continue the momentum of the importance of science, so all over the U.S. (and the world), thousands marched in the People’s Climate March. In Staten Island, a sister march walked along the coast where Superstorm Sandy devastated homes and buildings along the shore.

Signs here overwhelmingly pointed to renewables, rising seas, and the importance of protecting the Earth.

Activists march on Staten Island

I marched for science and a clean planet, and for everyone in my life who is dedicated to science (including us science communicators!). The March for Science organizers are aiming to make this a movement, and I’ll be there every step of the way.

“Coral reefs are a casualty of climate change” — reflections from Chasing Coral

“If we can’t save this ecosystem, are we gonna have the courage to save the next one down the line?”

Imagine going to your favorite place in the world, only to find it was completely devastated.

That’s what producers, divers, and everyone involved in Chasing Coral found.


The film Chasing Coral follows the same structure as its predecessor Chasing Ice: a documentary produced to highlight something we’re going to lose (or have already lost) because of climate change.



After watching Chasing Ice, I felt hope. But after watching Chasing Coral, I feel despair.

In 2012, Chasing Ice made me feel urgency — I knew climate change was real, and this film was made (in my eyes) to show people the effects of this global issue. I felt equipped (with tons of icy ammo) to shout about climate change from the rooftops!

But now, in 2017, Chasing Coral almost made me cry. Because humans have dumped carbon into the atmosphere for so long, and have delayed on climate action, we’re finally losing something we cannot replace — the world’s coral. And the documentary film crew spent months documenting the damage.


Coral bleaching all starts with the rise in global temperatures, and where that heat is stored. The ocean takes up 93 percent of the world’s heat, and without it, we’d already be fried on land.

Bleaching is a side effect of the ocean’s heat. When the ocean is too hot, corals get stressed out, and the algae living on the coral depart (or are ejected), causing the symbiotic relationship between algae and coral tissue to waste. When the algae is gone, coral loses their source of food, and bleaches. Not all bleached coral is dead, but once coral is bleached, it’s less likely for the coral to return to a healthy state.

This isn’t a “natural” cycle, either. Coral bleaching has been directly attributed to climate change.

The impacts continue on. This week, scientists announced the second coral bleaching event in a row in the Great Barrier Reef. Corals around the globe have been subject to bleaching in recent decades, too, not just in Australia. More heat continues to pile up in the ocean, even turning the Arctic into the Atlantic.

“The ocean controls everything. Without a healthy ocean, we do not have a healthy planet.”

Scientists in the film are concerned that continual bleaching events will wreck coral and their habitats for good — if they always bleach, they will never have enough food, and will just die off. This would lead to an ecosystem collapse, where entire classes of organisms could go extinct.

Ocean scientists are sounding the alarm. And what’s their solution? Stop using fossil fuels now.

Is losing the Great Barrier Reef going to wake up the world?


Earth Week 2016: Happy Earth Day!

Day five in the Earth Week 2016 series. Read parts one, two, three and four.

Today is Earth Day!

The signing of the Paris Agreement in December. Credit: United Nations Photo/flickr

This year, Earth Day has a special meaning. World leaders are meeting in New York City to sign the COP21 Paris Climate Agreement, which was ratified in Paris in December. 165 countries are planning to sign!

The agreement aims to lower carbon emissions in countries across the globe in order to limit our global warming to 2°C instead of 4°C, which is our current track of warming.

Limiting warming to 2°C may not seem like a lot, but it would decrease the amount of climate change impacts currently plaguing the world, including sea level rise, extreme weather and extreme heat.

There are still some climate change effects that won’t be completely eradicated, including ocean acidification. A lot of global heat is trapped in the oceans, and decreasing our emissions won’t decrease the current heat in the oceans. But, of course, it would help the overall rate of warming.

Because of the signing, world leaders are helping combat climate change by embracing renewable energy and carbon trading.

The main aim is to keep a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius and to drive efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Additionally, the agreement aims to strengthen capability to deal with the impacts of climate change.

To reach these ambitious and important goals, appropriate financial flows will be put in place, thus making stronger action by developing countries and the most vulnerable possible, in line with their own national objectives.

World leaders are helping out, but we can too! Drive less (or ride public transit or buy an electric car!). Eat less meat. If your energy company allows you the option to choose wind or solar on your energy bill, pay the extra few dollars. A little from everyone goes a long way.

Thanks for tuning in this Earth Week! View the whole Earth Week Series here.