What California wildlife tells us about ‘Godzilla’ El Niño – November 10, 2015



While California communities await the worst, El Niño is already taking a toll on local wildlife

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As West Coast communities brace for what many are calling “Godzilla” El Niño, scientists are looking beneath the waves to learn more about the upcoming storm season. And if this year’s wildlife anomalies are any indication, this El Niño could be the strongest in decades. In this America Tonight excerpt, Joie Chen looks at what could be the strongest El Niño on record.


This Cheat Sheet Will Make You Win Every Climate Argument —By James West

“I don’t see what all those environmentalists are worried about,” sneers your Great Uncle Joe. “Carbon dioxide is harmless, and great for plants!”

Okay. Take a deep breath. If you’re not careful, comments like this can result in dinner-table screaming matches. Luckily, we have a secret weapon: A flowchart that will help you calmly slay even the most outlandish and annoying of climate-denying arguments:

Climate argument flowchart

Alice Bows-Larkin: Climate change is happening. Here’s how we adapt – Filmed June 2015 at TEDGlobalLondon

Imagine the hottest day you’ve ever experienced. Now imagine it’s six, 10 or 12 degrees hotter. According to climate researcher Alice Bows-Larkin, that’s the type of future in store for us if we don’t significantly cut our greenhouse gas emissions now. She suggests that it’s time we do things differently—a whole system change, in fact—and seriously consider trading economic growth for climate stability.

The Battle for the Weather Channel Is Over, and the Weather Nerds Won – By Eric Holthaus SEPT. 10 2015 4:26 PM

For years now, there’s been a storm brewing at the Weather Channel.

The forecast for the Weather Channel is increasingly sunny. Here, David Clark, president of the Weather Company's TV division. Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

The forecast for the Weather Channel is increasingly sunny. Here, David Clark, president of the Weather Company’s TV division.
Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Its viewers, a fair percentage of whom we can safely stereotype as bored Baby Boomers on vacation in Branson, Missouri, now greatly skew away from the key 18-49 demographic. In recent years, the network has tried to staunch the bleeding by launching a series of “weather-adjacent” reality shows. Diehard viewers revolted, and so did television providers. Since last year, the Weather Channel has been dropped by both DirecTV and Verizon FiOS—both citing the decline of live weather programming in their decisions—and Dish Network may be next. The Weather Channel responded with a harsh war of words, yet continued to air footage of hippos swimming.

More than a year ago, in my very first article for Slate, I spoke with the Weather Company’s CEO, David Kenny, about this troubling trend. At the time, he told me he thought people reacted so strongly to the network’s experiment with reality programming because they “feel like they have part ownership of the Weather Channel. They grew up with it.” Now, Weather Channel executives seem to have finally given in: The weather nerds have emerged victorious.

In a series of sweeping changes on Wednesday, the network has decided to phase out “original nonweather entertainment programming”, commit to changing roles for high-profile weather anchors Sam Champion and Al Roker, and will now feature more frequent on-air deep dives into the science behind the weather.

This week’s announcement means that, with surprising rapidity, the Weather Channel has morphed from aspiring reality-show juggernautback to its scientific roots: all weather, all the time. On a day-to-day basis, the restructuring means shows like Fat Guys in the Woods are getting the ax, and the just-launched, science-heavy new primetime show Weather Underground will become a model for future programming.

As more and more millennials cut the cord and opt out of cable service, the landscape of television is quickly changing. The days of 600-plus channel bundles appear to be numbered, and the economics of the enterprise are fundamentally changing. With this week’s news that Apple has finally created an Internet-native, on-demand TV box it’s not ashamed of, it’s an open question as to how long legacy cable networks can thrive.

At the top of that heap is the Weather Channel. The network and its holding company are for sale, with industry analysts saying its owners may be forced to split the TV channel from the rest of the business—mostly because no one seems to want it. Weather.com—that bastion of clickbait—seems to be the crown jewel, as well as smaller divisions of the company that specialize in, among other things, mining huge amounts of weather data for trends in retail consumer behavior. Kenny admitted as much in an interview with CNN this week: “we’re now a technology company that owns a TV channel, not a TV company.”

With billions of dollars of economic activity hinging on small-scale weather fluctuations every day, and with climate change throwing an extra wrench into the system, analytics and general meteorological nerdery appears to be the 21st century profit center the Weather Company has its sights set on. If a newly geeky Weather Channel can help inspire a new generation of scientists, all the better.


On The Line: Robert Eshelman Discusses This Year’s Record-Breaking Temperatures – Vice News Published on Sep 7, 2015

On Thursday at 12pm EDT VICE News environment editor Robert Eshelman (https://twitter.com/RobertSEshelman) joins On The Line to discuss this year’s record-breaking temperatures, as well as the Obama administration’s response to climate change.

Read: Obama Is Heading to Alaska to Highlight Climate Change — Despite Arctic Drilling Approval – http://bit.ly/1VwdyPJ

In Photos: Deadly Heat Waves Scorch Europe, the Middle East, and Asia – http://bit.ly/1fV3tvw

VICE News and On The Line want to hear from you! Let us know your questions for Rob on Twitter with the hashtag #ontheline, or send us a video message on Skype.

To leave a Skype video message, follow the instructions here: http://bit.ly/1Fpn9lC

Louisiana’s Disappearing Island (Excerpt from ‘Oil and Water’) – Vice News Published on Sep 4, 2015

Louisiana is currently losing around a football field’s worth of land every hour to the encroaching ocean. The erosion is due to an array of factors, from an ill-conceived historic levee system, the legacy of oil and gas drilling and, of course, the area’s susceptibility to hurricanes.

VICE News travels to the site of one of the largest man-made environmental and economic disasters in US history to see what can be done as the situation continues to deteriorate.

In this excerpt, VICE News heads to Isle de Jean Charles, an island in Louisiana considered by many to be beyond saving from the rising tide.

Read: Ten Years After Katrina, Here’s What’s Happening to Louisiana’s Coastline – http://bit.ly/1Vk25Ct