In New Paper, Scientists Explain Climate Change Using Before/After Photographic Evidence

Read the full story from the University of Kansas.

A group of scientists offers photographic proof of climate change using images of retreating glaciers in a new paper, “Savor the Cryosphere,” appearing in GSA Today, a peer-reviewed publication of the Geological Society of America.

EPA Walks Back Methane Rule for Oil and Gas Industry

Read the full story in Pacific Standard.

The Environmental Protection Agency announced on Wednesday that it will reconsider a Barack Obama-era rule to curb emissions of methane, volatile organic compounds, and other toxic air pollutants from the oil and gas industry. The rule, which was finalized in June of 2016 and would have gone into effect in June of this year, was expected to prevent more than 500,000 tons of methane emissions by 2025—an amount equivalent to 11 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. But as soon as it was passed, the rule faced immediate legal challenges from oil and gas companies and several state attorneys general.

EPA plans to offer buyouts as part of Trump push to shrink workforce

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

The Environmental Protection Agency said this week that it would begin the process of shrinking its 15,000-employee workforce through buyouts, in the wake of President Trump’s executive order last month aimed at streamlining agencies throughout the federal government.

US companies rank miserably low on the UN’s new corporate responsibility rankings

Read the full story at Quartz.

When it comes to the UN’s sustainable development goals, Apple just thinks different.

The iPhone-manufacturing behemoth ranks among the worst of the world’s richest public companies in recognizing sustainable-development themes in its corporate annual reports, according to a new analysis of 100 top brands. Apple is joined at the bottom of the gilded heap by more than a dozen companies who also ignored sustainable development in their annual reports, including Disney, Walmart, and General Electric.

The SDG Commitment Report 100, to be released today (April 19) at UN headquarters in New York, is the first-ever analysis to use annual reports as the sole metric to assess corporate commitments to the UN’s 17 sustainable development goals. Analysts argue that the corporate annual report, a legally-required document, is a higher—and better—standard to judge a company’s commitment to sustainability than any voluntary corporate responsibility report.

The report included the 50 largest global companies with annual reports for the year 2016 available by March 31, 2017. The other 50 companies assessed were made up of largest companies by revenue on each continent (the Americas, Europe, Africa, and Asia-Pacific); the world’s largest family-owned companies; and a number of firms on Fortune’s Most Admired Companies list—as long as they too has 2016 annual reports available for review.

Analysts searched the annual reports for the presence of the 17 UN sustainable development goals, or SDGs, which are a set of moonshot targets that all 192 UN member states, including the US, have agreed to reach by 2030. They include ending poverty and hunger, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and promoting gender equity.

Too many studies have hidden conflicts of interest. A new tool makes it easier to see them.

Read the full story at Vox. Although PubMed focuses primarily on health literature, this could signal a wider trend.

PubMed — a powerful taxpayer-funded search engine for medical study abstracts that doctors, patients, and the media rely on — just started displaying conflict of interest data up front. New information about funding sources and potential conflicts will now appear right below study abstracts, which means readers don’t have even to open a journal article to be made aware of any possible industry influence over studies.

A Green Infrastructure Guidebook for City Planners

Read the full story in CityLab.

Ninety-six percent of the country’s population lives in counties where federally declared weather-related disasters have occurred since 2010. Federal programs help mitigate these scenarios: EPA programs study climate change and issue guidelines about combating global warming; FEMA provides disaster assistance to mitigate these effects. But under Trump’s budget plan, these programs stand to lose their funding.

Ninety-six percent of the country’s population lives in counties where federally declared weather-related disasters have occurred since 2010. Federal programs help mitigate these scenarios: EPA programs study climate change and issue guidelines about combating global warming; FEMA provides disaster assistance to mitigate these effects. But under Trump’s budget plan, these programs stand to lose their funding.

The Saga of North Carolina’s Contaminated Water

Read the full story in The Atlantic.

The Trump administration has not been shy about its skepticism of programs designed to protect the environment. Donald Trump has said that environmental regulations are “out of control,” he has proposed slashing the budget and staffing levels at the Environmental Protection Agency, and he has appointed as head of that agency Scott Pruitt, who has spent a career repeatedly backing business over regulators. Last month, Trump signed an executive order aimed at reversing a signature Obama-era climate policy, the Clean Power Plan.

In North Carolina, the state government has taken a similar approach to its own environmental regulatory agency over the past few years. I went there to see how the state’s regulatory rollback is playing out so far.