Gayathri Vaidyanathan ::

Part 2: Activists say solar can power India, but politics and economics of coal win out

A failed solar experiment in the village of Dharnai has underscored the challenges of going solar in India. Photo by Gayathri Vaidyanathan. DHARNAI, India — One year ago, environmentalists hailed this tiny village as the future of clean energy in rural India. Today, it is powered by coal. Dharnai, a community of about 3,200 people […]

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Part 1: In India, climate change takes a back seat to coal-powered development

SINGRAULI, India — Here at the foot of a mountain of coal mining debris live 150 people in one of the most polluted places on Earth. The air is dense with coal dust and other particulates. The drinking water source is a spring that emerges from the coal dump. When the rains come, landslides from […]

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Australia Cuts 110 Climate Scientist Jobs

With an ax rather than a scalpel, Australia‚Äôs federal science agency last week chopped off its climate research arm in a decision that has stunned scientists and left employees dispirited. As many as 110 out of 140 positions at the atmosphere and oceans division at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) will be […]

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Think tank that cast doubt on climate change science morphs into smaller one

The George C. Marshall Institute, a Washington, D.C., think tank that has cast doubt on the science behind global warming for years, closed its doors in September. The institute, which had a twin focus on defense and climate change denial and had been funded by a number of fossil fuel interests, including the ExxonMobil Foundation, […]

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‘NOAAgate’ — probing a cover-up, or a ‘weapon of mass distraction’?

In the past month, congressional Republicans have subpoenaed the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to gain access to the private documents and emails of scientists involved in a landmark climate change study to look for evidence of alleged wrongdoing. The attempts, by Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, timed […]

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Part 4: Exposing a small part of a forest to the ‘threatening’ heat of 2100

EL YUNQUE RAINFOREST, Puerto Rico — Yellow cables marked “danger” carry 480 volts of electricity through the rainforest. The cables reach into a circular metal scaffold that holds six large space heaters. The heaters, pointed at the forest floor, are not working. At the control center building half a mile away, Tana Wood, a biologist […]

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Part 3: Fires rapidly claim more forests and peatland in the Arctic

HOARFROST RIVER, Canada — Burning taiga changed everything for the Olesens on July 4, 2014. David and Kristen Olesen, their two daughters, and 44 sled dogs lived at a homestead at the edge of the boreal forest on a sandy peninsula at a spot where the Hoarfrost River meets the Great Slave Lake near the […]

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Part 2: Runaway global warming becomes a concern as permafrost melts

GOOSE LAKE, Northwest Territories — In a fragile landscape where footsteps leave an imprint for years, Jennifer Baltzer stood and surveyed the surrounding bog of green sphagnum moss. Black spruce trees tilted here and there like drunkards. Using a metal rod, Baltzer, an ecologist with Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, pierced the ground near […]

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Part 1: Forests dictate Earth’s future in the age of humankind

EL YUNQUE RAINFOREST, Puerto Rico — Palm trees flower here in flashes of magenta and orange. Luscious green fronds drag on the floor, and ropelike lianas hang off trees, topped by giant flowers. Ignoring the brilliance all around, 22 scientists trudged through their forest with their eyes planted on the floor. At times, they picked […]

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A roaring economy is hitched to a galloping coal addiction

JHARIA, India — Night falls here by 5 p.m. and people stream into the open-air market to catch the latest political news. They have much to discuss, because elections are currently on in the state of Jharkhand, which is famous for three things: corruption, a home-grown terrorism threat called Naxalism, and this area’s economic life, […]

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