Is Nice Weather Undermining Action on Climate Change?

According to a recent poll, climate change can’t compete with education or immigration as one of Americans’ public policy priorities. If fact, it’s almost last.

Part of the problem: Many people actually prefer the weather that climate change has left us with. In fact, according to a recent study, 80 percent of Americans are living in counties where the weather is more pleasant than it was 40 years ago.

“That doesn’t lend this urgency or motivation for action to address the problem,” says Megan Mullin, a professor of environmental politics at Duke University and one of the study’s authors.

LISTEN: “Your Environment Update for May 4, 2016”

But Mullin says all signs point to global warming catching up with those of us who like milder winters. Summers will get hotter and less pleasant in the future, and extreme weather like storms and flooding will become more common. Mullin says scientists and others trying to rally the public into action on climate change should focus on that.

“We need to help the public understand climate change through the lens of extreme events, and not through the lens of everyday weather,” she says.

Mullin says that could help people appreciate the havoc climate change could wreak in the future—even if they like the forecast today.

 

Officials Investigating Pipeline Explosion in Western Pennsylvania

Last Friday, a natural gas pipeline exploded in Westmoreland County, just east of Pittsburgh. One man was hospitalized after his house went up in flames, while other nearby homes were damaged and residents were evacuated.

This week, armed security guards blocked off the site of the explosion, as federal pipeline investigators worked with the owner of the pipeline and state officials to determine the cause of the blast.

The underground pipeline, which is owned by Spectra Energy, carries natural gas from the Gulf Coast to the northeastern U.S. It was built in 1981.

Typically, problems with pipelines occur in those that are much older or much newer. Older pipelines generally fail because of old age and corrosion. Surprisingly, much newer pipelines have also been prone to problems.

The investigation will take at least several weeks and could take a few months.

Reporting by Reid Frazier