Ashley Braun

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Ashley Braun is a Seattle-based freelance science and environmental journalist. She works as a deputy editor for DeSmogBlog.com and is a contributing science writer for Natural History Magazine. She has written for Discover Magazine, Popular Science online, Hakai MagazineEarth Touch NewsGrist.org, and OnEarth.org. She also fact-checks for Discover Magazine.

Find more of her writing at ashleybraun.com/writing and follow her on Twitter at @ashleybraun.

Sheldon Whitehouse Just Delivered His 150th Senate Speech on Climate Action

Sheldon Whitehouse in the Senate.

At a time when the planet is set to see its hottest year on record (a now sadly regular phenomenon), the United States has elected to its highest office a man who denies the science of climate change and seeks to dismantle progress on the issue at home and abroad

As the rest of the world prepares to push the U.S. aside on the global climate stage and President-elect Donald Trump stocks his team of advisers with climate deniers, now more than ever the U.S. needs voices speaking up for the overwhelming science supporting strong action on climate change. 

This week, Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D) was that voice, speaking up for the climate on the floor of the Senate for the 150th time.

From UN Climate Talks, Indigenous Activists Align with Standing Rock Protesters as Tensions Rise and Temperatures Fall

Woman in a red dress speaks in front of protesters holding signs.

Days before police resorted to using water cannons in freezing temperatures against Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL) protesters, the international indigenous community was already decrying the treatment of Native Americans and environmental activists camped in Cannon Ball, North Dakota.

Kevin Hart, regional chief of the Assembly of First Nations of Canada, said they were setting aside time at the United Nations climate talks in Marrakech, Morocco, “to acknowledge our brothers and sisters across the medicine line in the United States at Standing Rock Sioux Nation.”

But he had far stronger words for the United States government and North Dakota law enforcement, calling their actions “human rights violations.” Yet at that point his references to the aggressive practices of militarized law enforcement in North Dakota predated law enforcement allegedly blasting protesters with water cannons, tear gas, a long range acoustic device, and concussion grenades on the freezing evening of November 20.

John Kerry Tells Marrakech Climate Talks Coal Investment Is “Suicide” As U.S. Delegation Ducks Fossil Fuel Influence Questions

John Kerry.

Today at the latest round of United Nations climate talks in Marrakech, Morocco, the nonprofit Corporate Accountability International (CAI) was finally able to deliver a petition to the U.S. delegation calling for the removal of corporate interests and the fossil fuel industry from the international climate negotiations process. 

The petition included a demand for the U.S. to stop opposing a conflict of interest policy that would look to limit the influence fossil fuels groups could have on the talks.

Later that day, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry criticized the continued use of fossil fuels — with a careful caveat about carbon capture and storage technology — saying at this point, the world cannot “write a big fat check enabling the widespread development of the dirtiest source of fuel in an outdated way. It just doesn’t make sense. That’s suicide.”

Exclusive: Q&A with Filmmaker Deia Schlosberg on Her Arrest While Filming an Activist Shutting Down a Tar Sands Pipeline

Deia Schlosberg. Climate Direct Action activists.

On October 11, 2016, award-winning documentary filmmaker Deia Schlosberg was arrested in North Dakota while filming an activist with Climate Direct Action as he turned off a TransCanada oil sands pipeline crossing from Canada into the United States. It was one of five actions that shut down all pipelines carrying tar sands into the U.S. from Canada that day.

In an exclusive interview with DeSmog, Schlosberg shares her experience, including what it’s like being a reporter facing felony charges with a potential maximum sentence of 45 years, her reaction when Edward Snowden tweeted about her, and a message for other journalists covering climate change and the oil and gas industry. 

I did not ever intend to be the story. It’s safe on this side of the camera usually,” Schlosberg told DeSmog. 

Why Is North Dakota Attempting to Mandate Who Should Report on Pipeline Protests?

Amy Goodman speaking with her lawyers in North Dakota.

On September 8, award-winning journalist Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! received news of her arrest for reporting at the scene of the heated Dakota Access pipeline protests five days earlier during the Labor Day weekend. 

On October 17, she showed up at North Dakota’s Morton County courthouse to face the charge brought against her. It was quickly dropped by the judge for lack of probable cause. 

In reaction to this news, Goodman commented, “This is a vindication of freedom of the press, of the First Amendment, of the public’s right to know. I see the media really as the ‘Underground Railroad’ of information. And that information must continue on all things that are happening. That’s our job.” 

With Paris Agreement Now Official, a Look Back at Climate Deniers Who Said It Couldn’t Happen

Graffiti saying 'I don't believe in global warming' on a wall partly covered by appearance of water.

With recent ratifications by the European Union, India, and Canada, the Paris climate agreement is set to take effect November 4, just days before the start of COP22, the United Nations climate conference happening in mid-November in Marrakesh, Morocco. 

The agreement’s swift movement through the ratification process surprised many, from U.S. President Barack Obama to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, who commented recently that “what once seemed impossible is now inevitable.” 

However, perhaps those most shocked — or at least dismayed — may be the climate deniers who have taken so many opportunities to cast doubt on the U.N. climate talks, the validity of Pres. Obama’s ratification of it, and, of course, climate science itself. Here’s a look back at a few of those efforts.

As EU Prepares to Ratify Paris Climate Deal, U.S. Sees Bipartisan Push for Climate Action

Chris Gibson at left and John Delaney at right.

Just one month after the United States and China, two major greenhouse gas emitters, committed to the Paris climate agreement, the European Union has promised to follow suit and ratify the agreement, which aims to limit global temperature rise to “well below 2°C” and strive for 1.5°C.

Meanwhile, although the United States is notorious for partisanship over climate change, two Congressional representatives — one Republican and one Democrat — have just introduced a bill to create a bipartisan commission for climate solutions. 

Led by Representatives John Delaney (D-MD) and Chris Gibson (R-NY), the Delaney-Gibson Climate Solutions Commission Act (H.R. 6240) would bring together the two political parties to create a 10-member commission to find agreement and create action on this historically divisive issue. 

As Nations Embrace Paris Agreement, World’s Existing Fossil Fuels Set to Exceed its Goals

Anti-coal protests in the Philippines.

On September 21, 31 countries, including Brazil and Mexico, ratified the Paris climate agreement at a United Nations event in New York City. They joined the U.S., China, and 27 other nations which had previously committed to the agreement, bringing the total to 60 and surpassing the first of two thresholds, requiring 55 nations to ratify it. In addition, their combined greenhouse gas emissions represent 47.76 percent of the needed 55 percent of global emissions for the agreement to enter into force.

But, practically speaking, what did the now 60 countries actually agree to when they said they would limit warming to “well below 2°C” and strive for 1.5°C? 

A new report from Oil Change International calculates that, in order to accomplish those goals, governments need to stop permitting and building all new fossil fuel projects and retire early some existing oil and gas fields and coal mines. 

To Fight Clean Power Plan, Fossil Fuel Companies Paid for Private Meetings with Republican State Prosecutors

Republican Attorney General Scott Pruitt of Oklahoma.

Just one week before Republican state attorneys general asked federal courts to reject the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, which requires states to regulate emissions from electricity generation, they met privately — for a handsome fee — with energy companies Murray Energy and Southern Company, which are also suing to halt the plan’s implementation. 

The timing of the secret meetings and financial contributions reveal what appears to be a well-coordinated effort to hobble the Obama administration’s climate policy agenda.

Chart: The Deadliest Energy Sources in the World

Deaths per terawatt hour by energy source

How deadly is your energy source? The very real and lethal effects of our global energy choices become clear in this interactive data visualization, showing the death rate, as measured by the number of deaths per terawatt hour (TWh), for each of the major global energy sources, e.g., coal, natural gas, oil, nuclear, hydro, peat, and biomass. Take a closer look at the chart here:

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