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.

These Companies Plan to Expand Coal Power Worldwide by 43 Percent

Coal protesters in Victoria

In Paris in 2015, more than 195 nations committed to slowing the rise of global warming to less than 3.6°F (2°C). In 2016, renewable energy saw unprecedented growth around the world. 

Yet in 2017, more than 120 companies have plans to build new coal-fired power plants (or expand existing ones), increasing coal capacity by roughly 43 percent across the globe. That’s more than 840,000 megawatts (MW) of additional coal power. 

Some of those expansions are slated to occur in countries that don’t yet have any coal power, including Egypt and Malawi, likely locking them into at least 40 years of polluting infrastructure.

This is according to an analysis just released by the German environmental nonprofit Urgewald, which states that if all of these coal expansion plans go ahead, the resulting average rise in global temperatures would be a blazing 7.2°F (4°C).

After Los Angeles Youth Sued City for Discriminatory Drilling Practices, the Oil Industry Sued Back

Boy playing basketball at Beverly Hills High School next to a covered oil derrick

Los Angeles is a city built on oil, and even today more than a thousand derricks still pump it from the shallow reserves beneath the city. While some oil wells are camouflaged behind colorfully painted towers or bland beige structures resembling office buildings, many of them draw up crude oil in the open, surprisingly close to homes, stores, restaurants, schools, and churches. 

Every time I go to school,” 18-year-old Brandon Molina told DeSmog, “I walk by these oil drilling sites. They’re around my school. So, it’s something that I see every day.”

In LA, the number of residents living less than a mile from an oil well is in the tens of thousands. But how close you live to a drilling site may depend on the color of your skin and socioeconomic status, placing communities of color disproportionately at risk, according to a lawsuit brought by three LA youth groups against the City of LA

Why Is 'Rosie the Riveter' Being Appropriated for a War Against Climate Science?

J. Howard Miller's We Can Do It! poster that became known as Rosie the Riveter

Her image is iconic — red polka dot bandanna around her hair, blue sleeve rolled back, exposed bicep curled in a show of strength, a speech bubble declaring, “We Can Do It!”

We know her today as “Rosie the Riveter,” and she’s shown up on t-shirts, coffee cups, oven mitts, bobble-head dolls, and now, even a quarterly report of the fossil fuel industry–funded think tank, the Heartland Institute.

In its report, the Heartland Institute — infamous for its offensive 2012 billboard depicting the Unabomber as a “believer” in global warming — displays the image of Rosie over the slogan “Winning the Global Warming War.” It sits atop an article by Joseph L. Bast, Heartland's president, issuing a call to arms for “free-market advocates” against global warming. While Bast’s litany of commonly debunked arguments against the science and threat of climate change isn’t notable, Heartland’s choice of imagery is proving to be.

To me, it seems like an obscene appropriation of feminist iconography, and I find it, frankly, offensive,” Sarah Myhre, University of Washington ocean and climate scientist, told DeSmog. “And I looked for a mention of women or women’s lives and there’s no mention of women in the article whatsoever.”

Top 12 DeSmog Investigative News Stories of 2016

Protester being arrested at Dakota Access Pipeline construction site.

From fake news to phony Twitter support, 2016 was dominated by plenty of falsities surrounding climate change and energy development. DeSmog remains dedicated to uncovering this misinformation — and disinformation — clouding the national conversation on climate change.

We’ve put together a list of 12 of our most important and influential stories covering these issues from the last year.

Hundreds of Scientists and Supporters Gather to Rally Against Attacks on Science

scientists rallying

On a gray afternoon in downtown San Francisco, hundreds of scientists and supporters held a rally to “champion the role of science in society,” while the news of President-elect Donald Trump's latest cabinet appointment of a fossil fuel industry ally and climate denier, Rick Perry, reverberated through the air like the bells of a nearby church.

“As scientists, it’s not enough just to do our science,” Harvard social scientist Naomi Oreskes told the crowd. “We have to get out and explain to people why the science matters to them, to their lives, to their jobs, to their communities, to their health and well-being, and to their prosperity.”

How to Convince Your Neighbors Climate Change Is Real? Stop Calling Them Idiots, Says DeSmog Founder Jim Hoggan

James Hoggan AGU speech

Clean coal.” “Ethical oil.” How could fossil fuels that produce pollution which sickens, kills, and hospitalizes tens of thousands of Americans each year end up sounding so … desirable?

Jim Hoggan, founder of DeSmog, watched these industry-funded campaigns — and an increasingly toxic public discourse around climate change — unfold in the U.S. and Canada and wondered the same thing. 

As Hoggan told an audience of earth and climate scientists at the American Geophysical Union conference today, “These campaigns are not so much about persuasion as they are about polarization, about dividing us.”

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. 

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