TIME enivronment

This App Shows How Climate Change Is Affecting the World Around You

You may live closer to a earthquake zone than you think

You’ve heard about what climate change is doing the arctic and to the sea levels around the world. But sometimes it can be hard to understand what’s happening in your own backyard. A new app called Field Notes shows you just that.

The free app, manufactured by tech mapping company Esri, is part of a broader effort by the company to put data about people, climate and geography at your fingertips.

Take data on the location of TIME’s office in New York City. The app tells me that our office is located in a warm zone and, by 2050, it’s expected to get much warmer. The nearest earthquake zone is 240 miles (386 km) away and the nearest volcano more than 1,100 miles (1,770 km) away. Unsurprisingly, the app tell me, the soil isn’t great for growing crops. You can get the same data, and more, for any location on the globe.

“If you’re interested in engaging and understanding, this gives you a very quick basis to do that,” said Charlie Frye, chief cartographer.

The app, available for both iPhones and Androids, builds on the desktop version of the mapping technology, called the Eco Tapestry Map, which offers an even more in-depth view of world ecosystems. And while it’s fun to get a sense of what’s going on in your backyard, the map also sheds light on the impact of climate change where its effects have been most damaging.

Read More: Why Some California Cities Are Bracing for a Bear Invasion

Take the drought in California, for instance. Esri’s map shows how diverse climates co-exist in the state—from desert areas like Death Valley to temperate rainforests. And, while California is a large state, each climate exists side by side with other drastically different climates, making it difficult for endemic species to move in search of water without leaving their natural habitat.

The project originated from a partnership between Esri and a U.S. Geological Survey scientist who hoped to show how different layers like bioclimate, landforms and land cover combine to form the world’s “ecological tapestry.” Esri, which provides mapping technology for a variety of uses, helped utilize the technology to describe the whole world in quantitative terms.

“One of the things that’s been lacking before this map came out is this sort of common language way of talking about the eco-system at a higher level,” said Sean Breyer, content program manager at Esri.

Esri scientists have directed their work with Field Notes to help consumers understand the world around them, but the company’s environmental work also has implications for governments, academics and policymakers. The White House, for instance, has partnered with the company to provide tools that will allow local communities to prepare for the worst of climate change.

TIME energy

The Renewable Energy Source That’s About to Boom Again

generator Hoover Dam hydropower electricity
Bloomberg—Getty Images Turbines spin inside hydroelectric generators at the Hoover Dam in Boulder City, Nevada on March 24, 2014.

'Whether we like it or not, over the next 20 years roughly the world will double its hydropower capacity'

Ten years ago hydropower might have been taken for dead in the United States. Environmentalists didn’t want hydropower dams because of the destruction they wreaked on nearby ecosystems. Energy companies had lost interest because hydropower wouldn’t produce enough energy to make the investment worthwhile. Indeed, in every decade since the 1970s, the U.S. has added less hydropower capacity than the decade prior.

But now energy experts say that new ways of thinking about hydropower has placed the energy source on the verge of a resurgence in the U.S. Hydropower production is anticipated to grow by more than 5% in 2016 alone, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

“There has been more interest in the last few years. There are a lot of projects being considered,” said Rocío Uria-Martinez, an energy researcher at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. “Hydropower is, or it can be, a very viable complement for the other renewables.” The U.S. has some 80,000 dams, and only 2,000 are being used to harness electricity, according to Uria-Martinez. Adaptations to existing dams could drive a 15 to 20% increase in total hydropower capacity in the U.S. At the same time, adapting dams saves the cost of building new ones from the ground up.

While experts anticipate dramatic growth in hydropower in the coming years, don’t expect to see another Hoover Dam anytime soon. “Building large dams is almost out of the question in the U.S. and in Europe because of environmental constraints,” said Uria-Martinez. Energy policymakers have focused instead on developing sustainable hydropower dams, which are typically on a small scale. In some communities this means installing hydropower capabilities to existing dams that have never produced electricity.

In some areas, increasing dam efficiency has meant eliminating dams that harm the environment and replacing them with more sustainable ones. The Penobscot River in Maine, for instance, had several dams over hundreds of miles of river, many of which were operated inefficiently. Seven conservation groups teamed up and employed scientists to consider how to increase energy production and, at the same time, eliminate some dams. In the end, the group ended up dismantling two dams while achieving the same energy output with the remaining ones.

“We got the river to produce exactly the same amount of hydropower as before but with 1,000 km of connected river,” said Giulio Boccaletti, who runs the water program at the Nature Conservancy. He argues that similar results can be reached in other places around the world.

“Whether we like it or not, over the next 20 years, roughly, the world will double its hydropower capacity,” he said. “How do you intervene in a world where saying no to that development is simply not an option? I think there’s appetite for a more sustainable outcome.”

In the early stages of electricity production in the U.S., hydropower played an important role. Communities first used free-flowing water to harness electricity in the late 19th century. In need of electricity, communities across the country built dams to harness the power of free-flowing water during the first half of the 20th century. In the 1960s, heightened environmental consciousness piqued American interest in conservation, and hydropower quickly fell out of favor. The timing worked well as few good sites for hydropower dams remained.

TIME 2016 Election

Rick Perry Challenged Donald Trump to a Pull-Up Contest

Donald Trump rick perry
Mary Altaffer—AP, Charlie Neibergall—AP Republican presidential candidates Rick Perry and Donal Trump.

"Let's get a pull-up bar out here"

Billionaire Donald Trump may be leading in the polls for the GOP presidential primary, but former Texas Governor Rick Perry knows how he can beat his rival candidate. Asked about Trump’s critique of his candidacy, Perry challenged Trump to a pull-up contest.

“Let’s get a pull-up bar out here and see who can do more pull-ups,” Perry said at a speech Wednesday at the Yale Club in New York City, according to the New York Times.

Perry and Trump have been trading barbs ever since Trump questioned Arizona Senator John McCain’s status as a war hero. Perry condemned the remarks and called for Trump to drop out of the race.

In response, Trump has repeatedly questioned Perry’s intelligence, joked about his glasses and made light of his low poll numbers.

TIME animals

U.S. Government Investigating Death of Cecil the Lion

The Department of Justice hasn't said whether they've received an extradition request

The federal agency charged with enforcing wildlife protection laws in the U.S. said Wednesday that it will investigate the highly publicized death of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe, following accusations that an American citizen killed the animal illegally.

“The Service is deeply concerned about the recent killing of Cecil the lion,”a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spokesperson said in a statement. “We are currently gathering facts about the issue and will assist Zimbabwe officials in whatever manner requested.”

The statement follows an allegation by the government of Zimbabwe that Walter James Palmer, a 55-year-old Minnesota dentist, participated in the illegal killing of the lion earlier this month. Two Zimbabwe natives have also been implicated and appeared in court on Wednesday.

Read More: Why Big Game Hunters Believe They’re the Real Conservationists

The U.S. and Zimbabwe have an extradition treaty, but it remains unclear how the U.S. would respond to a request to extradite Palmer. In a statement, a spokesperson for the Department of Justice (DOJ) said that DOJ was “aware of the situation.” The spokesperson declined to say whether the U.S. had received an extradition request.

Palmer, who could not be reached for comment Wednesday, previously said that “everything about this trip was legal and properly handled and conducted” and promised to assist any investigations by government officials.

African lions face threats as a result of habitat loss and increased conflicts with humans, among other things. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed listing lions as an endangered species last year, which would create restrictions on lion hunting by U.S. citizens. The measure has yet to be decided.

“It is up to all of us—not just the people of Africa—to ensure that healthy, wild populations of animals continue to roam the savanna for generations to come,” a spokesperson for the agency said in a statement.

TIME animals

Why Big Game Hunters Believe They’re the Real Conservationists

Many animal conservationists don't agree, especially in the wake of Cecil the Lion's death

Animal lovers around the world have united in outrage against Minnesota-area dentist Walter James Palmer, 55, after news broke that he stands accused of killing Cecil the lion, a popular attraction in one of Zimbabwe’s national parks.

The government in Zimbabwe has alleged that Palmer’s actions were illegal because of issues with permitting and other practices Palmer and his guide used to pursue the lion. But Palmer is far from the only American trophy hunter to head to Africa to hunt big game.

Every year thousands of trophy hunters primarily from North America and Europe travel to the Africa to try their luck at killing a highly-coveted trophy animal, often threatened species such as lions and elephants. In total, 9,000 trophy hunters travel to South Africa alone annually, according to one estimate. Prices start at a few hundred dollars for small animals like wild pigs but can reach tens of thousands of dollars for big game such as leopards, elephants and buffalo.

Read more: The Lion-Killing Dentist Is Getting Totally Savaged Online

Although the practice may sound cruel, hunters say their efforts actually support conservation through large fees paid to governments to engage in the hunt. “Hunters are the true conservationists,” said Dave Duncan, an adviser and coordinator for hunting safaris. “If it weren’t for hunters, there probably wouldn’t be any animals left in the United States.”

Duncan and others are quick to cite president Teddy Roosevelt as an example of an avid hunter who killed thousands of animals while also believing strongly in conservation. Hunters are required to follow strict guidelines and exercise self-restraint when it comes to killing animals, Duncan said. Furthermore, he adds, much of the thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars paid in fees to government authorities actually aids conservation efforts.

For instance, South African Sky Hunting, which offers tours in countries like South Africa, Namibia and Botswana, charges $42,000 for an elephant-hunting expedition. A lion expedition costs $23,000 and a hippopotamus expedition will set you back $9,400. Much of those fees should, at least in theory, go back to conservation efforts. “The loss of one is better for the group,” Duncan said. “You take a single animal out and all that money goes right back into saving the rest of them.”

But some conservation groups say the killing of any animal for sport is unacceptable. Jeffrey Flocken, who leads the International Fund for Animal Welfare’s North American branch, says much of the money that supposedly benefits conservation efforts winds up in other places. “This philosophy—that you have to kill an animal to save it—does not make sense morally, economically, biologically, or from a conservation-incentive point of view,” he has written.

More: Hunters Linked to Killing of Beloved Lion Appear in Court

Other organizations, like the World Wide Fund for Nature, don’t rule out trophy hunting in all circumstances but call for it to be used very narrowly. In response to a question about trophy hunting on its website, the organization writes that “WWF accepts or supports hunting in a very limited number of contexts where it is culturally appropriate, legal and effectively regulated, and has demonstrated environmental and community benefits.”

That wasn’t the case for Cecil, who was allegedly killed after being lured away from a protected habitat onto private land. The landowner lacked proper permits, the government alleges, and the killers removed the animal’s collar. For lions especially, the loss of even one animal can have wide-ranging effects on lion society and lead to many more deaths down the road, says David Macdonald who runs Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit. “The shooting of one male lion, such as Cecil, can lead to the collapse of his coalition and the deaths of his brothers,” said Macdonald.

For hunters, this debate may all be irrelevant. Duncan calls the popular lion’s death a tragic “aberration” by irresponsible guides; most hunters, he says, are careful to follow applicable laws and regulations. “Ninety-nine percent of hunting is a great, great sport and a great hobby to have,” he says. “It’s a lifelong hobby.”

TIME animals

PETA Wants Lion-Hunting Dentist Killed

"He needs to be extradited, charged, and, preferably, hanged"

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) called for the execution of the American dentist who killed Cecil the lion in a statement Tuesday condemning the shooting.

“Hunting is a coward’s pastime,” said PETA President Ingrid Newkirk in the statement. “If, as has been reported, this dentist and his guides lured Cecil out of the park with food so as to shoot him on private property, because shooting him in the park would have been illegal, he needs to be extradited, charged, and, preferably, hanged.”

Walter James Palmer, a U.S. citizen from Minnesota, allegedly paid $50,000 to kill Cecil, a 13-year-old male lion, on a game-hunting trip to Zimbabwe. Palmer has said that he “relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt.”

Newkirk is far from the only person to condemn the shooting of Cecil. Jeffrey Flocken, who leads the International Fund for Animal Welfare’s North American branch, said in a blog post that the incident was a “sad reminder of what greed and exploitation of wildlife can lead to.” Even late night comedian Jimmy Kimmel chimed in, devoting a segment on his show to the lion killing and at one point tearing up while discussing the death.

“The big question is ‘why are you shooting a lion in the first place?'” said Kimmel. “How is that fun?”

TIME Crime

Officials Release Hours of New Sandra Bland Jail Footage

Officials are trying to quell conspiracy theories about her death

Officials in Texas released hours of new video footage of Sandra Bland in jail Tuesday in what they described as an attempt to quell conspiracy theories about her death. Speculation about her death has led to attacks and threats directed at government officials, Waller County Judge Trey Duhon said at a press conference.

“Because of some of the things that’s gone out on social media, this county has been literally attacked,” he said.

The video shows Bland cycling through routine post-arrest procedures. She fills out paperwork, is allowed to make phone calls and has her mug shot taken, according to the Associated Press.

Bland was arrested on July 10 after being pulled over for failing to signal before a lane change. The 28-year-old woman was found dead in her jail cell three days later in an apparent suicide by hanging. But Bland’s family and many others didn’t accept the official explanation.

 

 

 

TIME 2016 Election

Trump Would ‘Love’ To Have Palin in His Administration

'She’s really a special person,' Trump said

Donald Trump would consider tapping former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin to serve in his administration, the billionaire presidential candidate said this week.

Asked during an interview with Kevin Scholla on talk radio show The Palin Update whether he would consider asking Palin to serve in “some official capacity,” Trump replied enthusiastically.“I’d love that,” he said. “Because she really is somebody who knows what’s happening and she’s a special person, she’s really a special person and I think people know that.”

In the interview, Trump said that both he and Palin had been victims of unfair attacks from the media. Trump said he looks at Palin’s ability to handle such coverage with admiration. “She took so much nonsense, lies and disgusting lies,” Trump said. “She handles it so well. She’s tough and smart and just a great woman so it’s an honor to be with you today.”

Palin has also praised Trump in recent weeks. After Trump questioned Senator John McCain’s status as a war hero, Palin said that both men are heroes. “I have the good fortune of knowing both John McCain and Donald Trump well,” Palin told CNN. “Both men have more in common than the today’s media hype would have you believe. Both blazed trails in their careers and love our great nation.”

TIME animals

Minnesota Dentist Named as Killer of Beloved Lion

Walter James Palmer allegedly paid $50,000 to kill Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe

A conservation group in Zimbabwe has named a dentist from Minnesota in the illegal killing of a beloved male lion.

U.S. citizen Walter James Palmer allegedly paid $50,000 to kill Cecil, a 13-year-old male lion, on a game-hunting trip, according to a report from the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force. Zimbabwe authorities also told the Associated Press that Palmer was the individual accused of slaughtering the beast.

Palmer said in a statement that he had hired guides to secure permits and that his hunting expedition was legal and properly handled and conducted.” He has not been contacted by authorities, Palmer said.

“I had no idea that the lion I took was a known, local favorite, was collared and part of a study until the end of the hunt,” he said via email. “I relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt.”

The hunter’s two accomplices have been apprehended by police and await a court hearing, the country’s government said. “Ongoing investigations to date suggest that the killing of the lion was illegal since the land owner was not allocated a lion on his hunting quota for 2015,” the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority said in a statement. “Therefore, all persons implicated in this case are due to appear in court facing poaching charges.”

Palmer and a guide, Theo Bronkhorst, allegedly entered a national park where lions are protected on July 6 and lured Cecil from the park by tying a dead animal to the back of their car. They shot him first with a bow and then a gun when he didn’t die immediately, according to the conservationist group’s report. Though the hunters had left the protected park, they still lacked proper permits, the conservation group said.

Cecil was a draw for tourists visiting the country’s Hwange National Park and the subject of research conducted by Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit. David Macdonald, Oxford University professor who runs the center, condemned the killing as “reprehensible and unacceptable.” In turn, Cecil’s shooting will likely result in the death of many other lions that depended on Cecil, he said.

Palmer is an avid big-game hunter whose hunting successes landed him attention in a 2009 New York Times story on the sport. He was previously convicted of bear poaching in Wisconsin, according to the Minnesota Star Tribune.

TIME climate change

U.S. Flood Risk Could Be Worse Than We Thought

flooding climate change
Getty Images

A new study looks at what happens when storm surge occurs at the same time as high rain fall

The way scientists have traditionally analyzed storm surge and heavy rainfall, the two main drivers of flooding in coastal communities, may underestimate flood risk in the United States, according to new research.

In the past, disaster experts have used analyzed storm surges and high rainfall separately to define flood zones and devise preparedness plans. The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, shows that this method underestimates the risk of storm surges and high rainfall occurring at the same time. The number of these so-called compound events has increased over the past 100 years, researchers found.

New York City, for instance, has experienced an increase in the number of compound events with both storm surge and high precipitation in recent years, a change researchers write can be attributed to “storm surge weather patterns that also [favor] high precipitation.” Overall, a reevaluation of potential flooding scenarios that includes the possibility of compound events more than doubled odds of flooding in the city.

“Usually it requires an extreme storm surge to cause flooding or an extreme rainfall event,” said study author Thomas Wahl, a researcher at the University of South Florida. “But the combination of two events that are not really extreme on their own may cause larger damages than one of the two events alone.”

Read More: This Factor Predicts What People Think About Climate Change

The risk of these compound events varies greatly from city to city, according to the study. Cities most prone to hurricanes and other large storms on the East and Gulf coasts are more vulnerable than their West coast counterparts, for instance.

Researchers note that while the new research looks at storm surge and precipitation, long-term sea level rise remains the biggest driver of increased flood risk. A study released last week suggests that sea levels may rise by 10 feet above current levels within the next century. The estimates, which would make places like New York City and London uninhabitable, significantly exceed those by the widely-respected Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and have been met with skepticism by many climate scientists.

“Continued high emissions would result in multi-meter sea level rise this century and lock in continued ice sheet disintegration such that building cities or rebuilding cities on coast lines would become foolish,” Hansen wrote in a statement accompanying his paper.

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