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  • Leadership & the Environment: Green Issues

    No sooner did James McCarthy's name turn up in an associated Press story on the outlook for global warming than he started getting outraged e-mails from colleagues. All that McCarthy, a Harvard oceanographer who studies how climate change affects marine life, told the AP last week was that "the worst stuff is not going to happen ... not that I think the projections aren't that [accurate], but because we can't be that stupid." The overwhelming response, he said, was, What do you mean, we can't be that stupid? Just look around!On that very question could hinge the fate of much of life on Earth. Last week was bracketed by two events that could make 2007 a turning point in the effort to control global warming. On Monday, by a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government had the power under the Clean Air Act to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles. This victory for environmentalists was quickly snatched away by President Bush, who announced the next day that...
  • Climate Change and the Economy

    For centuries, the iconic trading floor at Lloyd's of London, the world's largest insurance market, has bustled with pin-striped underwriters whose job it is to predict the future. They used to use painstakingly detailed 50-year averages to forecast looming natural disasters. Then the hurricanes of 2004 and 2005 hit, blowing the old averages out of the water. In less than two years, seven out of the 10 costliest storms in history ravaged the U.S. coast; in 2005 alone, they cost Lloyd's syndicates and other insurers almost $60 billion—a number at the very top of their worst-case scenarios."When something extreme happens as a result of climate change, we're the ones who have to pick up the tab," says Lloyd's chairman, Peter Levene. Accordingly, the insurance company has warned in a recent report that unless it and its competitors start making better use of climate-change predictions, the whole industry could collapse.To make sure it doesn't, Lloyd's has undergone a remarkable...
  • This Way Forward

    Something weird is happening to the world's weather. Ski slopes in central Japan and the Alps were still green weeks after the start of the season. Giant hornets, once found only in the Far East, are now swarming in a warmer France. In the Australian outback, the worst drought on record is driving wild camels crazy with thirst. The global thermostat is malfunctioning. Everywhere nature is unsettled and, most likely, mankind deserves much of the blame.Those are the generally agreed facts. Global warming is now a reality that even die-hard skeptics struggle to dispute. The authoritative Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts temperatures will rise 4 degrees Celsius or more by the end of the century. Clearly, prompt action to limit CO2 emissions is needed. But it's just as clear that, whatever we do, temperatures will continue to climb—and that even a modest increase will tilt the world's economic and political balance. Put simply, in the short term there will be winners...
  • Mosquito Trajectory

    Mosquitoes like warm air, and they breed in water—that much we know. It stands to reason that the bugs would flourish in a world that is getting warmer and wetter. "We're seeing changes in the Himalayas, the highlands of Africa, in the Andes and up into Mexico and in other places in Asia, too," says Paul Epstein, associate director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard University. "We're seeing a very consistent pattern in highland regions throughout the globe." Is this a taste of what's to come?Some studies say yes. One found that temperature increases from 0.5 degrees to 3 degrees can double the population of Anopheles mosquitoes, which carry malaria, and double the speed at which dengue incubates in the Aedes aegypti mosquito, suggesting that its infectious life would increase. And temperature rises can extend a mosquito's range and lengthen the biting season. Climate models have the risk of catching dengue rising to 74 percent by 2050 and the number of...
  • Untold Harvest

    Extreme weather has always sustained India's population. Monsoons allow crops like millet to grow in the deserts of Rajasthan. But last year, when those formerly arid lands suddenly got three times their usual rainfall, villagers were panicked. The solution? Grow thirstier crops like wheat, mustard and spices. The result? A flooded area of Barmer, usually bone-dry part of Rajasthan, enjoyed a $3 million harvest last year, nearly 90 percent above the norm. "We can't change a natural phenomenon," says Barmer Deputy Commissioner Subir Kumar, who encouraged the replanting. "But with innovative ideas, we can perhaps use them to our advantage."Climate Cassandras have always said that a warming planet would be particularly bad for farmers—vast stretches of the earth's prime arable land area would be submerged and even larger portions overrun by desert. But as havoc looms, so do new opportunities. Spiking temperatures and wild swings in weather are turning green belts into dust bowls—but...
  • Who Will Win, and Who Will Lose

    America is scared of global warming. In a recent poll by Yale's Center for Environmental Law and Policy, 83 percent of Americans called global warming a "serious" problem, up from 70 percent in 2004, and 63 percent agreed that the United States "is in as much danger" from environmental threats including global warming "as it is from terrorists."If even gas-guzzling Americans are alive to the danger, you know most nations now accept climate change as real. But how will they adapt? Some are well positioned to weather changes in climate that will affect agriculture, trade, housing and poverty; others aren't. To identify who's ready and who's not, the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change asked some scientists to turn their attention to assessing countries at risk. One groundbreaking recent study by Columbia University's Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN), came up with a way to rank nations by how prepared they are to adapt to climate change,...
  • 'Crisis'? 'Change'?—War of the Words

    What is the most pressing environmental issue we face today? "Global warming"? The "greenhouse effect"? At the Oscar ceremonies, Al Gore referred to a "climate crisis," but in his State of the Union address President Bush chose the comparatively anodyne phrase "climate change." They all refer to the same thing, but the first rule of modern political discourse is that before addressing any empirical problem each side must "frame the debate" in the most favorable way. If you doubt it, just try to get a Republican to utter the phrase "estate tax" rather than "death tax." Behind the overt campaign to head off whatever it is—environmental heating? thermal catastrophe?—is a covert struggle over what we should even call it.In recent years this has played out largely as a contest between "global warming" and "climate change." Bush's use of the latter was consistent with Republican practice, which calls for de-emphasizing the urgency of the situation, as recommended in a 2002 memo by...
  • Where China's Rivers Run Dry

    The view from the top of the luxurious Morgan Centre (which will soon host a seven-star hotel) down onto Beijing's Olympic Green, where the 2008 Summer Games will begin in less than 500 days, is breathtaking. There, far below, lies the stunning Herzog & de Meuron-designed "bird nest" Olympic Stadium. Right next to it is the equally mesmerizing National Aquatics Center, a square structure with bubbled blue translucent walls known as the Water Cube. International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge has called this soon-to-be-completed sports complex "nothing short of staggering."How successfully Beijing has turned the Games into a global coming-out party is—for anyone who, like me, came to know China when Mao still held sway—a mind-bending accomplishment. What has happened here in the intervening years is perhaps the most dramatic story of national transformation in human history. However, the environmental costs of China's hell-bent development have been severe. The...
  • Q&A: Our Fear Is Getting In the Way

    The standard scare stories about global warming don't worry Robert Mendelsohn. For more than 10 years, the Yale economist has been studying the likely impact of climate change. Convinced that manmade change is underway, he's nevertheless skeptical of prescriptions that call for a drastic response. So far, he says, the changes to our weather have been modest and can be addressed over time with less costly measures. But moderate voices like his, according to Mendelsohn, are being drowned out by extremists. He talked to NEWSWEEK's William Underhill. Excerpts: ...
  • Vineyards On the Move

    It sounds like a vintner's nightmare: Sharp shifts in temperature help trigger potent off-season rains that bloat grapes with unwanted moisture. Then an overpowering heat wave withers vines and shrivels grapes. Desperate winemakers advance the harvest by as much as a month to save what they can. This is no vineyard horror film; it's a description of some of the 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon and merlot harvests in parts of southern and western France.And boy, was it good. In a decade that keeps breaking records for heat, we're already sipping climate-changed wines. Hot years like 2000 and 2006 produced some stellar, rich, full-bodied and mature Bordeaux, but the 2003 heat-wave harvest was the best in memory—at least until the hot harvest of 2005. Global-warming cru is more flavorful, fruitier, less acidic and higher in alcohol content than the average-temperature stuff, a near-perfect fit for today's wine drinkers. And these hot wines tend to come mature, so even a big Bordeaux no longer...
  • Beyond British Petroleum

    The side wall of Hurricane Katrina's eye passed directly over Shell Exploration & Production's Mars Tension Leg Platform, the largest producer in the Gulf of Mexico, battering it with waves 120 feet high and winds of 170mph for four hours. All told, the gulf hurricanes inflicted $300 million of damage to Shell's offshore operations in 2005. But there was a silver lining. The hurricanes prompted Shell to make redesigns, including higher decks and new materials, to protect platforms from extreme storms. "We got quite a bit of data out of the hurricane season in 2005," says Marvin Odum, Shell Exploration & Production's executive vice president for the Americas. "And that data has been rolled into the design parameters for future systems."Oil companies aren't likely to be first on anybody's green list, since they're producing the very stuff of greenhouse-gas emissions. But when it comes to facing a warming world, both as a world citizen and as a supplier of energy, parent firm...
  • Follow the Butterflies

    The moth known as Clancy's Rustic had never been seen in northwestern Europe. So what was it doing fluttering in a garden in Kent a few years ago? According to Britain's Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, moths and butterflies once found only in the Mediterranean and North Africa are venturing into Northern Europe in unprecedented numbers. The cause, says chief researcher Tim Sparks: global warming.Just as Al Gore called the melting of the polar ice "the canary in the coal mine," so are migrating insects a bright yellow warning. With butterflies on the move, says Sparks, could people be far behind? Climate-induced migration is a survival mechanism as old as life. Human mobility helped cultures sidestep extinction and often worked as a catalyst for growth and evolution. It could do so again. "Environmental refugees could become one of the foremost human crises of our time," says Norman Myers, an environmental scientist at Oxford University who once painted an infamously scary scenario...
  • The Costa del Norte

    It's the summer of 2060 and you're heading off for your European beach vacation in ... Parmu. Never heard of it? You will. According to a recent EU report, the Mediterranean's multibillion-euro tourism industry will likely shift toward Europe's northern coasts in Scandinavia, the British Isles and the Baltics (home to Parmu and other up-and-coming beach towns like Palanga and Jurmala). Last summer's surge of jellyfish and toxic algae in the Mediterranean didn't merely beach swimmers; it marked a shifting of the tides. Adíos, Costa del Sol; hello, Costa del Norte.Yes, a mighty change is coming. With temperatures warming, snow evaporating and portions of the Alps melting away, forecasts suggest we're looking ahead to a tourism revolution. Warming weather is shrinking prospects at most low- and even mid-altitude ski resorts, from the Rockies to the Pyrenees, while increasingly violent weather is destabilizing traditional beach paradises from the Mediterranean to Southeast Asia and the...
  • Schwarzenegger's Crusade

    Carbon czar: California's Hummer-loving governor is turning the Golden State into the greenest in the land, a place where environmentalism and hedonism can coexist. How a star turned pol's become the muscle behind saving the planet.
  • The Call for Draconian Cuts

    One of the criticisms of Al Gore’s message on climate change is that he exaggerates the imminence of the threat—implying, for instance, that sea levels may rise more quickly than scientists feel comfortable saying. But a few people think Gore is actually sugarcoating the catastrophe predictions.Most prominently, the renowned British scientist James Lovelock thinks that the world is already approaching a tipping point, beyond which temperature rise will run out of control and major ecosystems will collapse. The dying Amazon rainforest would begin releasing carbon, making things even hotter. The permafrost would melt, releasing carbon and causing sea levels to rise. Environmental writer George Monbiot has taken Lovelock’s pessimism and come up with a plan in "Heat: How to Stop the Planet from Burning" (South End Press). To avoid hitting the "critical threshold," he says, the world’s total carbon emissions must be reduced to 60 percent below current levels by 2030—a target that would...
  • Opinion: Global Warming Fears Overblown

    Judging from the media in recent months, the debate over global warming is now over. There has been a net warming of the earth over the last century and a half, and our greenhouse gas emissions are contributing at some level. Both of these statements are almost certainly true. What of it? Recently many people have said that the earth is facing a crisis requiring urgent action. This statement has nothing to do with science. There is no compelling evidence that the warming trend we've seen will amount to anything close to catastrophe. What most commentators—and many scientists—seem to miss is that the only thing we can say with certainly about climate is that it changes. The earth is always warming or cooling by as much as a few tenths of a degree a year; periods of constant average temperatures are rare. Looking back on the earth's climate history, it's apparent that there's no such thing as an optimal temperature—a climate at which everything is just right. The current alarm rests...
  • Cities of Virtue

    Sometimes great ideas are born of desperation. For Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, that sense of urgency developed in the winter of 2004- 2005, when the annual snowfall failed to materialize in the neighboring Cascade Mountains. That's a serious issue in Seattle, where melting snow feeds the city's reservoirs in the springtime and swells the river that supplies its hydroelectric energy. Even though the United States had declined to participate with the other 141 parties to the Kyoto Protocol, which calls for cutting greenhouse-gas emissions, Nickels decided to "show the world there was intelligent life in the United States after all." His goal was to convince 141 mayors of U.S. cities to commit to making the cuts anyway. That was two years ago. So far he's enlisted 435. "These cities represent 61 million people," says Nickels. "That's equivalent to the population of France and larger than the United Kingdom."American cities aren't the only ones clamoring to adapt to a warming world....
  • Q&A: Why I’m Investing in Climate Science

    Jeremy Grantham is used to assessing risk. As chairman of the Boston-based investment management company GMO, he’s responsible for assets worth $140 billion. These days he’s worried about climate change, but he’s not just wringing his hands—unlike most people, he’s investing his own money to prepare for change. Most recently, he’s announced a £12 million ($23.6 million) donation to establish the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College, London. The money will come from the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment, which has already supported a wide range of organizations including Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund. He spoke to NEWSWEEK’s William Underhill. Excerpts: ...
  • Is Fiber the New Protein?

    Debbie Fireman is a self-proclaimed fiber junkie. The 41-year-old marketing exec from Penn Valley, Pa., eats fiber-rich foods "all day long," including whole foods like fruits, veggies, grains and beans. But that's not all. Her pantry is stocked with fiber supplements, cereals and snack bars, loaded with apples, cinnamon, peanut butter and chocolate. "Fiber is great for you, and it doesn't have to taste like cardboard," she says.Once relegated to the bottom of the heap by carb-phobic foodies enamored by all things high in protein, fiber is finally getting some respect. There were 400 new high-fiber food products introduced in 2002, according to market-research firm Datamonitor. Last year, 890 new products hit supermarket shelves, including high-fiber breads, chips, crackers, cookies, and prepared meals and entrees. And 2007 is poised for more growth as aging boomers and Gen-Xers discover fiber's benefits. If you're tired of dry and flavor-free whole-wheat foods, don't despair. ...
  • America’s Greenest Mayors

    Sometimes great ideas are born of desperation. For Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, that sense of urgency developed in the winter of 2004-05, when the annual snowfall failed to materialize in the neighboring Cascade Mountains. That's a serious issue in Seattle, where melting snow feeds the city's reservoirs in the springtime and swells the river that supplies its hydroelectric energy. Nickels's advisers were coming to him weekly with reports that the snow pack was just 1 percent of normal. "I don't think 'normal' exists anymore," Nickels remembers saying, having endured a succession of unusually warm winters. "Normal would be cause for popping champagne corks."Nickels wasn't the only one who was starting to worry about climate change. In February 2005, 141 nations worldwide were preparing to put the Kyoto Protocol into effect—aiming to reduce global warming by cutting greenhouse-gas emissions 7 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. The United States was notably not one of them, so Nickels...
  • Picture Change

    For some creative minds, climate change represents not impending gloom but opportunity—a chance to imagine a world reshaped by warming, to rethink the way they work by using green methods and materials. David Buckland, a British photographer, filmmaker and designer, founded a pioneering endeavor called Cape Farewell, named after the tip of Greenland, which organizes expeditions for scientists and artists to sail through the Arctic waters—only now passable because the ice has melted. The voyages often result in powerful works that express newfound appreciation for the wonders of the natural world as well as regret, bewilderment and anger about global warming. "These changes are fertile ground within which the artist can work—not the pending dark of a sunset but the morning light of new possibilities," he says.The project, which Buckland inaugurated after realizing there was "no imagery for climate change," aims to give audiences as well as artists new ways of grasping environmental...
  • Ornish: How to Fix Health Insurance

    Because of a growing awareness that the current system is unsustainable, reformers are promoting disease prevention. A look at one campaign leader.
  • Transcript: Lance Armstrong on Surviving Cancer

    Trust me when I say that I'm not complaining about the attention cancer is finally getting in the media. But I don't understand why it requires two very upsetting announcements about cancer recurrence to prompt a national discussion about our nation's second leading killer.I was struck, in particular, by the headlines about Elizabeth Edwards and the repeated use of the word "incurable." That word is so contrary to the American spirit and what we believe about our ability to innovate and excel. It doesn't take into account Elizabeth's considerable courage, and it says something alarming about the complacency that leads us to just expect another diagnosis with another new day.It's clear that the way we battle cancer is deeply at odds with our values as a country, and with our common sense. There is a serious gap between what we know and what we do; what we deserve and what we get; what should be and what is.The shameful reality is that we do not ensure that everyone benefits from what...
  • Living With Cancer in America

    I took the call on my cell phone at the Starbucks in New York's Penn Station. It was from a doctor I barely knew telling me that a CT scan—ordered after three weeks of worsening stomach pain—showed a large mass in my abdomen, with what she said was "considerable lymph node involvement." I rubbed my eyes and sensed the truth instantly: cancer, and not one that had been detected early. I was 46 years old and had not spent a night in the hospital since I was born. Nonsmoker. No junk food beyond the occasional barbecue potato chips. Jogged a couple of times a week. I was not remotely ready for this.It was Super Tuesday, March 2, 2004, the day voters would select most of the delegates to the Democratic National Convention. Although the complete diagnosis was still several days off, the intense abdominal pain meant that my wife, Emily, and I had no time to stop, absorb and adjust to our twisted new world. We immediately began negotiating the endless round of doctors' appointments and...
  • The Global 100 Greenest Companies

    Global warming is changing the earth and forcing businesses to change, too. Nicholas Stern, former head of the World Bank and an adviser to the British government, has predicted that climate change could slash 20 percent off global GDP by 2050, if greenhouse-gas emissions continue their rise. But some businesses are already adapting. The companies here are the 100 most adaptable in the world, based on an analysis of 1,800 companies by business-ethics magazine Corporate Knights and research firm Innovest Strategic Value Advisors. These corporations, which come from 16 countries and sectors ranging from oil and gas to telecommunications, were ranked exclusively for NEWSWEEK on how effectively they manage environmental risks and opportunities relative to their industry peers. Here’s the list:
  • Medicine: Two Shots for Chicken Pox Now

    Like 100 of their peers at Orchard Park Elementary in Ft. Mill, S.C., Emily Rivers, 9, and her sister, Olivia, 6, contracted chicken pox this year—despite getting immunized when they were a year old. The girls got sick because a single shot—the old recommendation—protects only 85 percent of kids. As a result, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends that kids get a second shot between the ages of 4 and 6.Ironically, says Dr. Robert Frenck of the American Academy of Pediatrics' committee on infectious diseases, "the vaccine program has worked so well that people just don't see the benefits anymore." Many Americans no longer view the disease as a health threat. But chicken-pox outbreaks tend to start with unvaccinated kids, says the AAP's Dr. David Kimberlin.Pam Rivers praises the vaccine for reducing the severity of her girls' outbreak. They got just a few dozen bug-bite-like "pocks." By contrast, her husband, 48, who'd never had the disease or the vaccine,...
  • U.S. Kids Bombarded By TV Food Ads

    A new study reveals that American kids are exposed to as many as 50 hours a year of TV food advertising—much of it for sugary snacks. Are the ads exacerbating the national obesity problem?
  • Anna Nicole Smith and Human Growth Hormone

    The dead starlet's autopsy revealed that she was injecting human growth hormone to counter the effects of aging and promote weight loss. Does that work? Inside the HGH boom—and the backlash.
  • Study: A Downside to Day Care?

    A new study finds that children who regularly attend day-care centers develop more behavioral problems in kindergarten than those that don't. What's a parent to do?
  • Health: Can Exercise Make You Smarter?

    Exercise does more than build muscles and help prevent heart disease. New science shows that it also boosts brainpower—and may offer hope in the battle against Alzheimer's.
  • What the Doctors Do

    They know what's best for us when it comes to exercise, but do they follow their own advice? Read all about it.
  • Iran: Secrets of a Nuclear Sleuth

    How hard could it be to find hundreds of tons of radioactive nuclear material? We've certainly got plenty of motivation to keep tabs on this stuff. There's the threat of terrorist groups like Al Qaeda, the standoff between Pakistan's and India's arsenals and North Korea's Kim Jong Il. Iran, the next big nuclear challenge, already has missiles that can strike Israel and a thriving civilian nuclear-power program. It claims to have no ambition for nuclear weapons, but verifying this is critical. We must know how much to press for a diplomatic solution or how seriously to consider a military strike.Nuclear intelligence, however, is problematic. Despite all the high-tech gear that intelligence agencies have developed, facts on the ground are so thin that the whole question of what countries like Iran are doing with nuclear weapons is vulnerable to manipulation by policymakers. Who can forget how Condoleezza Rice, as head of the National Security Council in September 2002, declared that...
  • An 'Exercise Snack' Plan

    You don't have to train for a marathon or pump iron to burn calories. How to make the most of the workout opportunities that are built into your day.