Heat Index

The top ten climate stories of 2016:

1.) Donald Trump’s Electoral College Victory: The ascension of an avowed climate denier to the White House–and the subsequent selection of a Cabinet chockablock with climate deniers–could push the world to the edge of eco-disaster.

2.) 2016, the third consecutive hottest year on record Speaking of eco-disaster, unrestrained carbon pollution continues to push our planet towards the danger zone. Of course, the folks who voted for Trump couldn’t care less about what happens once we’re there.

3.) Paris climate agreement “Trump-proofed”: Unless Trump takes the truly radical step of pulling the United States out of the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change–which was signed by a less unstable Republican President, George H. W. Bush–he cannot technically walk away from last year’s historic accord to reduce emissions.

4.) Dakota Access protests: Ignored by most of the mainstream media and openly scorned by right-wingers, the self-proclaimed water protectors of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe cast a necessary spotlight on environmental racism and fossil-fuel industry greed.

5.) Before the Flood: Perhaps the greatest climate documentary of all time, Fisher Stevens’s immediate classic focuses on Leonardo DiCaprio’s extensive efforts to raise international awareness about the greatest economic, ecological and human-rights challenge of our time. (The film features climate scientist Michael Mann, whose outstanding book The Madhouse Effect, co-authored with Tom Toles of the Washington Post, was one of the year’s literary highlights.)

6.) Deal reached to reduce HFCs: The New York Times noted that the so-called Kigali accord, intended “to counter climate change by cutting the worldwide use of a powerful planet-warming chemical used in air-conditioners and refrigerators,” could be more significant than even the Paris climate agreement in terms of reducing greenhouse gases.

7.) Climate silence in 2016 presidential debates: For the second time in four years, presidential debate moderators refused to ask the Democratic and Republican nominees any questions about the climate crisis, leaving Hillary Clinton to introduce the issue herself.

8.) Hurricane Matthew: Like Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy, the devastating fall hurricane is the sort of violent, deadly storm one can expect to see more of in a warming world.

9.) Bernie Sanders presidential campaign highlights climate crisis: The Vermont Senator’s vow to take on the fossil fuel industry resonated with millions of voters, giving his campaign tremendous (clean) energy before he lost the Democratic primary to fellow climate hawk Hillary Clinton.

10.) Years of Living Dangerously 2 premieres: The second season of the award-winning series aired from October 30 to December 14 on the National Geographic Channel–something of a shock, as Nat Geo is a corporate cousin of the denialist Fox News Channel.

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D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.