Covering Climate Change | New Hampshire Public Radio

Covering Climate Change

Human activity is warming the planet. This change is already reshaping how we live and interact with our environment in New Hampshire, across New England and beyond. And just as more people than ever were beginning to wake up to the climate emergency, our lives collided with the coronavirus pandemic and a generational reckoning on racial justice. 

From NHPR, By Degrees is a climate change reporting project that begins in this historic moment. Here, we tell stories of the challenges and solutions that these intersecting crises are bringing to light -- individual stories of resilience and struggle, innovation and compromise, and of big change by degrees. We’ll answer your questions, take you to new places, challenge those in power, and explore how our state and region are living through climate change -- and responding to it. 

Click here to take our quick survey and share your ideas and questions for future By Degrees stories, or email us tips and photos of the changes you're seeing: climate@nhpr.org.

Select a topic below to see more related stories and resources: 

Ways to Connect

Annie Ropeik / NHPR File Photo

Town meeting ballots across New Hampshire on Tuesday will include a resolution in support of carbon pricing, due in part to the efforts of youth climate activists.

The warrant article is spearheaded by a group of nonprofits and advocacy groups, under the name Carbon Cash-Back Coalition.

Joe Klementovich / Hubbard Brook

New Hampshire scientists unveiled a landmark study Friday of how ice storms affect northern forests.

The first-of-its-kind research, from the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in North Woodstock, could help landowners and emergency managers plan for future disasters.

The Lure & Mythology of Maple Syrup in N.H.

Mar 6, 2020
UNH Cooperative Extension/Steve Roberge

We talk with maple sugarers about the lure and mythology of "winter's sweet farewell." Maple sugar season traditionally begins on Town Meeting Day in early March in New Hampshire. With warming winters and unpredictable weather swings, however, large syrup producers depend on modern technology, like vacuum pumps and reverse osmosis, to start tapping and boiling whenever the sap runs, even as early as December. But New Hampshire's sugarbushes are still full of family-run sugar shacks, relying on gravity-fed taps and burning wood to boil the sap. 

Air date: Monday, March 9, 2020

Dead River Company

New Hampshire's heating fuel industry is trying to recruit workers at a time of low unemployment.

The Dead River Company, which serves Northern New England, is expanding a program to employ and train recent trade school graduates as fuel technicians or truck drivers.

At the same time, training director Dan Carrigan says his company and the industry as a whole are looking to the future of home heating, amid a push to transition away from fossil fuels.

State regulators are monitoring how this winter’s low snowpack could affect water supplies in the dry summer months.

The state has between 60 and 75 percent less snow on the ground than average right now. State water division director Tom O’Donovan says that's just one source of the state’s drinking water and other water supplies – in reservoirs, lakes and wells.

Michael Kappel/Flickr CC

The New Hampshire Electric Cooperative has taken the rare step of adjusting its winter electric rate mid-season, due to warm temperatures and low prices. 

flickr

The idea of massively expanding tree planting as a solution to climate change started in the hallowed halls of academia, but has found its way to Capitol Hill. Republican lawmakers have seized on it as a climate policy they can support. 

Cobbetts Pond Improvement Association

State officials say too much salt is being applied to New Hampshire roads this winter, and they worry that warmer, wetter winters could make the problem worse in future.

Kim Reed / UNH

State officials are using federal money to look at how rising seas will threaten major highways and connecting routes on the Seacoast.

The project, funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, will build a "vulnerability assessment" for the I-95, Route 1 and Route 1A corridors, and local connector roads, including Routes 101 and 286.

Jason Moon / NHPR

Organizers are canceling a long-standing sled dog race in the North Country due to poor weather conditions.

Kit Morgan is on the board of the Tamworth Outing Club, which holds the annual race on Lake Chocorua.

He says there's too much water and thin ice on top of the lake for mushers to get through safely.

Amy Quinton / NHPR file photo

State lawmakers worked on a bill Monday to make condominium and homeowners associations allow the installation of solar arrays.

The bill comes from Brentwood Democratic Rep. Liz McConnell, with bipartisan co-sponsors and backing from Senate Democrats.

It says HOAs must treat requests to install solar as they would any other architectural change, and can't restrict them for aesthetic reasons.  

Paul LaRochelle (screenshot)

Alton Bay's famous ice runway will stay closed this winter due to unsafe ice conditions.

Paul LaRochelle is the state official in charge of the seasonal runway on Lake Winnipesaukee – the only one in the Lower 48 states.

He says the ice around the runway needs to be 12 inches thick to support maintenance vehicles and hundreds of aircraft.

This year, LaRochelle says warm weather has made the ice inconsistent – so he's keeping the runway closed.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Climate activists are facing new charges after appearing in district court in Concord Friday.

They’ve held a series of protests against a coal power plant in Bow that’s the largest left in New England.

Dozens of activists crowded outside the Concord courtroom Friday. Many wore red – not just for Valentine's Day, but to show solidarity, they said.

Rob_ / Flickr CC

Governor Chris Sununu on Monday vetoed a bill on net energy metering that was held over from last year's legislative session.

It’s his first veto of the 2020 session, on top of a record number in 2019.

The bipartisan bill was one of lawmakers' latest attempts to increase the limit on how much renewable energy towns and businesses can generate themselves and use to save money.

Sarah Gibson / NHPR file photo

New research shows the Northeast is the only part of the country where winter snowfall is increasing, not decreasing – but the data the snowy season is also getting shorter.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

The head of the Democratic National Committee’s new climate change council was in New Hampshire just ahead of the primary, quietly kicking off efforts to reshape the party’s environmental platform in 2020.

Party leaders voted unanimously to form this council last summer, after taking widespread criticism for declining to hold a climate-focused presidential debate.

It’s a sign of progress for the council’s elected chair, Michelle Deatrick of Michigan. She worked for Bernie Sanders in 2016 and later campaigned for Hillary Clinton.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Voters heard new specifics and a sense of urgency around climate change from several Democratic candidates at a youth-focused forum in Concord Wednesday.

Former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, businessman Andrew Yang were among the candidates present; others were represented by surrogates. 

With national media and top climate activists watching, they laid out their plans to tackle global warming and related equity issues, and took questions from students involved in sustainability fields and climate science.  

Annie Ropeik / NHPR News

Many of the Democratic presidential candidates will be in Concord Wednesday for a marathon town hall on climate change.

The day-long forum focuses on young voters – especially students working in or studying climate and clean energy issues.

Each candidate will get about an hour to talk about their climate change plans and take questions from students in related fields.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

New England used more wind and solar power than ever last year, but fossil fuels still make up half the electricity generated in the region.

In new data, power grid operator ISO-New England says 49% of electricity generated in New England last year was from natural gas. Less than 1% was from coal or oil. 

Natural gas use has roughly plateaued in the region in the past few years. It peaked in 2015.

Courtesy, NTI, the Nuclear Threat Initiative

We talk with former U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest  Moniz about the threat of nuclear weapons and strategies for strengthening nonproliferation policies. We'll also discuss  his work on a dramatic plan called "Clearing the Air," which describes how to remove many gigatons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Air date: Jan. 27, 2020

NHPR

The House Science, Technology and Energy Committee held its first hearing on a bill that would propose a New Hampshire state climate action plan. Several committee members had questions about cost, oversight and enforcement. 

Under the proposed bill, the state would create a plan to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to at least 80 percent below the 1990 levels by 2050. 

Courtesy Michael Behrmann / Clean Energy NH

Most New England states have been investing in alternative energy sources for years. But New Hampshire has been slower to act in response to climate change.

Now, the Granite State is looking to be a leader in a major new source of renewable energy: offshore wind.

Alix Contosta / UNH

The US Department of Agriculture has designated eight New Hampshire Counties as primary natural disaster areas.

Last winter temperatures dropped, then warmed up. Snow melted, and rain would freeze into sheets of ice.

Ron Sher; PREP King Tide Photo Contest

Two years after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, the island nation is still recovering.

Thomas O’Donovan, Director of the Water Division for New Hampshire’s Department of Environmental Services, was a first responder during Hurricane Maria. He says, there are lessons that coastal New Hampshire can learn from Puerto Rico as we deal with our own climate threats like higher tides, extreme storms, and rising sea levels here at home. 

Alix Contosta / UNH

Scientists say winter warm spells – like the one the Northeast saw this past weekend – are in line with predictions for climate change.

Nearly every New Hampshire city and many in surrounding states set daily high temperature records on Saturday and Sunday, with peak warmth in the high 60s.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR News

Candidates campaigning in the final stretch of the New Hampshire presidential primary are redoubling their focus on environmental issues that have long been priorities for local voters.

Keng Susumpow via Flickr CC

State lawmakers will try again to pass restrictions on single-use plastic items in the coming legislative session.

The House last year approved a bill saying plastic straws should only be given out on request. But state Senators of both parties agreed to block the measure.

They argued it wasn’t needed -- that public opinion in the state was already turning against excessive plastic use.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

The threat of climate change can be stressful for anyone, but for the climate scientists who study it day in and day out, that constant stress can take a toll on mental health.

Dr. Susanne Moser is a human geographer who specializes in psychological responses to climate change. She is a researcher out of Antioch University New England in Keene, and she recently co-authored a new paper titled "The Emotional Toll of Climate Change on Science Professionals."

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

A power plant in Bow -- the largest coal-burning plant left in New England -- has been the target of protests and civil disobedience in recent weeks. 

This month, activists from across New England have twice attempted to block trains carrying shipments of coal to the plant. Protests on the train tracks and at the plant have so far resulted in dozens of arrests.   

The activists say Merrimack Station should close. Its owners argue that criticism is misplaced. 

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