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Rebecca Hersher

The average temperature on Earth is now consistently 1 degree Celsius hotter than it was in the late 1800s, and that temperature will keep rising toward the critical 1.5-degree Celsius benchmark over the next five years, according to a new report from the World Meteorological Organization.

The Environmental Protection Agency is cracking down on a powerful class of greenhouse gases that are used in refrigerators, air conditioners and building insulation. On Monday, the agency announced a new regulation that would dramatically decrease production and use of hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, over the next 15 years.

It's the first concrete regulatory step the Biden administration has taken to tackle planet-warming emissions since the president announced ambitious goals 10 days ago to cut U.S. emissions by half in the next decade.

The Biden administration says addressing climate change and health inequities are among its top priorities, and it will need to lean heavily on federal scientists to achieve ambitious goals. But decades of underfunding, political interference and systemic race and gender bias have undercut trust among many government scientists and have led to a disproportionately white, male workforce.

Updated April 22, 2021 at 6:14 AM ET

On Thursday, the White House kicked off a two-day summit on climate change where leaders from 40 countries are discussing plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions and ultimately reverse global warming.

The summit highlights the United States' return to the Paris climate agreement, and it is the Biden administration's first major opportunity to reestablish the country as a trustworthy player in international climate diplomacy.

In the next several days, the Biden administration is expected to announce plans across the economy to reduce America's greenhouse gas emissions dramatically by 2030.

There are officially more storms occurring during the Atlantic hurricane season, according to updated storm records from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

NOAA defines the average number of storms based on activity over a 30-year period. On Friday, the agency announced the new period runs from 1991-2020. Previously, NOAA used the period from 1981-2010.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration upgraded the computer model that forecasters use to predict the weather one to two weeks in the future, called the Global Forecast System. The new model is better at predicting where hurricanes will form and how intense they will be as well as where and when snowstorms and rainstorms will occur, and how much precipitation will fall.

"This is going to have a fundamental impact on the forecasts that are provided day to day," says Louis Uccellini, director of the National Weather Service.

Humans have changed the Earth in such profound ways that scientists say we have entered a new geological period: the Anthropocene Epoch.

But when did the new epoch officially begin? And how, exactly, should it be defined?

Those are the questions that geologists are pursuing with increasing urgency at sites around the world. Teams are studying 11 locations on five continents, looking for a place where rock, mud or ice perfectly capture the global impact of humans.

Pastor Aaron Trigg was at home when the water arrived in Rainelle. It had been raining hard all day, filling the creeks and rivers that run through southern West Virginia. In the past, such intense downpours would last only a few hours, but this storm brought wave after wave of torrential rain.

"You could hear the water up in the mountains just crashing trees," Trigg remembers.

Rainelle is a small town in a steep valley. When the creek near downtown jumped its banks on the evening of June 23, 2016, the water immediately flooded into every home on Trigg's block.

A suspected oil tanker leak off the coast of Israel last week has led to Israel's biggest maritime ecological disaster in many years, with authorities closing the country's beaches and beginning a massive cleanup effort.

Millions of Texas residents suffered last week when a winter storm caused a statewide electrical grid failure. But those who had power, even intermittently, are also paying a price — literally.

Many residents face enormous bills for the electricity they used during the storm.

Residents with variable-rate power plans are being hit the hardest. Such plans charge different prices for electricity depending on how much demand there is. The more demand, the higher the price.

Federal scientists have confirmed that 2020 basically tied with 2016 for the hottest year recorded since 1880. The Earth is about 2 degrees Fahrenheit warmer today than it was in the mid-20th century. Scientists warn that humans must keep global temperatures from rising more than about 3 degrees Fahrenheit in order to avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change.

Devon Hall has lived most of his nearly seven decades in Duplin County, N.C. The land is flat and green there in the southeastern part of the state, about an hour's drive from the coast. It's lovely unless you live downwind of one of the county's many industrial hog farms.

"It can get really bad," says Hall, the co-founder of the Rural Empowerment Association for Community Help in Duplin County.

Updated at 2:30 p.m. ET

The Supreme Court heard arguments on Tuesday in a case brought by the city of Baltimore against more than a dozen major oil and gas companies including BP, ExxonMobil and Shell. The city government argued that the fossil fuel giants must pay for the costs of climate change because they knew that their products cause potentially catastrophic global warming.

The Environmental Protection Agency adopted a new rule restricting the types of scientific studies its own regulators can use to rein in pollution, in the Trump administration's latest effort to undercut the use of science in establishing public health standards.

With just a few weeks left, 2020 is in a dead-heat tie for the hottest year on record. But whether it claims the top spot misses the point, climate scientists say. There is no shortage of disquieting statistics about what is happening to the Earth.

President-elect Joe Biden will name Michael Regan, North Carolina's environment secretary and a former EPA official, to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, according to a source familiar with the decision who spoke about private conversations on the basis of anonymity.

President-elect Joe Biden plans to nominate environmental lawyer and Obama administration veteran Brenda Mallory to run the Council on Environmental Quality, according to a source with knowledge of the decision who spoke on condition of anonymity to protect private conversations.

The White House office oversees environmental reviews for virtually all major infrastructure projects, including pipelines and highways.

Climate change is making people sick and leading to premature death, according to a pair of influential reports on the connections between global warming and health.

Scientists from the World Meteorological Organization released a preliminary report on the global climate which shows that the last decade was the warmest on record and that millions of people were affected by wildfires, floods and extreme heat this year on top of the global pandemic.

A satellite scheduled to launch from California later this month will measure sea level rise and provide other crucial data to scientists who study how global warming is affecting the Earth's oceans.

The United States will formally leave the Paris Agreement on Wednesday, no matter who wins the election. Of the nearly 200 nations that signed the agreement, the U.S. is the only one to walk away from its promises to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

President Trump originally announced his intention to withdraw from the landmark agreement in 2017 and formally notified the United Nations last year. A mandatory yearlong waiting period ends on Wednesday, a coincidence that nonetheless highlights the Trump administration's commitment to derailing efforts that address climate change.

Each family had their reasons for ending up in harm's way.

For the Harts, it was the chance to have a large backyard in a quiet part of Ashland, Ore. The porch of the Baltimore house was perfect for Scott Harris' barbecue equipment. Kevin Boudreaux had grown up on the bayou and wanted to settle near his childhood home in Cameron, La.

A 25-year-old was infected twice with the coronavirus earlier this year, scientists in Nevada have confirmed. It is the first confirmed case of so-called reinfection with the virus in the U.S. and the fifth confirmed reinfection case worldwide.

The cases underscore the importance of social distancing and wearing masks even if you were previously infected with the virus, and they raise questions about how the human immune system reacts to the virus.

On Nov. 4, the day after the election, the United States will officially exit the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

The date is a coincidence. Still, the timing underscores a crucial victory for the Trump administration in its efforts to derail federal action on global warming, which the president dismisses as a hoax.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency fails to help tens of thousands of people whose homes have repeatedly flooded, according to a report by the Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Homeland Security.

Updated at 6:15 p.m.

David Legates, a University of Delaware professor of climatology who has spent much of his career questioning basic tenets of climate science, has been hired for a top position at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Updated at 11:45 a.m.

Hurricane Laura tore through a region that is home to dozens of major oil refineries, petrochemical plants and plastics facilities. Now, residents could be breathing dangerously polluted air from those sites, public health experts and local advocates say.

The upshot of climate change is that everyone alive is destined to experience unprecedented disasters. The most powerful hurricanes, the most intense wildfires, the most prolonged heat waves and the most frequent outbreaks of new diseases are all in our future. Records will be broken, again and again.

But the predicted destruction is still shocking when it unfolds at the same time.

Hurricane Laura's top wind speeds nearly doubled in just 24 hours as it approached the border between Texas and Louisiana. The wall of water it pushed in front of it grew until forecasters warned that it would produce "unsurvivable" storm surge.

Millions of Americans live in the potential path of a hurricane.

The good news is that hurricane and cyclone forecasts have gotten significantly more accurate in recent decades. The bad news is that climate change and population growth combine to make hurricanes more dangerous to more people.

And research suggests that people are confused by common graphics and warnings about where hurricanes are headed and how they'll affect communities in their path.

Here are some basic principles you can use to avoid confusion when a hurricane is headed your way.

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