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Many countries have agreed to stronger limits on greenhouse gas emissions in the lead-up to international climate talks next week, a crucial step in avoiding catastrophic storms, floods and droughts.

But those pledges don't go nearly far enough to rein in the heat-trapping pollution destabilizing the climate, according to a new report from the United Nations Environment Programme. The shortfall is casting a shadow over negotiations that scientists say are pivotal for putting the brakes on warming.

Updated October 26, 2021 at 6:09 PM ET

The Department of Defense says climate change is already challenging U.S. national security in concrete ways.

In a report last week, the Pentagon found that "increasing temperatures; changing precipitation patterns; and more frequent, intense, and unpredictable extreme weather conditions caused by climate change are exacerbating existing risks" for the U.S.

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Wildfire and drought - those are two words we've become very used to hearing when talking about the state of California. But this weekend brought the state something very different.

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Despite a world economy that slowed significantly because of COVID-19, the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere reached a new record last year, putting the goal of slowing the rise of global temperatures "way off track," according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

A climate extravaganza will get underway in Glasgow, Scotland, on Sunday. President Biden will show up. So will other world leaders and a small city's worth of diplomats, business executives and activists. It's billed as a potential turning point in the struggle to avert the worst effects of climate change, and it has a curious name: COP26.

Is it worth the hype? What might it accomplish? Here's what you need to know.

Q. What's a COP?

Updated October 24, 2021 at 10:03 PM ET

SAN FRANCISCO — A powerful storm referred to as a "bomb cyclone" and "atmospheric river" walloped Northern California late Sunday into Monday morning, causing flooding, power outages and mudslides.

Drenching showers and strong winds accompanied the weekend's arrival of the atmospheric river — a long and wide plume of moisture pulled in from the Pacific Ocean.

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Nick Offerman is best known as Ron Swanson on Parks and Recreation, and is perhaps the most famous actor who also owns a woodshop. He's also a comedian, musician and author.

And in his new book, he's making it known that "outdoorsman" is also on his list of hobbies.

Though he lives in Los Angeles, "I feel a hell of a lot better after I walk in the woods," he tells NPR's Scott Simon on Weekend Edition.

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Tens of thousands of Americans are already experiencing the climate crisis. They've lost their homes, their pets and their loved ones.

More than 40% of America's coal comes from the Powder River Basin, a 120-mile swath along the Montana-Wyoming border.

But times have been tough for producers there. Like other U.S. coal-producing areas, the Powder River Basin has seen mine closures and job losses mount in recent years. Production hit a 50-year low in 2020, and 151 coal mines were idled or closed.

A series of strong storms is expected to bring powerful wind, mountain snow and substantial rainfall to the Western U.S., including drought-affected California. The storms could also ease wildfire season in some places in the state.

It may seem obvious: Heat kills. Wildfires burn. Flooding drowns.

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All right. This next story might sound like an infomercial. The latest invention in cutlery isn't space-age technology or triple-tempered copper-coated German stainless steel. It's just wood.

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Despite lofty commitments by governments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, they are still planning to extract huge amounts of energy from fossil fuels in the coming years, according to a new report from the United Nations.

The report published Wednesday details how the world's largest fossil fuel producers plan to carry on using coal, gas, and oil — despite promises made under the 2015 Paris Agreement to limit global warming.

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Can a name save lives? The city of Seville in Spain is betting it can.

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Yesterday, the mayor announced a new program - the world's first to give official names to severe heat waves.

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In Mombasa on the coast of Kenya is a place called Haller Park. People flock there to see 180 indigenous species of plants and trees, and a variety of animals including hippos and giraffes.

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Wildlife biologist Greg LeClair has been obsessed with amphibians since he was a kid, when one rainy day, a black and yellow spotted salamander stumbled into his driveway in Maine.

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In a new push to stop further depletion of California's shrinking aquifers, state regulators are turning to technology once used to count Soviet missile silos during the Cold War: satellites.

Updated October 17, 2021 at 9:51 PM ET

Investigators believe a 1,200-foot cargo ship dragging anchor in rough seas caught an underwater oil pipeline and pulled it across the seafloor, months before a leak from the line fouled the Southern California coastline with crude.

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September in the Amazon is the burning season.

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Updated October 22, 2021 at 2:11 PM ET

La Niña will be joining us for the winter again, according to federal forecasters.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center released its official winter outlook on Thursday, and confirmed that La Niña conditions will be in place from December to February.

The cost of federal flood insurance is rising for millions of homeowners, threatening to make homes in coastal areas unaffordable for many. The Federal Emergency Management Agency says its new rates better reflect flood risk in a warming climate.

There may be few places affected more by the new risk rating system than the Florida Keys, where the average elevation on the chain of islands off Florida's peninsula is just over 3 feet above sea level. Almost all homeowners are required to carry flood insurance if they have a mortgage.

A quarter of the roads in the United States would be impassable during a flood, according to a new study by First Street Foundation that looks at flooding threats to the country's critical infrastructure.

If you're concerned about the effect of climate change on the Arctic's wildlife now you have a way to get involved from your own home by signing up to be what the World Wildlife Fund has described as a "walrus detective."

The winning images of the 2021 Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition are here, and they're enthralling.

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President Biden likes to say that fighting climate change is about creating good-paying union jobs in addition to fixing environmental injustices. There's now a push to do both as the new offshore wind industry takes shape.

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