Green

Updated Friday, 6:45 p.m. ET

This past Wednesday marked the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Instead of feeling gratitude and oneness with the planet you may have experienced darker emotions as we weather the pandemic: a fear that more disruptive events are on the horizon due to climate change.

For some, feelings of sadness about the state of the planet aren't new — they're constant and at times debilitating. This experience goes by many names, among them eco-anxiety, climate grief and climate despair.

Updated at 12:30 p.m. ET

Former President Richard Nixon celebrated the first Earth Day in 1970 by planting a tree on the White House South Lawn. An enormous turnout of some 20 million people across the country attended Earth Day festivities, putting the fight against pollution on the political agenda.

That year Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency and went on to sign the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act with broad bipartisan support.

On April 20, 2010, while drilling oil giant BP's Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico, the crew lost control of the well. There was a "blowout" that released gas and oil, leading to an explosion that killed 11 workers.

The Deepwater Horizon rig was destroyed and sank two days later. Over the next nearly three months, 210 million gallons of oil flowed from the well into the Gulf.

It was one of the biggest environmental disasters in U.S. history.

The picture is stunning. It shows One Africa Place, a bullet-shaped glass high-rise in Nairobi, framed by the jagged, snowcapped peaks of Mount Kenya.

All of the COVID-19 social distancing measures have reduced pollution so much that suddenly, the second-highest mountain in Africa, with an altitude of 17,057 feet, is visible from Kenya's capital city, about 85 miles away.

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With the dramatic reduction in car traffic and commercial flights, carbon emissions have been falling around the globe. If the slowdown continues, some are estimating the world could see the largest drop in emissions in the last century.

Still, overall greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere are still going up and the decline will likely be smaller than what scientists say is necessary to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

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It's a situation nobody wants to imagine: a major earthquake, flood, fire or other natural disaster strikes while the U.S. is grappling with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

"Severe weather season, flooding — those things don't stop because we're responding to COVID-19," says Joyce Flinn, director of the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

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In India, the coronavirus cloud has a silver lining: clear blue skies.

India entered the world's biggest lockdown last month and the government ordered 1.3 billion people to stay home as the number of coronavirus cases climbed.

"An ICU. What is it?" asks Dr. Robert Foronjy. It's late afternoon. He's in his office at University Hospital Brooklyn.

"It's people," he says. "You think of an ICU, maybe you think four walls, some beds. But really it's people."

International climate change negotiations scheduled for later this year are being postponed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. United Nations officials say a conference is no longer possible, delaying what many hoped would be an ambitious climate agreement among nations.

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After a decade of protests and political reversals in the U.S., the Canadian company behind the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline says it has made a final decision to build the long-delayed project. Once completed, it would deliver more than 830,000 barrels per day of crude oil from Alberta's oil sands, or "tar sands," region to the United States.

Updated at 6:03 p.m. ET

The Trump administration has finalized its rollback of a major Obama-era climate policy, weakening auto emissions standards in a move it says will mean cheaper cars for consumers.

"By making newer, safer, and cleaner vehicles more accessible for American families, more lives will be saved and more jobs will be created," U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao said in a statement.

Editor's note: NPR will be publishing stories from this investigative series in the weeks ahead, even as we focus our current coverage on the coronavirus pandemic. But here's a look at some of our key findings. You can watch the full documentary film from this investigation on the PBS series Frontline.

A tornado tore through nearly 20 miles of the city of Jonesboro, Ark., on Saturday evening, severely damaging multiple properties and injuring at least 22 people, according to local news reports.

A massive, year-long science expedition currently underway on an icebreaker in the Arctic Ocean is having to significantly alter its plans due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Nestled in the mountains of eastern Australia are fragments of an ancient world. Damp, dark and lush, they are some of the oldest ecosystems on Earth: temperate rainforests that have persisted since the days of supercontinents and dinosaurs.

The Gondwana Rainforests of Australia — and the hundreds of rare species that call them home — are the ultimate survivors, clinging to wet, wild patches of a continent that's increasingly developed and dry.

But even these forests could not escape the country's unprecedented fire season unscathed.

Updated at 7:31 p.m. ET

Nearly three years after crude oil started to flow through the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline, a federal judge has ordered the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to conduct a full environmental review.

It's a major victory for the Native American tribes and environmental groups who have been fighting against the project for years.

Those eager to retreat into the wilderness amid the coronavirus pandemic were delivered disappointing news on Tuesday: three major national parks are now closed to visitors.

Yellowstone, Grand Teton and the Great Smoky Mountains have shut their gates to the public.

Park officials said a crush of visitors moving through the trails was beginning to run afoul of social distancing.

About 30,000 people visited each day last week, a sharp increase from the same time last year, officials said.

Clean energy and climate advocates say the huge stimulus bill Congress is negotiating should address not only the economy, but also climate change. But a split over that appears to have contributed to delays in passing the bill.

"Democrats won't let us fund hospitals or save small businesses unless they get to dust off the Green New Deal," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday.

McConnell said Democrats were filibustering the $1 trillion-plus bill hoping to include policies such as extending tax credits for solar and wind energy.

Cheap natural gas and access to international ports are fueling a new industrial boom in Louisiana, along the stretch of land locals have long dubbed "cancer alley." The expansion is prompting new efforts to stop the factories, by residents concerned about the impact on their health.

Updated on March 17 at 9:02 p.m. ET

In the back corner of a burned lot in Australia's fire-ravaged South Coast stands a torched tree. It's uppermost branches reach into a cloudless sky, brittle and bare. Against its charred trunk rests half-burned rubble, remains from the gift shop it used to shade.

But that's not where local resident Claire Polach is pointing. She gestures to the middle part of the tree, where lime green leaves sprout from blackened bark, as if the tree is wearing a shaggy sweater.

This time of year, pilots in small blue and white airplanes are busy gathering information about how much snow is on the ground — and more importantly, how much water that snow contains.

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Australia's Extreme Heat

Mar 8, 2020

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Australia just ended its second-hottest summer on record. The heat was extreme, feeding months of devastating wildfires. Those fires drew international attention, the heat less so. But as NPR's Nathan Rott reports, extreme heat is a deadlier threat.

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