All posts by zacharyfishman2020

‘Grandmaster of climate change’ Wally Broecker remembered at climate conference

By Zack Fishman
Medill Reports

Dozens of scientists convene every year  at the Comer Climate Conference to share new research about rising oceans and melting glaciers, both today and in the past. The event, funded by the family of late billionaire philanthropist Gary Comer, has been organized since 2004 by famed climate scientists Wallace Broecker, Richard Alley and George Denton.

But this fall, the conference was overcast by Broecker’s death in January. Colleagues, students and friends shared stories and memories of the influential scientist, who passed away at the age of 87 still actively engaged in climate research. The 2019 conference honored his legacy with the latest findings in global climate science. Continue reading

Greenland ‘ice tongue’ at risk of melting away — again

By Zack Fishman
Medill Reports

A 30-mile-long strip of sea ice in northwest Greenland, once thought to be a permanent structure, didn’t exist until 2,000 years ago, according to newly published research from researchers at Oregon State University. The findings suggest that some of the Arctic may melt more quickly in today’s warming climate than previously expected.

The sea ice, known as the Petermann ice tongue, stretches across a narrow valley where the large Petermann Glacier meets the Arctic Ocean. The ice tongue captured media attention in 2010 and 2012 when enormous icebergs, each many times larger than Manhattan Island, broke off into the ocean. New fractures spotted this year threaten to shrink the ice tongue to its smallest size in modern history. Continue reading

Meet Chicago’s latest teen climate leader

By Zack Fishman
Medill Reports

“The oceans are rising, and so are we!” chanted a group of more than 50 teenagers marching toward Chicago City Hall. Clad in black, the high school protesters took over sidewalks on Oct. 7, walking the half-mile from Trump Tower to Daley Plaza as they demanded the city declare a climate emergency. Many held up their palms to display written-in-marker messages, like “Our future is in your hands” and “Save us.”

At the group’s front and center was Isabella Johnson, a 17-year-old senior at Benet Academy from Naperville, Illinois. As one of three students holding the main banner — which read, “Climate change strikes hard, we strike harder” — she guided the march’s path and led chants echoed by its members. That evening, she brandished a megaphone on her waist and a pin above her heart. It read, “There is no planet B.”

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Renowned geologist talks climate research, renewable solutions

By Zack Fishman
Medill Reports

Richard Alley caught a cold while flying to southwest Wisconsin for the 14th annual Comer Climate Conference land, hosted Oct. 1 by the family of  late billionaire and Land’s End founder Gary Comer. But the illness didn’t stop the seasoned scientist from celebrating each research presentation with emphatic words of encouragement, and he used his closing speech to remind his peers of their crucial role in combating climate change.

As a professor of geosciences at Pennsylvania State University, Alley has spent over three decades studying glaciers around the globe. When not in the lab, he has testified in Congress three times and hosted the PBS documentary series “Earth: The Operators’ Manual,” in which he explained the science of climate change and introduced technological solutions to the problem.

Alley joined journalists reporting for the Medill News Service in the Comer personal library, surrounded by books about sailing and the Arctic, to answer questions about climate change. This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

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