Climate Change

Coastal communities across the country are suing oil companies for contributing to climate change. Now, a lawsuit in the landlocked interior joins the list.

At the heart of the lawsuit is this realization: Climate change is expensive. Just look at worsening wildfires and floods nationally. 

Democrats on Capitol Hill are calling for an investigation into the National Park Service, pointing to a report they say follows a "pattern" of censoring scientists who study climate change. So I checked in with the scientist who wrote the latest report and is now worried about her future.

The dry and arid climate of the Western U.S. is marching eastward, thanks to climate change.

That’s the conclusion of a set of studies from Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Institute. 


A new Gallup poll shows the majority of Americans do believe in climate change. The poll shows 66% of Americans believe that most scientists think global warming is occurring, 64% believe it is caused by human activities, and 60% believe its effects have already begun.

Study co-author Philip Higuera holding a burn severity map near Lolo, Montana.
Nate Hegyi / Mountain West News Bureau

I’m marching through a stand of blackened, towering pine trees with fire ecologist Philip Higuera. He stops and sniffs the air.

“We can smell the charcoal here,” he says. “You smell that?”

Higuera is a low-key guy with a trimmed beard and sporty sunglasses. But when I ask him whether the massive wildfire that raced across Lolo Peak in Montana last summer was bad, he corrects my choice of words. 

Jackie Yamanaka

Montana and Wyoming would be the perfect laboratories to test carbon capture technologies, that’s according to speakers talking about the subject at a forum in Billings, including Montana Governor Steve Bullock.

Nate Hegyi / YPR

Montana’s first-ever climate assessment says this past summer may be a vision of the state’s future due to climate change. 

“Montana is going to get warmer and the warming is going to be greater than in a lot of parts of the United States and the world,” says Cathy Whitlock, the report's lead author. The climate assessment was released today.


Faced with declining enrollment and a budget deficit, the University of Montana is offering early retirement buyouts to some faculty members. Well-known, climate science Professor Steve Running accepted the offer and is set to retire.

Running was a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change team, which was collectively awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for its broad report on the connection between human activities and global warming. Running was a lead author for one of the chapters in the IPCC report. He's also on the NASA Advisory Council Science Committee and has taught at the University of Montana for 38 years.

MTPR’s Katie Riordan spoke with Running about his decision to retire and his future plans.

Fire drought
Nate Hegyi / YPR

State climatologist Kelsey Jencso says what folks are seeing this summer -- extreme fires, sudden droughts, snowpacks melting quickly -- may be a vision of Montana’s future.

Summer officially began at 12:24 a.m. ET Wednesday, but as the Southwestern United States bakes in a heat wave, the season may already feel like a long and sweltering slog there.

The mercury hit 119 degrees Fahrenheit in Phoenix on Tuesday, 117 in Las Vegas and 121 degrees in Palm Springs, Calif.

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