People, planet, and the path ahead

Christmas tree farming just got tougher

In this edition: How drought is affecting tree growers and forests in the Northeast; the outlook for EPA as Obama gives way to Trump; the #noDAPL effect.  

What we're writing

John Elwell, who grows Christmas trees in West Newbury, Mass., saw most of his new plantings this year die because of drought.
Zack Colman/The Christian Science Monitor
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Northeast Christmas tree farmers get drought in their holiday stockings

Drought has killed many young trees on farms across New England. Farmers are strugglng to adapt, by planting new varieties and considering drip irrigation systems. “You keep hoping that climate change isn’t going on, but then you have these experiences,” says grower John Elwell in West Newbury, Mass. As scientists say warming temperatures may deepen such challenges, some publicly managed forests are testing "assisted migration" of tree species to new zones. // Zack Colman

Protesters' pipeline win may be short- and long-lived

The decision to block construction of a controversial portion of the Dakota Access Pipeline could be overturned by the next administration. But the determination of the #noDAPL protesters could also help kindle new activism. // Henry Gass

EPA's McCarthy speaks at Inhabit event; Trump names his own pick to lead the agency

Although Trump and Obama agendas differ, some forces tilt toward continuity, Gina McCarthy of the Environmental Protection Agency said at an Inhabit-hosted event in Washington. A separate story quotes other current and former EPA workers amplifying the idea that Trump's appointee can't turn policy on a dime. For one thing, the genie of climate-aware mindsets is hard to put back in the bottle. And Inhabit profiles the nominee, climate-change skeptic and Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt. // Zack ColmanMark Trumbull

Gore, yes. But watch who else has Trump's ear.

A visit by climate-change evangelist Al Gore with Donald and Ivanka Trump has stirred hopes that the president-elect may be open to adjusting his stance on climate change. (Then came climate-concerned actor Leonardo DiCaprio later in the week). But green groups see plenty of Trump signals that don't point toward any pivot yet on greenhouse gases. // Zack Colman

Mexico joins 'big reserve' trend of ocean conservation

On Monday, Mexico established 160 million acres in biological reserves, surpassing UN targets three years early. // Joseph Dussault

How natural gas and nuclear made US greener

A new study by Brookings found increases in natural gas and nuclear energy for electricity generation have allowed parts of the US to 'decouple,' with states reducing their carbon dioxide emissions but seeing their economies grow. // Ben Rosen

What we're reading

China’s clean energy push runs into headwinds

Construction of solar panels and wind farms hasn’t been matched by electricity grid upgrades // The Wall Street Journal

Beyond Dakota: Many fossil fuel projects delayed, nixed 

Public opposition has played a role in at least some decisions, while factors include shifting economics and governments' concerns about the environmental or project siting. // InsideClimate News

Climate-resistant beans a bulwark of food security

Why a seed bank in Colombia may help Africa and the world in the fight against crop failures. // Inter Press Service

Google's satellite timelapses show planet's changes

"Are human beings capable of assimilating such global perspectives....?" // The Guardian

What's trending

Giraffes at the Los Angeles Zoo.
Nick Ut/AP/File
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Giraffes on 'vulnerable' list as ranks drop 40 percent

The world's tallest land animal is being pushed toward possible extinction, conservationists said Thursday, adding that there is still time to turn the tide against poaching and reduction in living space. // The Christian Science Monitor

Trump team asks for names of DOE staffers who worked on climate policy

“[It] would be tantamount to an illegal modern-day political witch hunt, and would have a profoundly chilling impact” if Trump were to punish agency workers carrying out policies his administration doesn’t agree with. // Sen. Ed Markey (D), quoted by Bloomberg

Delaware-size chunk lost from Amazon in a year 

“Suppression of Amazon deforestation is still highly dependent upon command-and-control measures–namely, law enforcement." // Scientist Daniel Neptstad, quoted in The Washington Post

Google to go all green. Will other tech giants follow?

The company's power contracts ensure that, even if its specific facilities are not green-powered, "we are contributing to greening the grid where we operate." // Google, quoted in The Christian Science Monitor