Kate Sheppard

Kate Sheppard is a political reporter at Grist, and a former Prospect writing fellow.

Recent Articles

STORMING THE DEBATE....

STORMING THE DEBATE. As has been explained previously , severe storms haven't been decisively tied to climate change . But while the most recent storms that have pummeled Mexico and Central America can't be fingered as evidence of global warming, most scientists agree that warming trends aren't helping matters. "My guess is that the high intensities of Dean and Felix had more to do with when and where they formed and tracked than with global warming per se," Kerry Emanuel, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor of meteorology, told Reuters. "But it is true that the theoretical (wind) speed limit in the tropical Atlantic is about 10 percent higher now than it was 15 years ago, and that may indeed be a contributing factor." Scientists are predicting that this will be a busy storm season, with experts estimating that we'll have 15 named storms in the Atlantic -- well above even the modern average, which has increased dramatically since 1970. --Kate Sheppard

TIDING US OVER....

TIDING US OVER. As In These Times reports this week , parts of the world are already dealing with the effects of straining the natural environment, and those effects are having concrete social impacts on vulnerable communities. "Environmental stress forced more than 25 million to migrate in 1998, according to a Red Cross and Red Crescent study -- roughly the same number that fled armed conflict," the magazine reports. And that was way back in 1998. If the diminishing amount of inhabitable land has already prompted massive migration in some parts of the world, it will only worsen with the changing climate: In Bangladesh, refugees who can no longer farm on drowning coastal land are falling inward to cities already crammed with jobless and desperate masses. Smaller than Illinois, Bangladesh has 140 million people, almost half the U.S. population. Imagine what it will be like in 50 years, when the Bay of Bengal is predicted to cover 11 percent of Bangladesh’s land. We can expect to see...

The Story of the Hurricane

In his new book, Storm World, Chris Mooney tries to stay apolitical as he unpacks the complicated history and science of storms and climate.

Storm World: Hurricanes, Politics, and the Battle Over Global Warming by Chris Mooney (Harcourt, 276 pages) - - - Chris Mooney selected a difficult premise for his new book, Storm World: Hurricanes, Politics, and the Battle Over Global Warming . In it, he seeks to discuss climate change and hurricanes in depth while constantly trying to reinforce the fact that much remains to be understood about whether and how much we can connect the two. This would seem to put Mooney in a corner, but instead he presents a clear-eyed, uncompromising account of storms and climates (of the both the planetary and political sort) that he unfolds gradually over the course of the book's 276 pages. Mooney goes to great lengths not to politicize the conversation. The book begins with his trip to his mother's house in New Orleans in December 2005, just months after Hurricane Katrina leveled the city. Rather than dwell on the political failings that made Katrina such a devastating event, Mooney instead focuses...

TAKE OFF YOUR COAT AND STAY AWHILE.

TAKE OFF YOUR COAT AND STAY AWHILE. Way out here in the other Washington, it's not that often that we get to enjoy political activity of national merit. So when Alberto Gonzales rolls into town for the first time during his tenure as Attorney General, you'd expect something exciting to come of it. Except it didn't this morning, not in the least. In a thoroughly unexciting 15-minute speech, Gonzales discussed the DOJ's prosecution of cyber crimes and intellectual property theft, which I'm sure is the issue Americans are most concerned with at this point in history. The most interesting components of the brief speech were his attempts to draw a link between software pirates and international terrorism and his profound observations on child pornography on the web: "When I look at the explosion of child pornography on the Internet, it's amazing. You have to wonder what kind of people are interested in this kind of behavior." John McKay , our local fired U.S. Attorney, was not present for...

WE THREE DINGS....

WE THREE DINGS. The three U.S. attorneys gathered in Seattle on Wednesday also gave nod to other federal prosecutors who while not among the eight dismissed in December have been bearing the brunt of political pressure from the Department of Justice and the White House. "I know that our former colleagues, and I'm going to name several, are hurting because of what very senior people in the DOJ have done," said John McKay , the ousted attorney for western Washington. McKay went on to name Glenn Suddaby in Syracuse and Steve Biskupic in Wisconsin as two attorneys still seated who are suffering from political pressure. McKay also named Debra Wong Yang , the former U.S. attorney in Los Angeles whose abrupt resignation last October is now drawing attention in light of reports that then-White House council Harriet Miers asked her to step down. "People are now asking, if you're a good U.S. attorney, why aren't you getting fired?" quipped McKay. --Kate Sheppard

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