Creepy Critters, and Landmark Lawsuits

Creepy Critters, and Landmark Lawsuits


Welcome to the Climate Fwd: newsletter. The New York Times climate team emails readers once a week with stories and insights about climate change. Sign up here to get it in your inbox.

Hi, everybody! Today at the climate desk, we broke the story of a new lawsuit filed by the New York attorney general. It accuses Exxon Mobil of defrauding shareholders by lying about the risks of climate change to its business. The company, according to the suit, deceived the public about its true financial exposure to potential regulations and policies that could help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and blunt the worst effects of global warming.

We’re also waiting to see what the Supreme Court will do about a landmark federal case about the government’s response to climate change. The 21 young plaintiffs in the case, Juliana v. United States, are asking the courts to force the Trump administration to take action against warming, and the trial is scheduled to begin on Monday.

But last Friday, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. put a brief hold on the proceedings to consider filings by the Trump administration that could delay or even derail the case, which began in 2015. We took a look at Julia Olson, the lawyer who brought the suit.

If you like to pamper your pet, you’re not alone. Last year, Americans spent nearly $70 billion on their animal companions. About 40 percent of that went toward food.

So, how does pet food affect the environment?

The first thing to bear in mind is that as long as it’s balanced and nutritious, one product is all you need.

To manufacture this all-purpose food, companies have long mixed plant-based carbohydrates with byproducts from the meat industry (like organs) that might otherwise end up in a landfill where they would decompose and emit greenhouse gases.

In recent years, though, some pet food companies have moved upmarket. Now, many pet foods contain “human grade” ingredients like chicken breast or pork loin, cuts that could have made it to your dinner plate.

I asked Dr. Cailin R. Heinze, an associate professor of nutrition at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, about the nutritional value of these high-end meals, which often contain more animal protein than standard kibble.

She said that these products are becoming increasingly popular, especially among owners who want to indulge their pets. But these meals are not necessarily healthier than those made with animal byproducts. They also often have a bigger environmental footprint.

“For every cow or pig that we slaughter there’s a lot of organ meat, so feeding cats and dogs organ meat rather than the same exact muscle meat that humans eat is sustainable because it can help reduce the number of animals we have to raise,” she said.

Pet food manufactured nearby or that contains locally sourced ingredients generally has a smaller footprint than pet food shipped from faraway places.

“Shipping lamb or venison from New Zealand is probably not the most environmentally sustainable option when you can buy pet food containing chicken that was raised closer,” Dr. Heinze said.

Another thing to think about: more than half of the around 184 million cats and dogs in the United States are overweight. Putting a smaller portion in your pet’s dish will shrink your family’s environmental footprint and keep your pet healthier.


  • When buildings get replaced, we usually demolish the old ones. But as Nate Berg writes, that’s incredibly wasteful — and there’s an intriguing new movement afoot to carefully “deconstruct” old buildings and recycle the materials from them.

  • Carolyn Kormann has a fascinating story about a California tribe using carbon offsets to buy land and protect ancient redwood forests. Some experts think this could be a promising model for conservation; others find the idea deeply troubling.

  • Politico reports that the Trump administration may be backing away from a contentious proposal to bail out unprofitable coal and nuclear plants around the country. Here’s our earlier story on why this plan, which had major climate implications, provoked such a backlash.

  • Two scientists explain why the current system for ranking hurricanes, based on wind speed, can be dangerously misleading and put lives at risk.

  • Can we protect endangered species by inviting them to live in our cities? Rachel Kaufman explores an offbeat idea that is provoking heated debate among ecologists.


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