Sign In or Create an Account.

By continuing, you agree to the Terms of Service and acknowledge our Privacy Policy

Sparks

All the Sea Turtles Are She Turtles

Climate change has done a number on the sex ratio.

A sea turtle.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Florida’s green sea turtles are making a comeback — sort of.

They had their best-ever nesting season in 2023, with 74,300 nests — a 40% increase over the previous record, set in 2017, The New York Timesreports. But this welcome news comes with an unsettling catch: The percentage of male turtle hatchlings has dropped precipitously. In recent seasons, according to the Times, “Between 87 and 100 percent of the hatchlings” tested by Dr. Jeanette Wyneken, a professor at Florida Atlantic University, were female.

Climate change is a likely contributor to the imbalance, as a green sea turtle’s sex is determined by the temperature of the sand in which its egg develops. Warmer sand results in more females; cooler sand, more males. In the short term, this might benefit the turtles, with more females able to produce more eggs once they reach maturity (providing “there’s enough boys to service the girls,” as Dr. Wyneken put it). But another side effect of the changing climate is that extreme heat dries out the turtles’ nests — killing the baby turtles before they’ve had a chance to hatch.

As with so much else in the natural world, such news is a case of two steps forward, one step back (or, perhaps, one flipper-crawl back). Thanks in part to decades of conservation efforts, 2023 has also seen record green sea turtle nest counts in Texas and Alabama — and while such milestones are a cause to celebrate, climate change’s effects on the resulting offspring are a reminder that there is always more work to do.

Green
Jacob Lambert profile image

Jacob Lambert

Jacob is Heatmap's founding multimedia editor. Before joining Heatmap, he was The Week's digital art director and an associate editor at MAD magazine.

Beryl making landfall in Texas.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Hurricane Beryl, ahem, barreled into America’s Gulf Coast as a Category 1 storm, and whenever something like that happens the entire global energy industry holds its breath. The Gulf of Mexico is not just a frequent target and breeding ground for massive storms, it is also one of America’s — and the world’s — most important energy hubs. Texas and Louisiana contains giant oil and gas fields, and the region is home to about half of the United States’ refining capacity.

At least so far, the oil and refining industry appears to have largely dodged Beryl’s worst effects. The storm made landfall in Matagorda, a coastal town between Galveston and Corpus Christi, both of which are major centers for the refinery industry. Only one refinery, the Phillips 66 facility in Sweeny, Texas, was in the storm’s cone, according to TACenergy, a petroleum products distributor. Phillips 66 did not respond to a request to comment, but Reuters reported that the Sweeny facility as well as its refinery in Lake Charles, Louisiana were powered and operating. Crude oil prices have seen next to no obvious volatility, rising to $83.88 a barrel on July 3 and since settling around $82.84.

Keep reading...Show less
Blue
Sparks

Climate Scored Some Quasi-Victories in Europe

What parliamentary elections in France and the U.K. mean for everyone else.

A voter and wind turbines.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

While America has been distracted by its suddenly-very-real upcoming election, two other important political stories have been unfolding across the pond. The results of last week’s parliamentary votes in France and the United Kingdom have the power to sway global climate policy — and they might even contain lessons for the U.S. about the rise (or fall) of the far-right.

What happened in France?

In June, French President Emmanuel Macron called snap elections, and the far-right National Rally party led by Marine Le Pen was widely expected to achieve a majority in the country’s 577-seat National Assembly. Instead, the New Popular Front, a hastily-formed alliance between the hard left, Greens, and Socialists, came out on top in a runoff, followed by the centrist Ensemble (which includes Macron’s Renaissance party) and the National Rally in a distant third. Because no party won the 289 seats needed to gain control of the chamber, the left and center now have to form a coalition government, which means ideological compromise — something that’s distinctly un-French. “We're not the Germans, we're not the Spanish, we're not the Italians — we don't do coalitions,” one French political commentator toldSky News.

Keep reading...Show less
Green
President Biden.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

In an altogether distressing debate in which climate was far from a main focus, the two candidates did have one notable exchange regarding the Paris Agreement. The 2015 treaty united most countries around the world in setting a goal to limit global warming to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius, with 1.5 degrees as the ultimate target.

After Trump initially dodged a question about whether he would take action to slow the climate crisis, he then briefly noted “I want absolutely immaculate clean water and I want absolutely clean air. And we had it. We had H2O.”

Keep reading...Show less