Editor's note

With climate scientists predicting global seas could rise six feet or more by 2100, it’s easy to assume that the world’s islanders should plan to move. But three scholars who study nations’ vulnerability to change change see reason for optimism in many small island states. As they explain, not all small island nations are equally vulnerable and many are already adapting to a climate-altered world.

President Donald Trump just returned to Washington after spending almost two weeks in Asia, where he pushed his “America first” approach to trade. In short, Trump assumes the U.S. can act unilaterally without consequences, according to Georgia State political scientist Charles Hankla. American policymakers in the 1930s learned the hard way this isn’t how the global economy works, he writes.

When the heavyweight companies of Silicon Valley were just starting out, they seemed to deliver another part of the California Dream, promising a new, clean industrial future for America. But as University of Nebraska Omaha historian Jason Heppler describes, toxic waste pollution proved a rude awakening.

Finally, Boise State University professor Steven Feldstein – who studied Zimbabwe for years as a State Department official – says it’s too soon to tell whether democracy or more dictatorship will follow yesterday’s overthrow of President Robert Mugabe.

Jennifer Weeks

Environment + Energy Editor

Top stories

COP 22 President Salaheddine Mezouar from Morocco, right, hands over a gavel to Fiji’s prime minister and president of COP 23 Frank Bainimarama, left, during the opening of the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany, Monday, Nov. 6, 2017. AP Photo/Martin Meissner

Many small island nations can adapt to climate change with global support

Martina Grecequet, University of Minnesota; Ian Noble, University of Notre Dame; Jessica Hellmann, University of Minnesota

Although climate change threatens the world's small island nations, many can find ways to adapt and preserve their homes and cultures – especially if wealthy countries cut emissions and provide support.

Trump will soon learn the costs of going it alone on trade. AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Trump's 'America first' trade policy ignores key lesson from Great Depression

Charles Hankla, Georgia State University

American lawmakers in the 1930s learned the hard way what happens when a country raises tariffs and makes other unilateral trade decisions.

Aerial view of San Jose, California, 2016. Gordon-Shukwit

How Silicon Valley industry polluted the sylvan California dream

Jason A. Heppler, University of Nebraska Omaha

Silicon Valley brought together natural surroundings, suburban homes and futuristic high-tech work. But industrial pollution betrayed the California dream.

Politics + Society

  • After coup, will Zimbabwe see democracy or dictatorship?

    Steven Feldstein, Boise State University

    Mugabe and his powerful wife have been overthrown in an apparent coup orchestrated by Zimbabwe's vice president. Will the country transition into democracy or get strapped with yet another dictator?

Science + Technology

Health + Medicine

Economy + Business

  • Why we need to save the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

    Jeff Sovern, St. John's University; Ann L. Goldweber, St. John's University; Gina M. Calabrese, St. John's University

    The decision by the bureau's founding director to step down this month offers Republicans and the Trump administration a chance to finally gut the bureau they've long despised.

Arts + Culture

Environment + Energy

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Today’s quote

Despite continued progress and renewed hope that some therapies now in human trials will modify the course of the disease, the initial optimism of neuroscientists like me has been significantly tempered by reality.

  Todd Golde