Morning Update: We Did Start The Fire

Climate change catastrophe ahead, Taylor Swift's election impact, Hurricane Michael approaches

Here’s what 1.5 degrees of global warming really means for the planet

A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change explains the stakes of not containing human effects on the Earth’s climate. And those stakes are high.

What’s the background? Nearly 200 countries signed the Paris climate accord, agreeing to limit warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius, and ideally to 1.5.

And what does this new report say? It says the half-degree difference is massive. A temperature rise of 1.5 degrees would have negative repercussions. Allowing it to get to 2 degrees would be catastrophic.

Give me an example. Per the report, scientists projected the 1.5-degree scenario would reduce coral reefs by 70–90%. But 2 degrees of warming would mean essentially all coral reefs disappear, and sea levels would rise nearly a foot more.

But wouldn’t it take a lot to get to an Earth that’s 1.5 degrees warmer? So this is the bad news: Human activities have already caused about 1 degree of warming, and that’s expected to hit 1.5 degrees between 2030 and 2052, according to the report.

What’s the good news? Oh, that was just an expression — there is no good news. Scientists say countries have only a narrow window in which to prevent further warming.

Sugarcoat it for me. I can’t. The report says in order for us to have a shot at containing global warming, countries would have to achieve “net zero” emissions by mid-century. [King George from Hamilton voice] Good luck!

Hurricane Michael is expected to slam into Florida with life-threatening storm surge and intense winds

As it barrels toward the Florida Panhandle, Hurricane Michael has strengthened to a Category 1 storm. It’s expected to continue to intensify, and could soon reach Category 3 status.

A hurricane expert told us that one of Michael’s “biggest hazards is going to be storm surge.” Florida’s northern and northwestern coastlines are highly susceptible to dangerous storm surge due to the shape of the ocean floor there.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for the Panhandle and activated 500 Florida National Guard troops ahead of the storm. Thousands more are on standby.

These updating maps show how Hurricane Michael is likely to play out.


Four sisters, two brothers, and two newlywed couples were among the victims of the limo crash. The close-knit group were on their way to a birthday celebration for one of the victims when their vehicle crashed in upstate New York, killing all 18 people in the limousine and two pedestrians. The vehicle that crashed failed an inspection last month and was not supposed to be on the road. The driver, who also died in the crash, did not have the license to operate the limo.

HPV vaccine is now approved for adults aged 27 to 45. The FDA has approved the expanded use of Gardasil, a vaccine that protects against human papillomavirus (HPV), for women and men ages 27 to 45. Previously, the vaccine was approved only for people between the ages of 9 and 26. HPV is a common sexually transmitted virus that affects about 80 million people in the US.

Everything you need to know about Jair Bolsonaro, “the Donald Trump of Brazil.” Jair Bolsonaro won big in the first round of Brazil’s presidential election. He took 46% of the vote, just shy of the 50% that would have made him president, and will go into a second round with the runner-up. He has a long history of sexist, anti-gay, racist, and borderline fascist rhetoric. Here’s everything you need to know about him.

Google is shutting down Google+ after it discovered a bug that exposed personal information. The company reportedly discovered the glitch in March 2018 but did not disclose it until now, in an attempt to avoid regulatory scrutiny and damage to its reputation. The bug allowed developers to view users’ names, email addresses, occupations, genders, and ages. Google said it immediately patched the bug after it was discovered.

Taylor Swift’s Instagram post has caused a massive spike in voter registration. The singer waded into politics on Sunday with a social media post encouraging her fans to register to vote before the deadline — and her plea drove a giant surge in registration. A spokesperson for said, “We are up to 65,000 registrations in a single 24-hour period since T. Swift's post.” For context, 190,178 new voters were registered nationwide in all of September.


Since Tarana Burke’s #MeToo movement entered the mainstream last year, its consequences have reverberated in every industry. Our special #WhatNow series looks at its impact and where it’s going next.

The cultural conversations that the movement launched ended up playing out on TV in powerful ways. Today, Alanna Bennett looks at how #MeToo changed your favorite shows.

Trump didn’t just get a Supreme Court justice — he’ll get another DC Circuit judge, too

As the dust begins to settle after Brett Kavanaugh’s intense confirmation process, new political realities are beginning to set in.

One of those realities is that Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court is actually a double win for the Trump administration. It means President Trump gets to fill another seat on an influential federal appeals court.

Kavanaugh was a judge on the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. That court is often referred to as the second-most powerful in the country. It’s the primary venue for fights over executive power, federal regulations, and political controversies.

Zoe Tillman looks at what it means for Trump to get to fill that important vacancy.

Here’s how the first woman Doctor on Doctor Who ushered in a new era of inclusion for the show

Are you watching the new season of Doctor Who?

Before this year, 12 white men had played the lead, and brought to it their own brand of quirkiness. Last July, the BBC announced that Peter Capaldi, the Twelfth Doctor, would hand the sonic screwdriver to Jodie Whittaker, the first woman ever cast in the role.

We talked to Whittaker about regeneration and how the show is taking its evolution seriously. It’s an absolute delight of a read.

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