State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

Climate News Roundup – Week of 10/25

Obama Putting $3.4 Bn Toward a ‘Smart’ Power Grid, Associated Press

President Obama pledges $3.4 bn in government support for 100 different research projects in “smart” grid engineering, ranging in size from $400,00 to $200 million. Speaking Tuesday at the DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center in west Florida, Obama likened the search for power grid solutions to the rapid expansion of the national highway system 50 years ago. The 100 projects chosen include installing thousands of digital sensors through out the power system, deploying sophisticated metering systems in homes, and the automation of hundreds of grid substations.

Australia Coastal Living at Risk, BBC

An Australian parliamentary committee concludes that government intervention might be necessary in the future to force coastal residents to move further inland. As sea levels rise and climate chance introduces greater frequency of extreme weather events, Australians in coastal environments are put at further risk. Australia’s major urban centers are all located on the coast plus an additional six million residents elsewhere on the coastline – totaling approximately 80% of Australia’s population. The report recommends gradually freezing coastal development and eventually retreating from high-risk areas as climate change unfolds.

Energy-Proportional Computing and Climate Change, Reuters

The rapid expansion of Internet and computing services has brought with it a demand for more servers – and more power. Data servers, which run 24 hours a day, account for approximately 2% of our national power needs. This number is expected to grow quickly as more people come online at faster rates. However, a new engineering technique could potentially save power: energy-proportional computing. Most servers still consume 50% of their peak power when idle. Energy-proportional energy makes servers more flexible and responsive, so that power consumption is directly proportional to power needs . Energy-proportional computing could save up to 20% of power use if fully implemented on today’s servers.

Ecuador to Europe: Pay Us Not to Drill in Amazon,

President Rafael Correa of Ecuador has an unusual idea: in exchange for not drilling for crude oil in an Amazon preserve, rich countries would pay Ecuador $3 bn, an estimation of the gains to be made from drilling over a period of ten years. President Correa first proposed this idea two years ago and it has been under serious consideration since then. Many environmentalists believe that a deal like this, not all that different from payments to avoid deforestation, would set a positive standards for rich countries helping developing countries “go green.”

Banner featuring a collage of extreme heat images.

Recent record-breaking heat waves have affected communities across the world. The Extreme Heat Workshop will bring together researchers and practitioners to advance the state of knowledge, identify community needs, and develop a framework for evaluating risks with a focus on climate justice. Register by June 15

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