State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

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Climate News Roundup – Week of 6/7

10 Eastern States Join Wind Energy Consortium,  Providence Business News

On Tuesday a memorandum of understanding signed by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and the governors of ten states established an Atlantic offshore wind energy consortium.  The goal is to promote the efficient development of wind resources on the Outer Continental Shelf from Maine to North Carolina. The full development of wind resources in those areas could provide up to 20% of U.S. energy demands by 2030.

Lindsey Graham Backs Lugar Energy Bill without Carbon Cap-and-Trade, Bloomberg Businessweek

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), a long-time advocate for climate legislation, announced on Wednesday that he would back a new bill sponsored by Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN).  Lindsey’s move is considered remarkable for his disavowal of a cap-and-trade system to limit carbon emissions and of the Kerry-Lieberman bill which he had originally co-written.  Instead, the Lugar bill provides massive incentives for energy conservation while limiting the expansion of offshore oil drilling.  The bill is not without controversy, however, and criticisms by environmental groups accuse the bill of not going far enough to curb climate change, and that it could allow “utilities [to] avoid certain requirements of the Clean Air Act.”

Wood Power Emits More Carbon Than Coal, Associated Press

A report issued by the state of Massachusetts on Thursday found that the burning of wood “biomass” for electricity production releases more greenhouse gases than the burning of coal.  Long considered a renewable energy source, biomass has until now been a part of the state’s renewable energy portfolio; according to Massachusetts Environmental Secretary Ian Bowles, the state “is now rethinking that policy.”

Wind Companies to Buy more U.S. Parts in Agreement with Unions, Bloomberg Businessweek

In statement with the United Steelworkers, the American Wind Energy Association announced that wind companies had reached an agreement to purchase more U.S.-manufactured wind turbine parts.  Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) said that the agreement was “a great story for American manufacturing” and would help to “convince Congress we in fact have a [renewable energy] policy coming from the private sector.”  Under the agreement, parts must be manufactured in the U.S.  Presently, nearly 70% of components used in clean energy technologies are purchased from abroad.

Study: Shrinking Glaciers to Spark Food Shortages, Associated Press

A report published in Science last week found that shrinking glaciers threaten to disrupt food production for nearly 60 million people living around the Himalayas, but that this number is less than previously-anticipated.  Agricultural regions in India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and China depend upon glacial melt for river irrigation, but many areas rely more heavily on monsoon rains for water sources.  The Dutch scientists noted that changing precipitation patterns would blunt the impact of drying rivers and irrigation channels.  The buffering effect of the rainfall decreases the previously-estimated ramifications of shrinking Himalayan glaciers.  “We show that it’s only certain areas that will be affected,” said Marc Bierkens, an Utrecht University hydrology professor. “The amount of people affected is still large. Every person is one too many but it’s much less than was first anticipated.”

Columbia campus skyline with text Columbia Climate School Class Day 2024 - Congratulations Graduates

Congratulations to our Columbia Climate School MA in Climate & Society Class of 2024! Learn about our May 10 Class Day celebration. #ColumbiaClimate2024

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