State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

Climate News Roundup – Week of 11/05/2010

The Arctic Shifts to a New Climate Pattern in Which ‘Normal’ Becomes Obsolete, NY Times, Oct. 22

Record high temperatures in the Arctic this year is another sign that the troubling trend of ice cap disintegration, permafrost melting, and snow cover shrinking is becoming irreversible, according to a new National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration report. The disruption of the Earth’s “natural air conditioner” is changing climate patterns around the globe with the possibility of more cold blasts headed for the heavily populated regions south of the Arctic. Melting of Greenland ice sheet this summer is also the fastest since 1958 and this trend will also accelerate sea level rise.

California Defends Climate Law, Remains National Bastion of Clean Energy Economy, SolveClimate, Nov. 3

Despite voter discontent with Obama’s energy policies as shown in the exit polls on November 2nd, California voters rejected proposition 23 that would have suspended the curbing of green house gas emissions as mandated by Governor Schwarzeneger’s Global Warming Solution Act of 2006 until the state’s unemployment rate fell by more than half. Advocates argue this is a huge victory for climate change legislation since the vote was the largest public vote on climate change in U.S. history. The “No on 23” campaign supported by a broad coalition of environmentalists, small businesses and venture capitalists, outspent its supporters by a margin of 3 to 1. Supporters claim that the California vote is a bellwether for what will happen in the country down the road and will energize supporters in other states to move other state legislations forward even if a national climate bill is stalled in Congress.

Go-ahead for wind to generate 70,000 jobs, Financial Times, Nov. 3

The government of U.K. has announced that a slew of multi-year, multi-million dollar planned investments by the public and private sectors in wind turbine manufacturing has been approved. Some projects to get the green light include £60m earmark for upgrading British ports to make them suitable for handling large offshore turbines and a £100m GE investment in a turbine manufacturing plant. David Cameron said the wind turbine investments will reinforce the leadership position of the U.K. in alternative energy and provide 70,000 jobs.

Elections alter climate and energy landscape, Washington Post, Nov. 4

The Republican triumph during the midterm elections has been interpreted by analysts as the official death sentence of the stalled cap and trade bill. In a White House conference the morning after the elections, President Obama conceded that many House Democrats lost the midterms in part because they supported the Waxman-Markey bill. The incoming freshman class also has the record number of legislators who question the link between humans and climate change. Similarly, the resigning of the top environmental official in Kansas is a harbinger that much state legislation aimed to curb greenhouse gas emissions also face uncertain futures.

Obama’s climate pessimism dims U.N., G20 outlook, Reuters, Nov. 4

The midterm election result in the U.S. has undermined the prospect for future global climate negotiations, especially the plan for G20 nations to raise $100 billion a year by 2020 to assist poor nations adapt to climate change. The follow-up summit to the Copenhagen negotiations of December 2009 will probably not produce any tangible results. However, the message from the U.S. that it will not mandate emission cuts may force other nations to be clearer about their own carbon reducing strategies, many of which have been waiting for a signal from Washington.

Climate change hurting China’s grain crop: report, SeedDaily, Nov. 5

The Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences recently published a report detailing how climate change could trigger a 10 percent drop in the country’s grain harvest over the next 20 years. China’s staple crops – rice, wheat and corn may suffer a 37% drop in production. While drought is the biggest threat to China’s grain harvest, floods and typhoons – all with the potential to be more destructive as a result of climate change are also potent threats to crops.

Climate Change – Continent Launches Green Fund, AllAfrica, Nov. 5

Three weeks before the UN climate change summit in Cancun, African leaders have launched two novel climate change initiatives – including the “Africa Green Fund” and the “Climate for Development in Africa Programme” (ClimDev-Africa). The ClimDev-Africa is jointly administered by the UN and the African Development Bank while the Africa Green Fund is proposed by the African Development Bank with the support of finance ministers from several countries.

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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