State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

Climate News Roundup: Week of 1/16

For Many Species, No Escape as Temperature Rises, New York Times, Jan. 21

Adding to existing stressors from deforestation and habitat loss, climate change is expected to further harm populations of mountain dwelling animals. While other species traditionally seek higher elevation in response to warming, mountains species cannot do so, as they are limited by lack of habitable land, lack of food, or may already live at the highest altitude. Animals in mountainous regions around the world are therefore at special risk from rising temperatures.

New Climate Data Shows Warming World: WMO, Reuters, Jan. 20

The World Meteorological Organization has confirmed that 2010 tied with 1998 as the hottest year on record. The first 10 years of this millennium have been identified as the hottest since records began in the 1800s. In addition, Arctic ice was at its lowest extent on record in December of 2010. Taken collectively, this data provides further evidence against skeptics who claim that no warming has occurred since 1998.

Report Questions Role of Shale Gas as Bridge to Low Carbon Future, Reuters, Jan. 19

A new report issued by the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research calls into question the viability of shale gas as a low carbon energy source. The report warns that shale gas will most likely be used in addition to, instead of displacing, carbon-intensive coal. Although natural gas releases around 40 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than coal, it appears unlikely that natural gas will contribute to a low-carbon energy future in the absence of a cap on CO2 emissions or a strong carbon price.

EPA Exempts Biomass Energy from GHG Rules, Carbon Positive, Jan. 17

The EPA has ruled to exclude biomass energy from the greenhouse gas emissions requirements that it has developed under the Clean Air Act. Because of the complexity of biomass life-cycle emissions (and its relationship with deforestation rates), the EPA has called for more time to determine if biomass should be classified as a renewable fuel.

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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