State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

Climate News Roundup: 2/6-2/11

Droughts, Floods and Food, NYTimes, Feb. 6

Extreme weather events in 2010 are linked to the current global food crisis, in which the prices of wheat, corn, sugar, and oils have exploded. In combination with growing demand from developing nations and increased competition for crop land, extreme weather events such as droughts in Brazil, wildfires in Russia, and flooding in Australia have collectively damaged food production and driven up the price of foodstuffs. Although no single weather event can be linked to anthropogenic climate change, and natural phenomena such as La Nina also play a role in such events, it is expected that the frequency and intensity of extreme weather will grow in coming decade as a result of climate change.

Most Americans Oppose Restrictions on EPA Poll Finds, Reuters, Feb. 7

Over 75% of survey respondents, including 61% of self-identified Republicans, feel that the EPA should not be limited by Congress in its enforcement of the Clean Air Act, as it applies to regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. Conducted by the Natural Resources Defense Council, the poll was prompted by comments from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich that the EPA should be replaced by “a business-friendly ‘Environmental Solutions Agency’.”

House Republicans Take EPA Chief to Task, NYTimes, Feb. 9

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson appeared before the Subcommittee on Energy and Power of the House Energy and Commerce Committee in a hearing intended to review the economic implications of the EPA’s proposed limits on greenhouse gas emissions. In addition to challenging the cost of such measures, finding them to be prohibitively high, Republican lawmakers also questioned the scientific basis of climate change.

Hopes of 30% Cut in Greenhouse Emissions Dashed, The Guardian, Feb. 10

Gunther Oettinger, Energy Commissioner of the EU, has declared that the EU’s conditional target of 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 as compared to 1990 levels is not economically feasible. Although the UK, along with several other EU member states, has been pushing for the adoption of the 30% target over a less stringent 20% target, Ottinger stated that in the absence of other major emitters’ participation, such a move by the EU would dangerously accelerate the rate of de-industrialization in the EU and would particularly harm the steel industry.

Arctic Climate Variation Under Ancient Greenhouse Conditions, Science Daily, Feb. 11

Scientists at the Southampton School of Ocean and Earth Science have completed a study examining sediment cores from a marine ridge in the Atlantic Ocean dating from the Late Cretaceous period. The cores allowed the researchers to reconstruct variations in ocean conditions as determined by changes in climate, and the scientists hope to use the results to shed light on the impacts of modern climate change for ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation) and AO/NAO (Atlantic Oscillation/North Atlantic Oscillation) patterns. The researchers have preliminarily concluded that anthropogenic climate change is unlikely to significantly alter ENSO or AO/NAO patterns.

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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