State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School


Climate News Roundup: Week of 4/17

Young Climate Activists Push Obama, Vow to Create More Local Awareness, NY Times, Apr. 18

This past weekend, around 10,000 young climate change activists gathered in Washington, D.C for the third Power Shift. While previous Power Shifts held educational workshops on climate science and technology specifics, this year’s event focused on training young activists in how to motivate others to take action in their communities. A main theme was the importance of making the issue more locally and personally relevant to community members. Some Power Shift attendees, many of whom helped get President Obama elected, expressed frustration regarding the President’s lack of “boldness” on the climate issue since taking office in 2009.

U.S. Supreme Court Signals Rejection of State Climate-Emissions Lawsuits, Bloomberg, Apr. 19

The Supreme Court has begun examining a lawsuit filed in 2004 by six states, New York City, and three conservation groups aiming to sue five of the nation’s biggest power companies. The plaintiffs argue that the companies’ carbon emissions are a “public nuisance.”  Justices across the political spectrum voiced skepticism about the suit, expressing that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is better equipped than the Court to make decisions regarding carbon emissions, a sentiment echoed by the Obama Administration.  The suing parties argue that the EPA has not yet taken action to reduce carbon emissions from the plants.

Climate Change: Doing Nothing Will Cost More Than Preventative Measures, New Report Shows, Huffington Post, Apr. 19

The American Security Project’s 50 new “Pay Now, Pay Later” reports present that paying now to prevent climate change is cheaper than paying to deal with the negative effects of climate change in the future. Separate reports were created for each U.S. state. These findings support similar conclusions obtained by other cost studies (such as the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change). The American Security Project is a nonprofit, bipartisan public policy and research organization.

Rings Reveal Extensive Yearly Climate Record, U.S. News and World Report, Apr. 20

A new study published in Geophysical Research Letters looks at the oldest trees in Mexico, called Montezuma bald cypresses, to provide the first yearly record of the Mesoamerican climate over the last thousand years. Some of these trees are over 1,200 years old. The researchers look at rings in cores of the trees, the width of which reveal information on wetness levels for that year. The record thus gives information on droughts, which are an important factor in the rise and fall of civilizations such as the Aztecs. Previous data sets for this area relied on less well resolved and less well dated sediment core records.

Obama Targets ‘Climate Change Deniers In Congress’, Huffington Post, Apr. 21

At a Democratic National Committee fundraiser on Wednesday, President Obama stressed the importance of investing in clean energy such as solar and wind power. He argued that despite the challenges posed by a weakened economy and by the presence of climate change deniers in Congress, the country must make serious progress in transitioning to clean energy or else we’ll be “putting our children and our grandchildren at risk.” The President further stated that the $4 billion in subsidies now going to oil companies should instead be used to support this transition.  In a speech earlier this month, the President announced that he aims to reduce oil imports by one-third by 2025.

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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