State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

Climate News Roundup: Week of 8/21

Standing Against Oil Sands – and Standing for the Climate, Time, Aug 22

Scores of people have been arrested in front of the White House in an ongoing protest urging President Obama to block construction of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which would bring crude oil from western Canada’s tar sands developments to the United States. NASA climatologist, James Hansen, explains that producing oil from tar sands, not only emits two-to-three-times the global warming pollution of conventional oil, but also diminishes one of the best carbon-reduction tools on the planet: Canada’s boreal forest.

Climate Change Forces Species to Move Higher Ground, Latitudes: Study, International Business Times, Aug 22

A new study by a team based in the University of York in England found that species have been moving towards the poles as they are seeking cooler conditions at a rate almost three times the normal rate. For organisms that are migrating further up mountains, the average rate of movement is about twice as fast as realized. The results are published in the journal Science, and have helped to reinforce what scientists have long been saying — that there is a link between climate change and shifts in species’ global ranges.

EU may propose plan to extend Kyoto: report, Reuters, Aug 23

The EU could yet table a proposal that would throw the beleaguered Kyoto Protocol a lifeline and secure the future of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) beyond 2012, government negotiators and observers have told Point Carbon News. Officials from the bloc’s member states will in the next few weeks discuss whether to formally back a plan to extend the life of the 1997 climate treaty, on condition it would expire in 2018 and be replaced with a single global pact that includes capping all major nations’ emissions.

El Nino Ups Conflict Odds, Scientific American, Aug 26

A new study, conducted by researchers at Columbia University’s Earth Institute, finds that the risk of civil war in tropical countries increases during hot, dry El Nino years as opposed to cooler La Nina periods. The risk of conflict doubled during El Nino years – but only in tropical countries most affected by the climate cycle. This study can’t determine a cause, but the researchers say hot El Nino conditions can diminish harvests, causing food shortages and sparking conflicts.

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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