State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

Climate News Roundup: Week of 2/19

Climate change increased likelihood of Russian 2010 heatwave, The Guardian, Feb 21

The extreme Russian heatwave of 2010 was made three times more likely because of man-made climate change, according to a study led by climate scientists and number-crunched by home PC users. But the size of the event was mostly within natural limits, said the scientists, laying to rest a controversy last year over whether the extreme weather was natural or human-induced. The 2010 heatwave broke all records for Russia – temperatures in the central region of the country, including Moscow, were around 10C above what they should have been for the time of year. More than 50,000 people died from respiratory illnesses and heat stress during that time. The temperatures also had a substantial impact on that year’s Russian wheat harvest, leading to economic losses of more than $15bn.

UN climate chief turns to CEOs for action, Associated Press, Feb 22

As governments bicker over who should do what to slow the pace of global warming, the U.N.’s climate chief is increasingly looking to business leaders to show the way forward to a low-carbon future. Christiana Figueres told The Associated Press that her efforts to reach out to high-profile executives from companies such as Coca-Cola, Unilever and Virgin Group represent “a deeper recognition of the fact that the private sector can contribute in a decisive way.” Governments act as a pull factor by shaping the policies that promote green technology and help renewable energy sources like solar and wind power compete with the fossil fuels that scientists say contribute to global warming through the release of greenhouse gases. “But the companies, particularly these very, very high-powered companies that … have the ear of many of the decision-makers and the opinion leaders of different countries, they can act as a push factor,” Figueres said.

Climate Change, Increasing Temperatures Alter Bird Migration Patterns, Science Daily, Feb 23

Birds in eastern North America are picking up the pace along their yearly migratory paths. The reason, according to University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researchers, is rising temperatures due to climate change. Using migration information collected in eBird, a citizen science program database containing 10 years’ worth of observations from amateur birdwatchers, assistant professor of biology Allen Hurlbert, Ph.D., and his team in the UNC College of Arts and Sciences analyzed when 18 different species of birds arrived at various points across their migration journeys. Hurlbert said, “They have to time it right so they can balance arriving on breeding grounds after there’s no longer a risk of severe winter conditions. If they get it wrong, they may die or may not produce as many young. A change in migration could begin to contribute to population decline, putting many species at risk for extinction.”

EU vote fails to settle tar sands label fight, Reuters, Feb 23

EU nations, under heavy pressure from Canada, failed on Thursday to agree on a proposal to label fuel from tar sands as particularly polluting, giving Ottawa four more months to press its case that the move would unfairly discriminate against one of its most lucrative exports. A committee of technical experts was unable to deliver a decisive vote on the European executive’s proposal to tag oil sands as more carbon-intensive than other crude sources as part of its efforts to curb global warming.

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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Bart R
Bart R
12 years ago

In the wake of the meeting of the AAAS, publication of research and studies at the cutting edge of climate sciences, I’m glad to see the sincere efforts of this blog to help keep knowledge up to date for readers.

It takes concentrated effort for a layman to keep up with developments and thinking in this topic area. I’ve taken to using mind maps to plot out the various claims, statements, arguments and ideas, and yet I know I’m years out of date in many topics, and have too limited means to stay current without sites like this.


Bart R