State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School


Climate Report Author to Take Questions on Friday

Superstorm Sandy, New Jersey shore
Destruction from Superstorm Sandy along the New Jersey shoreline. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Climate scientist Radley Horton, one of the lead authors of the National Climate Assessment report released this week, will answer your questions in an “Ask Me Anything” session on Reddit on Friday starting at 11 a.m.

Click here to read Radley Horton’s Q&A on Reddit about the effects of climate change in the US.

In a story posted on the Earth Institute site earlier this week, Horton summed up the report this way: “The overall message is that climate change is happening right now—we can’t think of this as an issue for future generations.” Horton works at the institute’s Center for Climate Systems Research, and the affiliated NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies. He was convening lead author for the assessment’s Northeast chapter.

The impacts of a changing climate include rising sea levels that contribute to coastal flooding, more extreme precipitation events, more extensive heat waves and drought, increased acidity in the oceans that can threaten sea life, and on land, shifts in the ranges of plants and animals.

For a useful summary of the assessment, the White House has published a fact sheet on “What Climate Change Means for Regions across America and Major Sectors of the Economy.”

More and more, scientists are speaking out about climate, in part because much of the public and policymakers express skepticism about the science. There are many reasons why so many people believe that the whole notion of climate change being caused by human activity is still up for debate. But it’s not, at least among most scientists who study the issue.

The issue is daunting, so global that it’s tough for people to grasp what exactly they can do about it. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to a new climate future will take major shifts in policy in many countries around the globe. But that doesn’t mean individuals have to stand still and wait: A State of the Planet story outlines some of the ways you can focus on the issue.

To get more perspective on the climate report, here’s a glimpse of some of the major news media coverage of the issue this week:

Climate Change Study Finds U.S. is Already Widely Affected, The New York Times, May 6, 2014

Climate Change is Already Affecting All of U.S., Report Says, Los Angeles Times, May 6, 2014

Federal Report: Climate Change is Disrupting Americans’ Lives, NPR Here & Now, May 6, 2014

Climate Change Impacting U.S. Economy, Ecology, Health, ABC News, May 6, 2014

Climate Change is Harming Economy, Report Says, Wall Street Journal, May 6, 2014

Deadly Heat Waves, Flooding Rains, Crop Failures Among Climate Change Plagues, Scientific American, May 7, 2014 (“We can take steps to reduce greenhouse emissions to avert some of these possible outcomes,” Radley Horton says in an interview here.)

5 Things Environmentalists Want from White House Climate Report, NBC News, May 5, 2014 (an interview with Earth Institute executive director Steve Cohen)

Authors of Major U.S. Climate Report: ‘The Old Normal Is Broken,’ Climate Progress, May 6, 2014

The Top Ten Global Warming ‘Skeptic’ Arguments Answered, The Guardian – May 6, 2014 (refers to NASA climate scientist Gavin Schmidt’s TED talk on climate models, below)


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