State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

Take Our 2020 Climate Week Quiz

This year, Climate Week NYC takes place from September 21 to 27. Hundreds of digital events from all around the world will be covering the climate crisis and pressing for a future that does not depend on fossil fuels. Check out what’s going on at the Earth Institute, and take our quiz below to test your knowledge of the latest climate news from the Earth Institute and beyond.

1. According to a recent study from Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, the ongoing megadrought in the Western U.S….

The megadrought has been going on for 20 years now, by some estimates. It has been made more severe by climate change and affects a wider area than previous megadroughts in the region.

2. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic…

(Sources: here, here, and here.)

3. “It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity.” This spring, a study found that potentially fatal combinations of heat and humidity…

Dangerously hot and humid conditions have already arrived, decades ahead of when scientists originally expected them. Outbreaks of temperature and humidity combinations that surpass human survivability have so far been localized, but they are increasing in both severity and frequency.

4. By combining epidemiological models and climate models, researchers at Columbia University’s International Research Institute for Climate and Society recently discovered that they could forecast risks of outbreaks for which disease(s)?

The models predict conditions that will allow Aedes mosquitoes to thrive. These mosquitoes carry all three diseases, as well as others.

5. The Greenland ice sheet experienced record losses in 2019. How much mass did it lose?

The previous record year was in 2012, when 464 billion tons of ice went into the ocean. The five biggest years of ice loss in Greenland have all occurred in the past decade.

6. Climate change will disproportionately harm people of color and low-income communities. Why?

Learn more here.

7. How does climate change impact human health?

Climate change will have a variety of effects on human health, including others not listed here. By disrupting habitats, climate change will make it more likely that pathogens like SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) will spread from animals to humans.

8. In 2019, global carbon dioxide emissions…

A report from the Global Carbon Project estimated that human activities around the world released 43.1 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. Compared to 2018, this was an increase of 0.6% — about a third of the growth rates of previous years, indicating a potential slowdown in emissions.

9. What can you do to help limit the effects of climate change?

Taking action in your personal life can be helpful and empowering, but tackling the grand challenges of climate change requires action at the levels of community, state, and federal government.

10. Which of the following large-scale changes is necessary to restrict climate change to manageable levels?

We need every tool at our disposal in order to limit how hot the planet gets, to prevent human suffering and ecological destruction. The good news is we know what to do, and we have the tools we need; now we just need to start using them at a grand scale.




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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