Year in Review: Our Top Stories of 2021
What a year it’s been. COVID-19 hasn’t quit, political polarization is growing, and global temperatures continue to climb. But for us, one big bright spot has been the launch of the Columbia Climate School, whose goal is to generate knowledge-based solutions to create a more just and sustainable planet.
As the Earth Institute transitions into the Climate School, State of the Planet has been expanding its coverage to not only include the experts at our centers and programs, but also our fantastic colleagues working on climate and sustainability throughout Columbia University. Below, you’ll find a short roundup of some of our favorite stories and videos of 2021.
Happy holidays, and see you in the new year!
Our Most Visited Posts From 2021
- How Exactly Does Carbon Dioxide Cause Global Warming? CO2 molecules make up only a small percentage of the atmosphere, but their impact on our climate is huge. The reason comes down to physics and chemistry.
- Why We Need Green Hydrogen: Hydrogen produced with renewable energy can provide clean power in the industries that are hardest to wean off of fossil fuels.
- The U.S. Is Back in the Paris Agreement. Now What? What progress has been made and what could change with the U.S.’s reentry?
- Bitcoin’s Impacts on Climate and the Environment: The cryptocurrency’s high value comes at a high cost to the planet.
- Why International Women’s Day Is Still Relevant in 2021: Insights from and stories about brilliant women throughout the Climate School.
- Why Fashion Needs to Be More Sustainable: As the world re-opens, it’s a good time to take stock of the implications of how we dress.
- A New Global Study Refines Estimates of Rooftop Solar Potential: Rooftop solar can generate vast amounts of energy. But, how much of that energy could actually be used?
Most Covered In the Media
- More Carbon Emissions Will Kill More People. Here’s How Many. Current methods to calculate the so-called social cost of carbon largely leave out how many future people our emissions will kill. This study tries to correct that.
- Exposure to Deadly Urban Heat Worldwide Has Tripled in Recent Decades, Says Study: A detailed analysis of temperatures and population trends in 13,115 cities shows where specific numbers of people are most affected.
- 2020 Ties With 2016 as Hottest Year on Record: Scientists at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies find that 2020 was statistically equal with 2016, continuing a long-term trend.
- How a CO2 Dip Allowed Dinosaurs to Migrate to Greenland: A new study identifies a climate phenomenon that may have helped sauropodomorphs spread northward across the Pangea supercontinent.
- Fossil Plants at Bottom of Greenland Ice Sheet Warn of Future Warming: The discovery of fossil plants below a mile of Greenland ice indicates that the ice sheet completely melted in the past, and suggests it could rapidly do so again.
- Recordings from our Managed Retreat conference: These talks address a range of scientific, social, policy and governance issues around the process of relocating homes, communities, and planned development away from growing hazards.
- Columbia Climate School Students Video 2021: The Columbia Climate School’s first class of students share their reasons for enrolling and their dreams for a safer and more just future for people and the planet.
- You Spin Me Right Round: In this EI Live K12 lesson, a researcher uses use a rotating tank of water and food coloring to show storms and ocean currents get their spinning, looping structures.
- Ocean Trailblazers: Explorations, Discoveries, and Technologies of the Deep: A conversation about how important the oceans are, and why they remain underexplored.
- Avoiding Climate Disaster: This Sustain What conversation brings together linguist Noam Chomsky and experts from Columbia University and Barnard College to explore paths to climate progress on an overheating and starkly unequal planet.
Don’t Miss These Other Important Stories
- In New Project, Millions of Farmers Will Help to Improve Insurance Against Climate Disasters: Until now, most index insurance did not have the capacity to tap the wisdom of crowds of farmers themselves.
- Oceans Could Be Harnessed to Remove Carbon From Air, Say U.S. Science Leaders: Seaweed cultivation, altering the chemistry of seawater, or even injecting electrical currents should be studied, say the authors.
- Columbia Climate School Welcomes First Class of Students: In September, 90 students will begin their orientation for the M.A. in Climate and Society Program, the first degree program offered through Columbia’s Climate School.
- New U.N. Report Highlights Need to Step Up Climate Change Adaptation: Climate School scientists were among the lead authors on the report, which calls for increased financing for adaptation projects, especially nature-based solutions.
- In Lamentable Year, Finland Again is the Happiest Country in the World: The 2021 World Happiness Report marks a somber moment as COVID-19 continues to rage on a little more than a year since it was declared a pandemic by the WHO.
- 8 Ways NYC Can Help Vulnerable Communities Survive Summer Heat: Communities of color are especially at risk from extreme heat, and COVID-19 has made cooling off more challenging for many. Here’s how the city can do better.
- How Unprecedented Was the February 2021 Texas Cold Snap? A look at historical trends shows that extreme cold spells are relatively common during Texas winters. Maybe it’s time to start designing for it.
Climate Across the University
- Columbia Launches a Carbontech Initiative to Bring Climate Solutions to Market: The program will help researchers and entrepreneurs develop and scale carbon-cutting technologies.
- Celebrating a Rich History of Climate Change Expertise: A look at the School of International and Public Affairs’ past, and future, at the intersection of policy and the environment.
- Columbia to Launch $25 Million AI-based Climate Modeling Center: Funded by the National Science Foundation, the center will leverage big data and machine learning to improve climate projections and motivate societies to invest in policies and infrastructure to confront rising seas and warmer temperatures.
- The Climate Crisis is a Health Crisis. We Need Your Help. The Columbia Mailman School’s new leader in climate and health education is on a mission to make you consider how the warming climate changes everything.
- Artist and Designer Maya Lin Presents Major New Works: Also known as an environmentalist, she discusses “Ghost Forest” and “What Is Missing,” which both address climate change.
- Introducing Defending the Planet: Can lawyers save the planet? Host Michael B. Gerrard introduces the new limited-series podcast from Columbia Law.
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