you asked Archives - State of the Planet

Paul olsen

You Asked: Dinosaurs Survived When CO2 Was Extremely High. Why Can’t Humans?

Our expert says: Although carbon dioxide levels have been much higher in the past, they generally increased slowly, giving plants and animals time to adapt. When the rate of climate change was staggeringly fast, like today, there were big problems.

by |September 20, 2022
biodegradable container on grass

You Asked: Should I Buy Biodegradable Materials If My Trash Just Goes to a Landfill?

Our expert says: It’s better than adding another piece of plastic to the problem.

by Emily Halnon |August 2, 2022
A polar bear with its cub.

You Asked: When Will Polar Bears Go Extinct?

A recent study provides a rough timeline, but there’s still time to save them if we cut our carbon emissions.

by Robert Newton |November 30, 2021

You Asked: What’s the Best Way To Talk About Climate Change?

Columbia scientists, journalists, and content creators answer some of the most frequently asked questions about climate communication.

by Elise Gout |September 21, 2021
aerial view of smoke from a power plant

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.

by |February 25, 2021
lava in hawaii eruption

You Asked: Why Is it So Hard to Predict Volcanic Eruptions?

Volcanologist Einat Lev tackles reader questions and explains how more monitoring of volcanoes could save lives.

by Divya Agarwala |February 9, 2021

You Asked: What’s It Going to Take to Adapt to Climate Change?

Paleoecologist Kevin Uno explains how humans have been adapting to changes in climate for thousands of years, and how we need to adapt now to protect our species’ future.

by |February 3, 2021
radley horton

You Asked: What Can We Do About Climate Tipping Points?

Climate scientist Radley Horton tackles questions about climate tipping points, and how we can tip the scales in a safer direction.

by |January 29, 2021
gisela winckler headshot with ocean background

You Asked: If the Science is Clear, Why Do We Need More Climate Research?

Climate scientist Gisela Winckler explains the link between climate science and solutions, and shares some of her research adventures.

by |January 26, 2021
angel munoz in a vineyard

You Asked: How Does Carbon Dioxide Get So High Up Into the Atmosphere?

If CO2 is heavier than oxygen, why doesn’t it stay near the ground? The short answer: Earth’s atmosphere isn’t like a sealed bottle of wine.

by |September 23, 2020