Mary-Elena Carr, Author at State of the Planet

Earth Hour: Making it Count

The past Saturday 26 of March, people in 131 countries switched off their lights for an hour at 8:30pm local time to celebrate Earth Hour as a way to express their concern about the planet. Major iconic buildings and landmarks went dark, including the Empire State Building in NYC, the Beijing National Stadium (The Bird’s Nest),… read more

by |March 28, 2011

What Does the Science Say?

The negotiations in Copenhagen have been handled by politicians and policy makers. But there would be no climate negotiations if climate scientists had not identified evidence that humans could disrupt the natural carbon cycle, and affect the climate system. The fact that some 50,000 people and the heads of most nations have come together indicates that, if nothing else, scientists have been quite successful in engaging society […]

by |December 18, 2009

Abrupt Climate Change in a Warming World

Early last month, I attended a meeting on Abrupt Climate Change in a Warming World. Climate Matters @ Columbia has discussed abrupt climate change before, referring to the hydrologic cycle, and with regards to melting sea ice or permafrost. Shifts in the earth climate are a known fact: crocodile-like reptiles lived in Greenland 55 million… read more

by |August 6, 2009

The latest on permafrost

Permafrost is ground that remains at or below freezing for two or more consecutive years (for great information on permafrost see the National Snow and Ice Data Center). Climate researchers worry that permafrost will thaw as temperatures rise due to climate change, releasing carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere. Two recent studies indicate that this concern… read more

by |July 14, 2009

Snowstorms in a Warming World

On March 2 snowstorms hit the eastern seaboard, coinciding with a widely publicized protest against the coal industry in Washington DC . This garnered some attention, with Time noting the irony of people chanting about global warming while shivering in the cold and snow. One might wonder if a March snowstorm is inconsistent with a… read more

by |March 11, 2009

(Almost) Ten things I learned at GROCC-6

The sixth meeting of the Global Roundtable on Climate Change (GROCC) took place on February 26 and 27. Around 150 corporations, non-governmental organizations, and government groups have been meeting since 2005 to discuss the science, technology, and economic considerations required for sound public policies on climate change. Some commenters to our posting to announce the meeting  wondered… read more

by |March 8, 2009

When will we see a sea level rise of three feet?

Recently, the Columbia Climate Center had the chance to participate in an event aiming to improve public awareness on climate change.  On the weekend of the 6th and 7th of February, the CCC had a table in the Polar Fair in the International Polar Weekend at the American Museum of Natural History. It was a… read more

by |February 18, 2009

Columbia Climate Center Launches its Website

This blog, Climate Matters @ Columbia, is brought to you by the Columbia Climate Center, created in 2007 by the Earth Institute, Columbia University. The mission of the Columbia Climate Center is to integrate climate related research throughout Columbia University and to build upon it to address the challenges of understanding, predicting, adapting to, and… read more

by |January 9, 2009

Abrupt Climate Change, How Likely?

Yesterday the USGS released “Abrupt Climate Change, Final Report, Synthesis and Assessment Product 3.4” of  the U.S. Climate Change Science Program and the Subcommittee on Global Change Research. You can download the four page brochure or the full report here.  Columbia scientists Edward R. Cook (the lead author) and Richard Seager, both from Lamont-Doherty Earth… read more

by |December 18, 2008

Biofuels, food security, deforestation, and loss of biodiversity

Biofuel use is one of the strategies to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that has already been incorporated into policy and regulatory frameworks. However, it has become increasingly evident that biofuel production has unintended consequences that extend beyond national boundaries and beyond the energy sector. Chief among these are concerns for food security. The food… read more

by |December 15, 2008