News & Events

The latest climate change news from Cornell and beyond.


Climate change perspectives from Indian Country

David Wolfe

David Wolfe

From David Wolfe, professor of plant and soil ecology in the School of Integrative Plant Science at Cornell University and chair of the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future’s Climate Change Consortium. Via The Hill [2016-02-02].

I was on a research trip to Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Nation in North and South Dakota this December to learn from Lakota and Dakota community members how climate change was affecting their environment, and to begin a dialogue about building resilience to this challenge. While there, my group was also keeping track of events at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, where the Indigenous Environmental Network was organizing events to raise awareness of indigenous peoples’ vulnerability to climate change and longstanding concerns about human impacts on the Earth.

As an ecologist, I was struck by how the complex and cascading effects of a changing climate were real-life issues for members of the Lakota and Dakota community, giving them an understanding far beyond those who do not interact with the environment in the same way. They could see how seasonal cycles of the living world — like spring bloom, bird migrations or the thickening of the winter coat of the buffalo — were becoming out of sync with the sun and moon cycles on which our Gregorian calendar is based. They were concerned with declining fish and game, negative impacts on farm and ranching, and the shifting timing and abundance of traditional foods gathered from the grasslands and forests: prairie turnips in June, chokecherries in July, buffalo berries and wild mushrooms in September.

Read the whole article.

Seminar series starts Feb. 8

Perspectives on the Climate Change Challenge
BEE 2000: Spring 2016
Mondays: 3:35-4:35 P.M., 233 Plant Science

This university-wide seminar provides important views on the critical issue of climate change, drawing from many perspectives and disciplines. Experts from both Cornell University and other universities will present an overview of the science of climate change and climate change models, the implications for agriculture, ecosystems, and food systems, and provide important economic, ethical, and policy insights on the issue.

The seminar is being organized and sponsored by the Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering, the Cornell Institute for Climate Change and Agriculture, and the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future. The seminar is free and open to the Cornell and Ithaca Community at large, and will be videotaped.

For Cornell Students: This one credit seminar is being offered through the Department of Biological Engineering (BEE) as BEE 2000, and also satisfies the requirements of the ESS minor and major, as well as requirements of the climate change minor.


  • February 8: Climate Change at the Frontiers of Ethics, Dale Jamieson (New York University)
  • February 22: The Science and Impacts of Climate Change, Art DeGaetano (Earth & Atmospheric Sciences)
  • February 29: Long-term Climate Perspectives, Mega Drought and Seasonal Forecasts, Toby Ault (Earth & Atmospheric Sciences)
  • March 7: Short Versus Long-lived Forcers of Climate Change, Peter Hess (Biological & Environmental Engineering)
  • March 14: The Importance of Land Use in Climate Change, Natalie Mahowald (Earth & Atmospheric Sciences)
  • March 21: Cornell Perspectives from COP21 in Paris, Cornell’s COP21 Delegation of Allison Chatrchyan (CICCA and Development Sociology), Robert Howarth (Ecology & Evolutionary Biology), Johannes Lehmann (Soil & Crop Sciences), and Karen Pinkus (Comparative Literature)
  • April 4: Planning Our Water Resources Systems for a Changing Climate, Scott Steinschneider (Biological & Environmental Engineering)
  • April 11: Climate Change and Terrestrial Ecosystems, Christine Goodale (Ecology & Evolutionary Biology)
  • April 18: Climate Change and the Future of Food, David Wolfe (Horticulture)
  • April 25: Communicating Climate Change, Katherine McComas (Communication)
  • May 2: Simulating the Impact of Climate Change on Agriculture and Adaptation Planning, Linda Mearns (National Center for Atmospheric Research, NCAR)
  • May 9: Climate Justice: Economics and Philosophy, Ravi Kanbur (The Dyson School)

‘IPM Insights’ features climate change and pests

ipm-insightsThe January 2016 newsletter from the USDA’s Northeastern IPM Center, based at Cornell University, features articles on how climate change is affecting Integrated Pest Management (IPM), including:

  • Climate Change and Uh, Hopperburners?—Arriving
  • Climate Change Is the Elephant in the Room
  • Pests a Top Concern for USDA Northeast Climate Hub
  • National Forum on Climate and Pests
  • Scientist Sees Weeds as Indicators of Climate Change

The newsletter is available in both .pdf and iBook formats.

Feb. 10 seminar: Reducing Uncertainty in Rainfall Projections for Improved Food Security in Malawi

Reducing Uncertainty in Rainfall Projections for Improved Food Security in Malawi

Wednesday February 10 12:20-1:10pm
135 Emerson Hall


  • David Wolfe, Cornell Professor, Horticulture Section, School of Integrative Plant Science
  • Toby Ault, Cornell Professor, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

Refreshments provided. Co-sponsored by the Departments of Crop and Soil Sciences, Natural Resources, and The Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management

Reflections on COP21 climate agreement panel Feb. 3


Click image for poster.

Click image for poster.

COP21: Reflections on the Historic Climate Agreement – What’s next for the world?
Wednesday, February 3, 2016 at 7:15pm to 8:45pm
Tompkins County Public Library, Borg Warner Room, 101 E Green St, Ithaca, NY

Join six Ithacans who participated in COP21 in Paris, for personal reflections on the 195-nation agreement on climate change. Followed by a community conversation about next steps.


  • Bob Howarth, Cornell University
  • Sandra Steingraber, Ithaca College, author
  • Karen Pinkus, Cornell University
  • Allison Chatrchyan, Cornell Institute for Climate Change and Agriculture
  • Johannes Lehmann, Cornell University
  • Colleen Boland, We are Seneca Lake

Introduction: Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton

Sponsored by:  Cornell’s Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, Tompkins County Planning Department, Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative

Why Climate Change Rhetoric Simultaneously Succeeds and Fails


Adam Levine, Assistant professor in the Department of Government at Cornell University

Adam Levine, Assistant professor in the Department of Government at Cornell University

Adam Levine and Reuben Kline in the Huffington Post [2016-01-04]:

Despite mounting evidence about the threats posed by climate change, most Americans do not consider it to be a very important problem facing the country, nor are they engaged in large-scale advocacy efforts to address it.

What might be done? An increasingly common argument, backed both by intuition and social science research, is that rhetoric should highlight how climate change will personally affect Americans’ lives. Among the most common “personal relevance” frames are those that focus on how it might impact personal health or make it more difficult for people to obtain the food that they need.

It turns out that these personal relevance messages have the opposite effect from what we might expect: Although they do increase people’s concern about climate change, they actually reduce their willingness to advocate on the issue.

Read the whole article.

Feb. 18 panel: International Management of the Paris Climate Change Agreement: What Next?

Thursday, February 18, 2016
4:45pm to 6:00pm
Warren Hall, B25


  • Robert W. Howarth, David R. Atkinson Professor of Ecology & Environmental Biology.
  • David WolfeProfessor, School of Integrative Plant Science and Chair of the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future (ACSF) Climate Change Focus Group.
  • John MathiasonAdjunct Professor at the Cornell Institute for Public Affairs and the Managing Director of Associates for International Management Services (AIMS).

Climate change is the most important international issue for humans ever.  It is borderless, affects everyone and cannot be solved by the workings of the State system or the magic of the marketplace.  It requires international management.  This was known before the 21st Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Paris in December, but will be even more important as the Paris Agreement is implemented.  The colloquium will discuss what we can and should expect over the next thirty years.

Some of the dimensions of international management were explored in a 2013 issue of the Journal of International Organizations Studies edited by John Mathiason.  Its introduction stated “Despite the fact that international institutions will clearly be tasked with coping with the global response to climate change, little research has focused on the current and new institutions dealing with climate change. This is partly due to the fact that the negotiations about how to address the climate change problem have not concluded.”  The negotiations, for the moment, were concluded in Paris and some of the areas for management are reflected in the Agreement.

The Paris Agreement’s implementation will involve more negotiation and setting up and managing the negotiation process will continue to be an international responsibility executed by the Secretariat of the UNFCCC located in Bonn.

Read more about the event and view full bios of panelists.

Video: Cornell Takes on Climate Change

View video

From TWC Capital District News:

Climate change has become a huge topic of discussion lately, especially following an international agreement on how to combat the problem. But here in New York, Cornell University is taking a different approach. They’ve created the Cornell Institute for Climate Change and Agriculture to help train and educate farmers on how to adapt to a changing climate and reduce their impact on the environment. Cornell’s Matt Ryan and Neil Mattson joined us to talk about the initiative. View video

Climate change topic at NYS Agricultural Society Forum


Art DeGaetano—Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Professor at Cornell University and director of the NE Regional Climate Center. (Jason Koski/University Photography)

Morning Ag Clips [2015-12-23].

Undoubtedly climate change is a hot topic globally for world powers, developing nations, major industry, and competing think tanks. But how does the issue impact New Yorkers and how food is produced, processed and sold in our communities? On January 7, 2015 at the Holiday Inn Liverpool, a broad cross section of over 500 producers and representatives of the Empire State food and agricultural system will consider this contested issue and what changes and opportunities are on the horizon for climate smart farming.

Keynote speakers include Dr. Art DeGaetano—Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Professor at Cornell University and director of the NE Regional Climate Center; and Dr. Laura Lengnick—Professor of Sustainable Agriculture at Warren Wilson College in NC, who is one of the primary authors of the USDA comprehensive report on climate change effects and adaption strategies for US agriculture. Three producers, ranging from a traditional dairy to a community supported mixed-vegetable farm will contribute their insights and experience, and respond to questions.

In addition to Commissioner Richard Ball of the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets, Val Dolcini, Administrator of the Farm Service Agency , USDA, will be a special guest to present the inaugural Next Generation Farmer Award.

Read the whole article.

A changing climate means a changing menu


Mike Hoffmann

Mike Hoffmann

Michael Hoffmann in The Hill [2015-12-22]

Imagine that you and I are dining at a restaurant for a very special meal, where the choices are wide, the server is welcoming and knowledgeable, and the atmosphere is cozy — a perfect place for a crisp December evening. I order a Manhattan, three cherries, and you select a nice white wine. After a selection of raw oysters, we enjoy simple salads of mixed greens, avocado, cherry tomatoes and fresh parmesan. The conversation is warming up as we work our way to our main courses: lobster bisque for me, grilled shrimp and saffron rice for you. We end with coffee, chocolate mousse and panna cotta. Bon appétit!

But let’s take a few steps back. Our meal came to us from around the world thanks to a complex and interconnected global food system. It involves picking, packing, cleaning, hauling and shipping saffron from Kashmir, India; rice from Vietnam; fruit from Chile; wheat from Kansas; and other ingredients from thousands of points around the globe.

Unfortunately, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s “Climate Change, Global Food Security and the U.S. Food System” report released during the 2015 Paris Climate Conference earlier this month points to a new reality. All of these dots and their connections in this global system are under an intensifying threat: Climate change is fundamentally altering our menu. “Big Food” is taking notice of these changes, and so should we.

Read the whole article.

Michael Hoffmann is executive director of the Cornell Institute for Climate Change and Agriculture, faculty fellow at Cornell University’s Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, and a professor in the Department of Entomology.