News & Events

The latest climate change news from Cornell and beyond.


Climate Change to Social Change Workshop Oct. 23

ej101-workshopClimate Change to Social Change: Environmental Justice 101 Workshop

Come learn about environmental justice issues and engage in thinking critically about the intersections of race, food, labor, justice and climate change. This workshop will include keynote speaker Gerald Torres (professor of law), student-led breakout sessions, speaker Ravi Kanbur (professor of economics), and an interdisciplinary panel discussion including students, faculty, and members of the Ithaca community.

When: Friday October 23, 4:30-7pm
Where: Myron Taylor Hall 290, Cornell Law School
RSVP here.

Food will be provided by Manndible Cafe and Cornell Orchards. FREE and open to the public, so tell your friends! Find more information on Facebook and RSVP here.

Co-sponsors include ECO (Cornell’s Environmental Collaborative), KyotoNOW! / DivestNOW!, Cornell United Religious Work, Protestant Cooperative Ministry, Asian American Studies Program, Environmental Law Society, Islamic Alliance for Justice, Cornell Organization for Labor Action, Society for Natural Resources Conservation, Cornell Roosevelt Institute, Cornell International Affairs Society, and Amnesty International. This event is also associated with the People’s Climate Movement National Day of Action.

‘Bridge’ fuel may escalate atmospheric greenhouse gas

Robert Howarth (Robert Barker/University Photography)

Robert Howarth (Robert Barker/University Photography)

Cornell Chronicle [2015-10-12]:

While the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggests there has been a decline in measurable atmospheric greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel use in the U.S. for the past seven years, a Cornell scientist says the EPA’s computation may be in error – by a wide margin – due to problematic accounting for natural gas, the so-called “bridge” fuel.

Instead, thanks to a heavier dose of methane emissions resulting from increased use of shale gas, greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. may have been rising rapidly over that time.

In 2013, the EPA has estimated greenhouse gas emissions in the United States – including methane from natural gas – at about 6 petagrams, or 6,000,000,000,000,000 grams into the atmosphere. By using better accounting for methane as a key greenhouse contributor, the emissions to the atmosphere are closer to 9.5 petagrams, according to Robert Howarth, Cornell’s David R. Atkinson Professor of Ecology and Environmental Biology. By 2040, greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. fossil fuel use (including methane) could be close to 12 petagrams.

“The EPA has seriously underestimated the importance of methane emissions in general – and from shale gas in particular,” said Howarth, a fellow in Cornell’s Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, who published “Perspectives on Air Emissions of Methane and Climatic Warming Risk from Hydraulic Fracturing and Shale-Gas development: Implications for Policy,” in the journal Energy Science and Engineering (Oct. 12)

Read the whole article.


Oct. 19 seminar on Siberian sea shelf methane flux

Christoph Humborg

Christoph Humborg

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Weekly Seminar Series presents:
Extensive new observations of the surface water to atmosphere methane flux across the Siberian shelf seas
Christoph Humborg, University of Stockholm
Monday, October 19, 12:20 to 1:20 pm Morrison Seminar Room, Corson Hall

Abstract:  Many climate scientists hypothesize that global warming will lead to a release of methane from permafrost regions and methane clathrates on the continental shelves, particularly in the Arctic Ocean. Such a release, if the methane were to reach the atmosphere, would be a feedback that could greatly accelerate global change.   Prof. Humborg will present the latest evidence as to whether or not this is yet occurring, based on his research in the Arctic Ocean near Siberia.

Photojournalist to present powerful images of climate change Sept. 30

Cornell Plantations lecture:

From Glaciers to Generations: Climate Change Affects Landscapes and Lives

Gary BraaschGary Braasch, Photojournalist
September 30, 7:30 p.m.
 Statler Hall Auditorium, Cornell University
Free and open to the public

Photojournalist Gary Braasch will present powerful images of climate change across the planet with an emphasis on the people who study it, are caught up in it, and who are working to change our energy sources and limit the effects of global climate disruption.  Gary has traveled from the polar regions to the Himalayas and the Great Barrier Reef following scientists at work and witnessing the effects of global warming. He presents the human connection, making the science relevant to our lives.

Co-sponsored by Cornell Plantations, the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, the Community and Regional Development Institute (CaRDI), Mann Library and the Department of Development Sociology.

Climate Smart Communities Conference Sept. 25

climate smart conference bannerSeptember 25, Newburgh, N.Y.
Conference website

The Climate Smart Communities (CSC) Mid-Hudson Regional Coordinator and Orange County are co-hosting the CSC Conference on Friday, September 25, 2015 at the State University of New York (SUNY) Newburgh, New York.  At the CSC Conference municipal leaders, staff, volunteers, State officials, and community stakeholders will learn about best practices, resources, tools, and New York State programs available to support local clean energy and climate protection efforts. The CSC Conference will be a full-day event, curated by the CSC Mid-Hudson Regional Coordinator with up to 150 participants and will be held at SUNY Newburgh. Reserve your seat and spend a day networking with peers and learning about resources to help your community achieve CSC program goals, including:

  • Reducing GHG Emissions
  • Preparing for Climate Change Impacts
  • Increasing Renewable Energy Resources
  • Saving Taxpayer Dollars

The CSC Conference speakers have developed sessions that highlight projects and resources that align with the eligibility requirements for Cleaner, Greener Communities funding Category 2. Join us at the Conference to learn from CSCs who can share their experience and lessons learned so that your local government can take advantage of funding opportunities and achieve CSC program goals to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG)emissions, save tax payer dollars, and prepare for the impacts of a changing climate. Please contact for more information.

Sept. 10 ag resiliency summit takes on severe-weather planning

flooded farmVia Cornell Chronicle [2015-08-14]:

A summit meeting to identify resources and opportunities to improve agricultural resiliency to severe weather across New York state will explore current initiatives and link researchers and extension members.

Cornell’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, New York, will host the New York State Agricultural Resiliency Summit, Thursday, Sept. 10, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Jordan Hall. The summit aims to increase individual and collective capacity to prepare for, respond to and recover from weather-related events.

Participants will analyze the status of agricultural resiliency and emergency engagement and outline steps to improve how all stakeholders interact during a disaster. Breakout sessions will cover working with new weather patterns, improving communication before and after a severe weather event, and strategies to improve community preparedness.

The event is free, but preregistration is required. Direct questions about the summit to Trevor Partridge, 315-558–2815,

The summit is funded by Empire State Development through a grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration.

News roundup

A  flock of about 40 sheep cut the grass at Cornell's Snyder Road Solar Farm. (Caleb Scott photo.)

A flock of about 40 sheep cut the grass at Cornell’s Snyder Road Solar Farm. (Caleb Scott photo.)

Cornell scientists: More study needed on Owasco Lake blue-green algae incidences [Auburn Citizen 2015-07-29] – Climate change, the trends affecting weather events and rising temperatures, is likely a contributing factor to the incidence of cyanobacteria in this Finger Lake.

Before the Time of Global Warming, Data Shows Spring Sprung Later [Inside Climate News 2015-07-29] – Records of the flowering of plants, the arrival of migrating birds, and the onset of frog mating calls collected at more than 90 scientific academies across New York State between 1832 and 1862 show spring is arriving as much as 14 days sooner. “As far as we can tell it’s the largest [historical] data set from North America,” said Conrad Vispo, who recently uncovered the long-forgotten documents and heads the group’s Progress of the Seasons project.

Did climate change rock the cradle of civilisation? [DailyMail 2015-07-23] – Last year, tree ring samples found in an ancient Egyptian coffin revealed the Akkadian civilisation came to its knees following changes to its food resources and infrastructure. Researchers at Cornell University said was just enough change in the climate to upset food resources and other infrastructure.

Ewes’ chews keep solar farm in tip-top shape [Cornell Chronicle 2015-07-22] – In lieu of running gas-powered, carbon-dumping mowers to maneuver around 6,778 solar panels at  Cornell’s Snyder Road Solar Farm, a flock of about 40 sheep cut the grass. “Using sheep to mow the field is not only cost-effective, but this reduces greenhouse gases and utilizes the agricultural potential of the site,” said Sarah Zemanick, director, Cornell Sustainability Office.

The science and morality of climate change [The Hill 2015-07-21] – Despite years of scientific consensus that climate change is caused by human activities and will have dire social and environmental consequences — some of which we are already experiencing — we’ve been stymied at the policy level by counterarguments built almost exclusively around exaggerations of “scientific uncertainty” about the causes of climate change and the exact level of problems we will face, writes Amanda Rodewald, director of Conservation Science at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, faculty fellow at Cornell University’s Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, an associate professor in the Department of Natural Resources at Cornell University and a Robert F. Schumann Faculty Fellow.

Presentation July 29: International issues with agriculture and climate change

Hans Jöhr

Hans Jöhr

The keynote address for the Dairy Environmental Systems & Climate Adaptation Conference is free and open to the public, and will feature Hans Jöhr corporate head of Agriculture at Nestle in Switzerland. Jöhr  is responsible for providing technical and strategic leadership in the groups’ world-wide agricultural raw material supply chain. He will discuss the role of climate change with respect to global agricultural policy decision making, and will highlight the importance of planning for and adapting to, perceived changes in climate and their impact on production agriculture.

Wednesday July 29th, 7:00-9:00 PM
Alice Statler Auditorium, Cornell University, 7 East Ave, Ithaca, NY
Ice Cream Social to Follow

Conference details and registration.



Climate Smart Farming Team helps farmers reduce risks

cicca-logo-sq-transp-bg-1couy99ITHACA, N.Y. – New York farmers coping with extreme weather and climate variability now have a new resource at their disposal: Cornell University’s Climate Smart Farming Extension Team. Organized by Cornell University’s Institute for Climate Change and Agriculture (CICCA), in cooperation with Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE), the cross-state team will provide growers with assistance and access to the latest in management practices that improve farm resiliency.

“The Climate Smart Farming Team pulls together top farm specialists from Cornell and Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) to provide new research and decision-making tools that can help farmers reduce the risks climate change presents to their operations,” says Dr. Allison Chatrchyan, CICCA director.

“We will offer solid research-based information on climate change that farmers can use to manage risks to their farms and to take advantage of new opportunities. Our ultimate goal is to strengthen New York agriculture’s capacity to face a changing climate.”

Quicker access to new research findings will come through new extension materials, increased outreach efforts, guidance and training programs, Chatrchyan said.

“The pilot team is the first in the nation devoted to climate change resiliency, and can serve as a model for extension across the United States,” said Chris Watkins, Director of Cornell Cooperative Extension. “The specialists on the team cover many key sectors in New York agriculture, and many regions of the state, from western and northern New York, to the Hudson Valley, helping it reach a broad audience of farmers.”

Read the whole article.


News roundup

In one ACSF-funded project, researchers will develop an accounting tool to assess the net climate benefits of land management plans that take into account the land's surface reflectivity, or “albedo” -- an important but complex climate effect that may counterbalance biofuels’ benefits.

In one ACSF-funded project, researchers will develop an accounting tool to assess the net climate benefits of land management plans that take into account the land’s surface reflectivity, or “albedo” — an important but complex climate effect that may counterbalance biofuels’ benefits.

Atkinson Center grants $1.2 million to sustainable ideas [Cornell Chronicle 2015-06-18] - Cornell’s Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future (ACSF) has given $1.2 million from its Academic Venture Fund to 11 new university projects selected from 37 proposals. This year marks the second straight year where more than $1 million has been granted. “We make seed grants to multidisciplinary teams with exciting ideas that address sustainability problems and opportunities. The process is very competitive and usually brings together faculty who have not previously worked together,” says Frank DiSalvo, Atkinson Center director and the John A. Newman Professor of Physical Science.

Cornell Tech to build first passive house residential high-rise [Cornell Chronicle 2015-06-17] - The first residential building on Cornell Tech’s Roosevelt Island campus will become the first high-rise residential building in the world built to passive house (PH) standards, a rigorous building standard for energy consumption. The building will become the beacon of the Cornell Tech campus and a symbol of the school’s commitment to sustainability. Construction is set to begin this month on the 26-story building; it will comprise 350 residential units and open as part of the campus’s first phase in 2017. “Constructing the first passive house residential high-rise in the world is the latest and most exciting example of our effort to set new benchmarks in sustainability and innovation,” said Cornell Tech Dean Dan Huttenlocher. “We hope this will serve as a model for how passive house standards can be brought to scale in the United States and create a new template for green design here in New York City.”

How will climate change affect gardening? [Ithaca Journal 2015-06-11] – Tips for Upstate New York gardeners to respond to a changing climage.

Polls produced by students reveal shifting attitudes [Cornell Chronicle 2015-06-18] -  According to a Cornell University poll, young adults are much more likely to report that they will be politically active over the next few years, compared with everyone over 25. This and related polls show that younger citizens are taking more liberal positions. More of them want action on climate change; most are accepting of gay marriage; and they consider alcohol a more dangerous drug than marijuana. When a question about climate change was preceded by “scientists have predicted irreversible changes to Earth’s climate by 2030…” a little more than 50 percent favored government action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But when the year was changed to 2100 at least 60 percent got on board. The pollsters speculated that if the cutoff date was too soon, people would think that the government couldn’t do anything about it anyway.