GlacierHub is Moving to a New Home

Today I am happy to announce that GlacierHub is officially moving to State of the Planet, a website from Columbia University’s Earth Institute. Over the years, State of the Planet has syndicated dozens of stories from GlacierHub, on topics ranging from geoscience and biodiversity to adaptation, policy and activism to cultural topics like music and sports. We are excited to take this relationship to the next level. Starting today, all new GlacierHub stories will be published on our blog on State of the Planet.

Readers will be able to find GlacierHub’s new stories on the State of the Planet homepage and on GlacierHub’s landing page. We will retain our Twitter, Instagram and Facebook feeds, while also sharing those of State of the Planet. Our archives, dating back to 2014, will remain live on Glacierhub.org, with a number of archived stories also migrating to State of the Planet. 

Chicon, seen from a village in the Andes outside Cusco, Peru (source: Ben Orlove)

GlacierHub and State of the Planet

State of the Planet, founded in 2008, is the official website of Columbia University’s Earth Institute. It supports the Earth Institute’s mission to “blend … research in the physical and social sciences, education and practical solutions to help guide the world onto a path toward sustainability.” The posts on State of the Planet address a variety of themes linked to sustainability: agriculture, climate, earth sciences, ecology, energy, health, urbanization, and water. As readers of GlacierHub will know, there is a close overlap between these themes and our own coverage. GlacierHub has addressed agriculture, climate, ecology and water, all prominent themes in mountain environments. We have also covered energy by examining the future of hydropower. Our health posts have examined child malnutrition and Covid-19 in mountain regions. Our treatment of urbanization includes a discussion of rapid expansion of cities in Bhutan and natural hazards that threaten towns in Peru.

Moreover, issues of social justice are important to both websites. State of the Planet has published many posts on poverty reduction and gender equality. It has also addressed Indigenous rights, a central theme to GlacierHub. 

And at a broader level, there is an alignment between the planetary scale of focus of our new home and the glacier-centered focus that has been, and will remain, our hallmark. Glaciers have formed because of planetary processes: the movement of the earth’s tectonic plates has created the high mountain ranges around the world, and the circulation of the atmosphere and the water cycle bring snow to these mountains in quantities that survive through summer and transform into ice. The expansion of the world economy over the last few centuries has placed the farmers, herders and hunters of remote mountain areas ever closer into the orbit of global markets and global geopolitics, resulting in the struggles of these communities to retain their identity and autonomy. And most recently and most forcefully, the global human-caused processes of climate change have impacted the world’s high mountains with particular severity. In these ways, reporting about glaciers and the communities that live near them is indeed reporting on the state of the planet.

Incense burning in an altar in a village in the Himalayas, on the Pho Chhu River, Bhutan. (source: Ben Orlove)

GlacierHub and the Earth Institute

The Earth Institute was established in 1995 to integrate two of Columbia’s strongest areas of academic and applied research and in teaching: the geosciences, housed at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory north of New York City, and a wide array of other environmental fields in ecology and the social sciences, based on the main campus in the city itself. The leadership has reflected this integration: the first four directors included a physicist, two political scientists and an economist, while the current director, Alex Halliday, appointed in 2018, is a planetary scientist. This integration of natural science and social science is another affinity between GlacierHub and the Earth Institute.

GlacierHub has strong ties to two Earth Institute units. It was first funded through a grant from the Center for Research on Environmental Decisions, and many of the writers have been students in the MA Program in Climate and Society. GlacierHub has also overlapped with other Earth Institute units, reporting on trips to Bhutan conducted jointly with researchers from the Earth Institute’s Tree Ring Laboratory, interviewing scientists at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society about landscape change in the Alps, and discussing social action with cryosphere scientists at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

Unfinished Soviet-era nuclear power plant along the Naryn River in the Tien Shan, Kyrgyzstan. (source: Ben Orlove)