Cobscook Bay State Park, Maine. Photo: W. Menke

What Geology Has to Say About Global Warming

The most important lessons drawn from geology are that the earth’s climate can change radically, and rapidly. We can’t say precisely at what CO2 level we’re in danger of melting Antarctica, but that threshold could be reached in 150-300 years, if CO2 levels keep rising at the current rate.

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El Niño: The Basics

Forecasts suggest we’re looking ahead to an El Niño event this year—a warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean around the equator that can affect weather patterns around the globe. But what exactly is an El Niño event, how strong do forecasters think it’s likely to be, and just how will it affect our weather?

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For a Wind-Powered City, Heat Pumps Are Key

Replacing conventional building boilers with electric heat pumps in New York City buildings could substantially increase the viability of renewable energy use in the city, according to a recent study from researchers from the Earth Institute’s Sustainable Engineering Lab.

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The Amazon rainforest. Photo: CIFOR

Making Progress on Deforestation

In 2005, Brazil was losing more forest each year than any other country. Today, Brazil has reduced deforestation in the Amazon by 70 percent. Seventeen countries across four continents have also shown progress in reducing tropical deforestation. But there is still a long way to go.

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Study: Reforming the Port Authority and the MTA

Earth Institute students took a hard look into financial and administrative problems plaguing the MTA and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and came up with suggestions for more sustainable financing and more efficient operations.

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Climate Change or Public Health: Which Matters More?

by | 8.1.2014 at 11:23am
climate change, public health

A new study by Earth Institute researchers suggests that talking about the human health impacts of air pollution related to burning fossil fuels might make a more convincing argument for action among conservatives, who are generally more skeptical of the scientific evidence for climate change.

Deep Sea Plough

by | 8.1.2014 at 10:00am
Photo: 2011room5mgk.wikispaces.com

Giant fleets the oceans trawl,
Gasping fish they skywards haul.
Not just critters do they move,
But sediments they push and groove …

Solving the Mysteries of Carbon Dioxide

by | 7.30.2014 at 8:38pm
OCO-2. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech

About 50 percent of the CO2 produced by human activity remains in the atmosphere, warming the planet. But scientists don’t know where and how oceans and plants have absorbed the rest of the manmade CO2. To try to answer these questions, on July 2, 2014, NASA launched the $468 million Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2), its first Earth remote sensing satellite dedicated to studying atmospheric carbon dioxide from space.

Conference on Sustainable Development Practice Sept. 17-18

by | 7.30.2014 at 4:45pm
Bineta Diop, International Conference on Sustainable Development Practice

The Global MDP Association and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network are hosting the 2nd Annual International Conference on Sustainable Development Practice at Columbia University in New York City on Sept. 17 and 18.

Investigating Water Quality and Arsenic in Bangladesh

by | 7.30.2014 at 12:22pm
Joining PVC pipes during well installation

Postcard from the Field: Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory graduate student Rajib Mozumder, who works with Lamont scientists Lex van Geen and Ben Bostick, has spent part of his summer drilling water wells and collecting samples in Bangladesh.

Exploring Ecology and History in Bermuda

by | 7.30.2014 at 10:26am
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I learned about the coral reef ecology course in Bermuda offered through the Earth Institute Center for Environmental Sustainability (EICES) at Columbia University after developing an interest in marine science over the past year. My background is in newspaper journalism, but I’m now a communications professional at the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), devoted to promoting the great work of our scientists around the globe, including those in marine conservation. My supervisors and peers encouraged me to seize the opportunity to take the class since continuing education is something that’s valued at WCS.

Sustainable Development Spring 2014 Workshop Briefings

by | 7.29.2014 at 3:33pm
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Last spring, students in the Undergraduate Program in Sustainable Development identified real solutions for sustainability issues as part of their Capstone Workshop in Sustainable Development. Under the guidance of professors Stuart Gaffin and Radley Horton, students worked as consultants for the United States Military Academy at West Point and McEnroe Organic Farm. On May 8, students gathered to present their final briefing to Columbia University students, faculty and staff.