David Funkhouser

I'm a writer and content manager for the Earth Institute at Columbia University. Before coming to Columbia, I spent 35 years writing, editing and managing at various newspapers around New England, most recently serving as environmental reporter for The Hartford Courant.

Recent Posts

From the bridge of the R/V/ Falkor, looking out at Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai. Photo: Colleen Peters

From Top to Bottom: Scientists Map a New Island Volcano

One of the earth’s newest islands exploded into view from the bottom of the southwest Pacific Ocean in January 2015, and scientists sailing around the volcano this spring have created a detailed map of its topography.

by |May 4, 2016
Groundwater pumping for agriculture and other uses has risen sharply. But a new study says it isn't contributing as much as previously thought to sea level rise.

Study Downgrades Groundwater Contribution to Sea Level Rise

Some research suggests that, along with melting ice sheets and glaciers, the water pumped from underground for irrigation and other uses, on the rise worldwide, could contribute substantially to rising sea levels over the next 50 years. A new study published in Nature Climate Change says the magnitude is substantially lower.

by |May 3, 2016
“As the Marshall Islands and several other small island states around the world struggle with saltwater intrusion into their fields and a dwindling fresh water supply, a future abroad is beginning to creep into the minds of local residents,” Eric Holthaus writes for Columbia Law School Magazine.

As Predicted: A Rising Tide of Migration

“With sea levels on the rise, several island nations are scrambling to stay above water and ensure citizens will have a place to go when the ocean engulfs their homeland. The humanitarian-crisis phase of climate change has officially begun.”

by |April 29, 2016
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Weber, Plank Elected to American Academy of Arts and Science

Elke Weber, who studies how people make decisions and how they think about climate change, and Terry Plank, who probes deep into the Earth’s interior to study magma and how volcanoes erupt, are among the members elected to the American Academy of Arts and Science this year.

by |April 22, 2016
The Leafsnap app helps users identify trees from photographs of leaves—an example of a growing number of science and environment-related apps.

Citizen Science, Smartphone Apps and a $10,000 Prize

If you think you can combine an interest in the environment with a little savvy about smartphone apps, listen up. You could win $10,000.

by |April 20, 2016
New York subway construction in the beginning of the 20th century. Aging infrastructure hampers the system's efficiency. Photo: NY Public Library Digital Collections

How to Rethink Urban Transit, and Pay for It, Too

“We have conflated mobility with access, but mobility is not the same as access. The best solution to a transportation problem is to not have to travel. The city itself was invented as a solution to a transportation problem. We have cities so we don’t have to travel.”

by |April 19, 2016
Bathymetry from the Kilo Moana vent field, mapped in 2005. Each grid cell in this image is 25 cm. Image: SOI/Dr. V. Ferrini

Zeroing in on Life Around a Hydrothermal Vent

Vicki Ferrini has spent a lot of time working on mapping the ocean floor, and now she’s sailing in the South Pacific to get a closer look.

by |April 13, 2016
Jhohora Akhter, 30, of Iruain village, draws water from the family well, which is contaminated with arsenic. Jhohora’s mother Jahanara Begum died of arsenic-related health conditions. Her father suffers from diabetes, an illness associated with chronic arsenic exposure. Her brother Ruhul Amin also suffers arsenic-related health conditions. Photo: © 2016 Atish Saha for Human Rights Watch

Report Charges ‘Nepotism and Neglect’ on Bangladesh Arsenic Poisoning

Two decades after arsenic was found to be contaminating drinking water across Bangladesh, tens of millions of people are still exposed to the deadly chemical. Now a new report from the group Human Rights Watch charges that the Bangladesh government “is failing to adequately respond” to the issue, and that political favoritism and neglect have corrupted the government’s efforts.

by |April 7, 2016
A rendering of the Climate City entrance Hall. ©Agence d’Architecture A. Béchu

Scientists Prepare ‘Climate City’ for Take-Off

Sometime soon, a flock of “Climate Birds” could be ascending from a former NATO base in northeast France to take the measure of climate change around the world.

by |March 9, 2016
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Climate May Make Some Regions ‘Uninhabitable’ by End of Century

The global trend toward hotter summers could make parts of the Middle East and tropics “practically uninhabitable” by the end of the century, new research published this week contends.

by |March 2, 2016