David Funkhouser, Author at State of the Planet

I’m a writer and former content manager and science writer for the Earth Institute and the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University. I worked for 35 years at newspapers around New England, including The MetroWest News in Framingham, Mass.; The New Haven Register and The Hartford Courant in Connecticut.

Recent Posts

Hurricane maria's destruction in puerto rico

Puerto Rico Faces a Long Road to a Sustainable Future

Puerto Rico suffered an estimated $94 billion or more in damage, on top of an already sagging economy and $74 billion in debt. The island needs a total reboot. Can it do it sustainably?

by |November 30, 2017

Hannah Nissan: Forecasting Climate to Help Save Lives

Hannah Nissan, a postdoctoral research scientist at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society, studies how better climate forecasting might help reduce the number of deaths from heat waves and improve agriculture and child nutrition.

by |July 24, 2017

Jeffrey Shaman: What Makes the Flu Spread?

The onset of flu season each year comes as no surprise. But what is surprising is that we don’t know exactly how the flu spreads. Jeffrey Shaman is working on that.

by |July 10, 2017

Christine McCarthy: A Cheerleader for the Physics of Ice

Christine McCarthy, a geophysicist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, scrunches blocks of ice between hunks of rock to study how ice behaves under pressure. Her work provides an important piece of the puzzle of how glaciers move, what makes them speed up, and how they are contributing to sea level rise as the climate warms.

by |June 26, 2017

Adam Sobel: Preparing for the Next Big Storm

Superstorm Sandy was a wake-up call for a lot of people in New York City, including Adam Sobel, who’s spent more than two decades studying the physics of weather and climate.

by |June 12, 2017

Richard Seager Sees Hand of Climate Change in Drought

California’s wet and snowy winter brings welcome relief from a years-long drought that has challenged the state’s water supply and agricultural system. But climate scientist Richard Seager of Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory offers words of caution: Remember what happened, because it will happen again.

by |May 29, 2017

Leymah Gbowee: Out of War, a Legacy of Building Peace

Leymah Gbowee was 17 when war broke out in Liberia. Her experiences drove her onto a path of suffering, discovery and service that led to work rehabilitating child soldiers and helping build peace, village by village, in Liberia and eventually neighboring Sierra Leone.

by |May 15, 2017

Michelle Ho: In a Land of Plenty, Big Water Problems

Michelle Ho grew up in Australia, the driest inhabited continent, with an appreciation for the value of having a clean glass of water to drink. Now, she conducts research for the Columbia Water Center on America’s water systems.

by |May 1, 2017

Pratigya Polissar Sees Landscapes Changing Through a Microscope

The word fossils typically conjures images of T-Rexes and trilobites. Pratigya Polissar thinks micro: A paleoclimatologist, he digs into old sediments and studies molecular fossils—the microscopic remains of plants and animals that can tell us a lot about what was living in a particular time period.

by |April 17, 2017

Colin Kelley: Food and Water Vulnerability in a Changing Climate

Colin Kelley, an associate research scientist with the International Research Institute for Climate and Society, studies regional climate in vulnerable areas like the Middle East in order to improve our ability to make forecasts, plan ahead and become more resilient to drought and other climate shifts.

by |April 10, 2017