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

Richard Plunz will talk about the newly revised edition of his "History of Housing in New York City" Wednesday, Oct. 19, at 6:30 p.m. at the Museum of the City of New York. For details and to register, visit the museum’s website.

Housing in New York City: Updating the History

“Beyond doubt the large question facing New York housing production today has to do with a market that can not provide for the half of our households that are low income.”

by |October 17, 2016
Looking across the Ed Koch (Queensborough) Bridge, June 6, 2011. Photo: Chris Goldberg / Creative Commons

Study Warns of Surge in Heat-Related Deaths in New York City

A new study projects that as many as 3,331 people a year could be dying from the heat during New York City summers by 2080 as a result of the warming climate. That compares to 638 heat-related deaths on average between 2000 and 2006.

by |June 29, 2016
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Get the Facts: Arsenic in New Jersey Well Water

A new initiative aims to help homeowners in New Jersey cope with arsenic contamination in private wells—a problem that has only come to light in recent years, and about which many homeowners are still unaware.

by |June 16, 2016
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
aaas logo crop2

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