Author: Steve Cohen

Learning from the Era of American Environmental Leadership

by | 9.1.2014 at 4:38pm

Earth Institute Executive Director Steve Cohen discusses what sustainability leaders can learn from American environmental leaders of the past through a new course taught at Columbia University by Leon G. Billings and Thomas C. Jorling, authors of the Clean Air Act.

Our Government is Incapable of Building a Sustainable Economy

by | 8.20.2014 at 3:56pm
Washington DC Capitol_Building_Full_View

My Columbia University colleagues Bill Eimicke and Alison Miller recently joined me in authoring a new book entitled Sustainability Policy: Hastening the Transition to A Cleaner Economy. If all goes well, Jossey-Bass publishers will release the book in early 2015. Our work focuses on how American government at the federal, state and local levels can work with the private sector to speed up what I see as the inevitable transition to a renewable economy. While there is a lot of action at the state and local level to promote sustainability, the federal government remains inert and pathetic. At the federal level, we see an ossified executive branch that cannot build a website or manage health care for veterans, a legislative branch that has forgotten how to compromise and legislate, and a Supreme Court willing to equate money with political speech.

Work, Youth, Optimism, and the Drive Toward a Safe, Sustainable Planet

by | 8.20.2014 at 3:00pm

Earth Institute Executive Director Steve Cohen discusses the changing natures of work and opportunity in the transition to a sustainable economy.

Will de Blasio and Cuomo Make Sustainability a Higher Priority?

by | 8.15.2014 at 12:00pm
Mayor Bill de Blasio

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has allowed the Mayor’s Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability to lose many of its most talented staff, while New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is using capital funds meant to finance environmental facilities to help pay for the Tappan Zee Bridge. These two progressive elected officials talk the talk of environment and sustainability, but environmentalists are unsure if they walk the walk.

Learning From Japan’s Catastrophe

by | 3.14.2011 at 9:08am | 1 Comment
Earthquake and Tsunami damage, Japan-March 12, 2011: This is a satellite image of Japan showing damage after an Earthquake and Tsunami at the Sendai Port, Japan. (credit: DigitalGlobe)

The images and stories of the devastation caused by Japan’s massive earthquake is heart wrenching. We see countless examples of extraordinary acts of human courage and generosity as the local, national and world communities struggle to respond to this catastrophe. Japan, a nation that has long ensured that its buildings were built to withstand earthquakes []

Cancun and the Fundamentals of the Global Climate Crisis

by | 12.9.2010 at 9:24am
cop16 cmp6

After the intensity and optimism of last year’s Copenhagen climate meetings, the U.N. climate talks have returned to a less highly charged, lower key set of diplomatic exchanges.

Haiti: America’s ‘Teachable Moment’

by | 1.21.2010 at 3:05pm

President Obama is providing the leadership we need and hoped for in the face of the horror of the Haitian earthquake. The clearest evidence of American unity behind the effort to respond to the tragedy in Haiti took place at the White House on Saturday, Jan. 16, as Obama joined forces with two ex-presidents to []

Whole-Earth Management

by | 12.22.2009 at 1:21pm | 2 Comments

The issues that emerged at the Copenhagen climate conference serve to remind us of the difficulty of solving complicated cross-national environmental problems. Ever since Rachel Carson and Barry Commoner first popularized the idea of a single interconnected biosphere, it’s been obvious that national sovereignty would make it difficult to solve some global environmental problems. The climate problem is […]

Urban Action: The Ultimate Reality Show

by | 12.15.2009 at 3:48pm | 3 Comments

As the giant climate classroom in Copenhagen moves toward its closure, some will come away frustrated and even angry, while others may be satisfied or at the very least relieved. Whatever documents may be signed at the end of the meeting, these two weeks of December will have a lasting impact. The stresses on our planet caused […]

We Can’t Solve the Problem–But We Can Make It Less Bad

by | 12.11.2009 at 3:48pm

This week, the spotlight of the 24-7, web-based global media on steroids has shifted some of its attention from Tiger Woods to the climate negotiations in Copenhagen. That is good news for Tiger, and for the rest of the world. The basic science of global climate change is now generally accepted as fact. There is a broad consensus about the need for reductions in the emissions that cause global warming. […]