Features Archive - Page 3
India carries the world’s greatest burden of poor reproductive health, child health and nutrition. India has the highest number of maternal deaths in the world, one out of every 15 children dies before his or her fifth birthday, and 52 million children are undernourished. Despite these considerable health challenges, the World Health Organization (WHO) ranks India 171st out of 175 nations in public health spending.
The Model Districts project is a partnership between the Earth Institute, Columbia University, and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW), Government of India, in an effort to accelerate national progress towards Millennium Development Goals one, four and five by 2015. India’s regions vary significantly in disease burden; the coverage of National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) interventions; and sociocultural, political and economic contexts. Five rural districts, selected to represent India’s key regions, have been proposed as models for the regional scale-up of best practices that target poor maternal and child health outcomes. The project supports district and state governments to implement innovations and target additional resources within the NRHM. Thus, the goals of Model Districts are to improve the quality and efficiency of health services, increase the availability of high-impact interventions for mothers and children, and increase the uptake of key services by targeting demand-side behavior.
Scientists from Lamont-Doherty and Indiana University-Purdue are camping by the Transantarctic Mountains, studying exposed rocks near the edge of the Antarctic ice sheet for clues to how the ice shifted in the past. They hope the geological record will help us understand the effects of a warming planet today. Mike Kaplan, Kathy Licht and others report from the field, and answer readers’ questions, with help from Gisela Winckler at Lamont.
The Millennium Development Goals have triggered the largest cooperative effort in world history to fight poverty, hunger, and disease. They have become a rallying cry in poor and rich countries alike. Ten years after their adoption, they are alive and stronger than ever, inspiring breakthroughs around the globe. The world wants them to work. We are just five years from the target year 2015. If we aim high, great outcomes are within reach.
Africa can achieve food security; all boys and girls can complete primary education, and millions more, secondary education; solar and other energy sources can bring electricity into remote villages; and primary health care can prevent millions of deaths annually and encourage families to have fewer children in the confidence they will stay alive.
We can choose, in short, to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, and look beyond 2015 to the end of extreme poverty in our generation.
- Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Director of Columbia University’s Earth Institute
South Africa is the world’s top producer of platinum, used in everything from jewelry to catalytic converters. Most of it comes from a geological formation the size of West Virginia, called the Bushveld igneous complex, created two billion years ago as molten lava from Earth’s mantle bubbled to the surface and cooled. Lamont-Doherty graduate student Jill VanTongeren is traveling through the Bushveld collecting rocks to learn more about how this unique and mineral-rich region formed. Read about her work here.
The Gulf oil spill is the worst U.S. environmental disaster since the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, with consequences that may last years, or even decades. Earth Institute scientists are studying all aspects of it, from the spread of oil on the surface and below, to the effects on marine physical and biological systems, to the long-term implications for technology and policy. Read about it here.
Volcanic eruptions and earthquakes shake southern Italy frequently, as they have for 12 million years. In that time, tectonic movement has split Calabria–the “toe” of the Italian boot–from what are today the islands of Sardinia and Corsica to the west, and formed mountain ranges. As part of the international Calabrian Arc Project, Lamont-Doherty scientists Nano Seeber and Meg Reitz are traversing Calabria to examine rocks and study the terrain to better understand this complex and violent history. Read about their work here.
Indonesia’s Puncak Jaya, earth’s highest island peak and the tallest mountain between the Andes and the Himalayas, holds the last glaciers in the tropical Pacific. Ancient ice from such high, frozen peaks lets scientists examine past climates and understand mechanism of possible future climate changes–but with alpine glaciers melting, retrieving samples is a race against time, as well as against the dangers of extreme altitude. This month, an expedition co-organized by glaciologist Lonnie Thompson of Ohio State University and oceanographer Dwi Susanto of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory scales Puncak Jaya to drill out ice cores that may go back hundreds, or thousands, of years. Follow Susanto’s reports from the field here.
The quake in Haiti came suddenly—but the results were predictable. At the moment it struck, scientists from the Earth Institute and other parts of Columbia University were in Port-au-Prince with a UN-sponsored project assessing how to reduce the nation’s obvious vulnerability to natural disasters. Learn more about what caused the quake and what is being done to help the people of Haiti recover from it.
During the ice ages, the planet was a lot dustier, and the wind-swept plains of Patagonia may have provided much of the dust that we now find in Antarctica. From where exactly did that dust originate? Could it have influenced climate? And did it help trigger past ice ages? A team of scientists recently spent 10 days collecting dust in Patagonia to find out. Alejandra Borunda, a student in Columbia’s Earth and Environmental Science Journalism program, kept this blog during her travels and is now working with scientists Gisela Winckler and Michael Kaplan of Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory to analyze their samples.
The Arctic is changing with a rapidity that has amazed scientists. The Greenland ice sheet is shrinking, sending over 48 cubic miles a year of ice streaming into the oceans, while Arctic sea ice cover continues to track below average. These changes will have significant effects regionally and globally. Scientists from Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory are flying over the region on a NASA-led mission called Operation IceBridge to understand what is happening on and below the ice.