When the Environmental Defense Fund asked me to measure how biogas cook stoves were changing the lives of farmers in rural India, there wasn’t a word in that question with which I was comfortable. Having just graduated from the Undergraduate Program in Sustainable Development, I had never done fieldwork; and the concept of a biogas digester, which turns cow dung into natural gas through anaerobic digestion, was itself a mystery. I had no idea that this was the beginning of a steep learning curve into low-carbon development at a large scale. But even more, that it would provide a window into the lives of families whose existences have permanently improved thanks to the clean cooking stoves.
A new report produced by CIESIN and Yale University examines the role of indicators in environmental policy making, and quantifies measurable impacts.
“This is a mess, and it is a mess that we have not attended to yet,” Earth Institute Director Jeffrey Sachs said at a conference on water security held today at Columbia University. “Humanity is the driver, but we don’t have our hands on the steering wheel very much.”
Earth Institute research expeditions investigating the dynamics of the planet on all levels take place on every continent and every ocean. Most projects originate with our main research center, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, and are often run in collaboration with other institutions.
Rosario Costa-Cabral and her brothers harvest hundreds of fruits, oils and wood products from the stream-laced forest of the Amazon River delta. But the climate here is changing: Tides rise higher, and seasonal floods are growing worse.
Working with engineering PhD candidate Rob Elliott, we imagined a green roof and blue roof system that would serve as a space for environmental education and student wellness, the culmination of a semester spent examining and taking action on stormwater management issues in New York City.
“Everything is so alive in the forest. After a nice summer rain it teems with insects, birds and the famous coquis, Puerto Rico’s native frogs. The song of the coquis take a little getting used to, but they soon lull you to sleep in the humid nights,” says Jennifer Mendez, a student in the first class of the Summer Ecosystem Experience for Undergraduates in Puerto Rico.
The Center for Environmental Research and Conservation provides executive training in environmental sustainability through science, policy, and economics; we invite you to learn from our leading experts and practitioners to become an effective environmental leader and decision-maker.
Biologist Marina Cords has been studying monkey social behavior in western Kenya’s protected Kakamega Forest since 1979. Her work has led to insights about how primates manage conflicts, mate and carry out other social functions closely related to human behavior.