H. James Simpson, a geochemist who pioneered important studies of water pollutants in the Hudson River and abroad, died May 10. He had been affiliated with Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory for 50 years. The cause was Parkinson’s disease, said his family; he was 72.
In fall 2014, Columbia University, through the School of International and Public Affairs, the School of Continuing Education and the Earth Institute, offered a never-before-taught class on “The Origins of Environmental Law.” While many courses teach the fundamentals of environmental law, this course spoke to the people and politics behind the creation of the legislation. The Earth Institute is excited to present a short film providing a glimpse into the importance of this course.
The Earth Institute is taking an extra step to contribute to China’s environmental future by sponsoring the first Beijing Week on Energy and Environment, a week-long program this summer for emerging leaders and professionals in the fields of energy and environment.
On April 7, 2015, the Earth Institute hosted a panel event and reception on ‘Sustainability Policy: Progress and Opportunity.’ Over 170 students, faculty, and local professionals gathered in Low Library to hear a panel of experts speak about sustainability and the role of government. Panelists discussed local-level policy, the role of metrics, and what the future of sustainability requires.
Are you a Columbia or Barnard student seeking an internship for summer 2015? Are you interested in topics of sustainability and environmental policy? Apply to be an Administrative and Research intern in the Executive Director’s Office at the Earth Institute. Interns will provide research and editing support for reports, articles, case studies, and presentations, and administrative support as needed. Apply by April 27th!
We arrived in Kolkata, and filmed by the Hooghly River. While it is no longer the main channel of the Ganges, it is still the Holy Ganges and we saw a funeral procession spreading ashes of a loved one while filming there. Then a 5 hour trip by car, ferry, rickshaw and boat to the Indian Sundarbans. The mangrove forest here is undergoing more erosion and land loss than in Bangladesh, where more river sediments can replenish it. The water here is more saline and the trees are small. A tiger was spotted by another boat, but was gone when we got there.
In the small town of Kolasib, we stayed in Hotel Cloud 9. I had been told since I was a child that I was always off on Cloud 9 and now I was actually here. However, the electricity wasn’t for the first few hours, so showers were cold, but the dinner was hot.
We finished our time in the Sundarbans with a silent boat ride in a tidal creek. The highlight was sets of fresh tiger footprints. We then had a long sail back to Dhaka with only one stop at a village. We then had a whirlwind tour of Old Dhaka with enough shopping to send the students back happy.
Leaving Hiron Point, we headed east through the Sundarbans to Kotka. At Kotka the students had walks through the forest seeing deer, wild boar and monkeys, while a smaller group also sampled near a set of 300 year old salt making kilns for OSL dating. We managed to finish while the tide inundated the site. We ended our day with a visit to an island that has recently emerged from the slain which the succession from bare sand to mangrove is visible.
We visited Polder 32, an embanked island in the delta that was flooded for almost two years when the embankment failed in several places during Cyclone Aila. In addition to the problem of increased subsidence due to the embankment, the area struggles for fresh water. Then we sailed to Hiron Point, a forest station in the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest. We serviced equipment we have here while our armed guards watch for tigers.