When architect Fernando Arias first arrived in Kumasi, Ghana last year, he saw unpaved roads, trash burning, garbage everywhere, and shoeless children running all around. He knew he needed to act on their behalf.
America’s strong water infrastructure has been key to its success as a nation. Yet the nation’s continual waste of water and lack of commitment to long-term water investments has halted its progress.
“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.”
Cynthia Rosenzweig of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies talks about the work of the New York State Ready Commission, set up after Hurricane Sandy to study how the state can better prepare for natural disasters.
The threat of sea-level rise–actually, its ongoing reality–has been on many more minds since New York and surrounding areas were walloped during Hurricane Sandy by a record-high storm surge, abetted by a water level that has risen steadily over the last century. That level will keep rising if climate keeps warming, and so, probably, will the frequency of extreme weather. That is why the new book Rising Seas: Past, Present Future by geologist Vivien Gornitz is a timely and important contribution to helping people understand the issue.
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.
The water documentary “A Thirsty World” combines French photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand’s aerial photography with down-to-earth messages, a mélange that calls attention to problems of water security on a global scale.
For years before Hurricane Sandy charged ashore on Monday, researchers from the Earth Institute knew what was coming. As the region struggles to recover from this “superstorm,” we asked some of them to consider the lessons we can learn as we move forward.
(Updated Wednesday, March 6, 2013) Before Hurricane Sandy, scientists at The Earth Institute were at the forefront of studying the dangers posed by such storms, especially in the New York City area, where they are based. Among their specialties: the physics of storms and storm prediction; impacts of climate on weather and sea level; vulnerability [...]