As Professor Ruth DeFries aptly stated in her opening remarks at yesterday’s book launch for “The Big Ratchet,” if you look at satellite pictures of the earth, you see the imprint of the human species everywhere. Humans have come to dominate the planet. But how did this come to be? This question, among others, is what DeFries hopes to answer in her new book, “The Big Ratchet: How Humanity Thrives in the Face of Natural Crisis.” How did humans acquire the capability to spread out over the entire earth and control other species?
Climate scientist William D’Andrea of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory asked young scientists attending a symposium last October, “What do you wish everyone knew about climate change?” He turned the responses into this video, which covers the topic pretty well.
There are many brave people who recognize the climate crisis and are beginning to stand up and take personal risks to try to stop expansion of the fossil fuel industry, across the United States, in Canada, and in other nations. Their courage is remarkable and I hope it has an awakening effect.
With support from the Earth Institute, writers Caswell Holloway, Carter Strickland, Michael Gerrard, and Daniel Firger recently published “Solving the CSO Conundrum: Green Infrastructure and the Unfulfilled Promise of Federal-Municipal Cooperation” in Harvard Environmental Law Review. The authors propose regulatory and policy reform to develop comprehensive, locally led infrastructure and sustainability initiatives that improve public health and the environment. They look specifically at the case of water management as an opportunity for federal and local governments to work cooperatively, specifically through the implementation of green infrastructure systems.
In her new book, Ruth DeFries argues that we have continually created new technologies that allow our numbers to grow. But each new invention creates a new problem—which we solve with yet another innovation that creates the next problem. Will we be able to sustain this so-far successful cycle past the great leap in technology and population of the last century?
Both of us are interested in the intersection of the environment and public health, and we wanted to explore a public health issue about which we felt ignorant. Water kept coming up in our conversations, because we felt that while water is a global issue, it often gets overlooked domestically among our peers. As such, we put together a six-week cross-country road trip, along which we are collecting stories about regional water issues.
Climate scientist Radley Horton, one of the lead authors of the National Climate Assessment report released this week, will answer your questions in an “ask me anything” session on Redditt on Friday starting at 11 a.m.
“Right now, we’re living in a world of a Pliocene atmosphere,” scientist Maureen Raymo of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory tells the Yale Forum on Climate Change and the Media. “But the whole rest of the climate system — the oceans are trying to catch-up, the ice sheets are waning, and everything is trying to catch up to this Pliocene atmosphere.”
In the light of recent varied efforts to focus public attention on the risks of climate change, we asked Earth Institute scientists what they want the public to understand about the issue and how they see their roles.