Sustainable Development

Left: EPS Faculty/Earth Institute Research Scientist Joshua Fisher and Professor Sarah Knuckey from the Columbia Law School work with a translator to explain the results of an independent environmental assessment during a community consultation in December 2015.

Uncovering Impacts of Gold Mining in Papua New Guinea

From late December 2015 through January, a team of Earth Institute scientists and human rights lawyers from Columbia University worked in the highlands of Papua New Guinea to deliver the results of an independent study of water quality and human rights to the indigenous communities living near an industrial gold mine.

by |February 5, 2016
NASA's supercomputer model created this simulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Photo: NASA/GSFC

Six Tough Questions About Climate Change

People often ask certain tough questions about climate change— about the costs of cutting carbon emissions, the feasibility of transitioning to renewable energy, and whether it’s already too late to do anything about climate change. Laura Segafredo, manager of the Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project, answers these questions.

by |November 30, 2015
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From Copenhagen to Paris: Getting Beyond Talk

The climate issue seems to generate a high level of ideologically based politics, emotional rhetoric and political symbolism. It is time to move past symbols to pragmatism and political reality.

by |November 12, 2015
The drillers insert the larger diameter 4" PVC pipe into the well.  Handling the 10 meter pipe is challenging.

Last Sample and Home

We finished our work at the river transect. Now we had one more sample to collect. Alamgir had arranged for drillers at this new site, but they were delayed because of a knife fight between two villages over some property.

by |October 20, 2015
Hammering the OSL sampler, which is at the end of many auger extension rods.  The sampler fits inside the 3" PVC pipe that had been installed.

OSL Samples at Last

The success of the tube wells for drilling and obtaining samples was a great boon to our field program. We drilled three additional tube wells to complete a five-well transect across the abandoned river valley. When we date the samples, we will find out if the river switched position suddenly, possibly from an earthquake.

by |October 20, 2015
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Your Choices Matter

The Earth Institute and Emerald Brand recently co-hosted “Your Choices Matter,” a sustainability awareness event at Columbia University’s Alfred Lerner Hall.

by |October 19, 2015
Standing ankle deep in mud by the resistivity meter.  The smokestack of the brick factory can be seen in the distance.

Tubewells to the Rescue

The resistivity testing was hampered by bad roads and flooded fields. The augering was proving similarly difficult in the thick muds of the abandoned channel. It was time to change to our alternative plan: drilling with tube wells. That worked better and we had turned a corner.

by |October 17, 2015
The large abandoned channel we hoped to work in is completely flooded.

Pani, Pani Everywhere

Heading out to our field area, we discovered that the abandoned river valley we planned to study was completely flooded. There was pani—the Bangla word for water—everywhere.

by |October 14, 2015
The Taj Mahal. You can see its enormous size from the line of people waiting to get inside standing on the pedestal. The line completely circled the tomb on this holiday weekend.

Bangladesh and India, Too

Returning to Bangladesh for additional fieldwork, I stopped off in India for several meetings, but we found time for some sightseeing, too. We were able to see the Qutub Minar complex in Delhi as well as the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort in Agra. Plus all the meetings in Delhi, Kolkata and Dhaka were very successful.

by |October 13, 2015
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Cuomo’s Commitment to Addressing Climate Change

New York State has taken a progressive stand on climate change, pushing for renewable energy development and promising to curb greenhouse gas emissions. On Thursday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, joined by Vice President Al Gore at Columbia University, announced several new actions to increase New York State’s commitment to fighting climate change.

by |October 9, 2015