Sustainable Development

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Internships at Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment

The Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment, a joint center of Columbia Law School and the Earth Institute, is accepting applications for internship positions for the spring 2017 semester as well as for summer 2017.

The Animas River between Silverton and Durango in Colorado, USA, within 24 hours of the 2015 Gold King Mine waste water spill. Photo: Riverhugger/Creative Commons

Why Are Mines Still Polluting? The Money’s Not There

Across the nation, abandoned mine sites continue to pollute the environment for decades as acid mine drainage flows into rivers and streams. A 1980 law was supposed to fix that, but lack of funding and enforcement have left the public stuck with the bill.

by |December 20, 2016
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Students Advise County on Permeable Pavement

The biggest barrier to installation or permeable pavement is funding. But the positive outcomes include reduced flooding, less stormwater runoff, and recharging of aquifers.

by |December 19, 2016
Widespread fires in Indonesia threaten habitat for many animals, including orangutans; here one is being rescued on Kalimantan. Photo: Gerry Ellis/oregonzoo.org

Study Finds Oil Palm Certification Plays Limited Role in Curbing Fires

Oil palm is in everything from food to cosmetics to fuel and is consumed and used by most people without giving it a second thought. Yet oil palm cultivation is a large contributor to environmental and social problems, especially in places like Indonesia, where the business of oil palm cultivation has become the second largest export over the last decade.

by |December 15, 2016
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Bringing the Culture of Sustainability Management to Princess Cruise Lines

Princess, a division of Carnival Cruise line, the largest passenger cruise company in the world, has pleaded guilty to seven felony charges and will pay $40 million after employees on a cruise ship were caught dumping oiled waste into the seas and lying to cover up their actions. This as an issue of management that is not limited to Princess or Carnival, but to whole areas of business practice that continue to ignore their responsibility to apply best management practices and the best available technology to operations such as waste disposal.

by |December 5, 2016
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Anchor Institutions Task Force Holds Annual Conference

In November 2016, the Anchor Institutions Task Force held its annual conference in New York City. Over 150 representatives from a variety of anchor institutions and partner organizations came together to discuss how anchor institutions can make valuable contributions to community and economic development through local partnerships.

by |December 3, 2016
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Earth Observation Science, Public Policymaking, and the Trump Administration

We do not know enough about our planet and the impact of human technology on its basic systems. It is beyond idiotic to think we can grow our population and consumption this much, this quickly, and have no impact. But it is also foolish to overstate what we know and ask policymakers to invest trillions of dollars on impacts we have not yet seen. Scientists need to be encouraged and funded to present facts, projections and options.

by |November 28, 2016
Students work at a small garden designed to absorb rainwater in the Soundview neighborhood of the Bronx, N.Y. They inspect soil cores they left the week before, in order to determine changes in nutrient content. Photo: Nandan Shetty

New York Lets a Thousand Bioswales Bloom

In an effort to curb sewage overflows, New York City has turned to green infrastructure: right-of-way bioswales, green roofs and rain gardens, among other practices. These measures help decrease stormwater runoff by increasing pervious areas and introducing water-loving plants that can absorb some of the water and encourage evaporation.

by |November 22, 2016
From left, Leon Billings, Edmund Muskie and Tom Jorling.

Leon Billings, Tom Jorling and the Origins of U.S. Environmental Law

If you had the experience of hearing Leon Billings teach and tell stories, it is hard to believe his voice is no longer with us. He was a great American and an important figure in American environmental history.

by |November 21, 2016
While achieving sustainable agriculture is one of the greatest challenges of our age, at its core there is nothing political or controversial about it:  Agriculture that does not meet these criteria will not persist and will be unable to support human civilization.

´╗┐Sustainable Agriculture Through Innovation and Collaboration

Individuals and institutions are becoming increasingly concerned about the social and environmental impacts and the broader societal ramifications associated with conventional agricultural systems. In response, many are acting to bring into view a brighter future that is capable of satisfying a long list of criteria that define sustainable agriculture.

by |November 16, 2016