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Posts tagged "Columbia University"

Information is king in within the climate science community. Scientific information can help society cope with current climate variability, prevent deaths and disasters, and save communities a ton of money. The information can help limit the economic and social damages caused by climate-related disasters.

The best available climate science needs to be made readily available to people in agriculture, water, health, infrastructure, cities, and other sectors.


A bunch of very smart climate scientists got together to make climate science information easily accessible. They formed a group*, called the Climate Services Partnership, and recently held a major conference. 

The presentations from this conference are now available online, and they are pretty amazing. You can download them, share with your colleagues, researchers, fellow students, etc.. Dive in (and bookmark) if you can!

The Federation Maproom are disaster and climate maps used by the Red Cross. I use the map room once in a while to check out the “Recent Climate Trends” tab. Note, these maps contain huge data sets, so they take a few seconds to load and you’ll need a touch of patience.

Great read and video of the researchers in Mongolia.

I struggled deciding to post this video on Communicating climate science to the public. But I opted to post it anyway to show that it is totally OK to criticize experts in your own field.

The video is not dated, despite that Columbia University hosted this event back in 2010. The issues discussed really are relevant today.

Three distinguished scientists walk you through the issues and challenges of communicating climate science to the public:

  • Gavin Schmidt, climate modeler at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, co-founder of the blog Real, and co-author of a popular science book Climate Change: Picturing the Science.
  • Ned Gardiner, Climate Visualization Project Manager at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s Climate Program Office.
  • Sabine Marx, Managing Director at the Center for Research on Environmental Decisions (CRED) at Columbia University.

The first panelist, Gavin Schmidt, who is utterly brilliant on, is flat, rambling, and just plain boring. I learned nothing from him other than his contempt for politicians, which is both repulsive for a scientist and ironic to convey considering he’s advocating communicating with them.

Gardiner brings up the fact that most Americans are terrible at reading and understanding basic charts and graphs, for example, which makes communication really difficult for the scientist. Good point, but he doesn’t provide a solution.

And that’s basically how I felt throughout the entire hour+ while watching this - smart people discussing simplified themes with contempt for the public and the politicians they (we) voted to represent us.

True, the panelists are experts in their fields. They are revered, credentialed scientists with public personas. This brings much needed credibility to the conceptual problem of communicating science to the public. But they don’t do a great job of explaining the difficulties of communication, nor do they provide tested examples with any sort of stickiness. Gardiner dances around this issue of getting scientific concepts to stick, and he points to the media’s lack of scientific understanding. But he just misses his opportunity to nail his points home with any clarity.

My gut thinks this talk was rather generic and vague and overall does a disservice to the important concept of communicating science.

You might be asking: If Michael is so sour on this talk, why did he even post it? I think it’s to show that even experts in communications struggle with the issue of communicating science with the public. For example, their personal biases shade their overall points.On the one hand, they want their fellow scientists to make greater efforts to communicate with politicians. On the other, the panelists spent several minutes completely dismissing and condescending those very same politicians.

And maybe that’s my secondary point of posting this. That critical thinking is required when watching these talks. Just because someone is respected in their field doesn’t mean that they’re any good at advocating for change. In other words, it’s OK to be critical of the critics…

It’s Climate Science Communications Week at Climate Adaptation!  For the entire week of Feb. 18 - 23, I’ll cover how climate change is discussed by the media, scientists, researchers, academics, and politicians. If you have sources or ideas on communicating climate change, send to:

In a study released in October 2010, climate scientists concluded that as few as 1,000 rocket launches per year would cause worldwide climate change.[1]

The question is, who should regulate the environmental impact of international space programs? Should a new international treaty be drawn between nations? Should the EPA regulate NASA and DoD? And, who would verify EISs and enforce violations?

Source: Columbia Journal of Environmental Law

Laying the groundwork to renew the Kyoto Protocol.

"International climate negotiators are meeting in Panama from October 1 -7 in a final round of talks prior to the next Conference of the Parties (“COP”) meeting  in Durban, South Africa.

The meeting, formally known as the third part of the 16th Session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP 16) and the third part of the 14th Session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA 14), will set the stage for the larger meeting in Durban.  

Negotiators in Panama are hoping to make progress on a variety of issues that they hope will pave the way for additional progress and formal agreements in Durban.  In particular, negotiations in Panama are expected to focus on developing a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol, developing a framework for a tax on the use of bunker fuels in international shipping to finance adaptation costs in developing countries and enhancing measurement, reporting and verification (“MRV”) guidelines and procedures.   

Reports from the opening days of the conference indicate that negotiators are focusing on “transitional arrangements” that would bridge the gap to a comprehensive climate regime to begin in the next 3-7 years.  There appears to be a tacit recognition on the part of the negotiators that there are currently too many significant political and legal issues standing in the way of reaching a comprehensive agreement in Durban, and thus an interim agreement will be necessary to ensure further progress.

 The UNFCCC’s official, daily guide to the meetings in Panama can be found at”

Source: Climate Law Blog

"A 1m sea-level rise could displace more than seven million residents of the Mekong delta, and a 2m sea-level rise could double that number, according to a study by the Columbia University Center for International Earth Science Information Network in New York, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), and other groups.

Yet again, population growth is not mentioned as a corollary.

Source: IRIN Asia

If a nation sinks under the ocean, does it retain its legal status? What becomes of the citizens of a deterritorialized nation? Will they have access to secondary citizenship in any new destinations?

Thought provoking questions like these will be discussed at this very important conference. If you’re into serious climate law and policy, this is a must for 2011.

It will be broadcast via the web and there are Academia rates, as well. Register Here. Thought provoking primer here (PDF).

May 23 - 25, 2011 
Columbia University
New York, New York


Scientific summary: How much time do we have?
Statehood and statelessness
Preserving marine rights: Fishing and minerals
Legal remedies


Resettlement and migration issues
Existing legal structures
A new international convention?


Engineering for the future
Law and policy choices

Further information, and registration to attend conference or to view live webcast is available here.

This is a good one. Rare. Rarer that the deadline is May 1st. Go for it!

Apply now for Columbia University’s M.S. in Sustainability Management developed by the Earth Institute and School of Continuing Education. To learn more about the program, the May 1st deadline, and to fill out an electronic application, please visit:

This is by some heavy weights.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011, 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM
Columbia Law School, 435 W. 116th St. (at Amsterdam Ave.)
Jerome Greene Hall Room 104 
New York, New York
In December 2010, the United States initiated a landmark dispute at the WTO challenging a range of Chinese subsidies to domestic renewable energy manufacturers. Although the dispute is currently still in the consultation phase, it represents a significant step by the United States government and could be a harbinger of things to come as China continues its aggressive push towards clean energy infrastructure and development. What are the environmental, economic and geopolitical implications of this case? Join our distinguished panelists for a wide-ranging discussion of the dispute and its context within international trade law and economics.

Joseph Stiglitz, University Professor, Columbia University; Chair, Columbia University Committee on Global Thought; Nobel Laureate in Economics
• Robert Howse, Lloyd C. Nelson Professor of International Law, New York University School of Law
• Andrew Shoyer, Partner, Sidley Austin LLP; Former Counsel, Office of the United States Trade Representative

Michael Gerrard, author of Global Climate Change and U.S. LawDirector, Columbia Center for Climate Change Law
Columbia Center for Climate Change Law, Columbia Law School
Center for Chinese Legal Studies, Columbia Law School
Earth Institute, Columbia University
No RSVP required.
This event will be webcast live, and a video will be posted on the Center for  Climate Change Law website. To join the webcast, please e-mail for login instructions.

Sweet degree program. Interesting that Columbia has softened the fall 2011 admissions deadline to May 1st.

The Earth Institute and School of Continuing Education at Columbia University invite you to join us for an information session on Thursday, March 24 at 6:30 p.m. to learn more about the Master of Science in Sustainability Management program. This will be the program’s last information session before the May 1 deadline for Fall 2011 admission.

All organizations, whether they are multinational corporations or local nonprofits, face a growing number of environmental challenges, from limiting carbon emissions to managing water resources. The M.S. in Sustainability Management is a highly specialized professional program that will formally train and educate sustainability practitioners for a broad range of fields.

The program is designed to meet the growing demand for sustainability managers and will train leaders to bridge the gap between the principle of sustainable development and its practice. Students in the program will learn sophisticated environmental measurement tools and cutting-edge environmental science to fully understand the systematic and organizational role of sustainability in any organization, as businesses in fields including law, financial management, media, pharmaceuticals, transportation, and energy seek out capable managers to guide their environmental stewardship. This program is ideal for practitioners and aspiring professionals working in organizational management, regulatory compliance, facilities operations, and environmental stewardship among many other areas.

The program, co-sponsored by Columbia University’s School of Continuing Education and the Earth Institute, is offered full-time or part-time to accommodate the schedules of working professionals.

Date: Thursday, March 24
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Location: Faculty House, Columbia University’s Morningside Campus

To register for the information session, please go to:

Representatives from the program will be available to answer questions. The final deadline for applications to the Sustainability Management program for Fall 2011 is May 1. We look forward to seeing you at the information session

For more info about the program:

or email Doug Hill: