Because we must and because we can. Indeed, because we already are. Columbia is unquestionably a leader in climate-related work and home to the world's greatest community of climate experts. Their scientific discoveries, engineering breakthroughs, and policy recommendations are critical to the future of life on the planet. We are targeting solutions to problems like renewable energy and resilient cities as well as addressing issues of environmental justice and climate-related health. But there is much more to do, and do soon.
We know that sea levels and CO2 levels are rising. We know that extreme weather events are increasing. The impacts of climate change are not only predictable in the long term, but are visible now—from polar ice sheets to the coasts of Florida. Climate change's causes are global and complex, yet its effects are local and immediate, threatening our coastlines, our food supply, our homes, our oceans, and the quality of all life.
With the Earth Institute, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, and collaborations spanning our campuses and the globe, Columbia has the scientific preeminence and interdisciplinary networks to lead in climate response. Our commitment is to ensuring that we also have the necessary focus and resources as we accelerate efforts to address one of humankind’s most urgent challenges.
Will we act on the scale and time frame required? Can we mobilize the human and financial resources needed immediately and for the long haul?
Our climate response is constrained in multiple ways. The problems are so sweeping they can seem overwhelming. We still don’t know enough about the processes of climate and weather to prevent or mitigate disruptions, but we need to act even as we learn more. We need new solutions—for energy, for food supply, for the design of cities, for the necessities of life for a burgeoning global population. And we need to increase our skill in public policy making and raising the level of public understanding of these issues.
Through research, innovation, and education, as well as working with partners around the world, Columbia is demonstrating that climate change is not one but many problems, problems we must and can solve.
To complement the strengths of our Earth Institute and Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, we are building the capacity of our faculty in disciplines from political science to public health, and forging a network of experts leading the charge against the rising tide of climate change—all while encouraging teaching that will shape new generations of climate response leaders.
By enlisting new donors and advocates for climate response, we will fuel the work of the greatest community of climate experts and their partners worldwide. Our scientists and engineers are discovering core facts and devising innovative solutions. Columbia architects are rethinking cities, and we are home to climate law experts, journalists learning to communicate climate issues to the public, economists who can understand climate-related decision-making, environmental justice specialists, and policy scholars who can shape actionable solutions.
Through this evolving effort, Columbia is renewing its commitment to climate leadership.
The impacts of climate change are increasing more rapidly than our understanding of how to respond. By accelerating research in climate science and engineering and related fields—from law and social science to energy, policy, and public health—we can ensure the future well-being of life on Earth.
Parts per million of CO2 levels reached in 2013, the highest in recorded history
Feet of estimated sea-level rise by 2100
In the summer of 2011, I landed at Lamont, returning to the same Columbia labs where I earned my PhD in 1989. There, I direct one of the largest deep-sea sediment core repositories in the world, Lamont-Doherty Core Repository.. Read More
Peter B. de Menocal '92GSAS
Climate change goes back millions, even billions of years—and there’s no shortage of evidence that organisms large and small, from bacteria to mammoths, respond to climate.. Read More
I am committed to understanding how fast, and how much, sea level will rise in the coming decades.. Read More
I have spent most of my career trying to understand the basic physics of climate and weather. But the experience of Hurricane Sandy in New York brought home, literally, the importance of using science to assess and reduce the risks to human society from extreme weather events.. Read More