New York City’s Push For Sustainability in the Face of Global Climate Change

A talk by Stuart R. Gaffin, Ph.D., Center for Climate Systems Research, Columbia University & NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

Spurred by recent observational evidence that climate change may be occurring more quickly than anticipated — the current spate of record high temperature years, rapid ice melt on the Greenland Ice Sheet, for example — public and political attention to the issue is at an all-time high. Moreover, thinking on "what to do" about the problem has broadened considerably from focusing on reducing greenhouse gas emissions to preparing for inevitable changes. New York City is quite vulnerable to global warming given its total and lower income populations, economic and property value, and coastal setting. Columbia University researchers have long been in the forefront of providing New York’s city climate change "forecasts." Now the focus of much of our work is how to mitigate the impacts that are in store. This is an opportune time for this work because New York City policymakers, from the Mayor’s office on down, are engaging in more and more ambitious "urban greening" programs to help the city weather the changes ahead. The speaker will summarize Columbia research he has been involved with to characterize and mitigate some of the more problematic concerns like heat waves, runoff and waterway pollution and air quality impacts.

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