State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

The Little Things and Their Influence on Planet Earth

The Little Things and Their Influence on Planet Earth
James Cervino, Adjunct Associate Research Scientist, Pace University, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute

In the last century we have witnessed incredible environmental leaps in our understanding of planet Earth. With a focus on integrated, systems thinking we invite you to register for an interactive online webinar that explores the relations that living organisms have with respect to each other and their natural environment.

In this course, you investigate how the smaller organisms living in the oceans and rainforests influence the temperature we experience, the air that we breathe, the food that we eat, and the global economy. Closely study the Gaia Hypothesis to better understand the functions and interactions of Earth’s physical, chemical, geological, and biological processes, and learn how the “little” things provide the regulating effects of homeostasis for the earth. Examine topics in Marine Oceanography and Rain Forest Biology to gain a foundational understanding of how the chemical, biological, and physical Earth cycles influence climate, weather, health, food, and global economies.

Dr. James M. Cervino completed his undergraduate degree in Physical Anthropology and Earth Science at New York University. During this time, he studied in Borneo’s rainforests and developed a senior thesis on the genetic differences between Sumatran and Borneo Orangutans (Pongo pygmeaus). He earned a Masters Degree in Marine Biology at Boston University’s Marine Program and wrote his thesis on chemical and thermal stress on coral reefs. After working as a high school earth science and biology teacher for seven years, Dr. Cervino obtained a PhD in Marine Science at the University of South Carolina. Between 2004 and 2009, he was an Assistant Professor of Biology and Health Sciences at Pace University and taught global warming science for Pace Law School’s LLM Environmental Law curriculum.  Since leaving Pace University, Dr. Cervino works as a Visiting Scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI), focusing on developing biological and chemical probes to detect stress in corals.  Recently, he and his team transited through the Red Sea in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to support collaboration between WHOI and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). The project’s focus will assess a range of threats to coral reef health and identify regional environmental stress factors that make the reefs susceptible to disease, bleaching and death.  Dr. James Cervino currently lives in New York City, where he has an environmental consulting company. He has also worked as a freelance underwater photographer in South East Asia for over a decade.

Meets: Thursdays, May 31, June 7, 14, 21, 28 (6:10-8:10PM)

Interested in learning more? Visit our website or

Contact Desmond Beirne for more information: or 212-854-0149.

This course is part of CERC’s Certificate Program in Conservation and Environmental Sustainability. Courses may be taken on an individual basis or you may pursue the full 12-course Certificate.

Banner featuring a collage of extreme heat images.

Recent record-breaking heat waves have affected communities across the world. The Extreme Heat Workshop will bring together researchers and practitioners to advance the state of knowledge, identify community needs, and develop a framework for evaluating risks with a focus on climate justice. Register by June 15

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