State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

Why We Celebrate Earth Day

Earth Day is important to us here at the Earth Institute, because it’s the one day of the year when everyone celebrates something that matters a lot to us: our beautiful planet.

Earth Institute scientists have been investigating the planet’s mysteries for more than 70 years. They have plumbed the depths of the oceans, scaled the tallest mountains, and traversed every continent in order to broaden and deepen our understanding of the world. Along the way, they’ve made incredible discoveries that shook the world of science.

Researchers at our Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory were the first to propose that ice ages are driven by natural cycles of freezing and thawing in the Arctic Ocean. Lamont’s Marie Tharp was the first to map the ocean floor on a global scale. Mark Cane and Stephen Zebiak, researchers at our International Research Institute for Climate and Society, helped to create the first model to explain and predict the powerful El Niño climate cycle, which affects affect crops, disease outbreaks and natural hazards all over the world. And the term “global warming” came from our own Wallace Broecker, who was among the first scientists to warn of the dangers of rising global temperatures.

The slideshow below provides more examples of how Earth Institute researchers have been at the forefront of earth and environmental science.

Climate change, in all its aspects, remains a major focus of the Earth Institute today, and our scientists continue to make groundbreaking discoveries in earth and environmental science.

But the work we do goes far beyond unearthing new information and detailing the problems that humanity faces; we are also deeply invested in finding ways to fix those problems. Our centers and programs are:

On Earth Day and every day, the Earth Institute works to understand and protect our planet. Join us this Earth Day and be part of the solution.

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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