State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

‘I Study the Ways Society Is Adapting to a Changing Climate:’ Meet Climate Scientist Lisa Dale

This story was originally published by Columbia News.

lisa dale wearing a green blazer
Lisa Dale. Photo by Eileen Barroso

Lisa Dale is a Columbia Climate School lecturer and co-director of the Undergraduate Program in Sustainable Development.

Where is your hometown?

Born in NYC, grew up in Westchester County, moved out to Colorado after college and stayed there for 25 years. Now I’m back full circle.

What is your favorite place on campus?

Can I vote twice? I love Buell Hall on Morningside Campus for events. And I love Joe’s Coffee — all of them! — for, well, coffee.

What is your favorite place in New York City?

Impossible question! The North Woods in Central Park always gives me a jolt of nature when I need one.

What kind of research do you do?

As a political scientist, I study the ways society is adapting to a changing climate, and ask about how policies might help smooth that transition. Right now I have two different projects that approach the question from very different places. Domestically, I study wildfire policy in the American West, trying to understand which policies are most effective at reducing wildfire risk to communities. Internationally, I study rural communities in Rwanda, exploring how national resettlement policies may foster better climate adaptation. Both projects give me opportunities to travel!

What do you hope others will learn from your research?

Perhaps we can productively channel our concern about climate change into practical strategies for adaptation. We need to bear in mind the vastly different circumstances facing communities around the world, identify current and projected impacts from climate change, and focus on solutions. The next generation will be leading the way!

What is your passion?

Swimming is one of my great passions! I swim in pools around NYC all year, and open water in the summer whenever possible.

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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