The 10,000 Year Forecast: Columbia Expert on Climate

As climate continues to dominate the national conversation, Columbia's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory is a powerful player in the fight to conserve our planet.

A view of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory's
campus in Palisades, NY (Photo: Lamont-Doherty)

Read on for five things you might not know about Lamont-Doherty’s work on climate: 


1.) Climate researchers aim to increase awareness about extreme weather risk and the importance of preparedness.

“The hope is that the damaging components of a storm, like wind speed, where it's going to hit land, the amount of rain, precipitation--all of those can be predicted earlier so that people have time to sandbag, evacuate, or prepare,” Dr. Arthur Lerner-Lam, deputy director of Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory said.

Lamont researchers are studying how extreme weather risks change and what we need to do to mitigate these risks.

Dr. Arthur Lerner-Lam

2.) Observation, analysis, and modeling are the three steps of studying the Earth.

"Together, those reflect a new age in Earth science exploration that allows us to get into a predictive mode about what’s happening to the planet, whether it be anticipating earthquakes, or whether it be forecasting the weather and the effects of climate on the weather," Lerner-Lam said.


3.) We are in an era in which human activities are significantly impacting Earth’s geology -- and human actions have long-lasting implications.

(Photo: Clark et al., Nature Climate Change, 2016 via Lamont-Doherty)

“What we are doing now has essentially crystalized what the world is going to do for the next 10,000 years,” Lerner-Lam said. “....We are not simply talking about geological changes on the scale of human lifetimes.”

Lerner-Lam adds that what we are doing collectively as a geological force is "changing humanity's destiny." 


4.) It's humanity's responsibility to protect the planet for future generations -- but it's an ethical dilemma. 

We want our children to enjoy the lives we're enjoying now, if not a better life. 

"That is a moral dilemma in many ways," Lerner-Lam said. "'I'd rather go out and drive my gas guzzler or keep my house to 72 degrees.' Little decisions like that are essentially moral decisions in sustainability."


5.) Now is the time to support climate research. 

With the global changes underway, Earth’s changing landscape, climate research is more pressing now than ever before.

“The notion of human interference or human activities affecting the evolution of the planet itself is becoming more entrenched, not only within the population and not only among environmentalists, but within governments and the private sector as well,” Lerner-Lam said. “We would characterize the present time as a pivot point in our understanding of how human activity and evolution of the planet are intertwined.”

Lerner-Lam adds we are now seeing a "convergence of science and social relevance."

Columbia, like no other university, is able to pull together the brightest minds from across from the disciplines to tackle the big challenges of climate change. 

With growth limited by federal grants and contracts, Lamont-Doherty researchers rely on other means of funding to continue its valuable climate research. Learn more about Lamont-Doherty and how you can support research efforts here.

                                                                                (Photo: Lamont-Doherty)

To find out even more about Lamont-Doherty, listen to an interview with Arthur Lerner-Lam and read Lamont-Doherty scientist Adam Sobel's recent article on climate in The Washington Post.


In the Florida area? Don't miss this special opportunity to hear directly from Lerner-Lam, as he discusses Columbia's work on climate, and how we -- public officials, communities, the private sector, and citizens worldwide – need to address climate challenge as a matter of humanity’s destiny.

Date & Time: Tuesday, March 15

Location: The Francis
1289 N. Palm Ave

Click here for more information.


Date & Time: Wednesday, March 16

Location: The Club at Pelican Bay
707 Gulf Park Dr.

Click here for more information.

**Save the date! Lerner-Lam also will be speaking at the University of Miami Life Science & Technology Park in Miami, FL, at 1 p.m. on March 19. Stay tuned for more information.