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The Earth Institute


The Earth Institute brings together people and tools needed to address global problems from climate change and environmental degradation to poverty, disease, and sustainable use of resources.

The Earth Institute brings together the people and tools needed to address some of the world's most difficult problems, from climate change and environmental degradation, to poverty, disease and the sustainable use of resources.

Facing the Global Challenge

Much of humankind is vulnerable to natural disasters, extreme poverty, infectious disease and a host of other challenges. One in six people on the planet subsists on less than $1 a day. The world's population is expected to increase to nine billion by 2050. Human activity is straining the planet's resources, threatening the health of our environment and ability to thrive.

By blending scientific research, education and practical solutions, The Earth Institute, Columbia University, is working to help guide the world onto a path toward sustainability.

The Institute, under the direction of Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs, comprises more than 30 research centers and some 850 scientists, postdoctoral fellows, staff and students. Working across many disciplines, we study and create solutions for problems in public health, poverty, energy, ecosystems, climate, natural hazards and urbanization.

At our largest research unit, the renowned Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, some of the world's leading scientists study geology, oceans, freshwater systems, climate and atmosphere. Our scientists map the ocean floor and measure the movements of ice sheets; they bore into ancient trees and pull cores of mud from the sea bottom to uncover secrets of past climate; they chart the flow of ocean and the swirl of atmosphere around the planet. Millimeter by millimeter, they measure the movements of the earth's crust as it thrusts up from far below or dives down into subduction zones. This fundamental knowledge about the dynamics of the earth is key to addressing our biggest challenges.

Earth Institute experts work hand-in-hand with academia, corporations, government agencies, nonprofits and individuals. They advise national governments and the United Nations on issues related to sustainable development and the Millennium Development Goals. They are educating the next generation of leaders in basic sciences and sustainable development.

We focus on the protection of earth's environment and the spread of social and economic opportunities for all people. We believe that dealing with issues such as extreme poverty must involve tackling issues such as environmental degradation, and lack of access to health care and education. Our work reflects the fundamental belief that the world possesses the tools needed to effectively mitigate climate change, poverty and other critical issues.