First Extremes Workshop: Mission Accomplished

by | May 8, 2015

Our workshop, Extreme Weather and Climate: Hazards, Impacts, Actions, happened yesterday. For me, it went by in a blur. A little like attending your own wedding, you’re so caught up in it that you can’t quite tell how you’d react to it if you weren’t.

But maybe that feeling of being overwhelmed was partly due to the content. The talks were clear and engaging, but radically diverse. My mind scrambled trying to draw all the possible connections, beyond the many that were immediately apparent.Just looking at the program makes clear enough that the theme of Extreme Weather and Climate, construed broadly, has an enormous intellectual footprint across the University. But sitting there and listening to it all brought that home profoundly.

The excellent attendance (it was standing room only for much of the day) and audience participation during the Q&A panels made clear the broad interest in the material, both within and without Columbia.


Standing room only.

Hearing the different speakers together made us consider the parallels between drought risk in California and flood risk in New York City, as well as how climate adaptation efforts in NYC might learn something from those in Dhaka, Bangladesh; how extreme weather and climate influence not only infrastructure and economy, but also war and disease – (single most remarkable fact of the day: the last four major human pandemics occurred close on the heels of La Nina events); the parallels and differences between the dynamics and predictability of droughts, floods, tornadoes and hurricanes; how planning for natural disasters is related to planning for terrorist incidents; and the multiple ways that the law can get involved in dealing with the risk of extreme events.

That’s a very incomplete list, just to give a flavor. You can get a little more by looking at our tweets from yesterday (@cuextremewx). A few photos of our distinguished speakers are below. More substantively, we’ll be putting the slides from most of the talks online shortly and thinking about what kinds of events and products make sense next, now that we have broadly marked the Initiative’s intellectual territory with this event. Please stay tuned.

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Tim Hall of NASA GISS (left) and Suzana Camargo of Lamont (right)


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Jeffrey Shaman of Public Health & IRI (left) and Marc Levy of CIESIN (right)



Cynthia Rosenzweig of NASA GISS (left) and Jesse Keenan of CURE/GSAPP (right)


The morning panel (left to right, Bob Hallman of the Center for Energy Policy, Suzana Camargo of Lamont, Ben Orlove of SIPA/IRI, Richard Seager of Lamont, and Cynthia Rosenzweig of NASA GISS) 


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