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Ruth DeFries | Climate, People, and Forests in the Heart of India

Monday, March 8, 2021 at 2:45pm

Virtual Event

Climate is a wicked problem that requires understanding of people and places. Three stories from the forested areas of central India illustrate that efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change might be most successful if approached from the lens of local livelihoods and well-being: restoration of degraded forests; climate resilient and low-GHG cereal production; and migration between rural and urban areas. The stories identify the potential for climate solutions from interventions aimed at improved nutrition and living standards.

Bio: Ruth DeFries is a professor of ecology and sustainable development at Columbia University in New York. She uses images from satellites and field surveys to examine how the world’s demands for food and other resources are changing land use throughout the tropics. Her research quantifies how these land use changes affect climate, biodiversity and other ecosystem services, as well as human development. She has also developed innovate education programs in sustainable development. DeFries was elected as a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, one of the country’s highest scientific honors, received a MacArthur "genius" award, and is the recipient of many other honors for her scientific research. In addition to over 100 scientific papers, she is committed to communicating the nuances and complexities of sustainable development to popular audiences through her books “The Big Ratchet: How Humanity Thrives in the Face of Natural Crisis " and "What Would Nature Do?: A Guide for Our Uncertain Times."

Ruth DeFries (Columbia University) will present in the
2021 Perspectives on the Climate Change Challenge Seminar Series:

  • Most Mondays, Spring Semester 2021, 2:45-4:00pm
  • Available as a Zoom Webinar

This university-wide seminar series is open to the public, and provides important views on the critical issue of climate change, drawing from many perspectives and disciplines. Experts from Cornell University and beyond present an overview of the science of climate change and climate change models, the implications for agriculture, ecosystems, and food systems, and provide important economic, ethical, and policy insights on the issue. The seminar is being organized and sponsored by the Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering and the Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability.

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Event Type



Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, Biological and Environmental Engineering, Sustainability, South Asia Program




Contact E-Mail

Contact Name

Peter Hess


Ruth DeFries

Speaker Affiliation

Columbia University

Dept. Web Site

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