Columbia Professor Discusses Climate Change With Life Science Class

A big topic — climate change — was on the table during the seventh-grade life science class on Monday, February 4, as Dr. Radley Horton P’24 from Columbia University’s Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory visited with the students to share pertinent information and ways to make a positive impact. 

Students in the class are finishing their carbon cycle and climate change unit, where they have been learning about carbon flows and the impact of burning fossil fuels; exploring unintended consequences of climate change, such as the migration of various species toward the poles; and discussing the importance of reducing our collective carbon footprint and protecting ecosystems. Dr. Horton, a climate scientist, spoke with the students about various issues surrounding climate change, including the invasive southern pine beetle, sea level rise, and mitigation and adaptation strategies. After the conversation with Dr. Horton, students were then asked to come up with their own mitigation and adaptation strategies for climate change.

Perry Dripps, who teaches the life science class, said the students are eager to continue the conversation, especially after being given the opportunity come up with solutions that they believe would make a difference. “I told students the climate change crisis needs all kinds of people, whether they decide to be a climate scientist, lawyer, doctor, advocate, engineer or business person. Everyone can do their part to make a better world today and into the future and the younger someone is when they start this process, the greater their ecological 'handprint' will be in making positive change.”

And while the ideas the students came up with to help combat climate change are complex, from floating islands to carbon sequestration, Dripps’ larger goal is simple: “It is my hope that students develop a passion for protecting the environment around them in the Masters community and beyond.”

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