DATE: Friday, June 12, 2009
TIME: 8:00 AM-9:30 AM
VENUE: Greenberg Lounge, NYU Law
PARTICIPANTS: Maude Barlow, Dickson Despommier, Radley Horton, William Solecki

Climate change and rising sea levels threaten substantial flooding and droughts worldwide. How do we avoid mass migrations, food shortages, disease and political conflict that could accompany such devastation? Join the world’s foremost adaptation experts as they survey threatened regions of the planet, including New York City, and suggest strategies for changing our strained relationship with H2O.

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Josh Zepps is a correspondent for Bloomberg TV’s Energy Now, reporting on the future of energy and the environment. His show on Discovery Science Channel, Brink, took an irreverent look at the latest breakthroughs on the brink of changing our lives. His one-hour science specials continue to air on Discovery around the world.

In his native Australia, Josh Zepps earned radio’s highest prize, a Commercial Radio Award, for his syndicated daily radio sketches satirizing culture and politics. His new audio podcast, Fascinating Crap with Josh Zepps & Friends, takes a funny look at science and creativity. It is available for free on iTunes.


Author, Environmentalist

An activist who is known as “the Ralph Nadar of Canada,” Maude Barlow is the best-selling author of 16 books, including the recently released Blue Covenant: The Global Water Crisis and the Coming Battle for the Right to Water. She is the Senior Advisor on Water to the President of the United Nations General Assembly as well as Chair of the Board of the Washington-based Food and Water Watch. Maude founded and is the National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians and is also a Councillor with the Hamburg-based World Future Council. She is the recipient of seven honorary doctorates as well as many awards, including the 2005 Right Livelihood Award (known as the “Alternative Nobel”), and the 2008 Canadian Environment Award.

Medical Ecologist

In the emerging field of medical ecology, Dickson Despommier is a trailblazer, devising solutions to problems in agriculture and public health that likely will be magnified by climate change. A microbiologist, he is a Professor of Public Health at Columbia University’s Mailman School, where he developed the idea of growing food in urban farm skyscrapers. He is currently featured by the Chicago Museum of Science & Industry in a major exhibition as one of ten great modern innovators. At Columbia, Despommier teaches microbiology, environmental science and medical ecology, which focuses on direct environmental influences on human health. For nearly 30 years, he has been involved in lab-based research on parasites and the health risk they pose to large segments of the poor population in the tropics. He has authored three books on the topic of parasites, including West Nile Story. More recently, Despommier has turned his attention to new approaches to sustainable urban life. As founder and director of The Vertical Farm Project, he is looking into how agriculture can be adapted and integrated into city living. He envisions multi-story indoor farming facilities that allow for year-round supplies of fresh, organic, and locally grown food. Such an endeavor could benefit the environment by returning existing farmland to nature and restoring the natural functions and services of the ecosystem.

Despommier has received awards both as an innovator and as a highly successful teacher; notably, in 2003, he was named “Teacher of the Year” by the American Medical Students Association, and he has earned the same distinction six times at Columbia.


Radley Horton conducts regional climate change scenario assessments for stakeholders around the globe, projecting impacts on agriculture, water resources, ecosystems, and infrastructure. He is an Associate Research Scientist at the Center for Climate Systems Research at Columbia University. Currently, he is the lead for the Science Policy Team of the New York City Panel on Climate Change. Additional research interests include polar climate, sea level rise, and abrupt climate change. Radley is also involved in climate change impact and adaptation projects in New York State, the Southeastern U.S., and Central America. He conducted his graduate work at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Columbia University in New York, using simulated global climate models to study regional impacts of climate variability.


As director of the CUNY Institute for Sustainable Cities, William Solecki’s research focuses on urban environmental change, urban land use and suburbanization. A professor in the Geography Department at Hunter college, he is presently co-chair of Mayor Bloomberg’s New York City Panel on Climate Change. Solecki has served on the U.S. National Research Council’s Special Committee on Problems in the Environment. He has also served as the co-leader of the Metropolitan East Coast Assessment of Impacts of Potential Climate Variability and Change. He currently is a member of the International Geographical Union Megacity Study Group and the International Human Dimensions Programme, Urbanization and Global Environmental Change Scientific Steering Committee.

Dr. Solecki holds a BA in Geography from Columbia University and an MA and PhD in geography from Rutgers University.