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Steven Cohen
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Steven Cohen is the Executive Director of Columbia University’s Earth Institute and a Professor in the Practice of Public Affairs at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. He is also Director of the Master of Public Administration Program in Environmental Science and Policy at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and the Director of the Masters of Science in Sustainability Management at Columbia University’s School of Continuing Education. From 2002 to 2006, he directed education programs at the Earth Institute. From 1998 to 2001, Cohen was Vice Dean of Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs. From 1985 to 1998, he was the Director of Columbia's Graduate Program in Public Policy and Administration. From 1987-1998, Cohen was Associate Dean for Faculty and Curriculum at SIPA.

He is a graduate of James Madison High School in Brooklyn (1970), Franklin College of Indiana (1974) and the State University of New York at Buffalo (M.A., 1977; Ph.D., 1979). In 1976-77, Cohen was a Ford Foundation Fellow in Urban Environmental Policy; in 1978-79, he was a Rockefeller Foundation Fellow in Public and Environmental Policy and Implementation.

Entries by Steven Cohen

The Transformative Potential of Sustainability Education

(0) Comments | Posted August 31, 2015 | 8:32 AM

As the school year begins, I am thinking a great deal about the revisions I've made over the past several months to my courses and curricula for graduate-level sustainability students. The field keeps changing, and so constant study is required to keep current. At the end of last week, I...

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A Sustainable City Would Continue to Keep Cars Out of Times Square

(0) Comments | Posted August 24, 2015 | 8:14 AM

One of the signature programs of Mike Bloomberg's time as New York City's mayor was an effort to take street space from motor vehicles and give it over to other uses: sitting, biking and walking. Unfortunately, some of those uses in Times Square have come to include aggressive Elmos and...

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EPA Spilled, but Didn't Dump, the Toxics That Ended up in Colorado's River

(5) Comments | Posted August 17, 2015 | 8:29 AM

Last week, while inspecting leaks from a long-abandoned Colorado gold mine, EPA and its contractors accidentally breached the wall of an old mine tunnel, releasing an orange-colored toxic waste soup that flowed first into Cement Creek and then into the Animas River. On August 11th, the

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The Environment and the 2016 Elections

(13) Comments | Posted August 10, 2015 | 9:24 AM

It's the summer of 2015 and we have already been subjected to a Republican reality show disguised as a political debate. It is too early to know what will happen in next year's elections but obviously not too soon to start thinking about the coming election cycle. In an interesting...

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Hillary Clinton Is Right on Climate Change and the New York Times Is Wrong

(25) Comments | Posted August 3, 2015 | 8:40 AM

Last week, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton detailed her positions on energy and climate change, setting the goal of generating 33 percent of America's electricity from renewable sources by 2027. While I believe we can do better than that, her goal would create momentum toward the transition to a renewable and...

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Post-Sandy Rebuilding for Resiliency: Lessons From Long Beach, NY

(1) Comments | Posted July 27, 2015 | 10:06 AM

My small bungalow in Long Beach, New York, sits on a 60 by 40 foot plot of land one half block from the bay and one and a half blocks from the ocean. Long Beach is only two blocks wide in some parts of its west end. Hurricane Sandy required...

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Coal Miners, Extractive Industries, and a Sustainable Economy

(3) Comments | Posted July 20, 2015 | 8:39 AM

The transition to a renewable economy may be a painful one, particularly in this era of aversion to active government. When New York City endured the difficult transition from a commercial and small manufacturing city to today's post-industrial megacity, we nearly went broke. One of the reasons for our financial...

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Removing Toxic Electronics From NYC's Waste

(0) Comments | Posted July 13, 2015 | 8:42 AM

While the dangers of climate change attract more attention than other environmental issues, the problems of waste and toxics also persist--and are worthy of attention and action. One of the fastest growing environmental problems of the past decade has been the rapid increase in electronic waste. As society moves from...

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Sustainability Policy Is Taking Hold in China

(0) Comments | Posted July 6, 2015 | 9:08 AM

Whenever I try to analyze China's sustainability policies I am mindful of the fact that I am far from an expert on China's history, culture, economy or politics. It is clear that China's policy context is complex and differs from the one we know here in America. Nevertheless, even a...

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Revising the Toxic Substances Out-of-Control Act

(0) Comments | Posted June 29, 2015 | 8:38 AM

It is a good thing that America had a bipartisan environmental majority in the 1970s and 1980s or our air today would be unbreathable and our water would be undrinkable. Fortunately, laws governing air and water pollution, solid and hazardous waste, endangered species, and toxic substances were enacted during those...

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The Centrality of Sustainability

(0) Comments | Posted June 22, 2015 | 8:47 AM

Over the past half century, we have seen the environmental issue evolve from a fringe issue barely clinging to a spot on the American political agenda to the subject of a pope's encyclical. Presidents and prime ministers must now negotiate over climate change and habitat preservation just as they have...

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How the Transition to Renewable Energy Could Come

(0) Comments | Posted June 15, 2015 | 8:49 AM

While I do not believe that a carbon tax is practical or feasible and do not believe it is the "solution" to the problem of global warming, I do believe the transition to renewable energy is practical, feasible and necessary. We need to address the problem of global...

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A Carbon Tax Is Not Feasible or Practical

(36) Comments | Posted June 8, 2015 | 8:39 AM

In a prominent editorial this past Sunday, the New York Times once again advocated the adoption of a carbon tax. While the theory of a carbon tax makes perfect sense, its lack of practicality makes it the unicorn of energy politics. It is an imaginary creature of elegance and beauty...

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Sustainable Shipping and EPA's Truck Mileage Standards

(1) Comments | Posted June 1, 2015 | 9:30 AM

Last week, as I sat in traffic heading to the beach, I looked up at Interstate 95 to see an endless line of huge trucks gridlocked and waiting their turn to squeeze onto the George Washington Bridge. The road looked like a five-mile long freight train of colorful containers all...

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The Right Wing's Endless War on Environmental Regulation

(106) Comments | Posted May 26, 2015 | 8:45 AM

Since it seems impossible to update our environmental laws in this era of partisan poison, the Obama Administration has been working to use existing laws to update old rules. Updates like these were anticipated by many of our environmental laws, which included provisions that assumed that technologies and economic practices...

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Lessons of the Move From Hybrids Back to SUVs

(0) Comments | Posted May 18, 2015 | 10:11 AM

This past week, Lawrence Ulrich of The New York Times reported that lower gasoline prices were reducing the market for hybrid and electric cars. Ulrich observed that:

"Affordable gasoline is making hybrid car owners rethink their loyalty. With bargain gasoline prices putting more money in the pockets...

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A Reason to Be Optimistic: The New Generation of Sustainability Professionals

(1) Comments | Posted May 11, 2015 | 8:22 AM

We are approaching the commencement season here at Columbia University and, in fact, at every American university. Graduation is a time to look back at where we've been and look ahead to where we are going. I live in an apartment owned by my employer and so Columbia's Morningside Heights...

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Federal Dysfunction Continues to Underfund Science and Infrastructure

(6) Comments | Posted May 4, 2015 | 9:40 AM

Tesla's effort to commercialize a home battery system was a big news story last week. In contrast, the Republican-controlled House Science Committee's reauthorization proposal for American science research received very little media attention. I link these two events because they represent the positive and negative trends influencing our transition to...

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From PlaNYC to OneNYC: New York's Evolving Sustainability Policy

(1) Comments | Posted April 27, 2015 | 9:34 AM

One of the signature accomplishments of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's 12 years as mayor was the development and implementation of New York City's first sustainability plan: PlaNYC 2030. Mayor Bloomberg saw projections of New York's population growth and realized that environmental goals needed to be integrated into the...

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Earth Day's Importance and Evolution Since 1970

(4) Comments | Posted April 20, 2015 | 8:46 AM

This Wednesday is Earth Day, an event that began in 1970 with the goals of educating the public about environmental pollution and generating political support for environmental protection. The U.S. EPA was established that same year. Five years later, I enrolled in my first class in environmental politics and by...

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