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Steven Cohen
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

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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Deep Sea Drilling Rules and the Transition from Fossil Fuels

(10) Comments | Posted April 13, 2015 | 9:40 AM

The Department of the Interior will soon issue rules for new (not existing) oil drilling operations set to be released on the 5th anniversary of the deadly explosion of a BP oil drilling operation in the Gulf of Mexico. According to Coral Davenport of the New York Times:

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California Dreaming: Drought and Development

(68) Comments | Posted April 6, 2015 | 8:50 AM

As the northeastern United States fights a losing battle to maintain its population, California, the Southwest and Florida continue to grow like there's no tomorrow. Only there will be a tomorrow. And more people, changing patterns of rainfall, and a culture requiring the desert to bloom have led California Governor...

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We Need to Finance and Subsidize Mass Transit

(2) Comments | Posted March 30, 2015 | 9:42 AM

This past week, New York City's subway fare rose from $2.50 to $2.75. In some ways this system is one of the great bargains in American transit. Last week, I traveled to Washington D.C., where metro fares are often double the cost of New York's subway. Commuter lines in New...

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The Emergence and Importance of President Obama's Climate Policy

(2) Comments | Posted March 23, 2015 | 8:38 AM

In a quiet and low-key move last week, President Obama took what may turn out to be one of the most significant steps he has ever taken to reduce greenhouse emissions. As reported by Julie Hirschfeld Davis in the New York Times, the president signed an executive order...

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The Divestment Distraction and a Positive Vision of Sustainability

(0) Comments | Posted March 16, 2015 | 9:17 AM

The environmental community has long needed to stop bad things from happening and over time has developed the mindset that the job of environmental protection is to avert damage and destruction. Emerging naturally from that mindset is the tactic that to prevent damage we must scare people about the potential...

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