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State of the Planet Conference

Some of the world's most influential thinkers and scientists will gather in New York March 27-28 for the 5th biennial State of the Planet Conference, sponsored by Columbia University's Earth Institute and The Economist magazine. Former U.N. secretary general Kofi Annan will give the keynote, followed by economist Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute. The two-day conference brings together top scientists in earth studies, engineering, biology, economics and health, along with leaders in media, government and nongovernmental organizations, to assess the state of human and natural systems, and discuss how humanity can move toward a sustainable future. Five significant new books will be featured, including Dr. Sachs's just-published "Common Wealth." For full schedule, and details of live webcast of the event, go to:

Among questions that panels will cover:

  • Can we fight poverty as populations of poor countries expand?
  • Are more Darfur-like conflicts coming?
  • What new practical energy solutions may help the environment?
  • What is being done to cope with the effects of a melting Arctic?

On the first evening of the conference, The Economist will host a debate: Can the United States ever play a positive role in climate change?

Speakers include:
Jan Egeland, former U.N chief of humanitarian affairs and emergency relief, and author of the new book "A Billion Lives," his eyewitness account of the world's great recent crises.
Alice Dautry, physicist, cell biologist and president of the Institut Pasteur. Grete Hovelsrud, senior research fellow in Arctic studies at the Center for International Climate and Environment Research in Oslo.
Klaus Lackner, professor of geophysics at Columbia and leader in new approaches to energy, including removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Lee Bollinger, president of Columbia University
Barbara Thomas Judge, chair of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority.

Some 2,000 people are expected to attend. While it is free and open to the public, registration is now full. However, space is being reserved for media. Any journalist wishing to cover the event should contact one of the following for credentials:
Kevin Krajick,, 212-854-9729
Kyu Lee,, 212-851-0798.


Contact: Kevin Krajick
The Earth Institute at Columbia University

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