Princeton voices contribute to national conversation on climate change, heat waves, wildfires and more

Tuesday, Aug 10, 2021
by Liz Fuller-Wright, Office of Communications

The triple-digit temperatures sweeping across the country this summer go far beyond routine weather fluctuations. Indeed, June 2021 was the hottest June in the history of national weather records, and by the end of July, fully 40% of the nation was experiencing drought, which contributed to a western wildfire season whose smoke reached from coast to coast. The soaring temperatures and raging fires, say experts, point inexorably to the impact of human-caused global climate change.

At Princeton University, which is grounded in a mission of teaching and research, our experts are speaking to the moment, sharing their expertise and research on the impacts of climate change across news platforms and social media.

Read, view and listen to contributions to this national conversation from just a few of Princeton’s many experts, across a broad range of fields and disciplines, who are devoting their careers to environmental solutions.


  • Jesse Jenkins, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering (MAE) and the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment (ACEE), calls out the public health effect of climate-linked wildfires on Twitter; discusses transitioning to a zero-carbon environmental policy in the video “Is it too late to turn back the clock on climate change?” for Princeton’s Forward Thinkers series; highlights the link between power outages and extreme weather for Marketplace Morning Report; describes pathways to net-zero emissions on WHYY; and explains why now is our last, best chance to confront the climate crisis for Rolling Stone. Follow him at @JesseJenkins on Twitter.
  • Forrest Meggers, assistant professor of architecture and ACEE, was featured in “Too hot to live: Millions worldwide will face unbearable temperatures” in National Geographic, and he co-authored an op-ed for Scientific American, “A better way to cool ourselves” with Kian Wee Chen, a postdoctoral research associate in ACEE. Follow him at @FMeggers on Twitter.
  • Michael Oppenheimer, Princeton’s Albert G. Milbank Professor of Geosciences and International Affairs, a professor in the High Meadows Environmental Institute (HMEI), and the director of Princeton’s Center for Policy Research on Energy and the Environment (C-PREE), discusses the newest climate report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change with the PBS News Hour; explains how “event attribution scientists” can confidently tie extreme weather events to climate change for The Daily Beast and Time; outlines concrete steps cities should take for Axios; discusses the “human element” of climate research with Bloomberg; and gives an in-depth interview to WHYY on climate change, migration, adaptation and governments’ failings. Follow him at @ClimateOpp on Twitter.
  • Anu Ramaswami, the Sanjay Swani ’87 Professor of India Studies and a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies and HMEI, focuses on how social inequity is part of the climate crisis for ABC Action News and how to make cities more liveable in an in-depth conversation with New Scientist. Follow her at @AnuRamaswami on Twitter and at @RamaswamiSUSLab on Instagram.
  • Gabriel Vecchi, a professor of geosciences and the HMEI director, is one of the global team of experts behind “extreme event attribution,” as featured in “These scientists linked June’s heat wave to climate change in 9 days. Their work could revolutionize how we talk about climate” in Time; their work is also featured in Quartz, the Associated Press, and CBS News. Vecchi discusses a different type of extreme weather event in “Hurricanes may not be becoming more frequent, but they’re still more dangerous” in Science News
  • Robert Socolow, an emeritus professor of MAE, co-authored the June feature story in Physics Today magazine, “Accelerating progress in climate science,” with a Harry Hess postdoctoral fellow in geosciences, Nadir Jeevanjee.

Other researchers, alumni and students:

  • Carl Gershenson, project director at the Eviction Lab at Princeton University, points out the increased hazards of eviction when the temperatures are dangerously high, in E&E News. Follow him at @CGershenson on Twitter.
  • Eric Larson, a senior research engineer who leads the Energy Systems Analysis Group at ACEE, describes the various pathways to get a carbon-neutral U.S. for the “Net-Zero by 2050” episode of the podcast Climate Now, with GreenBiz, and on The Morning Show for Wisconsin Public Radio. Princeton’s Net-Zero America team has been featured widely across the media and recently inspired a Net Zero Australia project.
  • Erin Mayfield, an associate research scholar with HMEI, discusses the intersection of environmental justice and clean energy with Yale Climate Connections and is featured in “The US power sector is halfway to net zero emissions, but it gets harder now, analysts say” in Utility Dive. Follow her at @ErinNMayfield on Twitter.
  • Shiv Priyam Raghuraman, a graduate student in atmospheric and oceanic sciences, explains that there is a less than 1% probability that the recent changes in Earth’s energy balance occurred naturally, as seen on NBC News and in Tech Explorist.
  • Katherine Ross of the Class of 2022 discusses climate change with the Daily Princetonian (video).
  • Timothy Searchinger, a research scholar in Princeton’s School of Public and International Affairs and C-PREE, discusses the limitations of buying carbon offsets to remediate for pollution in the Financial Times.
  • Gregg Sparkman, a postdoctoral researcher at ACEE, discusses how reflecting on our personal sustainability choices might make us more likely to support ambitious climate change policy proposals with Utah Public Radio
  • Harold Wanless of the Class of 1964 highlighted a different risk posed by climate change: rising seas, which are already dissolving the limestone under Florida, where he lives and teaches at the University of Miami. He speaks with The Guardian for “Miami condo collapse raises questions over role of climate change.”

This article was originally published on the University website.