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2010 News Releases



Environmental Council releases report, Provost plans launch of Environmental Initiative

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Provost Rafael Reif today released the report of the Environmental Research Council (ERC), chaired by CEE Professor Dara Entekhabi, and asked the council to design an implementation plan for launching an MIT Environmental Initiative in January 2011.

Reif also announced creation of an Energy and Environment Board, which will be co-chaired by CEE department head Professor Andrew Whittle and Professor Ernest Moniz of physics. The board will advise the ERC on implementation of the MIT Environmental Initiative and its coordination with other campus activities and organizations, including the MIT Energy Initiative, which is directed by Moniz.

“The disaster unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico offers a searing reminder of the vast scale and significance of the world’s environmental challenges and of their inextricable ties to questions of energy, economics and policy,” said Reif. “We are grateful to the faculty members who have agreed to serve on the ERC and on the Energy and Environmental Board. As they prepare the Institute to confront the full array of global environmental challenges, I look forward to working with them to accelerate and magnify MIT’s contributions.”

The ERC report states: “Humans now exert a dominating influence on the global environment. Both intentionally and inadvertently, we are precipitating changes at rates and spatial scales unprecedented in human history. While our understanding of these changes is improving, we remain ill-equipped to respond to them, either through mitigation or adaptation.”

The ERC goes on to say that the MIT community must develop “science-based local, regional and global management strategies to maintain and restore resilience in both human and natural systems” and proposes “marshalling the Institute’s core strengths and research momentum in earth and environmental science, environmental engineering, biology and genomics, computation and modeling, economics and business, environmental planning and design, and technological innovation into a cooperative enterprise dedicated to the rational management of humanity’s role on Earth.”

The provost established the ERC in September 2008. Other CEE faculty members on the council are Sallie (Penny) Chisholm and Martin Polz. Chisholm will continue as a member of the expanded council, which comprises 16 members from all five of MIT’s schools: architecture and planning; engineering; humanities, arts and social sciences; management; and science.

In addition to Whittle and Moniz, the other four members of the Energy and Environment Board are Entekhabi, Amy Glasmeier, Richard Locke, Susan Silbey and Maria Zuber.

The provost’s letter to the community can be read on the MIT News site. The report of the Environmental Research Council can be downloaded as a pdf here.

“Rethinking Water: A Critical Resource” is an Institute-wide workshop to identify interests and opportunities for water-related work.