Our faculty’s trailblazing research has enabled breakthroughs in understanding the carbon cycle, urban resilience, water purification, and more.
These include G. Evelyn Hutchinson, a pioneer of modern ecology who was one of the first scientists to predict the dangerous warming effects of human-caused carbon dioxide; Sterling Professor of Economics and Nobel laureate William Nordhaus, who developed the concept of a “social cost of carbon,” key to modern environmental management; and Karen Seto, a professor of geography and urbanization at the Yale School of the Environment (YSE), who pioneered the use of data-driven models of urban growth, which help guide sustainable strategies and promote public health equity. Outside of Yale, our alumni have shaped climate policy, while university programs continue to bring together world leaders to address human-caused ecological crises.
The Planetary Solutions Project began as a way to leverage these decades of work and to accelerate its impact.
In 2018, University President Peter Salovey announced a set of science priorities for the university, including one centered on environmental and evolutionary sciences and one focused on climate solutions. Soon after, Provost Scott Strobel convened a group of deans, department chairs, and other senior faculty to broaden these two priorities and connect them to Yale’s strengths in policy, law, business, and medicine. The Planetary Solutions Project emerged from that conversation—a vision to knit together not only disparate disciplines in science but also social science and humanities. Its initial framework aimed to create productive connections across schools and departments; to amplify research already underway and spark new ideas; and to broadcast these ideas and find pathways to implementation.
In December 2020, the Planetary Solutions Project launched with a symposium that brought together Yale voices who study, create, communicate, and lead effective solutions around climate change, biodiversity, environmental justice, and health. The conversations demonstrated a wide interest in connecting both existing work and new endeavors to the framework of the Project; a call for ideas garnered more than five dozen proposals. And in March 2021, as the first major step toward fulfilling one of the Projects’ ten pillars, the Yale Center for Natural Carbon Capture was launched with a $100 million gift from the FedEx Corporation.