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Fellow Spotlight: Alleviating Poverty and Reducing Emissions, Tal Lee Anderman


The ability of Climate CoLab to successfully build partnerships and bridge academic institutions with industries focused on climate change, motivated Tal Lee Anderman to become actively involved as one of this year’s Fellows. Tal Lee left a career in modern dance to pursue a degree in sustainable development from Columbia University. It was here that she began to focus her career on agriculture and its impacts on people and environment; naturally, Tal Lee serves as a Fellow in the Land Use: Agriculture, Livestock and Forestry contest.

   2014 Fellow Tal Lee Anderman

Since graduating from Columbia University, Tal Lee has worked as a research assistant at Columbia’s Earth Institute, studying trade-offs between cash cropping and nutrition for smallholder farmers in rural Ghana. More recently, she conducted a study on the relationship between clean cook stoves and food security for farmers in rural India, which led to her current position as a Tom Graff Diversity Fellow at the Environmental Defense Fund. At EDF, she continues to examine Indian rural development initiatives that intersect goals to improve livelihood and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture and off-grid energy.

Here’s more from Tal Lee:

I was drawn to the Land Use: Agriculture, Livestock and Forestry contest because it addresses the communities–and resources–most at risk in a changing climate. My original interest stemmed from an intrinsic desire to help alleviate poverty, which naturally drew me to rural agricultural settings where many farms live on a subsistence basis, on less than $1 per day. As I began exploring how I might contribute towards improving the lives of these farmers, I realized that their current livelihoods were very much at risk from climate change. This refocused my work both towards ways of mitigating climate change through the agriculture sector, as well as to finding ways for rural communities to adapt to a changing climate. This competition, is therefore a perfect fit both for my past experience and long-term professional goals.

From where I stand, the greatest challenge to addressing climate change is the need for rural households (nearly 50% of the world’s population) to improve their quality of life–which will require more food, water, fuel and fiber–juxtaposed against a global shrinking resource base. While technologies exist to address many elements that contribute to climate change–spanning from nuclear energy to biogas cook stoves, climate smart agriculture to green buildings–the “baseline” from which we are trying to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other contributions to climate change is actually increasing over time, as families in underdeveloped regions begin to develop. The solution cannot be to tell those who have nearly nothing to use less, similarly there seems to be little traction for telling those who use so much (developed economies) to slow down their consumption rates. Therefore, I believe the solution lies in making technology that combats climate change–both existing, and through additional R&D–available en mass.

Check out the Land Use: Agriculture, Livestock and Forestry contest here:

And check out other Spotlights of the Climate CoLab winners, Fellows and Advisors here: