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Listen or download interview (mp3, 29 minutes, 50MB)
The loss of tropical forests worldwide is a big part of the climate change puzzle, and we wouldn’t know it if it weren’t for Ruth DeFries. Her innovative use of satellite images—or “remote sensing”—to study how humans are changing their planet has revealed some of science’s big surprises, from the rate and extent of rainforest loss in the Amazon to the role urban areas play in deforestation. It has also revolutionized how governments respond to land use change, because many now employ her techniques to monitor and protect their natural resources. DeFries, the recipient of a 2007 MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant, is currently the Denning Professor of Sustainable Development at Columbia University in New York City. She was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2006.
Last Updated: 04-03-2011
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The audio files linked above are part of the National Academy of Sciences InterViews series. Opinions and statements included in these audio files are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Academy of Sciences.