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2 posts from January 2022


Prof. Robert Costanza Discusses Ecological Economics (January 25th)

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Our economy is frequently defined as one of unpaid costs.  (Think: Garret Hardin and the tragedy of the commons.)  Nature or natural resources are considered either inexhaustible and/or the byproducts of their use, such as polluted air and degraded water quality, are externalized costs borne by society, i.e., no one.   Our economic model perfectly well explains the climate crisis.  Treating our atmosphere and our oceans as open sewers has resulted in both global warming and helps to explain the planet's ongoing and accelerating biological annihilation, or the sixth mass extinction.  The field of ecological economics attempts to, in two words, internalize externalities.   

During this 30-minute interview Professor Costanza begins by briefly describing the field of ecological economics.   The interview progresses to his discussion of the valuing nature, here costal wetlands, he explains common asset trusts, the development of more rational measures of economic development (beyond GDP) such as the Genuine Progress Indicator and of course provides comment regarding the climate crisis (including the use of motivational interviewing in defining climate goals).   

Robert Costanza is Professor of Ecological Economics at the Institute for Global Prosperity (IGP) at University College London (UCL).  He is also currently a Senior Fellow at the Stockholm Resilience Centre in Stockholm, Sweden, and Honorary Professor at the Australian National University, an Affiliate Fellow at the Gund Institute at the University of Vermont, and a deTao Master of Ecological Economics at the deTao Masters Academy in Shanghai, China.   Previously, he taught at the Crawford School of Public Policy at the Robertconstanza_biophoto_700x350_webrez
Australian National University.  He has also taught at Portland State University, was Gund Professor of Ecological Economics and Director  of the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics at the University of Vermont, prior still he was Director of the University of Maryland Institute for Ecological Economics and Professor at the University of Maryland's Center for Estuarine and Environmental Science at the Chesapeake Biological Lab.  Professor Costanza is a Fellow in the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia (ASSA) and the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) in the UK, and is an Overseas Expert in the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).  He is co-founder and past-president of the International Society for Ecological Economics and was founding chief editor of the society’s journal Ecological Economics. He currently serves on the editorial board of ten other international academic journals.  He is also founding co-editor in chief of Solutions a unique hybrid academic/popular journal and editor in chief of the Anthropocene Review.   He currently serves on the editorial board of eight other international academic journals and is past president of the Intl. Society for Ecosystem Health.  He is a Senior Fellow of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, a Senior Fellow of the National Council for Science and the Environment and a Distinguished Visiting Professor at Lincoln University in New Zealand.

Professor Costanza's UCL webpage is at: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/bartlett/igp/news/2021/oct/spotlight-professor-robert-costanza.



Engineering Professor John Abraham Discusses Rapidly Rising Ocean Temperatures and Their Contribution to the Climate Crisis and Health Harm (January 18, 2022)

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Over the past several years the earth's oceans, that cover 70% of the planet's surface, have dramatically warmed.  In a paper published last week in Advances in Atmospheric Sciences researchers concluded for the sixth consecutive year ocean temperatures in 2021 reached record levels.  Compared to 2020, 2021 ocean temperatures were 14 zettajoules (14 followed by 21 zeros) warmer.  This amount of energy is 145 times greater than the world's annual electricity generation - equal to a half a zettajoule.  Warming oceans can/do essentially explain or account for human-caused (Anthropocene) global warming, oceans absorb 90% of climate-crisis related warming, the climate crisis in sum and resulting human health harm.   Sadly however this reality is seldom if ever discussed in health care policy circles.  For example, the only mention of rising ocean temperatures and/or resulting health effects in Health Affairs is my discussion in my December 2018 Health Affairs Blog post on climate crisis-caused health effects.   

During this 34-minute interview Professor John Abraham begins by providing an overview of his Advances in Atmospheric Sciences (AAS) paper.  (He is the paper's second author.)  Moreover, he unpacks the extent of rising ocean temperatures, e.g., 2021 warming would be comparable in energy to exploding an Hiroshima bomb every second of every minute, day, week, month and year).  He discusses resulting increasing ocean acidity and the effect of undermining marine food stock that feeds over 3 billion people worldwide, how rising ocean temperatures affect global climate and weather patterns and weather disasters, the effect ocean warming is having on AMOC (Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation) and the extent to which we will be able to build resilience in responding to the climate crisis.   

John Abraham, Ph.D., is a Professor and Program Director in the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota.  He studies include the geophysical Abraham-John science related to the climate crisis that includes the rate at which the planet is warming, particularly oceans.  His team’s warming measurements provide insights on future climate crisis effects over the coming decades.  Professor Abraham also studies the impact of increasing heat on the human body - information that has important health consequences, particularly for vulnerable populations.   Professor has conducted approximately 400 scientific studies that have been published widely.  He is a frequent television and radio guest having participated in over 100 television and radio interviews.

Professor Abraham's January 11 article in The Guardian concerning his AAS publication are at: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/jan/11/ocean-temperatures-earth-heat-increase-record.