The perturbation of greenhouse gases, the global nitrogen cycle, the growth of urban centers and loss of farm and wildlands, the exploitation of fisheries, the unfortunate link between pollution and poverty, and the change of global climate are but a subset of the environment/human interactions that are an active part of the news cycle. These are among the most pressing issues that will determine the future of human society this century.
The challenges require research from a basic understanding of the causes and processes involved, to the development of solutions or adaptations to the challenges. This focal area, and its importance, is at the heart of ESPM, and we are uniquely organized to span the continuum of activities needed for timely responses.
ESPM has expertise in climate modeling, past climate change, response of ecosystems to climate change, viability of terrestrial means of C sequestration – or as likely – loss, ethics and social ramifications of climate engineering.
Some examples of our grass roots efforts in “environment and humans”:
- Professor O’Rourke spearheaded the development of GoodGuide, a “for benefit” organization (with a great iPhone app) that allows consumers to make environmentally informed choices.
- Professor Illes is a key participant in Berkeley’s Green Chemistry Center.
- Professor Winickoff helps lead the Berkeley Science, Technology, and Society Center.
- Professor Fung is the co-organizer of the Berkeley Institute of the Environment.
Strengthening our core areas, and bridging disciplines, will be a key goal of ESPM in the next 10 years.