I spent my birthday at the Chabot Space and Science Center. Ron Cohen (Professor Department of Earth and Planetary Science, Vice Chair Department of Chemistry) is working with high school science teachers in the Bay Area to measure urban metabolism — the production and fate of greenhouse gases in urban environments. Along with Ron and his graduate students, I presented to the teachers some of the health impacts of climate change from both a global and local perspective.
Think global, act local: High income countries produce greenhouse gas emissions, while the bulk of climate change’s mortality impacts are felt in low income countries. Actions to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions in high income countries may help alleviate health burdens faced in the developing world.
Think local, act local: Vehicle traffic is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions in urban environments. It is also a major source of criteria air pollutant, such as particulate matter and NO2. Hence, there is an immediate co-benefit to reducing mobile sources of greenhouse gases, in that air pollutants directly related to human health are also reduced. This can potentially provide near-term health benefits to our local communities.
To learn more about Ron’s BEACON project, which has established the first urban network of greenhouse gas monitoring, visit his website: http://beacon.berkeley.edu/