U-M Sustainability Expert Perspectives

The ConversationU-M sustainability experts regularly contribute to The Conversation, a free and independent source of news and views from the academic and research community. This Blog has received international praise for promoting content from university scholars and researchers with deep expertise in their subject.

Red team-blue team? Debating climate science should not be a cage match
Richard B. Rood, Professor of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering, University of Michigan

Scott Pruitt, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, has called for a “red team-blue team” review to challenge the science behind climate change. “The American people deserve an honest, open, transparent discussion about this supposed threat to this country,” he said on a radio show, adding he hoped to hold the exercise in the fall. Read More.

Disasters can harm older adults long after storms have passed
Sue Anne Bell, Clinical Associate Professor of Nursing, University of Michigan

My phone rang around midnight: A major hurricane was predicted to hit a nearby coastal town, which was under a mandatory evacuation order. Many of the staff at a large hospital there had already evacuated, and an unknown number of patients from nursing homes and assisted living centers were being transported to the hospital. The remaining staff were desperate for help from experienced nurses. Was I available to assist immediately? Read More.

Nutrient pollution: Voluntary steps are failing to shrink algae blooms and dead zones
Donald Scavia, Professor of Environment and Sustainability; Professor of Environmental Engineering, University of Michigan

Summer is the season for harmful algae blooms in many U.S. lakes and bays. They occur when water bodies become overloaded with nitrogen and phosphorus from farms, water treatment plants and other sources. Warm water and lots of nutrients promote rapid growth of algae that can be toxic and potentially fatal to aquatic life and people. Read More.

If we stopped emitting greenhouse gases right now, would we stop climate change?
Richard B. Rood, Professor of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering, University of Michigan

Earth’s climate is changing rapidly. We know this from billions of observations, documented in thousands of journal papers and texts and summarized every few years by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The primary cause of that change is the release of carbon dioxide from burning coal, oil and natural gas. Read More.

New data set explores 90 years of natural disasters in the US
Leah Platt Boustan, Professor of Economics, Princeton University
Maria Lucia Yanguas, Ph.D. Candidate in Economics, University of California, Los Angeles
Matthew Kahn, Professor of Economics, University of Southern California – Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences
Paul W. Rhode, Professor and Chair of Economics, University of Michigan

Every year, major earthquakes, floods and hurricanes occur. These natural disasters disrupt daily life and, in the worst cases, cause devastation. Events such as Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy killed thousands of people and generated billions of dollars in losses. Read More.

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