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Finding a way forward on climate change

Finding a way forward on climate change

If the causes and problems of climate change are entwined, then the solutions must be as well. That was the consensus as Harvard faculty from a range of fields came together for “Confronting Climate Change: Diverse Perspectives on the Path Forward,” an online discussion co-sponsored by the Office of the Vice Provost for Advancement in Learning and the Harvard University Center for the Environment.

Moderator Daniel Schrag, Sturgis Hooper Professor of Geology and professor of environmental science and engineering, opened Thursday evening’s session by asking about the interconnections between climate change and the pandemic, arguably the two most urgent global crises of the time.

“We know it’s going to get warmer,” said Peter Huybers, professor of Earth and planetary sciences and of environmental science and engineering. Citing “the underlying pressure due to climate change, droughts, seasonal floods,” he noted that “since 2015, the number of people who are undernourished has been increasing, and that has accelerated under COVID 19.”

Speaking about her experience in Africa, Jennifer Leaning, Harvard Medical School associate professor of emergency medicine, talked about how the pandemic has interrupted international cooperation at a critical time. “In Chad, in the semi-Sahel, which is verging with the Sahara, sources of water are disappearing,” said Leaning, an emergency room doctor by training. “They have always had a precarious income stream from trade, and trade has really dropped. The options for livelihood have diminished.”

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