Steve Sclar, left, recently demonstrated on the Emory campus how he gathers indoor air quality data. (Emory Photo/Video)
By Carol Clark
Steve Sclar traveled to Golog Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in China last summer to research the indoor air quality of nomads, who burn yak dung in their stoves for warmth and to cook their food. His measurements showed high levels of fine particulate matter in the smoked-filled tents and homes of some of the nomads. But Sclar also caught a glimpse of how global pollutants from industrialization may be impacting the isolated realm of the Tibetan plateau.
"The Tibetans are noticing changes in their climate and they're worried about the effects," says Sclar, an MPH student in Rollins School of Public Health's Department of Environmental Health. "Their grassland is getting poorer in the summer months and they see the snow pack getting smaller on the holiest mountain range in the region, known as Amnye Machen.
"I asked one nomad, 'What happens if Amnye Machen loses all of its snow?' He told me, 'Then it's the end of the world.'"
Climate change "is the biggest environmental health problem we face," Sclar says, "and yet it is so hard to pin down. There's no one country or entity to blame, and there is no one field of study that has the solution. We need to figure out how to reconcile all this."
Climate@Emory is an initiative made up of more than 50 faculty and staff from 20 departments across the university. Its goal is to harness Emory's strengths to help it play a leading role in the global response to perhaps the most complicated and pressing problem of our time. Since its launch last fall, the initiative has worked to support, connect and expand Emory's climate-related scholarship, teaching and community engagement.
"It's really not possible to understand climate change from the standpoint of any one discipline," says Eri Saikawa, who is Sclar's adviser and one of the founders of Climate@Emory. She is an assistant professor at Rollins and in the Department of Environmental Sciences. "We want to connect the dots to improve the quality and impact of Emory's research and provide a platform for intellectual engagement on climate change."
Read more in Emory Report.
Creating an atmosphere for change