Exploring Earth Month with U-M Experts

Faculty experts from the University of Michigan School of Nursing, School for College of Engineering, Environment and Sustainability, and the Center for Sustainable Systems joined Michigan Minds to talk about the impact of climate change on older adults and North American forests, and how we can reduce our own current carbon footprint as consumers and advance the effort to transition to clean energy equitably.

Learn more and tune in to each episode below:

Long-term Effects of Climate Disasters on Human Health

As an assistant professor at the U-M School of Nursing, Sue Anne Bell‘s research focuses on the health effects of disasters and the impact of climate change on human health within a health equity framework. Bell is also a nurse scientist and family nurse practitioner, with expertise in disaster response, community health and emergency care, and responds to disasters across the US as part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

In this episode of Michigan Minds, she discusses how the advancing impacts of climate change are affecting older adults, as homes and communities are increasingly placed at risk, and the multiple levels in which change can be made to assist those in our community who may need support when a disaster occurs. Bell provides simple and cost-effective strategies that people can use to start building their own emergency preparedness kit.

“When I’m talking about key messages from my research, it’s not just what you as one person can do, but it’s what the whole of the community can do to be ready for these events.”

Improving Access to Clean Mobility

With a focus on energy justice and equity, Sita Syal, studies the future of clean transportation and energy, and analyzes equity considerations in the design of these systems. Syal is an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Michigan College of Engineering. In this episode of Michigan Minds, Syal discusses the shift to electric vehicles (EVs), and how communities can work toward the goal of access to clean mobility for everyone.

“Just because the system is “clean” or just because the system or technology is “sustainable”—these words we love to hear—it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s equitable. It doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s working toward a just society.”

Reducing Carbon Emissions as Consumers

Gregory Keoleian co-founded and serves as director of the U-M Center for Sustainable Systems. He is also a Peter M. Wege Endowed Professor of Sustainable Systems at the U-M School for the Environment and Sustainability, and a professor in the Civil and Environmental Engineering department at the U-M College of Engineering. Keoleian joins Michigan Minds to talk about ways consumers can reduce their carbon footprint in three areas of their daily lives: home, mobility and diet.

“What’s important here is that each of us can play a role and make a difference. Whether it’s simple actions like turning off lights or replacing incandescent bulbs with LEDs, or reducing your food waste, line drying your clothes or bundling trips or making bigger investments, significant investments, like insulating your attic or installing heat pumps or buying an electric car. All of these actions are beneficial.”

Analyzing How Climate Change Influences the Health, Diversity and Productivity of Forests

As director of the Institute for Global Change Biology (IGCB) at the University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability, Peter Reich, conducts global change research on plants, soils and ecosystems. He joins this episode of Michigan Minds to discuss the research of the IGCB, and how climate change influences the health, diversity and productivity of forests and grassland.

“The main thing people really need to realize is that climate change is impacting nature and people now, it’s not just something that’s going to happen 30, 40, 50 years down the road. And the impacts now, but even more so in a decade or two from now, will be enormously harmful to both natural systems and human systems.”