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Ezra's Round Table / Systems Seminar: Drew Shindell (Duke) - Evaluating Broad Impacts of Emissions with a Focus on Methane

Friday, February 8, 2019 at 12:15pm

Frank H. T. Rhodes Hall, 253

Emissions to the atmosphere contribute to global warming, damage public health and reduce the yield of agricultural and forest ecosystems. Quantifying these damages to the planetary commons by calculating their social costs facilitates more comprehensive cost-benefit analyses of emissions control measures. I will explore the social cost of methane emissions as an illustration incorporating climate- and air quality-related impacts. Many of these impacts are well defined, such as respiratory health damages due to ozone, whereas others are part of emerging literature, such as labor productivity. Monetization also depends upon ethical considerations of the values of impacts at different timescales. I will then show examples of how the results can be applied. For instance, in the energy sector, renewables compare far better against use of natural gas in electricity generation. In the agricultural sector, changes in livestock management practices, promoting healthy diets including reduced beef and dairy consumption, and reductions in food waste are shown to have the potential to provide large societal benefits. Evaluation of impacts for other short-lived emissions are more challenging, but can also provide useful insight. Quantification of the full social costs and range of impacts may help catalyze actions to reduce emissions and thereby provide a broad set of societal benefits.


Drew Shindell is Nicholas Professor of Earth Science at Duke University. From 1995 to 2014 he was at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City and taught at Columbia University. He earned his bachelor's at UC Berkeley and Ph.D. at Stony Brook University, both in physics. He studies climate change, air quality, and links between science and policy. He has been an author on >200 peer-reviewed publications, received awards from Scientific American, NASA, the NSF and the EPA, and is a fellow of AGU and AAAS.

He has testified on climate issues before both houses of the United Sstates Congress (at the request of both parties), developed a climate change course with the American Museum of Natural History, and made numerous media appearances as part of his outreach efforts. He chaired the 2011 UNEP/WMO Integrated Assessment of Black Carbon and Tropospheric Ozone, and was a Coordinating Lead Author on the 2013 Fifth Assessment Report of the IPCC and on the 2018 IPCC Special Report on 1.5°C. He also chairs the Scientific Advisory Panel to the Climate and Clean Air Coalition of nations and organizations.

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College of Engineering, Systems Engineering, Engineering


engineering, systems engineering, College of Engineering, energy institute





Drew Shindell

Speaker Affiliation

Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University

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