Innovative Solutions To Climate Change
Professor Manfred Lenzen, Dr Christopher Dey & Dr Joy Murray
Scientists Put Planet's Health on the Menu
That tinned tuna and salad sandwich you had for lunch might satisfy your hunger, but it could end up costing the earth, quite literally.
Working out whether or not the planet will pay the price for our eating habits is the focus of Australia's Integrated Sustainability Analysis (ISA) team, which is leading the world in determining the environmental cost of what we produce, buy and eat.
Led by Professor Manfred Lenzen, Dr Christopher Dey and Dr Joy Murray in the School of Physics at the University of Sydney, the research team develops tools and methodologies to address sustainability issues, and provides consulting and educational programs to government, non-government organisations, private companies and individuals in Australia and overseas.
Its pioneering work into carbon footprint analysis has won the ISA team the 2011 Eureka Prize for Innovative Solutions to Climate Change.
The prize is part of the Australian Museum Eureka Prizes, the most prestigious awards in Australian science. The winners were announced last night at a star-studded evening for the country's most inspired minds.
The Eurekas', as they are fondly known, have become the most coveted science awards in this country. Every scientist knows a ‘eureka' moment comes after decades of singular dedication, deep inquiry and rich collaboration. Receiving an Australian Museum Eureka Prize is regarded as a pinnacle achievement for any Australian scientist.
"A major challenge around climate change has been to accurately identify which economic decisions are contributing most to environmental pressures," says Frank Howarth, Director of the Australian Museum. "The ISA team has created an ideal tool for identifying anthropogenic (human) sources of climate change and other environmental pressures in an accurate, comprehensive and interconnected way."
The multi?disciplinary research group uses a hybridised version of an economics tool known as input-output analysis that allows the assessment of environmental impacts from cradle to grave.
It tracks back through the entire supply chain to the raw materials, enabling a full analysis of environmental, social and economic consequences and identifying problem areas in the chain.
Such a perspective is crucial in understanding the drivers of greenhouse gas emissions and, therefore, climate change. It is one thing to calculate how much energy it takes to bake your bread, but it is also vital to understand factors such as the energy that is consumed milling the flour; the diesel required for the transport of wheat; and the energy used to manufacture the truck.
ISA's philosophy is that both producers and consumers contribute to pollution, waste, climate change and resource depletion. Attributing responsibility to both not only makes intuitive sense; the realisation also advances the promise of policies that are viewed as fair by a wide range of stakeholders.
The $10,000 NSW Office of Environment and Heritage Eureka Prize for Innovative Solutions to Climate Change is awarded to an Australian individual, group or organisation for work that demonstrates a commitment to pursuing innovative solutions to the challenges posed by climate change.
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Dr Chris Dey
The University of Sydney, NSW
Professor Manfred Lenzen
The University of Sydney, NSW
Dr Joy Murray
The University Sydney, NSW