Foreign Policy magazine has named Veerabhadran Ramanathan, a distinguished professor of climate and atmospheric sciences at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego, as one of its 100 Leading Global Thinkers of 2014.
Ramanathan has over the course of more than 40 years achieved several breakthroughs in the understanding of the effects of aerosols – particularly air pollution – on climate. In recent years, he has advanced the control of what are termed short-lived climate pollutants as a means of slowing the advance of global warming in the near term. He has also advocated for religious leaders to take up the cause of environmental stewardship as a moral imperative and interacted with figures such as the Dalai Lama and Pope Francis toward this end. His efforts have included the co-authoring of several essays intended for the international diplomatic community on ways to achieve success in combating climate change.
The magazine recognized Ramanathan and other Global Thinker honorees on Nov. 17, 2014, at “Transformational Trends,” a day-long program in Washington D.C. co-hosted by Foreign Policy and the U.S. Department of State that explores the future of international relations. Secretary of State John Kerry delivered the keynote address. A reception for the 100 Global Thinkers will follow.
“I am honored and overwhelmed by this recognition. I have come to appreciate the power of engagement and the exchange of ideas among diverse communities – whether they be religious, policy, or scientific,” said Ramanathan. “Journals such as Foreign Policy provide a great forum for such exchanges and inclusion in this select group of global leaders gives me more opportunity to advance the cause of the three billion people left behind with little access to modern sources of energy.”
“Each year our list of leading Global Thinkers spotlights those who have translated their ideas into actions, impacting millions worldwide,” said David Rothkopf, editor and CEO of The FP Group, which publishes Foreign Policy. “It is a chance to reflect on who and what are driving change today and who will shape it tomorrow.”
The list of Leading Global Thinkers includes leaders such as India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, Russian President Vladimir Putin; personalities such as television host John Oliver, and numerous artists, activists, and researchers.
Among the other honorees is Partha Dasgupta, an economist at St John's College, Cambridge University, who co-authored with Ramanathan in September an essay in the journal Science entitled “Pursuit of the Common Good.” In it, they argued that safeguarding the well-being of all individuals, stabilizing climate change, and providing universal access to energy are “central to disrupting destructive feedbacks.”
The two were among the leaders who co-convened of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences and Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences in a May 2014 workshop considering the overlap between environmental justice and societal justice.
“Over and above institutional reforms and policy changes that are required, there is a need to re-orient our attitude toward nature and thereby toward ourselves,” said Dasgupta and Ramanathan in the essay.
Ramanathan’s earlier efforts led to the creation of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, an initiative announced by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2012. The coalition promotes control of short-lived climate pollutants – so named because of their relatively short lifespan in the atmosphere and correspondingly brief effect on climate – and has grown in the past two years to include 42 member countries.
Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego, is one of the oldest, largest, and most important centers for global science research and education in the world. Now in its second century of discovery, the scientific scope of the institution has grown to include biological, physical, chemical, geological, geophysical, and atmospheric studies of the earth as a system. Hundreds of research programs covering a wide range of scientific areas are under way today on every continent and in every ocean. The institution has a staff of more than 1,400 and annual expenditures of approximately $195 million from federal, state, and private sources. Scripps operates oceanographic research vessels recognized worldwide for their outstanding capabilities. Equipped with innovative instruments for ocean exploration, these ships constitute mobile laboratories and observatories that serve students and researchers from institutions throughout the world. Birch Aquarium at Scripps serves as the interpretive center of the institution and showcases Scripps research and a diverse array of marine life through exhibits and programming for more than 430,000 visitors each year. Learn more at scripps.ucsd.edu and follow us at Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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