People with allergies know that daily weather determines symptoms and that symptoms vary by season. Dr. Katherine Gundling, an allergy and immunology specialist at UCSF, looks at how the warming of our planet might affect allergic respiratory disease. What is emerging from data collected at pollen counting stations around the world is that the length of pollen season is increasing, starting earlier and ending later, especially in higher latitude and higher elevations. As temperatures increase pollen concentrations rise. And increasing temperature may also cause pollen to be more potent.
There are similar indicators that climate change is increasing mold growth. Of particular concern are indoor molds that propagate in wet environments. As sea levels rise and flooding and humidity increase, so too does mold exposure which can cause severe asthma reactions, especially in children who are more vulnerable.
The good news is that we know what to do. Climate change solutions are also solutions to improving health disparities and allergic respiratory disease.
Watch Impacts of Our Changing Climate on Allergic Respiratory Disease.
“Mother Nature is not happy right now and she’s trying to tell us, in many ways,” says Kimberly Prather, Professor of Climate, Atmospheric Science, and Physical Oceanography at UC San Diego.
New weather patterns and events are causing concern but how do we know these changes are caused by human activity? Climate scientists are looking at trends over time to determine our impact on the planet.
Prather discusses recent CAICE studies aimed at advancing our understanding of how the oceans influence human and planetary health including novel experiments being conducted in a unique ocean-atmosphere simulator.
Watch — How Do We Know Humans are Impacting the Health of Our Planet? – Exploring Ethics
Hear from six Berkeley Lab scientists with big new ideas designed to help transform our carbon-drenched, overheating world. Each has tremendous promise and social value.
Energy-Efficient Desalination: Making fresh water from salty sources on the cheap
Current desalination techniques require huge amounts of energy and generate large amounts of environmental waste. Berkeley Lab’s Chinmayee Subban, a Cornell PhD, leads a desalination research project that reduces environmental waste and energy use by incorporating an innovative mix of low-cost materials. The technique could help relieve the stress on global water supplies by reclaiming brackish water both in the US and other countries—including in the developing world.
DIY Efficient Windows: Applying paint-on coatings for energy-efficient windows
Replacing millions of porous windows with energy-efficient versions in older buildings and homes can be prohibitively expensive. Berkeley Lab’s Raymond Weitekamp, a Caltech PhD, has a new approach: an inexpensive, paint-on, energy-efficient coating that can be applied simply and evenly without the help of a professional—while the windows are still in place. The paintable, clear material contains photonic crystals, developed by his startup company PolySpectra.
CalWave: Harnessing energy from ocean waves
At CalWave, Marcus Lehmann is developing the WaveCarpet which harnesses the power of ocean waves to produce electricity and freshwater. Avoiding the pitfalls of other wave-energy projects, the WaveCarpet operates submerged, allowing it to survive stormy seas while causing no visual pollution or posing any collision danger. Recently CalWave was selected as one of nine ¬finalists to compete for the Department of Energy’s Wave Energy Prize—a 20-month design-build-test competition. Earlier this year, the German-born Marcus was named to Forbes 30 Under 30 in the Energy Sector.
Nanoscale Sponges: Capturing carbon with metal-organic frameworks
Removing excess carbon from an overheating atmosphere is an urgent and complicated problem. The answer, according to Berkeley Lab’s Jeff Urban, could lie at the nanoscale, where specially designed cage-like structures called metal organic frameworks, or MOFs, can trap large amounts of carbon in microscopically tiny structures. A Harvard PhD with expertise in thermoelectrics, gas separation and hydrogen storage, Urban directs teams at the Molecular Foundry’s Inorganic Materials Facility.
Recycling CO2: Fueling your car on recycled CO2
Kendra Kuhl co-founded Opus 12 to find out if an electrochemical process, operating inside a desk-sized reactor, can do on an industrial scale what is often hailed as the Holy Grail of carbon-recycling research—convert CO2 captured from smokestacks into ethanol and other valuable products. A self-proclaimed chemistry geek in high school, the Berkeley Lab scientist honed her big idea while completing her PhD at Stanford.
MyGreenCar: Test driving “virtually” to compare real fuel economy and EV range
A Berkeley Lab scientist specializing in all things vehicular—from powertrain technologies, vehicle electrification and vehicle-grid integration to advanced engine technologies, personalized fuel economy and EV range prediction—Samveg (Sam) Saxena is leading the development of a new app called MyGreenCar. MyGreen Car predicts personalized fuel economy and eliminates EV range anxiety as a barrier for prospective car buyers. He also leads the development of V2G-Sim, a research platform for understanding how vehicles will interface with the grid.
If you prefer to watch them all together, the entire program is here. See more programs from the series here.