Elena Marks, Director of Health and Environmental Policy

Nov 10th 2008

Join Pat, Cath, and Elena Marks, Director of Health and Environmental Policy. The Office of Health and Environmental Policy is responsible for developing and implementing policies and programs that benefit the environment, with a special emphasis on air quality. We look forward to hearing more about what Our city is doing to provide a safe environment for us to live and play.

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Dr. Ron Sass, PhD

Mon Oct 13th 2008

Join us for a conversation with Dr. Ron Sass about the environmental and ecological effects of hurricanes including Hurricane Ike and some more on carbon footprint. Dr. Ron Sass, PhD – Professor Emeritus Rice University Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. In the ’80s, Sass decided he needed a change, and in 1986 he began to look at Earth systems. He soon became involved with the IPCC, set up in 1988 by the United Nations to investigate global warming. Sass led the committee that studied methane emissions from rice paddies, natural wetlands and landfills, primarily from the bacterial decomposition of organic matter, the largest natural source of methane in the atmosphere. (Man-made sources of methane, such as the burning of fossil fuels and cattle ranching, release far more of the gas.) A physical chemist by training, Sass coordinated the efforts of scientists in Thailand, Indonesia, Germany, the Philippines, Japan, China and Australia to measure and halt natural methane emissions. You can stop it completely, actually, he said of the process by which methane escapes rice paddies when they are flooded. The bacteria go dormant when you remove the water. When you reflood it, you’ve got about a three-week period before (the bacteria) really start cranking up again. So timing is critical, he said. You can cut (emissions) down significantly 50 to 60 percent would be fairly simple. His research led to the IPCC’s method for estimating greenhouse gas emissions without fieldwork. Poor countries don’t have enough scientists to go around, said Sass, who has spent significant time wading through rice paddies in China.

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Weekly radio report on the state of our ecological health every Tuesday at 3pm on 90.1 FM KPFT Houston,TX.