-by Faith Potter
The World Affairs Council of Houston had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Andrew Steer, President and CEO of the World Resources Institute, a global research organization dedicated to promoting economic development while protecting the natural environment. In this seminar, Dr. Steer discusses sustainability, innovations and technologies, biodiversity, and environmental issues in regards to the pandemic.
Dr. Steer starts by stating that the “world [is] shifting to a more sustainable world in the last decades.” On some topics, we have done very well such as river cleanliness and air quality, however, we have also done poorly on others such as biodiversity, and the rapid number of species that are becoming extinct every day. Before we go further, let’s define biodiversity. Biodiversity is the variety of life in the world or a particular habitat or ecosystem. According to Dr. Steer, biodiversity loss is 1000 times the rate that it would be in a natural state. On top of that, last year we lost tropical forest land the size of Belgium. With that said, Dr. Steer states that as a society, we need to be aware of these global changes that although they seem slow, are gradually increasing over time.
On the topic of economic activity, there has been a 400 percent increase, which has done wonderful things on a global scale. This economic activity has reduced poverty and increased employment rates. In addition, we have many new key innovations and technologies to thank for this increase in economic activity. Technologies such as battery storage, the energy sector, and renewable energy costs have made caring for the environment safer, easier, and less expensive over time. One of the bigger changes that Dr. Steer touches on is the power to generate hydrogen. With this innovation, we can fuel everything from airplanes to other forms of industrial transportation, as well as store energy over time.
Concerning the pandemic, the economy and health of society have never been more jeopardized than this past year. Therefore, although we should always be caring about climate and sustainability, Dr. Steer advises us to focus on the economy and the health and well-being of society, because for the environment to be healthy, people have to be healthy.
Again, thank you so much to Dr. Steer for providing us with some insights into our current global state. If you would like to view the seminar, please proceed to the link listed here: