NTNU professor named as one of Nature's top commentators in 2012
02.01.2013) Your morning cup of coffee just might be contributing to species extinction, says Edgar Hertwich, director of NTNU's Industrial Ecology Programme, in a commentary for Nature magazine. His pointed observations, based on a research article published in the same issue of the magazine, won the professor a place as one of the publication's top commentaries for 2012.
The research, by a group of Australian scientists, was published in the 7 June 2012 issue of Nature, and reported the results of a modelling analysis which showed that international trade can be the underlying cause of a whopping 30 per cent of threatened animal species extinctions. Hertwich's contribution was to the News and Views section of the magazine, in which invited scientists write commentaries that help explain the context of the most striking research reported in the remainder of the journal.
Hertwich's commentary describes how consumers may know that buying a set of chess figures made of ivory can mean the demise of an elephant, but other purchases -- such as a sausage, or a cup of coffee -- may also contribute to species extinction in a less obvious way. "If you buy a sausage, you cannot know whether the pig that was turned into the sausage was fed soy meal sourced from a farm that had just expanded into elephant habitat," he wrote.
Hertwich says the recognition was unexpected. "I was a little surprised myself," he told Universitetsavisa, NTNU's newspaper. "I have no idea what kind of criteria Nature used to evaluate the different contributions."
A new carbon footprint tool
Edgar Hertwich, director of NTNU's Industrial Ecology Programme, discusses the use of a new online tool that gives policy makers a virtual crystal ball, so they can understand the environmental consequences of different government actions.
You can also watch this online demo of how the tool works, and read more about the development of the tool on NTNU's news pages.