Marine, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences Calendar
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Speaker: Prakash Bhave, NCState, ICIMOD |
Seminar Title: Improving Air Quality in the Developing World – Recent Experiences from Kathmandu, Nepal |
Abstract: The World Health Organization estimates that 7 million people die prematurely every year due to inhalation of air pollutants, and the vast majority of those deaths occur in developing countries. Despite this enormous public health burden and substantial investments by the international development community, progress on air quality remains extremely slow across much of the developing world.
During this seminar, Prakash will present several lessons he learned while living in Kathmandu from 2014 – 2017 and working on the abysmal air quality problems in South Asia. He will describe repeated, futile attempts by international donors to establish air pollution monitoring programs in the region and contrast those with cost-effective, citizen-driven measurements that are gaining momentum and publicity in the region. He’ll touch upon the political barriers and fixed mindsets that are inhibiting progress toward healthy air quality in the cities of Nepal and India. Finally, through a retrospective analysis of his projects in Nepal, he’ll describe a few factors that are crucial to successful air quality interventions in the region and layout a low-cost strategy for establishing a sustained pollution monitoring program in low-income countries.
Bio: Dr. Bhave earned his Bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering science from UC Berkeley and completed his Master’s and Ph.D. degrees at Caltech, specializing in computational modeling of atmospheric pollution with a focus on fine particulate matter. He then worked at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in RTP for 11 years, where he developed the particulate components of the Community Multiscale Air Quality (CMAQ) model and later served in leadership and advisory roles. In 2013, Prakash grew intensely wishful that his knowledge and work experience could be applied to the most severe air pollution problems outside the U.S. He conducted a worldwide job search, focusing on developing countries with hazardous air quality. Eventually, he and his wife sold their home in Morrisville and quit their U.S. jobs to move with their 3 young children to Kathmandu, Nepal. Upon returning to the Triangle in 2017, Prakash continued collaborating with researchers in Nepal while actively volunteering in the Citizens’ Climate Lobby. He enjoys sharing his overseas experiences with a variety of U.S.-based audiences. This semester, Prakash reached a milestone of 50 peer-reviewed publications on the topic of air pollution and he recently joined the NC State faculty as a math lecturer in the Agricultural Institute, College of Agriculture & Life Sciences.