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Release: Immediate

UI's Carmichael and Nobel Laureate to present global change seminar in Washington, D.C.

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Gregory Carmichael, professor of chemical and biochemical engineering in the University of Iowa College of Engineering, will present a seminar on "Asia Development and the Environment" for members of Congress and agency planners on Thursday, June 11 in Washington, D.C.

Carmichael, whose talk is being given at the request of the Office of the U.S. Global Change Research Program, will make a joint presentation with Sherwood Rowlands of the University of California at Irvine and winner of the 1995 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for research on the "ozone hole" appearing in the upper atmosphere over the Antarctic.

According to Carmichael, Asian development will increasingly influence the global environment in coming decades due to the region's rapid population growth and vibrant economic development.

He notes that Asia currently accounts for about 20 percent of the world's energy consumption, with estimates that it will grow to 30 percent by 2015. Between 1990 and 1996, the total energy-related carbon emissions in East Asia grew at an average rate of 4.5 percent per year, compared to the world average of 0.6 percent per year.

Also, over the last 20 years, Asian emissions of carbon dioxide have increased by a factor of three, with the trend showing no signs of stopping. The result, Carmichael says, will be an accelerating deterioration in the environment and in human health, unless preventive measures are taken.

"In Asia, it is estimated that energy efficiency has the potential to reduce the growth in energy use and emission in 2020 by 30 percent," he says. "Rapid technological advancement will also be needed. Efficient, low-polluting technologies for the combustion of fossil fuels and for the treatment of effluent gases offer a substantial opportunity over the next 20 to 30 years to help meet the expanding energy needs and to help limit the environmental damage. The use of advanced control technologies could reduce the emissions of sulfur dioxide below current levels, albeit at the extremely high cost of about $90 billion annually."

Carmichael recently was honored for his study of environmental issues focusing on air quality in developing Asian countries, receiving the Atmospheric Chemistry Modeling and Analysis Program (ACMAP) Science Accomplishment of the Month award for February.

The ACMAP award recognized Carmichael and his Drexel University co-authors for a paper published in the Dec. 20, 1997 issue of The Journal of Geophysical Research. The paper presented the results of a computer model study suggesting that chemical reactions occurring on dust particles in the atmosphere over East Asia have a significant affect on the region's atmospheric chemistry. In particular, dust particles originating in the Gobi desert and other areas contribute to about 20 percent to 40 percent of the region's oxidation of sulfur dioxide to sulfuric acid.

Carmichael also serves as co-director of the UI's Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research (CGRER), which fosters interdisciplinary research and training in the field of environmental change and is concerned with both the scientific and human dimensions of global change. CGRER currently consists of about 60 faculty, 75 graduate students, 15 postdoctoral and visiting scientists from 17 departments -- ranging from economics and law to physics and astronomy -- and six colleges at the UI and Iowa State University.