Cornell Centre seeks Qatari partners
Doha, November 19, 2007
The founding director of Ithaca, New York-based ‘Cornell Centre for A Sustainable Future’, is seeking partners in Qatar.
Director Dr Frank J DiSalvo, John A Newman Professor of Physical Science, explained the centre’s purposes during a lecture last week at the Texas A& M University Qatar. He also met with members of Qatar's Supreme Council for the Environment and Natural Sanctuaries.
The centre opened earlier this year at Cornell University’s Ithaca campus. It brings together, under one umbrella, three sustainability themes: energy, environment, and economic development.
“This may be the first time in history that there is a worldwide recognition that we have a collective problem; we are all in it together” he said. “The Center will tackle these issues as a global system with multifaceted, intersecting components. It is exciting and challenging.”
Through the Center, ‘champion’ projects will be selected from Cornell’s 2,700-strong faculty at its three campuses. Local, national and international projects will be part of the educational and research activities that will be undertaken with key external partners.
“The centre isn’t about paperwork but real application – if something works we will develop it further, if it doesn’t it won’t be taken forward,” said Dr DiSalvo. The glue needed to bring together broad interdisciplinary teams is adequate resources.
“We are looking for partners including other academic institutions to Government institutions, industries, foundations and non-governmental organizations (NGO’s). Funding and leveraging that will be a result of these partnerships will lead to real world impacts,” he added.
Dr DiSalvo said Qatar had shown foresight in airing a key issue two years ago during one of the Doha Debates: 'What do we (Qatar) need to do to be ready for the time when the oil and gas run out?’
"The public in the US isn’t even asking this question. How do we know how long our fossil fuel resources will last? We can only estimate, but these are always imprecise. In fact it appears if we count all fossil fuel resources, including those that we do not currently know how to develop, there is plenty enough for perhaps 200 or more years. However, this is not the full story,” he added.
“The resources are not uniformly distributed over the planet, implying economic, strategic, political and social challenges. Also if we use these resources at ever increasing rates, the effects on the climate, the environment and the human population could be quite severe,” said Dr DiSalvo.
Dr DiSalvo acknowledged that the obstacles to creating a sustainable future sometimes made the task seem daunting.
"But I am constantly buoyed by the fact that students already understand how important this is, because they see that choices made now will affect them for their whole lives and the lives of future generations,” he added. – TradeArabia News Service