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Salem State Geography and Sustainability Faculty Make Headlines on Climate Change Research

During the spring 2022 semester, three faculty in the Salem State University Geography and Sustainability Department published major papers concerning Climate Change, a topic of tremendous interest to Salem State students. Their research received extensive press coverage, including in Forbes and the front page of the Boston Globe, and allowed cutting-edge research to be brought into campus sustainability classes.

Professor Stephen Young, along with Joshua Young, published the paper “Overall Warming with Reduced Seasonality: Temperature Change in New England, USA, 1900–2020” in the journal Climate. Their research shows that New England is warming faster that the world average and that winters are warming the fastest, about twice as fast as the other seasons.

The paper has received extensive coverage, from the front page of the Boston Globe to being the most-viewed article in the journal Climate for the past year. Professor Young’s research focuses on the physical aspects of climate change from temperature change and snow cover change to deforestation.

Professor Marcos Luna’s research focus is on environmental justice and applications of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to the analysis of social and environmental inequities.

He was the lead author of “An environmental justice analysis of distribution-level natural gas leaks in Massachusetts, USA,” published in the prestigious journal Energy Policy. This paper demonstrates the economic and racial disparities in gas leaks in Massachusetts and shows that marginalized populations are disproportionately exposed to natural gas leaks and that repairs of gas leaks are slower for marginalized populations. Forbes Magazine and WBUR reported on this study.

Professor Noel Healy has continued the focus on Inequality’s link to increased greenhouse gas emissions. A new study by Noel Healy and lecturer Professor Fergus Green, of the University College London's Political Science Department, argues that tackling inequality is an integral part of combatting climate change.

The research, published in the peer-reviewed journal One Earth, identifies multiple pathways by which inequality leads to more emissions, bringing together evidence from different fields.

Professors Green and Healy summarized their paper in an op-ed in The Hill. Their research was also covered by the Boston Globe here

Professor Noel Healy also published “Climate policy conflict in the U.S. states: a critical review and way forward” in the journal Climatic Change with colleagues from the Brown University Climate Social Science Network. The study not only provided the first review of obstruction to state-level climate action, but explores the political structures and interest groups that slow climate action across states within the United States.

More importantly, the study identifies a range of strategies for overcoming opposition to climate action that may advance more effective and inclusive state policy. Professor Healy is a member of the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and his research focuses on how we can transition away from fossil fuels in a just and timely manner.

These are just a few of the current examples of ongoing Salem State faculty research on climate change, environmental justice, and sustainability.

Learn more about sustainability at Salem State University.

Tara Gallagher
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