Few U.S. studies compare one drug to another

first_imgComparing medical treatments to find the best and the cheapest may be a pillar of U.S. healthcare reform efforts, but very little such research is being done, according to a report published on Tuesday…“Most of the comparative effectiveness studies we reviewed simply tested whether medication ‘x’ is better than medication ‘y,’ rather than addressing fundamental questions such as: How can we use this medication more effectively? When is this medication better than surgery? Which among two effective approaches is the safest?” said Dr. Danny McCormick of Harvard Medical School in Boston, who led the study…Read more herelast_img read more

The Moche of Ancient Peru: Media and Messages

first_imgJeffrey Quilter, a senior lecturer on anthropology and deputy director for curatorial affairs and curator at Harvard’s Peabody Museum, introduces the Moche civilization and explores current thinking about Moche politics, history, society, and religion.last_img

Korea Institute offers undergraduates Korean study opportunities

first_imgThe Korea Institute at Harvard University promotes the study of Korea and brings together faculty, students, distinguished scholars, and visitors to create a leading Korean studies community at Harvard.Harvard University is one of the world’s leading centers for the study of Korea, and through the Korea Institute, Harvard offers exceptional resources for undergraduate students to study Korea. On campus in Cambridge, students take courses on Korea and choose from a wide array of Korea-related activities through student groups, seminars, and programs. Students may also participate in study and work abroad opportunities in Korea through programs such as the Harvard Summer School — Korea, study abroad at Korean universities, and the Korea Institute Internship Program.This year Harvard College students will:• Undertake study abroad programs in Korea• Hold internships in Seoul• Conduct senior thesis research in Korea• Learn the Korean language• Attend student conferences• Develop independent study programs and pursue related activities in KoreaFor more information on the Korea Institute and a full list of this year’s Korea program awardees and participants.last_img read more

Bench to Bedside – Innovation at Harvard

first_imgHarvard researchers and clinicians collaborate across disciplines and around the globe to craft solutions to the world’s toughest health challenges. They’re promoting the well-being of disadvantaged children worldwide; turning the human body into a laboratory to more effectively study cells; and advocating for a more proactive approach to medicine. Together, they drive advances from the laboratory bench to the patient bedside.Hear remarks from these Harvard faculty at the cutting edge:Paula Johnson, associate professor of medicine, Harvard Medical SchoolJennifer Leaning, director, Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights; Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Professor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights, Harvard School of Public Health; associate professor of medicine, Harvard Medical SchoolAndrew Ellner, director, Program in Global Primary Care and Social Change; interim co-director,Center for Primary Care; instructor in medicine, Harvard Medical SchoolDavid Mooney, Robert P. Pinkas Family Professor of Bioengineering, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired EngineeringDouglas Melton, Xander University Professor, Faculty of Arts and Sciences and Harvard Medical School; co-director, Harvard Stem Cell Institute; master of Eliot Houselast_img read more

Brigham team implants artificial heart

first_imgA 66-year-old former teacher and track coach reports he “feels great” with his artificial heart, which was implanted at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital.In February, Holbrook, Mass., resident Jim Carelli Jr. became the first person in New England to receive an entirely artificial heart during an eight-hour surgery led by Gregory Couper, surgical director of the Brigham’s Heart Transplant and Mechanical Circulatory Support Program and an assistant professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School.Carelli was one of 7 million people in the United States who suffer from heart failure, a condition where the heart enlarges and weakens. This causes poor circulation, shortness of breath, and fatigue, making physical activity difficult. Reduced blood flow to vital organs can cause them to fail and lead to fluid accumulation in the legs due to poor kidney function.Carelli suffered from a rare form of heart failure, cardiac amyloidosis, which, because it affects both sides of the heart, eventually leaves the patient with only one option: a heart transplant. The device, called the Total Artificial Heart, is not intended to be a permanent solution, Carelli’s doctors said, but rather to provide a “bridge” that prevents further organ damage until a transplant heart is available.“For patients suffering from end stage heart failure on both sides of the heart, heart transplantation is the only solution,” Couper said. “This device is life-saving and life-restoring for these patients.”Carelli was joined by two dozen members of the team that tended to him – including two former members of his track teams — at a news conference at the Brigham on Thursday. He walked into the room under his own power, attached by two thick tubes to a large, wheeled unit powering the pneumatic artificial heart.Though he became emotional while thanking the surgical team, Carelli’s voice was otherwise strong and clear during the event. He said he’s resumed exercising and, with the help of hospital physical therapists, has worked up to a mile and a half on the treadmill.“You have to have faith,” Carelli said of the procedure. “This is a big leap of faith. They’re going to remove your heart. There’s no turning back.”Mandeep Mehra, executive director of the Brigham’s Center for Advanced Heart Disease and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, said the fatigue marking the early stages of heart failure is often dismissed as a normal effect of aging. Carelli was a runner and golfer until three years ago, when he experienced an irregular heartbeat. After his physicians at New England Baptist Hospital diagnosed him with cardiac amyloidosis, Carelli came to the Brigham.He was admitted several times as his condition deteriorated and began to affect his kidneys. With no hearts available for transplant, he was offered the opportunity for the artificial heart.“It’s not a difficult choice if you want to live, and I want to live,” he said.With the hospital short on options, Carelli probably would have died without the procedure, Mehra said. Though Carelli hasn’t suffered complications from the surgery, things haven’t gone entirely as planned. Restored blood flow hasn’t helped his kidneys as much as physicians had hoped, which means he has had to stay at the hospital for regular dialysis. It also means he now needs both heart and kidney transplants.The artificial heart, which beats 140 times a minute, weighs less than a natural heart but feels about the same, Carelli said. It does sound different, he added, comparing it to a coffee percolator.The first artificial heart successfully implanted was the Jarvik-7 in 1982. Later-generation devices have been implanted hundreds of times. The device used in this case was the first complete artificial heart approved by the Food and Drug Administration, in 2004. Prior to this case, Brigham surgeons relied on artificial devices that aid the heart, called ventricular assist devices, and on heart transplant surgery, which they’ve performed more than 600 times.Though patients have survived on this type of artificial heart for nearly four years, Mehra said they’re hoping a suitable donor heart becomes available within a few months. He also said the hospital performed a second such operation, in April, on a patient who wishes to remain anonymous.last_img read more

Feeding culinary curiosity

first_imgThe 20 rambunctious kids gathered at Harvard last Monday looked like typical day campers. But instead of sunscreen and bug spray, their knapsacks contained bamboo cutting boards and measuring spoons. The craft project holding their rapt attention wasn’t a friendship bracelet or macaroni art, but hand-pulled string cheese. And their counselors included none other than Bill Yosses, the White House executive pastry chef, who hovered over students’ workbenches in the basement of the Northwest Lab.“I’m going to tell Mrs. Obama how great you were today,” Yosses told his charges.The children, Boston and Cambridge students between the ages of 9 and 12, were taking part in “Kids’ Science and Cooking,” a new program hosted by the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) in cooperation with ChopChop, a nonprofit cooking magazine for kids. An offshoot of the University’s popular “Science and Cooking” course and public lecture series, the two-week day camp is built on the idea that time in the kitchen and the laboratory — both intimidating places to newcomers — is a great opportunity for children to explore their natural curiosity and to learn science, math, and healthy habits, too.“The idea is to make science more interesting by using cooking, and vice versa,” said Sally Sampson, founder of Watertown-based ChopChop.The program’s developers — among them “Science and Cooking” developer Michael Brenner, Glover Professor of Applied Mathematics and Applied Physics, and Naveen Sinha, a doctoral candidate in applied physics at SEAS — had planned an ambitious agenda. In their 10 days on campus, students would learn from scientists, mathematicians, and rock-star chefs about pickling, emulsion, fermentation, and more. They would be responsible not only for making their own lunches, but for prepping ingredients and cleaning up after themselves in the kitchen.Students (from left) Ruth Shiferaw, 9, Peter Murphy, 9, and Chloe Rosen, 17, listen to Somerville cheesemaker Lourdes Fiore Smith describe how to make string cheese. Photo by Jon Chase/Harvard Staff PhotographerThe goal is to “give these kids the tools and empower them to make good decisions,” said Kathryn Hollar, director of educational programs at SEAS, “and to teach that science and math is everywhere. … What’s the boiling point of water and why, what happens when you add salt or sugar, how do you make bread? All these things have science and math behind them.”“We want to show that our scientists are very curious, and want our young people to be curious too,” she said.The program has drawn big names in the cooking world, such as Jason Bond of Cambridge’s Bondir, and Yosses, who has helped Michelle Obama with her campaign to promote healthy eating and exercise.“To use the resources at Harvard to bring kids from all walks of life into this laboratory and teach them about food is an extraordinary opportunity for us and for them,” said Yosses, who helped kick off the program’s opening day.Also on hand were Somerville cheesemaker Lourdes Fiore Smith, owner of Fiore di Nonno, and Rachel Dutton, a Bauer fellow at the Center for Systems Biology who studies the microbial ecosystems of cheeses. As Smith crumbled fresh curds into a pot, Dutton explained the building blocks of milk (sugar, fat, protein, water) and how they’re manipulated to produce cheese.A few students looked a bit queasy as Dutton described rennet, an enzyme found in the stomachs of cows and others mammals that is used to coagulate milk and separate curds from whey.“It’s a special type of protein that carries out reactions,” she said cheerfully. “You can just think of it as this little Pac-Man chomping around.”Smith slowly stirred warm water into the curds and stretched the now-rubbery mass over her paddle — a process of coaxing out the cheese’s flavor by bringing its butterfat to the surface, she explained.“Does it have gluten in it?” one student asked, revealing an understanding of gluten formation beyond that of many an amateur baker. “Because I can see that it’s getting stretchy.”“No, but it has protein, and gluten is a type of protein, too,” Dutton replied.Instructors passed out a pat of the cheese, sprinkled with salt, to the students, along with a sample of processed string cheese for comparison. As they struggled to pull and twist the cheese as Smith had shown them, a few couldn’t help but taste their own creation.“I wish the processed cheese looked like this,” one boy said.“This one tastes awful,” said another, holding up the store-bought cheese. “I should have ate the bad one first.”White House pastry chef Bill Yosses (left) and Somerville cheesemaker Lourdes Fiore Smith offered the children a helping hand. Photo by Jon Chase/Harvard Staff PhotographerThe sight of a roomful of kids rejecting processed food for somewhat more adventuresome, straight-from-the-farm fare might sound too good to be true. But Sampson — whose magazine now reaches over half a million homes and pediatricians’ offices — maintains that many kids can develop a foodie sensibility with just a little prodding.Her advice to parents? “Just get them cooking,” she said. “You don’t have to be a scientist to do these kinds of things with kids. Get your kids involved in the process in any way, and don’t worry if things don’t turn out.”Natasha Brown of Hyde Park, whose three children are enrolled in the program, called it a godsend for parents looking to keep up their kids’ healthy eating habits and academic interests during the summer. (She had already taken one of her two daughters to Harvard’s Early College Awareness family event in June.)“As a parent, you want to make sure your child is getting enough vegetables, and you want to find ways to try to help them enjoy it,” Brown said. “They’re growing children, and you want to put a foundation in place now so that as they get older, they’ll have that [impulse] to make more nutritious choices.”Even the pickiest eater of her brood, Rashad, 9, has yet to voice any complaints about his culinary adventures so far, Brown said.“He came home yesterday saying he had spinach on his pizza,” she said, laughing. “I couldn’t get him to try it for the world.”last_img read more

Architects in supermarkets

first_imgThe Harvard architecture students watched intently as Anne Liu presented slides of her preliminary design proposals. They were not for a house, or for a building, but for a jar of peanut butter.“The idea is that you are what you buy,” said the third-year master of architecture student. She illustrated her branding concept for Jif organic peanut butter: “Taste you can see. Purity you can trust.” She showed a container design for a jar with caps at both ends. She detailed her palette of colors, chosen to stand out against the peanut brown.Liu was rejiggering Jif for an unusual Graduate School of Design (GSD) seminar taught in an unusual fashion by an unusual set of teachers.“Paper or Plastic: Re-Inventing Shelf Life in the Supermarket Landscape” emerged from the obsession of identical twins Teman and Teran Evans, both Harvard GSD alumni (’04) who have expanded their architectural training into territory where their brethren almost never tread. The brothers believe that architects — with their skills in three-dimensional conceptualization — can address a host of design challenges, including ones that might sit on shelves in the local supermarket.Third-year master of architecture student Anne Liu illustrated her branding concept for Jif organic peanut butter: “Taste you can see. Purity you can trust.” She explored the effect of red, blue, and green against the brown of the product itself, and also considered a jar that could grind peanuts with a twist, before settling on a double-capped jar to allow easy access.“That’s where the architect has suddenly so much agency,” said Teman. “We’re three-dimensional problem-solvers, and we can solve problems at the big scale of buildings that you occupy, and also small problems that fit in your hand.”Since graduating from Harvard, the Evans brothers have a closeness that they parlayed into a business that does brand consulting and architectural design and produces a line of jewelry. Teran runs day-to-day operations in New York City; Teman teaches at the University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture. Their work has been featured on HGTV, and the pair has appeared in reality TV shows.They were inspired to create and teach a course for Harvard after an influential New York Times article declared the architect obsolete and said that an architectural degree was not worth the money.“If you’re talking about brick-and-mortar buildings, yes, you could say things are changing,” Teman said. “But don’t say the skill set is obsolete. Because there are myriad problems we could apply this to.”So the brothers contacted Preston Scott Cohen, chair of the Department of Architecture, and asked to create a Friday afternoon seminar that blends design, marketing, and business.Their first step was to send students in “Paper or Plastic” into the aisles of Stop & Shop and Shaw’s supermarkets for research. A shelf, they explained, is not a flat space. People move through stores in unexpected and surprising ways. Products must also feel right in the hand when opened or poured. Products then “live” somewhere at home — on the table, near the stove, in a cupboard.“Shelf life is more important in history than it ever has been before,” said Teman. Brands used to rely on the now-fragmented market of television commercials and newspaper circulars. Said Teran, “We are in an era where people no longer make decisions before going to the supermarket.”Christopher Esper and Dorothy Xu, both master of architecture students, were tasked with Listerine. Esper analyzed the “visual pollution” of Listerine’s current cool mint container, while Xu reimagined mouthwash in an elegant, spare bottle.The students were randomly assigned to reimagine a classic product: Listerine, A1 steak sauce, Philadelphia cream cheese, or Jif peanut butter. For their final review, students will present ideas to panels of representatives from the architecture and branding world. “They have to treat these critics like clients. They have to learn to pitch their work,” Teran explained.For her design, Liu first analyzed the peanut butter shelf in a market. She explored the effect of red, blue, and green against the brown of the product itself. She found that most organic peanut butter buyers routinely store the jar upside down, because the oil and peanuts tend to separate, and then the buyers turn it over to mix. She considered a jar that could grind peanuts with a twist and then settled on a double-capped jar to allow easy access.Teman liked how Liu “doubled down” on the cap, but cautioned that the jar has to “live happily” in the hands of kids, mothers, and grandmothers. Teran noted that because peanut butter itself acts as the background color, that background could become “goopy” and unattractive as it is consumed. “It’s like a glass house,” he said.Collin Gardner, a master of architecture student, presented his designs for A1 steak sauce, in which the bottle was reconfigured into a shape that incorporated an A and a 1. “I was trying to get some stackability,” he said.The Evans brothers were intrigued, but they wondered how the design would pour and how it worked with the wrist. Would the product be shelved with, say, the Morton salt container, which is never seen, or “live” on a table with other condiments? They liked a design by GSD student James McNally for an A1 logo that put a knife design into the “negative space” between the A and the 1.Christopher Esper and Dorothy Xu, both master of architecture students, were tasked with Listerine; Esper analyzed the “visual pollution” of Listerine’s current cool mint container, while Xu reimagined mouthwash in an elegant, spare bottle.The brothers admit they exert push-pull on students. Teman, by nature, is more concept-oriented; he likes to throw out ideas and let the imagination spin wildly. Teran works on execution and practicality; he jokes that Teman calls him “the dream crusher.”Thus, while they want their students to push barriers, they also cite the cautionary tale of Tropicana Orange Juice, which changed its branding and promptly lost $30 million in purchases by confused customers. “You want to update, but you don’t want to go from 0 to 60. You don’t want to lose those people that identified with the product,” Teman said.The discipline of architecture may be changing, but Teman and Teran Evans promise their students one thing: “You will never look at the supermarket the same way again.”last_img read more

Innovation in the arts

first_img <a href=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jri0dy_7qN8″ rel=”nofollow” target=”_blank”> <img src=”https://img.youtube.com/vi/Jri0dy_7qN8/0.jpg” alt=”0″ title=”How To Choose The Correct Channel Type For Your Video Content ” /> </a> A crowd of Harvard faculty members and alumni judges watched intently Thursday as a College student, a Loeb fellow, and three students in the Graduate School of Design declared that the days of art being confined to galleries, centers, and opera houses were over.Instead, they said, they see the potential for cities’ public spaces to be transformed into performance spaces, contending that the challenge lies in connecting with the millions of people who attend and appreciate citywide events and festivals. This vision is what captivated the judges and landed the group $30,000 and the grand prize in the Deans’ Cultural Entrepreneurship Challenge.“We operate in a world in which the arts have to prove their economic viability and be sustainable other than relying on government funding,” Loeb Fellow Helen Marriage said. “We need to be able to connect with this younger, diverse audience.”She joined teammates Judy Fulton, Hokan Wong, and Wes Thomas, all of the Graduate School of Design, and Lucy Cheng ’17, as well as nine other finalist teams at the challenge’s inaugural demo day. Striving to find “art for the urban art explorer,” the online platform called Musey helps people find art in their vicinity, learn more about the artists, and even donate to projects, replacing the traditional busker’s empty hat with an app. “This is a huge vote of confidence and encouragement,” Fulton said of the award. “We were going to go ahead with it whether we won or not, but there’s so much more momentum. Now we know we can probably work on it for a full year. It’s amazing.”Sponsored by deans across the University and hosted by the i-lab, the competition challenged teams to spark innovations across the fields of music, visual arts, and performance.The three runners-up, who each took home $15,000 awards, were Midas Touch, which uses 3-D printing technology to make paintings an accessible, tactile art form for the visually impaired; Culturally, an online social discovery and engagement ecosystem for the arts; and Music+1, a mobile app that provides adaptive orchestral accompaniment in real time to musicians.Mukti Khaire, associate professor of business administration at Harvard Business School (HBS), said that in developing their projects, the students became a defining force for cultural entrepreneurship, an emerging business discipline.“We’re at a moment in time when new ways of thinking about business and culture can have a profound impact on society,” said Khaire, who encouraged the deans and Harvard’s artistic partners to create the challenge. “The arts are essential to civil society, and if artists and artistic organizations are to thrive, we have to think about new models. The ideas the students have presented as part of the challenge are a significant step in the right direction.”Announced in the fall and supported by the Office of the President as well as friends and alumni of Harvard, the challenge celebrates artistic and entrepreneurial visions, and grows out of an interdisciplinary partnership among HBS, the Division of Arts and Humanities in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS), and the Silk Road Project under the leadership of Yo-Yo Ma ’76.The inaugural challenge attracted entries from 70 teams across 13 Harvard Schools.The three runners-up each took home $15,000 awards. One of the winning teams developed Midas Touch, which uses 3-D printing technology to make paintings an accessible, tactile art form for the visually impaired.The event mirrors its sister project, the Deans’ Health and Life Sciences Challenge, in asking students to develop solutions to some of the world’s greatest social issues by disrupting traditional business markets. The Deans’ Health and Life Sciences Challenge will announce its own winner and runners-up later this month.HBS Dean Nitin Nohria, who presented the awards along with his co-chair, FAS Dean Diana Sorensen, commented on how the challenge broke down boundaries.“Who would have thought, for example, that the two of us would be working together on an endeavor of this kind?” he said to Sorenson. “To my mind, that’s what this venture is about: making unexpected connections and enabling remarkable things.  In many ways, that’s the spirit of the i-lab.”Located at the frontier of Harvard’s Allston campus, the i-lab is Harvard’s newest home for entrepreneurial activity, helping students to achieve their innovative and entrepreneurial dreams. Earlier this year, the i-lab hosted three workshops supporting students in formulating their challenge proposals. The finalists were awarded tailored programming, expert mentoring, and a $5,000 grant to polish their proposals.“Many of the problems we are facing today are interdisciplinary in nature. These teams have leveraged their passions, talents, and learning from all corners of the University to meet these challenges head on,” said Gordon Jones, managing director of the i-lab. “The i-lab and Harvard are uniquely positioned to build on students’ skill sets as they tackle big problems and offer big solutions.”last_img read more

Big problems, small solutions

first_imgIf you Google “Bill,” the first hit you get is the phrase “Bill me later.” It’s an accidental tribute to the writer-turned-activist whom everyone calls by his first name: Bill McKibben ’82, who spoke at Harvard Tuesday.McKibben’s message for years has been that oil-based economies shelve the issue of the environmental costs of fossil fuels. When it comes to the natural systems that support humanity — clean air, fresh water, and pristine seas — the message from developing countries has been: Bill me later.Well, the bill is due, McKibben said, and it may be too late to pay. Seas are rising, temperatures climbing, storms intensifying, and floods and droughts worsening because of fossil fuel emissions, a statement with a 95 percent chance of certainty, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, up from 66 percent in 2001.“At the moment, physics is well ahead” of political action, McKibben told a crowd at Sanders Theatre, but the fight is on. There have been growing protests — many of them centered on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline — and a new movement to persuade institutions to jettison investments related to fossil fuels.“What a strange pleasure it is,” McKibben said, to be in the tiered seating, polished wood, and stained glass venue that he remembered from lectures in his undergraduate days. McKibben delivered the annual Robert C. Cobb Sr. Memorial Lecture, sponsored by the Harvard Institute for Learning in Retirement, an arm of the Division of Continuing Education since 1977.“My goal is to bring at least some of you out of retirement” and into a life of climate-change activism, said McKibben. That shift may even mean getting sent to jail, a life event the author endured for the first time in 2011 during a protest at the White House. Since then, he has talked with eager new older activists. “This is on my bucket list,” one told him. “Tell me how I can get arrested.”Young people are leading climate change activism now, said McKibben, but it’s time to see “elders acting like elders” by putting their comfort on the line for a cause. “If you’re going to be arrested, please wear a necktie or a dress,” he told the audience, since those are visual signals that “there is nothing radical going on here.”“Radicals work at oil companies,” he said, because the radical consequences of oil-slicked climate change are “burning the top of the Earth, melting Arctic ice, acidifying the oceans. What could be more radical than that?”At the beginning of the lecture, which was delivered in a witty and extemporaneous style, McKibben offered an apology. “My role in life is basically to be a professional bummer-outer,” he said, an activist delivering stark facts, in this case on “the prettiest fall day of the year.”But he promised to get past the worst of the talk first and fast, saying that: the Earth has just come out of 10,000 years of mild climate in the Holocene epoch and into an uncertain era of climate change; storms, wildfires, droughts, and temperatures are breaking records at a rat-a-tat pace; oceans are turning acidic; 80 percent of the Arctic ice cover was gone last summer; and in a few decades “we’ve taken one of the most basic features of the Earth [steady temperatures] and broken it.”The Earth’s temperature has risen about 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit in the last few decades, which may not sound like much, since it’s about three-quarters of a watt per square meter of the Earth’s surface, the equivalent of a Christmas tree bulb. But taken worldwide, said the author, that extra heat equals the output of “400,000 Hiroshima-size bombs daily.”He sketched one consequence: Each degree of temperature rise worldwide means a 10 percent cut in grain yields.McKibben pointed to events of the past week as signs of the changing climate: forest fires in the West, catastrophic flooding in Colorado, a typhoon ripping into Japan, and rare double storms that punched both coasts of Mexico.The signs are there for all to see, he said, even closer to Boston. “The New York City subway filled up with the Atlantic Ocean last October,” he said of Hurricane Sandy. “What more do you want? And we are only at the start — only at the start — of our global warming era,” which some analysts say will make present-day civilization impossible.McKibben summed up the surprise and fear of climate change, saying, “This is by far the biggest thing human beings have ever done.”After his look at the grim facts, he turned to solutions. He said that putting a price on carbon use would assure that greenhouse gases don’t just “pour into the atmosphere for free.”More large-scale renewable energy projects would reduce reliance on fossil fuels. Germany is a success story in that respect, he said, with solar and wind power arrays that some days this summer provided half of that nation’s electricity. “Not many people go to Germany for their sun-splashed vacations,” McKibben said, pointing to the plausibility of renewable energy even in unlikely places. “There are more solar panels in Bavaria than the United States.”In the future, he said, societies should get a boost from distributed-generation energy systems, the small-scale, decentralized power supplies that reduce vulnerability and emphasize regional resilience. (He predicted that nuclear power will play a very small part in backing away from climate change, since such plants are too slow to get on line, and too expensive for debt-crushed times.)He suggested that building a climate-change movement could lead to the large-scale civil alliances and actions that could prove a counterweight to a moribund Congress.McKibben discussed 350.org, the global movement that he and seven undergraduates started at Middlebury College in Vermont, where he is the Schumann Distinguished Scholar. (The number refers to 350 ppm, or parts per million, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that was a scientific tipping point for climate change. That number is now over 400 ppm.) “Our goal was to organize the world,” he said to a patter of laughter. The group’s first global action rippled across the globe, with 5,200 demonstrations in 181 countries.More global actions followed, and participants provided thousands of pictures from around the world. McKibben displayed some of them on a screen. Many showed what he called the most common activists in the world, who are young, poor, brown, black, and Asian. Some of the demonstrations were huge. Others were small, like one in Les Cayes, a seaport in southwestern Haiti. In the picture, seven children with signs stand ankle-deep in a flooded street.That small demonstration argued that “your actions affect me,” said McKibben, reminding the audience that the poor in remote nations affected by climate change rely on the rich in developed nations to take action. “They can’t get to the White House to protest,” he said.McKibben will be in Washington, D.C., Saturday for a “draw the line” action, a coast-to-coast protest against the proposed Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline.That pipeline is the outward sign of an environmental disaster already underway in Canada. With only 3 percent of the tar sands oil extracted so far in Alberta, he said that the ground-stripping oil mining has already disturbed a section of boreal forest the size of Scotland and created vast pools of tailings waste held back by the biggest dams in the world.His lecture came on the official publication day of his latest book, “Oil and Honey,” a memoir of his transition from journalism to activism. (Its subtitle is “The Education of an Unlikely Activist.”)The “oil” of the title is the symbol of his public fight, largely through 350.org, against the coal, gas, and oil industries. The “honey” is the book’s emotional antipode, recounting McKibben’s periodic visits with Kirk Webster, a Vermont neighbor who runs a small-scale, chemical-free beekeeping operation.“His life doesn’t seem Luddite or retro. It seems advanced,” wrote McKibben, who says that regional, self-sufficient economies can buffer the effects of climate change. He called Webster, who doesn’t own a computer and writes with pencil and paper, “a solid human being, attractively and somewhat dauntingly solid.”McKibben is a creature of two worlds, the calm of home in Vermont, with its rhythms as natural as a beekeeper’s seasons, and the rush of an activist’s life, with its 400 emails a day, 24-hour news cycle, and constant world travel that he admits leaves vapor trails of spent fossil fuels behind him.The book was not the point of coming to Harvard, McKibben said, and he barely mentioned it, though his lecture bore the same title. But in response to a question, the book came up. He called his friend’s honey operation a sign of the “beautiful, evolving local economies” that are rebounding in an age marked by the resurgence of small farms and the popularity of farmers markets, the food sector’s fasting-growing segment.But then the “bummer-outer” McKibben came back, in discussing the alternate farm and energy sector. “By itself, it’s not enough. We have to work at the global (level), and we have to work at the local.”At the end, McKibben pointed again to the joys of the fall day still in full splendor outside. But for him there was work yet to do. As the departing audience streamed past, McKibben stood outside Sanders, head down, reading the screen on his cellphone.last_img read more

Clooney, Carroll respond to pope’s comments on direction of Roman Catholic Church

first_img Read Full Story Pope Francis, who has inspired both affection and controversy with recent remarks on homosexuality and atheism, made headlines again last week. In an interview with the editor of the leading Jesuit journal in Rome, the pope criticized the Catholic Church’s focus on “abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods.”Without a “new balance” in the church’s approach to these issues, he said, “even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel.”Two prominent Catholic members of the Harvard Divinity School community shared their thoughts on Francis’ comments. Professor Francis X. Clooney, S.J., and the writer James Carroll, HDS ’97, HDS ’99, expressed enthusiasm for the pope’s desire to refocus church hierarchy on the core message of the gospel and away from what Francis called “small-minded rules.”Clooney said that the pope’s remarks clearly distinguish him from his two predecessors.“If you compare what he is saying in this interview with either [Pope Benedict or Pope John Paul II], they wouldn’t have said anything the way that Francis did,” Clooney asserted. “The ability to criticize the inward, narcissistic church, harping on certain issues out of context again and again … the previous popes simply wouldn’t have said anything like that, even if deep down they recognized the same problems.”last_img read more