The Tang Prize Foundation announced the winners of the 3rd Sustainable Development Award in Taipei on June 18. James Edward Hansen, director of the Program on Climate Science Awareness and Solution at Columbia University’s Earth Institute and Veerabhadran Ramanathan, Victor Alderson Professor, Applied Ocean Sciences, University of California, San Diego, jointly won the award.
The winners of the past three Tang Awards for Sustainable Development not only conducted groundbreaking research, they also went beyond the “ivory tower” of academia and directly influenced social initiatives and government decisions. The selection committee also pointed out that their influence on human society was key to their winning the prize.
Gro Harlem Brundtland, the winner of the first Tang Award for Sustainable Development, was the first person to define the term “sustainable development.” She was the chairperson of the UN World Commission on Environment and Development and was behind the publication of the report “Our Common Future” in 1987, the collective contribution of hundreds of experts from around the world. The report defined “sustainable development” as a development model “to ensure that it meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
The winner in 2016, Arthur H. Rosenfeld, is known as the “Godfather of energy efficiency.” He led the US state of California’s battle to overcome its power crisis and his name became a measure of energy efficiency (1 Rosenfeld equals a saving of 3 billion kWh), along with other energy units such as watt (the unit of power) and volt (the unit of voltage).
The newly announced winners of the 3rd Sustainable Development Award also started from scientific research and then took their research into society, making a real impact on the world. Ramanathan proposed that atmospheric carbon black and other non-CO2 gases have a similar impact on global warming as CO2 (carbon dioxide), influencing the formulation of international carbon emissions policies.
Ramanathan not only talks the talk, he also walks the walk. He set up a foundation to promote “clean energy” in less-developed areas in India and discourage the burning wood and coal for cooking, in order to reduce the emission of bituminous coal-containing “carbon black.” The foundation’s goal is to improve public health on the one hand, while also reducing the threat of global warming
James Hansen, the other winner of the third Tang Prize in sustainable development, worked for NASA for more than 30 years and has influenced many policies. Tang Prize Foundation chief executive Chern Jenn-chuan points out that many industry figures and politicians still do not believe in climate change and global warming. Hanson continues to fight against these people, and even went to court to confront them, for the sake of the fairness and justice for the next generation.
Chern adds that the two winners of the third Tang Prize are “frontier proponents” in the field of atmospheric pollution who have deeply influenced the government’s decision-making on many occasions.
(CNA, translated by Lin Lee-kai)
About the Tang Prize
★ Founder: Samuel Yin
★ Four Awards: Sustainable Development,
Biotech Medicine, Sinology, and Rule of Law
★ Bonus: Each NT$50 million (US$ 1.6 million)NT$40 million will be collected by the winner, NT$10 million allocated for follow-up research
★ Award frequency: once every two years
★ First Tang Prize announced: June 18, 2014
Note: The bonus of the Tang Prize is higher than the 9 million Swedish krona (US$ 1.1 million) of the Nobel Prize, which used to be the highest in the world.
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