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Research Beyond Boundaries

Aired: February 13, 2020 (UTC)


The Blue Planet Prize is presented every year to two individuals or organizations in recognition of their outstanding contributions to global environment issues. The 2019 award winners were the Belgium geographer Eric Lambin and the American evolutionary biologist and biological geographer Jared Diamond.

By analyzing earth observation satellite images over time, Prof. Eric Lambin has clarified changes in land use and their effect on the natural environment, and advocated the importance of improving sustainable land use on a global scale. Establishment of a people-to-pixel approach, one of the professor’s major achievements, greatly contributes to a deeper understanding of how people and the environment affect each other. By integrating fine analysis data obtained from earth observation satellites and social economic data obtained from thorough studies of the educational level and standards of behavioral judgment of people who are actually living on the land and using it, he has been helping to promote sustainable land use and develop solutions to environmental issues. Today, based on his network with researchers around the world, he is contributing to the realization of a sustainable society through approaches to supply chains and policy makers.

The other 2019 award winner was Prof. Jared Diamond. In his trilogy of books — Collapse, The World Until Yesterday, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Guns, Germs, and Steel — he tackled the massive historical issues of how human civilizations were created and declined and showed the close relationship between human history and environmental issues. The trigger for writing the trilogy was his ornithological fieldwork in New Guinea conducted during repeated visits. Professor Diamond has been striving to clarify the mysteries of human history, including how the development of human civilizations has been greatly affected by geographical environment, why many advanced civilizations that thrived in the past subsequently declined, and why some civilizations survived. Even today, the 82-year-old award winner is energetically continuing his fieldwork. What is the sustainable society he advocates? And what should we do to help achieve a sustainable society? Professor Diamond talks about the issues faced by humans and his hopes for the future.


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