Jesse awarded an honorary doctorate

Dalhousie University bestows an honorary doctorate on Jesse, really an honor for everyone who has contributed to the work of the ‘Program for the Human Environment’ for the past 20 years.  We post Jesse’s Convocation address, titled “Son et lumiere“, discussing environmental dimensions of sound and light.

p.s. On 23 May 2009 Anne McIlroy of the Toronto Globe and Mail reported on Jesse’s address (p. F5)

Oceans speak volumes. Sound spreads widely in the world’s oceans, and the clamour of human activity reaches every cove, says Jesse Ausubel, director of the Human Environment program at Rockefeller University in Manhattan.

“Motors and propellers are noisy; so are jet skis and oil-and-gas exploration. In fact, we make the oceans three decibels noisier each decade”, he says. In a convocation address this week at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Dr. Ausubel proposed turning down the volume for four hours in an International Quiet Ocean Experiment. That would be enough time for thousands of researchers around the world to see how sea creatures respond to pre-industrial noise levels, he says. Would whales, for example, change the frequencies they use to communicate? If we can quiet things down, would they return to their normal, natural frequency rather than deepening their voices or raising their voices? he said an interview.

Dr. Ausubel has experience with ambitious, large-scale scientific projects. He played an important role in creating the Encyclopedia of Life, an online catalogue of the species on Earth, and was also involved in establishing the Census for Marine Life, an international program to chart life in the oceans by 2010.

Scientists from around the world who are interested in his Quiet Ocean Experiment will get together for their first meeting before the end of the year .

Dr. Ausubel acknowledges how difficult it will be to get four noise-free hours. Navies and the world’s maritime industries would have to be on board. “Maybe the time to do it would be Christmas Day,” he says. “We would like to inconvenience people as little as possible”.

Advances & Challenges in Global Observing Systems for Marine Life

Annually the directors of the major bluewater ocean science institutions meet as the Partnership for Observation of the Global Ocean (POGO ).  On 7 January 2009 Jesse addressed the group about Advances & Challenges in Global Observing Systems for Marine Life drawing on technologies advanced by the Census of Marine Life research program (

Caution: the pdf of the 51-slide presentation is 14 MB.

Is Richer Greener?

2 December 2008 Jesse presented a seminar on the question “Is Richer Greener?” at the request of Rockefeller University graduate students. We post the slides from the talk, which was jointly prepared with new PHE research assistant Smriti Rao, who imaginatively updated several figures prepared as part of our work on dematerialization and the ImPACT Identity.

Natural Gas and the Jackrabbit

This a talk given by Jesse at the PowerSouth Energy Cooperative in Sandestin Florida on 22 January 2008 explaining why methane is green and destiny, and why renewables are neither green nor destiny.

CoML Venice

We post the text (but not slides and movies) from Jesse’s talk “How to Census Marine Life” delivered in Venice 15 June 2006 under the auspices of the European Regional Implementation Committee for the Census of Marine Life (Euro-CoML) and Telecom Italia’s Progetto Italia.