Dr James Hooper

Sustainability Consultant

South Korea

Starting my career as an Environmental Research Scientist, and with degrees in Geography and Earth and Environmental Science, I have a deep understanding of the mechanisms that drive our climate and the relationship between human activities and the environment. I have specific skills in data analysis, scientific report writing and public science communication, and previous experience working with the agricultural, waste management / recycling, and information technology sectors, and on construction energy and GHG emissions assessment projects.

I enjoy complex and multifaceted projects that require a combined understanding of geographical, historic and economic contexts. I find that pulling these different threads together to build a big picture which illuminates possible solutions or consequences can be very rewarding and means that you are constantly gaining new knowledge and skills.

Recently I have worked on projects including examining how agricultural waste can lead to poor air quality and smog through ammonia emissions reacting with sulphates and nitrates from industry and transport, and investigating how land-use change can result in increasing wind erosions and dust storms.

I have a BSc. in Geography from KyungHee University in Seoul, South Korea and a PhD in Earth and Environmental Science at the University of Wollongong, NSW. During my PhD I investigated the impact of climate changes and land use expansion on mineral dust and heavy metal flux, and how this affects recipient ecosystems, organising research expeditions to the Andes, Patagonia and Antarctica, to extract peat and ice cores from which to reconstruct regional records of climatic and environmental change.

My interest in the relationship between the economy, or human activity, and the Earth’s climate and environment was inspired by a number of expeditions to some of the world’s most remote and vulnerable regions. At 19, my friend and I became the youngest non-Sherpas to climb Mount Everest, and at 21 we became the first people to travel from North Pole to South Pole with no engines, skiing, dogsledding, sailing and cycling a total distance of 40,000km around the world, an expedition for which we were presented with the National Geographic Adventurer of the Year Award in 2008. As part of this expedition, we aimed to raise awareness about climate change by creating interactive content for schools through documenting the environments that we traversed along the way. For me though, the experience highlighted the fact that our economic activities have adversely affected even the most remote parts of the planet, and that a systemic change in our conception of the economy, to view it as a significant process within Earth’s systems, is required to ensure a sustainable, equitable and therefore prosperous future long-term. However, I believe that achieving this requires integrating an understanding of earth, environmental and climate science into economic decision making, and this goal has been central to my career.

I continue to spend my personal time undertaking a large range of outdoor pursuits, although I am especially passionate about cycling. In 2009, after my friend and expedition partner died in a climbing accident, I helped found a charity, One Mile Closer, which has introduced hundreds of people to adventure through cycling expeditions across Europe and Korea, and raised more than a quarter-of-a-million pounds to construct a school in Uganda, which more than 800 pupils now attend. I have written a book and produced a documentary under the same name, which tells this story and can be viewed online.

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