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"Bushmeat" and the Origin of HIV/AIDS: A Case Study of Biodiversity, Population Pressures, and Human Health

February 1, 2002

The Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School, Population Action International, the Jane Goodall Institute, and the Environmental and Energy Study Institute co-hosted a Congressional briefing, entitled "Bushmeat and the Origin of HIV/AIDS: A Case Study of Biodiversity, Population Pressures and Human Health." The AIDS epidemic is a global problem with challenging social implications and no easy solutions. In the United States and around the world, citizen groups and governments are rallying to help scientists find a cure for HIV/AIDS and encouraging widespread education about the disease. To date, over 60 million people have been infected with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), approximately five million more become infected each year, and over 20 million have died from the disease. In their quest to understand more about this deadly disease, researchers have sought to understand where it came from, and how humans contracted it. What they have discovered is that many answers about HIV and even the potential cure will most likely come from the same place as the original source of the disease -- from chimpanzees and a monkey called the sooty mangabey in the West Central African forests. Unfortunately, it is also becoming frighteningly clear that human actions and population pressures are destroying these forests and the species that inhabit them at alarming rates, which may have significant implications for human health.

High Performance School Buildings: Energy-Smart Schools That Make a Difference

December 1, 2001

Over seventy percent of U.S. schools still in use today were built before 1960, according to the General Accounting Office. In the next decade, school districts around the nation will have to replace or renovate over six thousand of these buildings, and the school's administrators will aim to construct the best possible learning environments while using limited budgets. At this EESI Congressional briefing, co-hosted by the Sustainable Buildings Industry Council, a panel of experts discussed the concept of a "whole building design" as a way to attain a high performance school building. With an integrated design, a school's various components work together as a whole system to produce an efficient and well-operating building. Another key aspect to creating a high performance building is implementing an energy management program to monitor and reduce energy use wherever possible. In recent years, many legislators, architects, engineers and school officials have begun to embrace this holistic approach to building design and function. Not only will it lower a school building's overall energy costs and environmental impact, initial studies indicate that high performance school buildings also improve student performance.