Discussion Series: Human and Earth Systems Interlinkages

Location: Virtual
Dates: 7 April 2022, 16:30 CEST

Join AIMES, the Earth Commission, Future Earth, and WCRP Safe Landing Climates Lighthouse Activity in a discussion series to advance knowledge on tipping elements, irreversibility, and abrupt changes in the Earth system.

Whilst previous events have focused on the Earth system alone, this webinar with world-leading researchers will explore the interlinkages between tipping elements in Earth and human systems. Speakers will present historic and contemporary examples of how Earth system tipping elements affect societies and the people within them.

Moderator: Prof. Gabi Hegerl, Climate System Science, School of Geosciences, University of Edinburgh


  • The Dust Bowl: Enduring socio-economic impacts of an environmental catastrophe – Richard Hornbeck, V. Duane Rath Professor of Economics and Neubauer Family Faculty Fellow, University of Chicago Booth School of Business
  • Earth System Change and Tipping: The Case of Small Island Developing States – Michelle Mycoo, Professor of Urban and Regional Planning in the Department of Geomatics Engineering and Land Management, The University of the West Indies
  • Q&A and Discussion

Note: Zoom link joining instructions will be sent out a few days in advance
of the event. If you register on the day, joining instructions will be sent with your registration confirmation.


Speaker Information

Prof. Richard Hornbeck 
University of Chicago Booth School of Business
Richard Hornbeck is the V. Duane Rath Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Rick is an economic historian and applied-micro economist, whose research focuses on the historical development of the American economy. He views history as informing why some places and some people have become wealthier, while others have remained poorer, which can provide perspective on what factors might drive widespread improvements in living standards. His published research includes articles in the American Economic Review, the Quarterly Journal of Economics, and the Journal of Political Economy. He is a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, affiliated with programs on the Development of the American Economy, Development Economics, and Environmental and Energy Economics.

Prior to joining Chicago Booth in 2015, Rick was the Dunwalke Associate Professor of American History in the Economics Department at Harvard University. He received an Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship in 2014 and was selected for the 2009 Review of Economic Studies Tour. He received a PhD in economics from MIT in 2009 and a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Chicago in 2004.


Prof. Michelle Mycoo 
Department of Geomatics Engineering and Land Management, The University of the West Indies
Michelle Mycoo is the Professor of Urban and Regional Planning in the Department of Geomatics Engineering and Land Management.  She holds a Ph.D. in Urban Planning (McGill University 1996), a M.Sc. in Urban Planning (University of Hong Kong 1988) and a B.A. in Geography  and Social Sciences (The University of the West Indies, Mona, 1985). Professor Mycoo is the recipient of three international scholarships: A Commonwealth Scholarship, Canadian International Development Agency Fellowship and a US Fulbright Fellowship. She received The University of  the West Indies/ Guardian Group Teaching Award for Teaching Excellence in 2014 and the same year was awarded The University of the West Indies/ National Gas Company Research Award for the Most Outstanding Researcher  in the Faculty of Engineering. In 2008, Michelle was also recognized by The University of the West Indies as one of 60 lecturers under the age of 60 for excellence in teaching, service and research.

Professor Mycoo is a Coordinating Lead Author for the Small Islands  Chapter 15 of the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group II Sixth Assessment Report on Impacts, Vulnerability and Adaptation published in spring 2022. Since 2011, she has written 16 publications which address the complex challenges of climate change and offer insights into adaptation and resilience in the context of small islands.
Professor Mycoo’s work focuses on strengthening the interface between  science, policy and practice in alignment with optimum land use, infrastructure provision and environmental management in support of sustainable human settlements.