Dr. Avit Bhowmik | Environmental Scientist · Climate Solutionist

I care for climate and environment.

Photo: Christina Knowles, Karlstad University      

I am an Environmental Scientist and Climate Solutionist. I am the Research Director of Centre for Research on Sustainable Societal Transformation and an Assistant Professor of Risk and Environmental Studies at Karlstad University, Sweden. In my role as a researcher and teacher, I explore ways how we can rapidly transform our societies to address the sustainability challenges humanity faces today - climate change and chemical pollution among many - and communicate the findings to my students.

I am involved with many international science-policy networks that explore climate solutions and means of sustainability transformation. As the Lead Modeller of Exponential Roadmap Initiative, I developed and built-up the exponential backcasting modelling framework to model market ready solutions' exponential implementation pathways to achieve the targets of the Paris Agreement. I serve as a Scientific Steering Committee Member of Analysis, Integration, and Modeling of the Earth System and a researcher at the "Modelling" and "Governance" working groups of The World in 2050 project of Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN).

I genuinely believe that we will be able to escape the climate crisis on time and am inspired many innovative projects that are underway. With my vision of making an impact and add to these activities, I engage myself with governing bodies and practitioners to inform policies and strategies for sustainability transformation based on my research findings. I am an advisor to the Sustainability Agenda network and African Circular Business Alliance.

I come from a strong interdisciplinary background interfacing Environmental Planning, Geoinformatics, Environmental Epidemiology and Climate. I hold a Ph.D. in Spatial Environmental Health from University of Koblenz-Landau, Germany, an Erasmus Mundus M.Sc. in Geospatial Technologies and a B.Sc. in Urban and Regional Planning from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology.

My work has resulted in over 50 peer-reviewed articles, book chapters and abstracts, and many key reports delivered to the UN Climate Action Summits and High Level Political Forums. I am author of “1.5C Business Playbook”.I frequently give public talks and write on media about exponential climate action, rapid sustainability transformation and environmental health, and have been interviewed by national and international newspaper and radio journalists.

Grid Image

Panel speech at the Drawdown Research to Action Conference at the Penn State University, USA. Credit: Penn State

My Story

Growing up in Bangladesh, I encountered many environmental problems but I focused on a particular one for my thesis to complete my B.Sc. in Urban and Regional Planning from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology. The leather manufacturing industries in the Hazaribagh Tannery area of the capital Dhaka extensively polluted the surrounding environment and the main river Buriganga leaving notorious health effects for thousands of people but several attempts by Bangladesh government to relocate these industries failed. I asked why? The answer was my first scientific paper. Soon I realized that some scientific tools like, what is popularly known as Geographic Information Systems (GIS), are incredibly helpful to find such answers. I came to Europe in 2010 with an Erasmus Mundus scholarship to study for an M.Sc. in Geospatial Technologies and it blew my mind. What I used to know as a system (GIS) turned out to be a Science of spatiotemporally explicit phenomena!

The study of GIScience helped me understand how things are spatially related, distributed and globally connected, and discover the global problem that has been instigating and exacerbating many other local problems, Global Warming. The water level of Buriganga dropped significantly in the summer intensifying the pollution, whereas the increased flooding disseminated the contaminated water throughout the city during the monsoon. Nonetheless, little was known about the climatic variability and its social-ecological impacts in Bangladesh, so I applied what I learned from the GI school to fill this knowledge gap. Applied GIS and geostatistics became my core expertise and I applied them to understand both climatic variability and environmental contamination, and their ecosystem and human health impacts. I completed my Ph.D. in Spatial Environmental Health from University of Koblenz-Landau, Germany in 2015.

Understanding the global warming problem indeed made me interested in the solution of it. I came to Sweden in 2016 and joined the Planetary Boundaries research group under the direct supervision of Johan Rockström. Simultaneously, I joined as an Earth Doc of the Earth League research alliance. This completely changed my life! The amazing group of scientists and communicators at Stockholm Resilience Centre and the strong leadership of Johan made me realize that global warming (or climate change) is not just any environmental problem, it's an existential threat to humanity and also a threat multiplier. The irony is that our society acts quite naive about this problem, which makes the challenge of solving it greater and greater every year. The urgency of climate action hit me and I delved into finding ways to abruptly transform our society into sustainability. Exponential Climate Action and Social Tipping Points (rapid social transformation) became my research priority.