Thank you for the opportunity to answer questions you may have about the lecture series that will start on Monday the 25th. I hope to see many of you at the lectures. I take this opportunity to again say how proud I am to live in a community that is so engaged in learning. I hope that after you attend the six lectures on Earth Transformed that you will feel that you have learned much.
I am asked what will be my favorite lecture. Of course it will be the lecture of the day! All lectures will be terrific and they each address a fundamental part of the big question. The oceans are the key buffer of global climate change, the atmospheres are key drivers, the ecosystems, food safety and, security and diseases are key ways that we will feel the impacts, engineering is a way for us to ameliorate the consequences of the climate change. Come to all so you get the big picture!
In some ways it is not surprising that there are still folks that don't fully accept the science. One has to remember that the science is complex and that in some cases the uncertainties on the data are large. That said it is very important that everybody know that at this stage the general consensus from various disciplines including atmospheric sciences, hydrology, atmospheric sciences, ocean sciences, planetary sciences, physics and chemistry all agree that global climate change is ocurring. Furthermore, everybody should know that we understand the relationships of heat and radioation and CO2 from first principles, so its not just a correlation between CO2 and heat. We know why that happens. This is a key fact in science. We are beyond correlations and we undertstand many of the causal mechanisms. well.
This is a great question and I thank you for the compliment. Indeed as our way of life is affected more and more by science and technology - we sometimes even have to vote on scientific issues! - we need to find ways to continue our education in these fields. Sadly this is complicated because the internet and sometimes the printed media makes it impossible for the lay person to figure out what is good and what is bad science. I suggest that you focus on material that has some of peer review, even if its not a hard scientific journal. Examples are the publications from the Smitshonian, American Scientist, Scientific American, and other of this type. Of course, I also invite you to ask me questions and I will pass them on to the many experts in the University that can help you and others get a better understanding of what we kjnow and what we do not know.
One of the little known facts of Biosphere 2 is that it has always been a powerful scientific instrument. Early experiments at Biosphere 2 showed that at 400 ppm CO2 in the atmosphere, which is what we have today, would acidify the oceans and cause the corals to fail. Other research showed that rainforest cannot uptake as much C)2 as we once thought and that we really do not understand how soils work. Where the Biosphere 2 had a hard time was with human interactions - so what else is new! -
Following on Biosphere 2 - we are lucky to have this instrument, which is a one of a kind and important tool to study the Earth as global climate change progresses we can do experiments at a scale that nobody else can.
The main purpose of this and all our lecture series is to provide the most recent information on the topic so that further discussions by the audience are not hampered by lack of facts.
We understand that cloud cover affects radiation and in fact dust the same. An interesting fact was that when the tragedy of 9/11 happened and all planes where grounded for a few days the lack of contrails produced by the planes changed the temperature. Recent modeling, however is taking this into account. But as far as modelling goes the sad part is that all the models of the past did not predict how bad things have gotten now. In fact the worry is that our predictions may not be as negative as it may get.
Well this questions is for policy makers, economists and all of us to figure out. What is more straightforward is that science and technology got us into this and science and technology will have to play a key role in solving the issues. I am optimistic that we will come up with many solutions to many of the problems have created. My biggest worry is that global climate change will not impact all of us alike.
We can be more efficient in th euse of water and fossil fuels. If you can afford solar, great, if not think about efficient appliances, efficient light bulbs and efficient cars. With water, we know this this is the hammer of global climate change and in the case of Arizona all the predictions are that we will get dryer. Already there are issues with the Colorado River. So be prudent with resources.
Great question. In reality the models predict that our weather will become more extreme and that what was normal will cease to be. So extreme weather - colder, warmer, wetter, dryer, more severe, is exactly what is expected.
Our hope is that an educated public can have a good effect on everything. Through discussions filled with facts and driven by facts we should be able to change the way our neighbors, policy makers, friends, family members thisnk about problems. This is how things change for the better.
Not really. I think that there is still a lot of debate as to whether the change is really happening. Clearly there are huge economic consequences to changes in the economy. I am not sure how one turns the corner and starts working on the economic solutions for climate change, Those would be the issues that would be the key questions. That said there is no doubt that things are changing. We are more efficient and companies are making more efficient products.
Changes in temperatures and water availability are clearly already affecting crops. I understand that corn is now going to be grown in the northeast and many croplands in many parts of the world are not viable anymore. Another issue that we must keep in mind is that as the viability of crops changes all over the world it fuels mass migrations that are also changing societies. Food safety and security is one of the most important issues being discussed as part of global climate change.
I am not familiar enough with this fact but it would not surprise me at all. One must remember that the Global Climate has not been constant throughout the history of the Earth and that volcanoes, rate of erosion and other geologic factors have influenced Global climate. All these geologic phenomena have changed CO2 in the atmosphere and consequently chnaged the chemistry of the atmopsphere and the temperature of the Earth. This time the rate of change is dramatically fast and the only causee capable of such quick changes are emanations caused by humans. Clearly the industrial revolution really got it going but earlier emanations must have affected the atmosphere as well.
David - I fully agree. We will take your comment to heart and try to develop a more holistic approach to education. We have been thinking about it for some time so thanks for your comment
There are tons of books on the subject but the one I really like is "An Ocean of Air" by Gabrielle Walker. It gives the history of atmospheric sciences in a clear way and sets up the discussion for change
There is an article published today in the New York Times about this exact issue. Since I am running out of time, I can ask that you read that article. It is very good. I also recommend you visit "uascience.org" We have posted many recent articles that deal with climate change
I want to thank all of you that have asked questions. This hour has gone too fast. I hope to see you all at the lecture series. Bet to all. Joaquin