DCC 330

September 29, 2008 4:15 PM - 6:00 PM

Sponsored by the university's Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences and Thomas Phelan Lectures.  Broecker, Newberry Professor at Columbia's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, is often credited with coining the term "global warming."  He has authored seven books and hundreds of articles over his distinguished 50 year career and is best known for his seminal work on the "global conveyor belt," the finding that the world's ocean currents are linked, circulating warm water around the world with direct, demonstrable effect on weather patterns. 

Dr. Broecker has been warning about climate change for decades.  What distinguishes his work is that he offers an approach that holds the potential to address and reduce carbon build up in the earth's atmosphere. 

"Climate models predict that global warming will increase rainfall in the tropics, while aridity will increase in adjacent drylands.  Evidence from the geologic record is consistent with this analysis.  40% of the world's grain is grown on irrigated land and over a billion of its poorest live in these areas; therefore, we must minimize these impacts of global warming by reining in the increase in atmospheric CO2.  It is my opinion" Broecker said in describing his upcoming lecture, "that conservation and alternative energy alone will be insufficient.  We must develop the means to capture and bury CO2, which can be economically removed from ambient air.  Otherwise, we will be forced to dose the stratosphere with SO2 to counteract global warming with global dimming." 

"This is a rare opportunity to hear the voice of a scientist who has raised global climate change to worldwide attention. We ignore Wally Broecker's explanation of the Earth's dynamics at our peril," said Langdon Winner, the Thomas Phelan Professor in Humanities and Social Sciences in the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences.  

Broecker writes of his work, "We have clear evidence that different parts of the earth's climate system are linked in very subtle yet dramatic ways. The climate system has jumped from one mode of operation to another in the past. We are trying to understand how the earth's climate system is engineered, so we can understand what it takes to trigger mode switches. Until we do, we cannot make good predictions about future climate change."

Among Broecker's many awards and honors, he is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and has received the National Medal of Science, the Vetlesen Prize from the G. Unger Vetlesen FoundationAlexander Agassiz Medal of the National Academy of Sciences, Urey Medal of the European Association for Geochemistry, V. M. Goldschmidt Award from the Geochemical Society; Maurice W. Ewing Medal of the American Geophysical Union, and the Crafoord Prize in Geosciences, often referred to as the Nobel Prize of the earth sciences. 

CONTACTS:   Dr. Mimi Katz, Rensselaer's Dept. Of Earth and Environmental Science,, 518.276.8521, and Dr. Langdon Winner, Professor of Political Science,, 518.

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