Tropic Soils & Polar Ice: The Science of Climate Change

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Information about Tropic Soils & Polar Ice: The Science of Climate Change

Published on October 7, 2013

Author: LearnMoreAboutClimate



Presentation for SXSW Eco 2013. Dr. James White and Dr. Alan Townshend.
Humans have reached a critical juncture in our history. In only a few generations, we have achieved startling progress in health and welfare, but have done so in ways that are often unsustainable. Climatologist Jim White and ecologist Alan Townsend team up to present an overview of our environmental challenges in four acts. Act 1 will cover the ground rules: for even the fundamentals of human existence, we need food, water, land and a habitable climate. The provision of those needs conforms to some undeniable rules about how our world works. Act 2 will summarize the state of our global union: where do we stand, and without some changes, where might we be headed? Act 3 will be about some roadblocks on the path to a more sustainable future, while the final act will show why there are still plenty of reasons for hope.

Tropics Polar Ice Alan Townsend & Jim White University of Colorado Boulder @alan_townsend / @INSTAAR

A connected world Still a hopeful world A challenging world

What runs that world?

The tropics are where the action is


32 billion dollars…. ….9 percent annual growth

Carbon and Biodiversity Enormous consequences for

The climate effects don’t end after plantation establishment

= 16,000of these ~ 3000 tons CH4 / yr

But wait… Methane = Power


Wait…what? It’s not? Why not?

Most plantations already run on other biomass energy…

Many are far from good grid infrastructure…

Fossil fuel power is often subsidized…

Profits are higher from other investments.

But we can’t ignore it Progress can be tough here

Simple physics

Climate change is real… and actually really simple How much… Sun reflection of the sun greenhouse gas

Greenhouse gases are natural and an important part of the earth’s climate system

More greenhouse gases To expect otherwise denies simple physics = a warmer Earth

Simple physics and sea level • Planet warms = sea level rises • Planet cools = sea level drops

Earth’s Past tells us what to expect 20,000 years ago Today 120,0000 years ago 3 million years ago 40 million years ago 5 10 15 20 Global Mean Temperature °C 100 50 -50 -100 Sea Level, m IPCC 2100 Forecast

Hi! I’m 20 feet of sea level!

West Antarctica is the big worry. Hi! I’m also 20 feet of sea level! And I’m more than 150 feet!

• 1 meter by century’s end • Won’t stop there Hard and real impacts

and Miami is not alone. Miami has no future much beyond this century…

What does 20 meters (65 feet) of sea level rise look like?

What does 20 meters (65 feet) of sea level rise look like?

We’re headed for Eocene levels of CO2 (50 million years ago…no land ice)

It’s a hard problem that will take many of us to solve

US alone spends about $1.5 trillion per year on energy … but is it all about money?

Requires that we narrow several equity gaps

Inter-Generational Equity

Wealth Equity

Gender Equity

Educational Equity

Not nearly enough progress here…

here & here & here But hope can be found

And yes….even here

Last, we must look at ourselves honestly

Image Credits NASA D. Wells Bluechannel24 Getty Images NPR B. Huxta O Globo AP AP Unavanich Mongabay NASA NASA all S.L. maps = M. Kemeter Carnegie Airborne Observatory D. Cook / AP AP NatGeo Mongabay greencarwebsite @alan_townsend @INSTAAR

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