SFU Faculty of Science: Global Warming Seminar Series "Responding to the Climate Change Challenge"

Wednesday, March 30, 2011
12:30 - 13:30

Dr. Thomas Pedersen
University of Victoria


We now know the root causes of the global warming and ocean-acidification that are underway on our planet. These are no longer an issue of science, for the science is clear enough. Indeed, that clarity now allows us to speculate with increasing confidence what the future holds...and the prospect is not pretty. But despite the convergence of theory and observation, despite the increasing impacts of a changing climate, and despite insults to nature like ocean acidification, we largely remain reluctant to act. This talk will not address that reluctance; that task is better left to political scientists, philosophers, economists and human psychologists. Rather, we will explore steps that could (and should) be taken now to slow Canadian CO2 emissions, in particular making smarter use of our electrical-generation capacity. But in attempting to curb carbon emissions, missteps can be taken too--unwelcome effects can result where policy directives are developed in the absence of appropriate scientific underpinning and interdisciplinary input. The ethanol debacle in the United States provides a good example and will be discussed.

Although climate science has matured to the point where we are now refining rather than originating, its importance in informing climate mitigation and adaptation policies has never been stronger. But that in itself is not enough; as the ethanol and electricity-generation examples will show, climate science is only one piece of a much bigger jigsaw. If we are to make compelling gains in future policy development, science must be married with social science, law, and engineering. Interdisciplinarity needs to become a required practice rather than a buzzword. The talk will conclude with an overview of initiatives that PICS is taking toward that end that will ultimately--we hope--yield solutions.