October 1, 2020 at 4:45 pm

Physics Colloquium | Climate Change and Tipping Points: The Future of Nature, Humanity and the Global Economy, Oct. 30

The Physics & Astronomy Colloquium Series presents Mike Bevis of The Ohio State University on “Climate Change and Tipping Points: The Future of Nature, Humanity and the Global Economy,” on Friday, Oct. 30, at 4:10 p.m. at an Online Departmental Colloquium (Virtual link to be posted later).

Abstract: Climate change has already reached crisis levels, and the threat of climate catastrophe is only too real.

I will begin by briefly reviewing global warming and climate change in terms of its physical causes, describe the importance of feedback, and then go on to describe the expected physical impacts of climate change. I will briefly describe the biological impacts too, focusing on the impending collapse of coral reef ecosystems, because of what this tells us about the onset of tipping points, and to introduce the concept of ‘wobble and tip’. Then I will focus the rest of the climate part of this talk on the cryosphere, especially the Greenland ice sheet, to develop the concept of tipping points in more detail. In particular, I will argue that the Greenland ice sheet has already passed two major tipping points, one associated with global ocean warming, and the other associated with global warming of the atmosphere. I will then shift gears, and seek some grounds for optimism! And that is the extremely rapid growth of renewable energy. I will present an argument as to why that growth will continue. I will conclude that the major barriers to saving our climate system, nature, society as we know it, and the global economy, are mostly political in nature, and not technical. One key question is, will the short term and narrow interests of the fossil fuel industry be allowed to destroy the prospects of the far wider economy? The other key question is, what do you plan to do about it?

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