Tropic Soils & Polar Ice: The Science of Climate Change

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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.

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  • 2 points: data on how much CH4 produced was important to this mill going for biogas, but so too was access to the grid and reasonable tariffs
  • Though some large companies can sell power to their own created villages cheaper (e.g. New Britain Palm Oil New Guinea) via biogas much cheaper than other sources that can have positive social benefits because leaves more capital for e.g. schools
  • Though some large companies can sell power to their own created villages cheaper (e.g. New Britain Palm Oil New Guinea) via biogas much cheaper than other sources that can have positive social benefits because leaves more capital for e.g. schools
  • Though some large companies can sell power to their own created villages cheaper (e.g. New Britain Palm Oil New Guinea) via biogas much cheaper than other sources that can have positive social benefits because leaves more capital for e.g. schools
  • Though some large companies can sell power to their own created villages cheaper (e.g. New Britain Palm Oil New Guinea) via biogas much cheaper than other sources that can have positive social benefits because leaves more capital for e.g. schools
  • Thermal expansion of waterLand ice melts
  • … and that’s a problem.
  • Why is it hard?
  • Why is it hard?
  • Tropic Soils & Polar Ice: The Science of Climate Change

    1. 1. Tropics Polar Ice Alan Townsend & Jim White University of Colorado Boulder @alan_townsend / @INSTAAR
    2. 2. A connected world Still a hopeful world A challenging world
    3. 3. What runs that world?
    4. 4. The tropics are where the action is
    5. 5. 52
    6. 6. 32 billion dollars…. ….9 percent annual growth
    7. 7. Carbon and Biodiversity Enormous consequences for
    8. 8. The climate effects don’t end after plantation establishment
    9. 9. = 16,000of these ~ 3000 tons CH4 / yr
    10. 10. But wait… Methane = Power
    11. 11. Yay!
    12. 12. Wait…what? It’s not? Why not?
    13. 13. Most plantations already run on other biomass energy…
    14. 14. Many are far from good grid infrastructure…
    15. 15. Fossil fuel power is often subsidized…
    16. 16. Profits are higher from other investments.
    17. 17. But we can’t ignore it Progress can be tough here
    18. 18. Simple physics
    19. 19. Climate change is real… and actually really simple How much… Sun reflection of the sun greenhouse gas
    20. 20. Greenhouse gases are natural and an important part of the earth’s climate system
    21. 21. More greenhouse gases To expect otherwise denies simple physics = a warmer Earth
    22. 22. Simple physics and sea level • Planet warms = sea level rises • Planet cools = sea level drops
    23. 23. 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
    24. 24. Hi! I’m 20 feet of sea level!
    25. 25. West Antarctica is the big worry. Hi! I’m also 20 feet of sea level! And I’m more than 150 feet!
    26. 26. • 1 meter by century’s end • Won’t stop there Hard and real impacts
    27. 27. and Miami is not alone. Miami has no future much beyond this century…
    28. 28. What does 20 meters (65 feet) of sea level rise look like?
    29. 29. What does 20 meters (65 feet) of sea level rise look like?
    30. 30. We’re headed for Eocene levels of CO2 (50 million years ago…no land ice)
    31. 31. It’s a hard problem that will take many of us to solve
    32. 32. US alone spends about $1.5 trillion per year on energy … but is it all about money?
    33. 33. Requires that we narrow several equity gaps
    34. 34. Inter-Generational Equity
    35. 35. Wealth Equity
    36. 36. Gender Equity
    37. 37. Educational Equity
    38. 38. Not nearly enough progress here…
    39. 39. here & here & here But hope can be found
    40. 40. And yes….even here
    41. 41. Last, we must look at ourselves honestly
    42. 42. Image Credits dws4me.com NASA D. Wells Bluechannel24 Getty Images NPR B. Huxta O Globo AP teleios.com.br AP Unavanich Newgrounds.com bubblews.com mypalmoil.com zimbio.com gamuda.com.my Mongabay NASA fotopedia.com NASA all S.L. maps = geology.com M. Kemeter texasenetworks.com Carnegie Airborne Observatory cdkn.org educationnews.org D. Cook / AP ewea.org ericleeh.com AP fotopedia.com NatGeo Mongabay 21food.com 21food.com publimetro.com mesym.com arnika.org greencarwebsite
    43. 43. alan.townsend@colorado.edu @alan_townsend james.white@colorado.edu @INSTAAR

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