Updated: Apr 9
Dr Victor Luca
Friday 9-Apr-21 starting at 5 pm at Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi, Whakatāne Campus.
The exponential explosion in human population kicked off by the industrial revolution (1760-1840) has catapulted humanity into the anthropocene, an epoch characterized by a corresponding exponential increase in Green House Gas (GHG) emissions (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxides …). Intensive human development is damaging ecosystems, perhaps irrevocably, reducing biodiversity and depleting the Earth’s resources also at an exponential rate. Despite warnings from the scientific community that date back more than a century, GHG emissions are not slowing. Even the COVID-19 pandemic couldn’t slow emissions to any appreciable degree.
It is now abundantly evident that if we continue on the path we are on, increasing GHG emissions will result in global warming with potentially catastrophic consequences. For instance the melting of land and sea ice due increasing temperatures will result in sea level rise. Precise measurements of sea level over the past century indicates global average sea level rise of about 3 - 4 mm per year. This is an average value and doesn’t mean that the sea level rises everywhere by this amount. However, as ice melts, self-reinforcing effects may come into play that can result in cataclysmic changes known as tipping points. This is because the melting of sea and land ice reduces the reflection of radiant energy back into space which in turn causes the temperature to rise and more ice to melt. This is just one of about nine so-called tipping points that have been identified.
In New Zealand we pride ourselves on being clean and green but we are far from it. Although we represent only 0.2% of global emissions our per capita emissions rank among the top 50 nations. As a small developed and relatively wealthy country, it is in our interest to help provoke change on a global scale. We need to demonstrate to major emitters that reductions in emissions can be done quickly and without a jeopardizing prosperity. If we can’t do it then what country can?
As a country we have been criticized for being all talk and no action. Since human-induced climate change threatens organized human life on the entire planet, we have to do more than just talk and pretend to act.
As a scientist that has kept abreast of climate change science for decades, and as an educator, I feel I am in a position to help people understand something of the science of climate change. This is a difficult scientific field because it is extremely multi-disciplinary including the fields of physics, chemistry, geochemistry, geology, meteorology, oceanography, earth science, soil science, ecology, geobiology, geology, paleogeography, social science and economics to name just some.
A Trident High School teacher recently commented to me, "we seriously need to foster a ground-swell of comprehension & concern amongst our youth if we are to crack this climate change crisis". I wholeheartedly agree and would add that it is not just about our youth but everyone.
I plan to give the first of the lectures (An Introduction to Climate Change Science) on Friday the 9th of April starting at 5 pm and ending at 7pm to be followed by a korero. The lecture will be held in one of the lecture theatres at Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi, Whakatāne Campus. The lecture theatre has capacity for about 100 people.
Please call me on 027 749 88 88 to make a booking so that I can get an idea of numbers and make alternative plans if necessary.
Here is a preliminary course program.
Part 1 – Introduction to Climate Change Science
1. Our Earth and existential threats.
2. Exponential growth and decay – living on a finite planet.
3. Is the climate changing? Global mean surface temperatures.
4. Global warming mechanisms.
5. Sources of GHG emissions.
6. Climate modeling.
8. Emissions – what, who and how much?
9. Climate change – who knew?
10. The scientific consensus.
Part 2 - Consequences of warming
Part 3 - The energy system, transport …
Part 4 - The agricultural system
Part 5 - Buildings & manufacturing
Part 6 – Life cycle analysis
Part 6 – Waste management