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Understanding Climate Change

This GSA Public Forum was presented on Saturday, 21 October 2006,
at the Pennsylvania Convention Center Auditorium Lecture Hall
What Is It? - What Does it Mean? - What Can We Do?

Click here for the official
GSA Position Statement on Global Climate Change


Richard AlleyRichard Alley
Penn State

biography ]
presentation ]

Robert JacksonRobert Jackson
Duke University

biography ]
presentation ]

NOTE: you will be asked to download the
free WebEX player to view presentations.

Audience Q&A Run
Each question and answer is saved as a separate Windows Media Video (wmv) file.
Click on the question number to view. How to view in Quicktime.
Q1. Global climate is cyclical so isn't the current warming natural? 3:37 4.1
Q2. What can we do to be part of the solution — what are the next steps? 4:18 4.8
Q3. How can we reduce the polarization of this debate as seems apparent in the media? 4:38 5.3
Q4. CO2 sequestration: How efficient is this process? 2:32 2.9
Q5. Could depositing iron in the oceans reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere? 2:28 2.8
Q6. What advice can you give to students -- what can we do on a micro-level? 2:21 2.7
Q7. How do you tell developing countries that they can't grow economically like we have? 3:03 3.5
Q8. How do we get international cooperation on these problems? It seems first-world countries are dealing with it while third-world countries are cutting down the forests, polluting, etc. 6:01 6.8
Q9. Are there better methods of making Hydrogen than coal plants? 1:16 1.5
Q10. How will the loss of the tropical rain forests affect atmospheric CO2? 2:03 2.4
Q11. It seems we are not willing to sacrifice our comfortable lifestyles for lower emissions so we strive for better technology. Isn't the problem really about gluttony? 2:14 2.6
Q12. Exchange programs could help share knowledge and experience about environmental issues. 2:12 2.5
Q13. (1) What is the price tag and can we afford it?
(2) Give examples of other countries who have had success in cutting consumption.
7:12 8.2
Q14. (1) Tipping point: How close are we?
(2) Offer comments on biochar as a means of sequestration.
5:45 6.5
Q15. What is the evidence for the connection between humans and climate change? 6:27 7.3


Dr. Richard B. Alley

Evan Pugh Professor of Geosciences, Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA

Dr. Alley studies ice cores — samples of ice that record Earth's past climate. His research focuses on abrupt climate change, glaciers, ice sheet collapse and sea level change. He has participated in several ice core drilling projects in Antarctica and Greenland and spent multiple field seasons working in Alaska.

Alley chaired the Committee on Abrupt Climate Change, National Research Council, The National Academies, to advise the U.S. Government on research activities to address the possibility of climate surprises (Abrupt Climate Change: Inevitable Surprises, National Academy Press, 2002). He has served as advisor on climate-change issues to government agencies including the U.S. Office of Science and Technology Policy, the National Science Foundation, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. He was invited to breakfast with a sitting U.S. Vice President to discuss climate change, and was invited to testify before a Senate committee.

Alley's many awards for teaching and research include the Seligman Crystal of the International Glaciological Society, a Packard Fellowship, a Presidential Young Investigator Award, the Horton Award of the American Geophysical Union Hydrology Section, the Easterbrook Award of the Quaternary Geology and Geomorphology section of Geological Society of America, the Wilson Teaching Award of the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences and the Faculty Scholar Medal of The Pennsylvania State University. He has authored or co-authored more than 170 refereed publications, and is a "highly cited" researcher as indexed by ISI. He won the 2001 Phi Beta Kappa Science Award for his book, The Two-Mile Time Machine: Ice Cores, Abrupt Climate Change, and our Future (Princeton University Press, 2000), which reveals startling new results on abrupt climate change.

Alley has discussed his work in various media, including national public radio's syndicated "Morning Edition" program, BBC's Science and Nature series, "Horizon," and also appeared in a production by a local PBS affiliate which won a regional Emmy-award.

Dr. Robert B. Jackson

Nicholas Institute Professor, Dept. of Biology and Nicholas School of the Environment & Earth Sciences, Duke University, Durham, NC

Dr. Jackson studies how human activities affect plants, animals, and the biosphere. He is Director of Duke's Center on Global Change, the Duke University Program in Ecology, and Duke's Stable Isotope Mass Spectrometry Laboratory. In his quest for solutions to global warming, he also directs the new Department of Energy-funded National Institute for Climate Change Research for the southeastern U.S. and co-directs the Climate Change Policy Partnership, working with energy and utility corporations to find practical strategies to combat climate change. His first job as a chemical engineer was with the Dow Chemical Company.

Jackson has received numerous awards, including the Murray F. Buell Award from the Ecological Society of America, a 1999 Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering from the National Science Foundation (one of 19 scientists honored at the White House by President Clinton), and inclusion in the top 0.5% of most cited scientific researchers (www.isihighlycited.com/). He has more than 100 peer-reviewed scientific publications and is co-editor of the book Methods in Ecosystem Science (Springer, 2000). His trade book on global change, The Earth Remains Forever, was published in October of 2002. His first children's book, Animal Mischief, was published in April of 2006 by Boyds Mills Press, the trade arm of Highlights Magazine for children. The sequel, Weekend Mischief, will appear in fall of 2007.

Jackson's research has been covered in various newspapers and magazines, such as the Boston Globe, New York Times, Business Week, and Scientific American, and on national public radio, including the syndicated programs "Morning Edition", "All Things Considered", "The Tavis Smiley Show", "The Next 200 Years", and "Earth and Sky" (for which he is a science advisor and scriptwriter).