3/28/17 Show feat. Stephen Pacala on measuring the impact of climate change

syria_drought

Featured image: A recent drought in Syria is one of the factors that prompted mass migration to cities and eventual civil war–and researchers are implicating man-made climate change as causing it. (Courtesy NPR)

Very unfortunately, the show tonight was not recorded due to technical difficulties at WPRB. Sorry about that! 

Today we hone in on climate change by talking with Dr. Stephen Pacala of Princeton’s Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Dr. Pacala’s new class on the Environmental Nexus investigates the worldwide interplay between agriculture, biodiversity, and climate, so we’ll speak about how these systems feed into each other. What do our coupled studies of the market and worldwide climate tell us about enacting environmental policies today? As Dr. Pacala informs us, we have the technology today to avoid many of the worst consequences of increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere–it’s only a matter of doing the hard work of applying this technology to our agriculture, electricity grid, and so on. As he claims, humanity is trending towards solving these problems, present politics in the US aside.

Further, we spoke at length about how scientists quantify the impact of climate change. How can we know whether fossil fuel emissions are really at fault for causing the death of  the Great Barrier Reef, or for the recent flooding of Louisiana? Scientists can now pinpoint the change in risk of extreme weather due to human-introduced pollution, and the results are startling. Even more, we can now say that humans have caused instances of climate change in Africa, which in turn have made conflicts more likely. Studies like this rely on statistical methods, which they use to show impressively disastrous links between pollution and human life.

Before Dr. Pacala joined us, I brought on former guest Dr. Paul Gauthier to talk about the interplay between plants and our atmosphere. Can more carbon dioxide help plants grow? Is faster food always better? And above all, how do we manage a growing population with a food supply in danger?

The full playlist is available on WPRB.com or below.

tvr2c_playlist_032817

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