By Karyn Simpson, Dec. 20, 2018 –
Columbia University Geology Professor Wally Broecker, the pioneering grandfather of climate science, laid it on the line. The two ways we know of to bring down civilization are nuclear bombs or carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels, the driving force of climate change, he said this fall during an interview at the annual Comer Climate Conference this fall in Wisconsin. “It’s got the seeds of really terrible chaos on the planet and we’ve got to start to respect that.”
Within days of the conference, the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change cautioned that even raising the global temperatures by 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F) could have disastrous effects on sea level rise, extreme temperatures, rainfall and drought. And we’ve already raised temperatures 1 degree globally.
What needs to change to mitigate the accelerating threat?
Scientists sharing their latest research at the 2018 conference say we need to move swiftly toward a sustainable energy system and trap the carbon dioxide emissions from continued near-term needs for fossil fuels. Meeting the challenge offers wide-ranging opportunities for innovation and economic growth, said Penn State climatologist Richard Alley at the conference.
“Economic studies are consistent in showing that engaging with climate officially, wisely, helps the economy, it helps employment as well as the environment,” he said. Watch the video for more insights from Broecker, Alley and other scientists.
Photo at top: Fossil fuel emissions of carbon dioxide hold heat in the atmosphere, the thermostat of climate change and of the extreme weather, floods, drought and human displacement that are accelerating with it.
Editor’s note: This interview with the late Wally Broecker was conducted at the 2018 Comer Climate Conference just a few months before he died.