Most of the effects of global warming are negative for humans, he says. Some high-latitude economies will do better. But, it could dry up the grain-belt, kill off a whole bunch of species, raise sea-level and spread tropical diseases. It's hard to make it better but easy to make it worse.
He hypothesizes that the climate moves by staggering up and down. He shows a chart that shows that in the Ice Age, the temperature staggered but the CO2 level changed rather smoothly. Possible conclusion: Now that CO2 is rising again, we should perhaps expect big swings in temperature.
He shows satellite photos of the ice sheets in Antarctica. They're melting. These are just small ones. But it's possible the large ones will melt. Goodbye Florida.
We can do things about this. We can put CO2 into the ground, we can conserve, we can use solar. It might take 1% of the world's economy ($250B/year) to clean this up. Someone could make a ton of money doing this, he says. [from David Weinberger]
Richard Alley is a Professor of Geosciences at Pennsylvania State University in State College, Pennsylvania. He earned Bachelor's (1980) and Master's (1983) degrees in Geology from Ohio State University, and earned his Ph.D. in Geology from the University of Wisconsin, Madison (1987). Richard 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 ice core drilling projects in Antarctica and Greenland and has won many awards for teaching and research.
This presentation is one of many from the IT Conversations archives of Pop!Tech 2004 held in Camden, Maine, October 21-23, 2004.
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