Sunday, February 19, 2012: 8:30 AM-11:30 AM
Room 214 (VCC West Building)Society is on a carbon dioxide emissions trajectory committing itself to dangerous climate change this century with potentially catastrophic effects. It has been argued that society can avert this dangerous climate change by stabilizing atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration at 350 ppm. Because of the climate system's memory, the time window is relatively narrow for society to find solutions that avoid dangerous and largely irreversible rises in temperature, sea level, and the incidence of extreme weather events. The symposium will explore the challenges society faces in finding solutions to the problem of getting to 350 ppm. These challenges are not only scientific and technological; they are also economic, political, and ethical. The panel will discuss the scientific basis for targeting 350 ppm as a goal and describe the uncertainties involved as well as provide evidence that makes this goal compelling. The session will examine the role of science and technology in getting to 350, emphasizing that society can only be successful in getting to 350 by century's end if it supplements aggressive emission reductions with carbon dioxide removal from the atmosphere and subsequent sequestration. Also explored will be the economic, political, and ethical challenges that must be overcome before society can effectively implement a climate and energy strategy that does not compromise the sustainability of the planet's natural and human systems.
Charles H. Greene, Cornell University