Hot future, cold war

Hot future, cold war

Climate science and climate understanding

March 1st 13.00–17.00, in Háskólatorg (room HT-105), University of Iceland.

Guðni Elísson: “Earth2015”
Gavin Schmidt: “Simulating the emergent patterns of climate change”
Erick Fernandes: “Turn Down the Heat – Why a 4oC Warmer World Must be Avoided”
Kevin Anderson: “Delivering on 2°C: evolution or revolution?
Erik M. Conway: “Merchants of Doubt: How Climate Science Became a Victim of the Cold War”

Moderator: Halldór Björnsson


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Gavin Schmidt is an expert in climate modeling who began his career at NASA GISS in 1996, and is now Director. His primary area of research is the development and evaluation of computer simulations of the Earth’s climate, and is particularly interested in how they can be used to inform decision-making. Schmidt received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Oxford University in 1988 and a doctorate inapplied mathematics from University College London in 1994. In addition to more than 100 published, peer-reviewed articles, he is the co-author of Climate Change: Picturing the Science (W.W. Norton, 2009), a collaboration between climate scientists and photographers. In 2011, he was awarded the inaugural American Geophysical Union Climate Communications Prize.

Erick Fernandes is an Adviser on Agriculture, Forestry & Climate Change at the World Bank and Co-Led the Bank’s Global Expert Team for Adaptation to Climate Change (GET-CCA). Erick is from a Kenya and grew up in the arid lands of northern Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia. He holds a BSc (Hons.) in Forestry from the University of Aberdeen (Scotland) and a PhD in Soil Science from North Carolina State University (USA). Prior to joining the Bank he
was an International Professor of Crop and Soil Sciences at Cornell University (USA) with research and teaching programs on tropical agroecosystems, hydrosheds, and natural resources. He also served as the Global Coordinator of the GEF-UNDP-CGIAR program on Alternatives to Slash and Burn Agriculture (ASB) and was a Principle Investigator in the NASA-sponsored, Large Scale Biosphere-Atmosphere (LBA-Eco) program. He has over 35 years of agriculture, forestry, and climate change experience in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East and North Africa.

Kevin Anderson is Professor of Energy and Climate Change in the School of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering at the University of Manchester. He is Deputy Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research and is research active with recent publications in Royal Society journals and Nature. He engages widely across all tiers of government; from reporting on aviation-related emissions to the EU Parliament, advising the Prime Minister’s office on Carbon Trading and having contributed to the development of the UK’s Climate Change Act. With his colleague Alice Bows-Larkin, Kevin’s work on carbon budgets has been pivotal in revealing the widening gulf between political rhetoric on climate change and the reality of rapidly escalating emissions. His work makes clear that there is now little chance of maintaining the rise in global temperature at below 2°C, despite repeated high-level statements to the contrary. Moreover, Kevin’s research demonstrates how avoiding even a 4°C rise demands a radical reframing of both the climate change agenda and the economic characterisation of contemporary society. Kevin has a decade’s industrial experience, principally in the petrochemical industry. He is a commissioner on the Welsh Government’s climate change commission and is a director of Greenstone Carbon Management.

Erik Conway is a historian of science and technology residing in Pasadena, CA, currently employed by the California Institute of Technology. He studies and documents the history of space exploration, and examines the intersections of space science, Earth science, and technological change. Conway has co-authored two books with Naomi Oreskes on climate change, the Merchants of Doubt (2010), concerning the deliberate misrepresentation of climate change by a few high-level scientists, and The Collapse of ‘Western’ Civilization (2014), a science-based work of fiction that gives a critique of our present time from a future perspective.

Guðni Elísson is a Professor in the department of Comparative Literature in the Faculty of Icelandic and Comparative Cultural Studies at the University of Iceland. He has written extensively on the climate change discourse in Icelandic media.

Halldór Björnsson is Head of the Atmospheric Research Group at the Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO).