The Past, the Future. How Fast, How Far?

The Past, the Future. How Fast, How Far?

– Threats Facing the Climate System

May 27th 13.00–17.00, in Háskólatorg (room HT-105), University of Iceland.

Guðni Elísson: “Earth2016”
Michael E. Mann: “Dire Predictions: Understanding Climate Change”
Stefan Rahmstorf: “Rising Seas: How Fast, How Far?”
Stefan Rahmstorf: “Is the Gulf Stream System Slowing?”
Michael E. Mann:“The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: The Battle Continues”
Michael E. Mann: “The Madhouse Effect: How Climate Change Denial is Threatening our Planet, Destroying our Politics, and Driving us Crazy”
Stefan Rahmstorf: “Extreme Weather: What Role Does Global Warming Play?”

Click to enlarge.

Guðni Elísson: “Earth2016”

Michael E. Mann: Dire Predictions: Understanding Climate Change”

This lecture will begin with a review of the now-solid evidence for a human influence on the climate of recent decades.  Such evidence includes instrumental measurements available for the past two centuries, paleoclimate observations spanning more than a millennium, and comparisons of the predictions from computer models with observed patterns of climate change.  The lecture will then address future likely impacts of human-induced climate change including possible influences on sea level rise, severe weather, and water supply.  The lecture will conclude with a discussion of solutions to the climate change problem.

Stefan Rahmstorf: Rising Seas: How Fast, How Far?”

Sea-level rise is one of the inevitable results of global warming, as warmer ocean waters expand and land ice is melting and adding water to the oceans. Observations show that the seas are indeed rising, and that the rise in the 20th Century is unique in the context of the previous millennia. However, more difficult to answer is the question of how fast and how far sea level will rise in the future. The billion-dollar-question is: How stable are the ice sheets on Greenland and Antarctica?

Stefan Rahmstorf: Is the Gulf Stream System Slowing?”

A slowdown or even collapse of the Gulf Stream System as a result of global warming has long been a concern of climate scientists and has fuelled the imagination of Hollywood. Regular direct observations of this giant ocean current system do not go back far enough to tell whether there is any long-term trend. However, in recent years indirect evidence is mounting for a remarkable slowdown over the 20th Century.

15 minutes break

Michael E. Mann: The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: The Battle Continues”

A central figure in the controversy over human-caused climate change has been “The Hockey Stick,” a simple, easy-to-understand graph my colleagues and I constructed to depict changes in Earth’s temperature back to 1000 AD. The graph was featured in the high-profile “Summary for Policy Makers” of the 2001 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and it quickly became an icon in the debate over human-caused (“anthropogenic”) climate change. I tell the ongoing story behind the Hockey Stick, using it as a vehicle for exploring broader issues regarding the role of skepticism in science, the uneasy relationship between science and politics, and the dangers that arise when special economic interests and those who do their bidding attempt to skew the discourse over policy-relevant areas of science. In short, I attempt to use the Hockey Stick to cut through the fog of disinformation that has been generated by the campaign to deny the reality of climate change. It is my intent, in so doing, to reveal the very real threat to our future that lies behind it.

Michael E. Mann: The Madhouse Effect: How Climate Change Denial is Threatening our Planet, Destroying our Politics, and Driving us Crazy”

I offer a somewhat lighthearted take on a very serious issue—the threat of human-caused climate change and what to do about it, based on my collaboration with Washington Post editorial cartoonist Tom Toles. We target the ongoing campaign to deny that threat through satire and where appropriate, ridicule, built around Tom Toles’ famously insightful, edgy, and provocative climate-themed cartoons in the Washington Post. Using Tom’s cartoons (existing ones and some new ones exclusive to the book) as a template, we review the scientific evidence of climate change, the reasons we should care, and the often absurd efforts by special interests and partisan political figures to confuse the public, attack the science and scientists, and deny that a problem even exists. Despite the monumental nature of the challenge this poses to human civilization, we find a way to end on an upbeat and cautiously optimistic note.

Stefan Rahmstorf: Extreme Weather: What Role Does Global Warming Play?”

Humans have had to cope with extreme weather events throughout their history. However, the data show that the number of certain types of extreme events is on the rise in recent decades. For some types of extremes, such as heat waves, droughts and extreme rainfall events, this is an expected outcome of global warming. Other consequences have surprised climate researchers, such as changes in the jet stream and planetary waves in the atmosphere that have been linked to some unprecedented recent extreme events.