Laureate urges change

The Department of Physics at UH held a global warming colloquium to open the eyes of students to the reality of climate changes on Tuesday.

Kevin Trenberth, co-recipient with former Vice President Al Gore of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for works providing substantial evidence of global warming, was the featured speaker. Trenberth presented an extensive slideshow to a full auditorium about the state of global warming and the effects of greenhouse gases on climate, at the Science and Engineering Research Classroom Complex, Room 102.

Trenberth was also a lead author on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report for 2001 and 2007.

"The polar bear is calling out for help," Trenberth said. "(He) is the poster child for global warming."

Trenberth cited a balloon that went around the world in 10 days as to how pollution and gases move across the planet.

"If we dump stuff into the atmosphere it gets shared very quickly around the world," Trenberth said. "Everyone, everyone here, dumps stuff into the atmosphere."

Waste comes from different sources including cars and coal-burning factories but Trenberth said students can help by riding bikes, driving less and riding the bus. Trenberth suggested students seek environmental organizations to educate themselves and to help educate others.

"There are a number of environmental groups that would love to have students involved," Trenberth said.

Unfortunately for the environment, many students are unaware, or simply do not care about the effects of global warming on the climate, Trenberth said.

During Trenberth’s presentation many students left early, ducking out of the auditorium’s doors.

"Like Trenberth said, ‘You need social pressures to do these things,’" physics professor Michael Gorman said.

Gorman also said students cared more about commuting when the cost of gas was high. He said the appearance of more distance education courses would be the immediate change made if gas costs rise again.

The call for social pressure made by Trenberth and Gorman is part of a hope to foster social stigma against energy wasters. Trenberth said he hopes to make the youth aware of their future climate.

"It is complex," Trenberth said. "That’s what I was trying to do (at UH) was to bring it all together and say how all these different things are actually connected."

He presented a model of the world experiencing the effects of global warming without change from what the world is doing now, and the audience watched as the map turned from blues and greens to harsh reds and yellows.

Trenberth urged students and professors alike to learn their carbon footprint to help them become aware of how much waste they are actually making.

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