Monday, June 02, 2008

Climate change conference in Canberra

ANU is hosting a conference on climate change "IMAGINING THE REAL LIFE ON A GREENHOUSE EARTH", 11 to 12 June 2008 in Canberra, featuring Prof Barry Brook, Prof Ian Enting, Dr Geoff Davies, Dr David Denham,, SenatorLyn Allison, Dr Carmen Lawrence, Senator Christine Milne, Phillip Toyne, Phillip Adams, Dr Paul Collins:

A conference organised by Manning Clark House in honour of Dr Barry Jones Manning Clark Lecture Theatre No. 3, Union Square Australian National University, Canberra

Wednesday 11 June and Thursday 12 June 2008

Featuring climate scientists: Prof Barry Brook, Prof Ian Enting, Prof Janette Lindesay, Prof Graeme Pearman, Dr Barrie Pittock, Prof Will Steffen; Earth and prehistory scientists: Dr Geoff Davies, Dr David Denham, Dr Andrew Glikson (conference convenor), Dr Simon Haberle, Prof Malcolm McCulloch, Dr Bradley Opdyke; political leaders: SenatorLyn Allison, Dr Carmen Lawrence, Senator Christine Milne; environmental lawyer: Phillip Toyne; health and population experts: Prof Stephen Boyden, Dr Bryan Furnass (conference co-convenor), Prof Tony McMichael, Dr Sue Wareham; humanists: Phillip Adams, Dr Paul Collins, Tony Kevin,Dierk von Behrens;
poet: Mark O’Connor.


The release of some 300 billion tons of carbon by Homo sapiens since the start of the industrial revolution has made its mark on the atmosphere, oceans and biosphere. In the mid-1980s a climate change threshold was crossed, and accelerations were observed in atmospheric greenhouse gas levels, mean global temperatures, sea and continental ice melt and sea level rise rates. Consequences included an increasingly frequent El Nino, migration of climate zones towards the poles, changes in precipitation and drought patterns, and higher storm and flood intensities. In 1987, the renowned oceanographer Wallace S. Broecker of Columbia University wrote: “The inhabitants of Earth are quietly conducting a gigantic experiment. So vast and sweeping will be the consequences that, were it brought before any reasonable council for approval, it would be firmly rejected. Yet it goes on with little interference from any jurisdiction or nation…. We play Russian roulette with climate, hoping that the future will hold no unpleasant surprises. No one knows what lies in the active chamber of the gun.” (Nature 328, 123-26, 1987) By 2006, when James Lovelock’s The Revenge of Gaia appeared, half a century after Rachel Carson’s ground-breaking classic The Silent Spring, evidence from major climate research bodies confirmed that the Earth’s atmosphere - the lungs of the biosphere- was in crisis. Further global warming is now inevitable. However, human scientific and technical prowess hold out hope that mitigation of the worst consequences of runaway climate change may still be possible. Can we act in time? Can the $trillions being spent on wars and armaments be diverted to save civilization? Will multinational corporations invest in true “futures”? This conference will explore the origins and consequences for life and civilization of the severe greenhouse conditions predicted for the next few centuries. Sessions A and B (on Wednesday) focus on the scientific prognosis for climate change and implications for biological habitats. Sessions C and D (on Thursday) explore challenges to human society of coping with life on a warming planet.

Endorsed by the ANU Fenner School of Environment and Society and
the ANU National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health.
Generously supported by the Australian National University.

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