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Megan Axelrod

The lecture points out that climate is always changing but that it is: how it changes, how much it changes, why it changes, how fast it changes that we should care about. Essentially when politicians speak out against climate “change” they are misunderstanding the basis of our climate, change is the norm not the exception. She points to things like ice cap size and coral chemistry as markers of changes in climate history. Professor Greer demonstrates how despite the fact the world is supposed to be in a period of cooling it is actually in a period of heating. On Thursday I would be interested in discussing how climatologists can use their measurements to suggest ways that the supply curve for green house gases can be shifted to the left.


This lecture was really interesting and actually very necessary as I have heard a lot about the natural cycle and that it might the reason of what we call "climate change"
Anyway I would be very much interested how the increase in carbon dioxide actually stops the moment within the oceans. At the end of the lecture the professor just points out that I might if it is high enough. I would like to know the direct causality.

caroline hutchinson

This lecture was very interesting to me and I found that it raised a couple of questions that I would like to discuss in Tuesday's class. First, I would like to learn what specific counter arguments politicians etc have against global warming and climate change. As Professor Greer mentioned, change is constant on our planet, how is this fact disputed at all? Second, I would like to consider this constant rate of change from an economic standpoint-- how has it affected economic practices and what are the cost benefit analysis associated with keeping the planet cooler, especially during a time where the earth is supposed to be growing colder anyway.

Charlotte Keesler

There were a few new and interesting points that were brought up in the lecture. The first, which was very simple but also powerful, was the difference between weather and climate. The fact that Fox News said that since there was a polar vortex, global warming is not real, is astounding, however not surprising. From my personal experience, I have also heard this argument used by intelligent people. The distinction between climate and weather in this situation is crucial and extremely enlightening. For Thursday's class, I would like to hear more arguments against global climate change, and how these are reaching the public. I find it interesting that there are facts being circulated that are not scientifically sound. I would also like to hear the points that counteract these fallacies, and maybe even experience a mock debate on the subject. It would be very interesting to see how such a conversation pans out using only scientific evidence and without the use of false information presented as truth.

Ram Raval

Personally, I feel as though Professor Greer's talk did an excellent job at explaining a complicated, controversial issue with intricate data in an objective, simple manner. As Megan already pointed out above, Greer quickly and thoroughly dismisses the common misconception that climate change should be ignored since climate changes regularly; instead, Greer conveys that while change is indeed the norm, the change has previously followed a pattern that can easily be explained by analysis of an interaction between insolation, ice, and carbon dioxide levels, and deviation from this pattern indicates an interruption in the natural cycle. In my opinion, the biggest strength of Greer's talk is that she provided several different means of evidence that supported every major assumption she made. For example, she used proxy measures of climate based on tree rings, sediment deposition, and ice cores as different sets of data that support the pattern of climate she presented. Finally, I think that Greer's talk was also strong in its use of shocking statistics, such as the fact that Earth should have reached peak warmth 6000 years ago and that Earth currently has an unprecedented concentration of 396 ppm of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The statistics Greer used truly did a remarkable job at raising a sense of urgency and concern within me, and I think this technique could, hopefully, be useful in inciting these same emotions in others. All in all, Greer's talk was an excellently simple, scientific, objective, and thorough introduction to the issue of climate change, and it undoubtedly spurred concern and interest within me in regards to the issue as well.

In regards to class discussion, I would like to discuss a point that Greer made towards the end of her talk that I was not expecting: Greer argues that "the world will not explode" due to climate change; therefore, our efforts to stop climate change are done with an anthropocentric mindset aimed at helping humanity survive. This was a point that I had never truly considered- I have always been concerned for the impact climate change has on humans by means such as sea level rise, but I had always envisioned a greater impact on the Earth as a whole as a main reason behind the movement to stop global climate change. For this reason, I believe it would be interesting to discuss the extent to which Earth itself would be harmed in response to continued greenhouse emissions and to analyze its recovery from different concentration levels of carbon, as Greer began to do with her models of ocean currents in reaction to greenhouse gas concentration. Additionally, it would be interesting to discuss the potential costs and benefits associated with focusing our perception of global climate change on a purely anthropocentric perspective, as this would raise concern but could simultaneously lead to environmental damage in the process of creating solutions for climate change. Finally, one thing I did not fully understand from the lecture was how patterns of sedimentation in the ocean can provide reliable climate data. While Professor Greer briefly attempts to explain it, I would be more comfortable if we explored the mechanics of the sampling technique a little further in class.

Nina Preston

As most of my peers have already pointed out, the notion that climate is in a constant state of change has influenced as well as inhibited global policy in regards to Climate Change. Professor Greer was able to look into the possibilities of the future states of Earth as carbon dioxide levels fluctuate, and lean increasingly towards uncharacteristically high levels of persistence in the atmosphere. Today in class we spoke on the cognitive response humans have to certain threats of climate change, we respond to outcomes that challenge our current way of life or the way of life belonging to the individuals we love. We know from the incredible data that Professor Greer presented that carbon dioxide has become lighter and a greater presence in the atmosphere, that the positive feedback loops of melting ice in the polar regions results in more UV-radiation trapped in the atmosphere, and that large amounts of cold water entering the ocean could disturb the Younger Dryas effect that warms all of Europe. However, beyond the long-term ecological consequences, I still feel that the immediate threats of global climate change must not be overlooked. There are humans today that are suffering from changing temperatures, higher sea levels, and operating in traditional ways of life that can no longer be upheld by their environment. Environmental refugees have been a political issue since the early 2000s. What I would like to talk about on Thursday is the political consequences and potential threat of war that may result from the effects of climate change experienced today.

Gabriella Kitch

While I took Professor Greer's Global Climate Change class as a freshman, this talk served as a great reminder to the complexities of the climate system with its drivers and amplifiers or feedback systems. I know that during the course, many of my personal misconceptions were shattered, and I believe this talk did the same for many people. This may be best exemplified by the fact that only six people in the crowd knew that according to the natural cycle, we are supposed to be nearing a ice box period. In contrast to what some of my peers have mentioned above, I do believe that Professor Greer did talk about some of the immediate threats of climate change, although maybe not as explicitly as some people might have liked. The Little Ice Age and the issues that the colder climate brought for food security, disease, and also political turmoil, were examples as to how climate change can effect social systems along with ecological ones. While Professor Greer did not delve into the issues we are currently facing (like Nina mentions above sea level rise, etc) I believe this is intentional to remove all politicized notions of climate change. Rather I believe that Professor Greer's talk is intended to give people the tools, or give them the curiosity to seek out the tools, to understand climate change, its history, and its importance in today's world. Professor Greer's talk and method of teaching is unique and invaluable in that regard; instead of simply pushing the outcomes of climate change models or the worst case senariors to get people's attention, Professor Greer presents all of the data that goes into the models, the importance of these data, and the trends and changes these data predict. Informing the general public of the hard science behind climate change is the first step in taking a stand to mitigate or adapt to it. On Thursday I would like to talk about better ways to educate people about climate change in a way they will listen to the science rather than the politics, especially in terms of educating public officials.

Rachana Ghimire

I have listened to Professor Greer’s talk last year as a freshman, and I have also taken her global climate change class, so this video was a refresher of what I’ve learned last year. I think Professor Greer does a wonderful job at separating fact from fiction. She specifically focuses on the science behind climate change. Looking at the data and interpreting it, one can clearly see that we have gone off the trend. There is a lot of myth circulating around the general public about climate change. I don’t really understand how it got to this point, and I don’t see what scientists have to “gain” from saying that global climate change exists, and that is happening as a result of human activity. I think talks like Professor Greer’s would be helpful to educate the general public and get rid of some of the myths that they may have heard. A lot of businesses and politicians have different agendas, and acknowledging that global climate exists would pose a threat to their plans. This further complicates a problem that is already complex. For Thursday’s class, I think it would be interesting to look at some of the myths that are circulating around, and discussing ways to dispel some of them. This would ensure that everyone is on board and at least acknowledging that global climate change exists. After this initial step, we can look at possible solutions to resolving the negative effects of climate change.

Sarah Michalik

Rachana makes an interesting point when she states that she doesn't understand how the public perception became so clouded with myths about a subject that should be firmly rooted in science. I believe this has much to do with human psychology, and the fact that people hate to admit that they're wrong. I believe there was initially an uncertainty surrounding global climate change, and in this time of uncertainty people formulated opinions for various personal reasons. Once people in the public spotlight shared their initial, uninformed opinions, they were then too embarrassed to retract them once the science proved them wrong, so instead they decided to try to discredit the science. It would be interesting to look at polls through different periods of history to see how opinions on global climate change have progressed and attempt to find a correlation with psychology studies on group behavior. I believe the catchphrase, "I'm not a scientist," that was brought up in class today is a result of politicians realizing that science is against them but refusing to fess up to the public that they are wrong.

Jeb Bland

The part of the talk that interested me most was that about climate feedback. We talked today in class about how the inertia of the CO2 emissions means that ppm in atmosphere will continue to grow even if we stop emitting altogether. In other words, rising CO2 emissions lead to climate change which leads to even more CO2 emissions. These self-reinforcing effects - in conjunction with the sun, other greenhouse gases, ect - are driving climate change. I just found this aspect of her talk especially interesting since it relates so well to what we were talking about in class today.

Caitlin Kaloostian

In all honesty, I took Professor Greer’s Climate Change course my freshman year in order to determine whether climate change exists or not. While in high school I heard both sides of the issue, but never studied the facts in their entirety until I came to W&L. During her class, I learned countless reasons as to why climate change is real and can be proven through scientific means. It was interesting seeing her lecture again and re-emphasized the knowledge I had gained last year. From my point of view, the summary of her climate change lecture is that there is a rise in global temperature due in part to natural occurrences, but more drastically from anthropogenic sources since natural sources (ie: weathering) cannot account for such dramatic changes in temperature. Also, although the oceans are adept at functioning as a carbon-sequestering unit, we are still pumping CO2 at phenomenal rates into the atmosphere and thus altering a natural system that should be transitioning into an icehouse. Professor Greer illustrates with a climate model that the Earth was cooling, but dramatically began to warm during the postindustrial era and has continued ever since. Although the temperature is not the highest it has ever been, there is cause to worry since it is a deviation from a natural system in which the responses are unknown. Being from Miami, Florida I worry most about the rise in sea level and the potential for an increase in the presence of mosquitos, which are already a serious issue during the summer.

Xiaoxiang Yang

Same as many other people, I really enjoyed Prof. Greer's talk because of the large amount of her evidence she used in order to back up her claim that the CO2 level has been rising rapidly since the postindustrial era and the global warming is becoming a more and more serious problem. She used lots of graphs to compare the trends of the CO2 level and global temperature. And she also drew information from her own research to illustrate how those geological evidence has been obtained. Near the end of the presentation, the stories about how temperature changes affect European's normal life and how CO2 level can affect the ocean currents behavior make me believe the large effects of these environmental changes on people's well-being. However, as we all know, the public opinion is still largely divided regarding the topic of global warming. People are still arguing about whether or not human's modern behaviors affect the CO2 level. Therefore, I would be very interested to see on Thursday the reasons that people on the other side of the debate have. Do they have a lot scientific evidence to show that human behaviors do not relate to the global warming? Or are their arguments mostly philosophical ones? I would like to see both sides of the debate in order to have a much better understanding of this issue.

Zebrina Maloy

What I am most interested in discussing is how big of a role politicians, journalists and the media have in swaying the public's opinion and their knowledge of climate change. This is truly a deadly combo of forces because of how big of a role politicians and the media have on their audiences' perspectives about anything having to do with global climate change. With a few simple words and some data to back it up, audiences can easily be convinced that climate change does not exist and that there is nothing to worry about. It's also astonishing how the mass public believes that there is dissensus amongst scientists about whether or not climate change exists. Professor Greer touches upon this point in her presentation and explains how the majority of scientists know that global climate change exists and is currently taking place. I feel like this is a topic that is worth discussing and educating the public about. People in our society cannot have an informed opinion or make informed decisions if they are being told lies about what is happening to our climate and the adverse effects that it is having elsewhere.

Matt Hedberg

I found the use of graphics especially helpful in this lecture. What I found most interesting was the chart explaining how politicians and scientists can say, “Oh wait, the temperature is actually falling” on a short-term basis. However, when you look at the longer-term model, it is obvious that the average temperature is actually rising quickly. It upsets me that people use instances such as these to lead other people less educated on the matter to think the wrong way. Another time I thought graphics helped explain a concept exceptionally well was in Greer’s explanation of the Greenhouse effect. I never knew that the effect came from short-wave energy, which can pass through our atmosphere easily, turning into long-wave energy, which gets trapped beneath the particles floating in our atmosphere.

One thing I’d like to talk about, although it’s a small point, is ice accumulation pushing down the lithosphere. I know such things are possible, but I was surprised to hear that the ice will push down the lithosphere so much that it will lead to a net loss of ice due to melting. Wouldn’t there be some sort of balance? The lithosphere can’t possibly fall faster than the ice melts, so I figured a balance between the height of the lithosphere and the weight of the ice would be permanently reached.

Michael DeMatteis

After taking a class with Professor Greer and listening to the talk, the frustrations surrounding climate change are ever present. What I always find most interesting about climate change is the fact that there are so many discrepancies that are manipulated to persuade or dissuade the population in one direction or another in relation to temperature risings, and CO2 levels. The frustrating part is that in order to understand climate change, one must look at data on a micro level as well as a much broader macro scope. I always enjoy Professor Greer's talks on climate change because i think she does an excellent job of presenting all the facts and allowing the listener to make the decision on their own. To go off of what Matt was saying, I really enjoy how she explains the Greenhouse effect. I think the majority of the population doesn't necessarily know what the Greenhouse effect actually is rather they just believe that it is some sort of terrible catastrophe that is going to ruin the earth. I believe that's what it was intended to do, so I really like how Professor Greer explains it rather than assuming people understand it.

One point I would love to discuss, is the difference between atmospheric CO2 and oceanic CO2 and how that affects global temperature levels. I believe that transforming the CO2 from the atmosphere into oceanic C02, is a viable solution into reducing the increase in greenhouse effect.

Jerry Qiu

Professor Greer's presentation presents a nice introduction to the climate system. I am not an environmental studies major so I find her simplified explanation of some complex issues especially informative. Based on what we talked about on Tuesday, I am interested in the politics of global warming. More specifically, why are there still debates in large media on the validity of global warming when there is a scientific consensus that human activities are warming the climate system? I remember last year reading an article about surveys showing Americans were leading the world in climate denial, there are even schools that have classes showing climate change is a scientific “controversy.” On Thursday I would like to talk about what role should the government and the media play in the politically clouded climate change issue.

Sara Cook

Having been exposed to many aspects of Professor Greer's lecture in an intro to geology class, I enjoyed her concise lecture on strictly environmental factors affecting climate change. Many politicians argue over the existence of global warming. The arguments for and against global warming are mute points, because, as Professor Greer pointed out, climate change is constant. Many environmental discussions focus on how to cut pollutants and save biodiversity and these are important issues; however, I think it would be really interesting to look at the effects of climate change on market models.

Tim Paulsen

I thought that Professor Greer did a good job of trying to be objective and not sensationalist in describing climate change. I also really appreciated her in depth discussion of the many factors which affect climate, including the acknowledgment that "climate doesn't always behave," and that sometimes drastic changes occur naturally, as in the case of the Younger Dryas Period. I would be interested to hear more about the possible effects of human CO2 production, since it is unprecedented in such a short span of time.

Philip Anderson

I found this talk very interesting. Specifically, I thought the highlight of the talk was when she asked the question "why care." As she says, it is not as if the earth will be destroyed because of climate change. There has been climate change throughout history, and earth itself will be fine. Instead, we are concerned about this problem because it's all about the sustainability of the human race. She noted examples of the problems that occurred during the "little ice age" of 1600. This little ice age caused major problems for the humans, and it was just climate change within the natural cycle. Imagine the problems in the future that we could face now that we are out of the natural cycle? It's hard to even imagine.

It would be interesting in class to talk about the economic consequences of glacial melting in both Greenland and Antarctica. The major problem with glacial melting are rising sea levels, which has detrimental effects for sea level communities. Some countries, such as Bangladesh, have already felt the effects of rising sea levels, as many coastal towns have had to migrate to the inland capital of Bangladesh, Dhaka. Many of these migrants are farmers that have very little skills necessary to be economically stable in an urban setting. It would be interesting to talk about the large scale economic impact of the potential destruction of sea level communities due to glacial melting.

Andy Roberts

Having taken this class as a sophomore, it was good hear Lisa's in-depth understanding of the complexities of our climate system. I believe she provides a good understanding of the interplay between the various drivers of our climate. It is important to have an appreciation for these processes as they are inherent to the feedback systems that occur on our planet. While I have had a good amount of instruction on geologic processes, the social science side of climate change is a different and interesting aspect of the issue. I will be interested in further discussing how economics will be incorporated into the changing of climate.

HeeJu Jang

Going back to Rachana's question regarding what causes the public misconception about climate change, I think many people fail to distinguish general trend and abnormal extremes. As Professor Greer mentioned during her lecture, climate has fluctuated in general; the planet Earth has experienced several periods of ice age and greenhouse. What I gathered from talking with critics of global climate change is that they tend to treat current situation as a phase of this regular trend. For this reason, I found it interesting that, as Greer pointed out, the Earth should be actually experiencing a cold phase right now. For class tomorrow, I want to talk about how we can possibly fix this prevalent public misconception. Would public education on climate change be effective? Or even, would it be possible to promote such education when Politics distorts any scientific evidence and discussion on climate?

Another reason I think people 'deny' the reality of global climate change is that they believe any attempt to cut carbon emission hinders economic growth. People do not necessarily see its economic benefits (or rather, cost of not reducing carbon emission). I am interested in discussing how could we encourage people to get a broader understanding of cost and benefit in carbon reduction.

Grant Przybyla

I watched Professor Greer’s lecture earlier in the year for my ENV-110 class with Professor Cowgill as well. Both times, I found it to be incredibly useful, and I very much appreciate Professor Greer’s ability to make a complicated issue easily understood, without sacrificing any key facts.
I would also like to voice my frustration with media outlets and how they continue to make it sound as if there is still a debate over whether or not climate change is occurring. The vast, vast majority of scientists recognize that anthropogenic climate change is occurring. I trust these scientists, and I am not sure why news sites attempt to keep the American populace uneducated about the matter.
Sadly, the only major media outlet I know of that has approached the matter well did so jokingly. As Professor Casey mentioned in class a few weeks ago, there is a skit on John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight where he pretends to host a debate on climate change that is actually “fair and balanced.” He brings in two scientists – one to argue each side of the “issue”. Then ninety-so more scientists walk into the room...

A quick Google search reveals that about 61% of Americans believe that “there is solid evidence that Earth’s average temperature has been getting warmer over the past few decades” (source: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/09/23/most-americans-believe-in-climate-change-but-give-it-low-priority/). I find it astonishing that this number is so low, and on Thursday I would be interested in having a conversation where we discuss various ways to raise this number.

Linda G.

Prof. Greer did a wonderful job explaining climate change for her audience--whether beginner or professional. I loved that she emphasized that "change is the norm." However, the amount, the rate of change is crucial to understanding that we are indeed in a cooling period. This part complemented our discussions on Tuesday particularly well. Its immensely surprising that still so many people reject the idea of global warming. I'd be interested in discussing more about how economics can persuade people from denying GCC.

Jack Koch

Greer’s climate talk highlights several important points, some of which I was somewhat familiar with and some that I had never heard before. One of the most important aspects of this discussion to understand is the difference between weather and climate. I have heard many people dispute climate change based on short-term periods of particularly cold weather. In order to understand the actual evidence of climate change, it is crucial to examine long-term climate trends through out the Earth’s history. Greer does an excellent job of putting climate changes into perspective with the geologic time graph.

When she zoomed in to show the last 400,000 years, she discussed the relationship between patterns of C02 changes and patterns of temperature changes. This reminded me of the question of whether temperature is a function of greenhouse gas emissions vice versa. Greer is careful to describe the relationship as a correlation rather than a causal relationship.

Greer also explained the burning of fossil fuels in a way I had never heard before when she discussed carbon movements in the Earth system. As Greer discusses, combustion of fossil fuels transfer carbon to the atmosphere from beneath the Earth’s surface at a rate that is much higher than the rate at a natural state. Describing and quantifying this process makes the impact of fossil fuel combustion much clearer.

Danielle Hurley

Professor Greer's talk is great. I'm very pleased that I go the chance to hear it as I have been unfortunately unable to fit her Climate Change course into my schedule.

What stuck out to me was her discussion regarding why we should care about the modern temperature increase when data indicates that it's occurred before. We should care b/c of this "we." We care b/c of us, us humans! Professor Greer showed a slide including various pictures of the Earth exploding or being depicted as a ticking time bomb. These pictures are very unlikely, she explained, for though there will be "losers" there will also be "winners." The Earth will be just fine without us, but it's us humans who won't be so fine if we don't take the data and the observations seriously. That's a great point. Me, I'm always thinking about climate change in terms of how its effecting our environment, sure humans are and will be effected but I don't tend to think of us as often b/c it seems as though so few consider the plants and the animals and the soils and the oceans. Still, there are those who don't consider climate change at all and are therefore not only ignoring the aforementioned, but humans as well. Though the Earth has experienced times of "extreme" cold and "extreme" warm via shifts over hundreds of thousands of years, humans weren't here then. We didn't and most likely will not be able to handle these shifts if we continue to contribute to the magnitude of the shift that could occur.

To paraphrase Professor Greer, the dinosaurs didn't get hit on the head by a meteor, the dinosaurs died b/c of climate change; I, for one, do not want humanity to have the same fate.

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