Climate Change

NASA says the last remaining section of a huge Antarctic ice shelf will be gone by 2020 -- faster than scientists initially expected. The shelf is known as Larsen B, and it's existed for 10,000 years. We'll take a look at the data and talk about how this event fits into the broader context of climate change with our panel:

James Hansen in our guest, and he's considered one of the most significant voices in the call for action on climate change. In fact, Hansen's testimony before a U.S. Senate committee in 1988 is considered to be a turning point, an event that pushed the public to viewing climate change as an immediate threat. He was the Director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and is highly regarded for his research. Hansen is in Rochester for several events; he'll speak at the Little Theatre on Monday night, and then he'll address a SRO crowd Tuesday night as part of an event put on by the local chapter of the Sierra Club. 

In 1950, physicist Enrico Fermi famously asked, "Where is everybody?" He was talking about the nearly infinite sea of stars, but the lack of any evidence of other intelligence. Perhaps we can't see nearly far enough to find other civilizations. Or perhaps climate change is a phenomenon that happens on every planet that sees technological development.

University of Rochester astrophysicist Adam Frank posed that idea in a recent New York Times piece. He joins us to go down the rabbit hole: How likely is it that intelligent life exists elsewhere? Should we try to find it? What if it finds us? And what if climate change could threaten our future? 

What are the implications of political leaders banning the terms "climate change" and "global warming?" Multiple reports out of Florida indicate that Governor Rick Scott has instructed state workers to stop using the terms in official state business. So what happens when leaders go beyond disbelief; what happens when they try to ban the terms when it comes to planning, business, the environment, etc? 

We ask our guests:

During this science rountable we talk about climate change, global warming, and how nitrous oxide plays a role in the planet's warming.

Is there a proven relationship between climate change and severe weather? Climate scientist Adam Sobel's new book explores this question. It's called Storm Surge: Hurricane Sandy, Our Changing Climate, and the Extreme Weather of the Past and Future. It's a timely conversation, considering that California could get six inches of rain in a day, the worst weather in six years for the state. And it follows a prolonged drought, all while New York state has dealt with a wet year (on the heels of an extreme winter last year). He'll answer questions about what science tells us, what to expect, and he'll answer listener questions.

What do the election results mean for those who had hoped for more aggressive public policy relating to climate change? To say the least, advocates are disappointed. What's next? We discuss with our panel:

Coming up on September 21, the People's Climate March takes place in New York City. The organizers describe the event as the largest single event on climate ever organized. The march is designed to get the attention of world leaders about the issue. Our guests today will tell us about the march and discuss the issue of climate change:

  • Susan Spencer, Ph.D. candidate at RIT
  • Susan Smith
  • Dr. Abigail McHugh-Grifa

Susan Spencer is finishing her Ph.D. at RIT, and some day soon, she could be part of a team that brings a scalable solar energy plan to Rochester. Last month, she was one of 500 people from around the world chosen to attend Al Gore's foundation retreat in Melbourne, Australia. The five-day event was focused on two things: 1) the true cost of carbon, and 2) how to better communicate climate change. It culminated with an eight-hour lecture from Al Gore himself. In this hour, she tells us what she learned, and how solar might be the energy source everyone has been looking for.


For the first part of the hour, we talk about climate change with Dale Jamison, professor at NYU and author of Reason in a Dark Time.

Then, a discussion on how to bring creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship together with Diane Burton, associate professor of sociology at Cornell University.