Why not approach a solution to climate change by breaking the issues of global warming into smaller, more manageable pieces? Barbara Levi, co-editor of the book “Global Warming: Physics and Facts” introduced the causes, concerns and possible solutions to climate change in a speech at Cal Poly Tuesday night.
“It was an excellent talk,” physics professor Randy Knight said. “I thought it was a really clear presentation of the ideas, it certainly generated a lot of questions and discussion afterwards.”
Levi, a member of the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science and senior editor at Physics Today, went into great detail of the natural causes of global warming including solar cycles, ocean atmospheric circulations and orbital variations of the earth as it travels around the sun.
“A lot of people hear the term global warming and climate change (and) they really don’t know what it means,” Knight said. “She gave, in layman’s terms, a really nice presentation of what’s really happening.”
The key point in Levi’s proposed plan to help combat global warming was her idea of “wedges.” These wedges will be divided into the total expected increase in carbon emission over the next few decades and where the emissions are expected to come from. She detailed steps to become more efficient in each “wedge.”
“I really liked the aspect about carbon wedges,” environmental engineering senior Blayne Morgan said. “That’s an interesting approach of breaking down the task ahead into different categories.”
Levi explained how climate feedbacks including water vapor, snow ice and clouds are important ways for scientists to evaluate climate change.
She pointed out the discrepancies between those who believe and those who question the sincerity of climate change. A common argument questioning global warming looks to 1998,the hottest year on record, and the trend that temperatures have been declining ever since.
Levi rebutted this criticism and claimed that the years following weren’t as hot but still had some of the hottest temperatures ever on record. She held that, while global warming is a serious threat, 1998 was somewhat of a climate anomaly.
Levi spoke of the importance of collective human action, as well as individual steps required to reduce humanity’s carbon footprint.
“I’m actually a big fan of efficiency,” Levi said. “Because I think we can make some big gains from it.”
Some students were impressed with Levi’s concise and understandable answers.
“I (liked) the solutions to the problems she addressed,” animal sciences junior Alison Van Der Kar said. “How each and every one of us can be our own solution to greenhouse effects.”