In the 19th installment of KO's Stroud Science Symposium, Dr. Robert Thorson, a professor of geology at the University of Connecticut, addressed the students at an assembly this past Friday on climate change.
Thorson allayed the students' fears but acknowledged the apocalyptic strain about global warming that the media promotes on the news. He said, "Don't become absorbed in the media stories about the climate. Yes. It is a very serious global problem, but it's not an existential threat. I am not a denier. The more you know about the science of climate change, the more you will understand and respond reasonably when you an encounter a media that sensationalizes it."
Thorson described the changes in the planet Earth from its beginnings as a molten mass to its catastrophic ice age and the various vicissitudes in scientific thinking, including the 1970's idea that the planet was heading towards an ice age. He demonstrated three curves used to understand the impact of climate change. Using historical evidence well beyond observed temperatures, the hockey stick curve shows temperatures from 1000 a.d. to the 1970s which shows that we are increasingly warmer than anything in the past one thousand years. The Vostok Core measure 420,000 years of the ice core in Antarctica which is showing an increase in C02 in the ice. Lastly, Thorson showed the Keeling Curve, established in 1958, whose measurements showed the first significant evidence of rapidly increasing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.
Thorson compared the Earth's climate to a Rube Goldberg contraption where seemingly unrelated things have an impact on one another. For instance, he said that burning gas in a car increases the amount of carbon dioxide in the air which causes greenhouse warming. That, in turn, melts glaciers which cause sea levels to rise and may cause people to relocate and become refugees.
Thorson took the science of climate change down to a local level and framed the warming impact in our New England climate. He said that snowmelt is now occurring ten days earlier than it had in the mid-19th century and by 2099 New England will be close to a frost free climate.
In conclusion, Thorson exhorted the students to be informed, do the right thing, be strategic and be adaptable in the face of climate change
Located in West Hartford, CT just steps from Blue Back Square, Kingswood Oxford is a private school inspiring co-ed day students in grades 6-12 with a college preparatory curriculum. Empowered students become clear confident communicators, resourceful problem-solvers, and ethical leaders. KO: where unlimited potential meets endless opportunities.