Saturday, April 12, 2008

Energy and Climate Forum at Princeton University

An interesting series of lectures from the University Channel Podcast that has just been uploaded; audio and video here.

Pt 1 - Welcome and Introduction. (length 48:09)

  • H. Vincent Poor, Dean, School of Engineering and Applied Science, and Michael Henry Strater University Professor of Electrical Engineering, Princeton University
  • Charles M. Vest, President, National Academy of Engineering, and President Emeritus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Robert Socolow, Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Princeton University: Living in a Greenhouse with the Help of Stabilization Wedges

Pt 2 - Interconnections between Air Pollution, Climate Change and Health (length 34:55)

  • Denise Mauzerall, Associate Professor of Public and International Affairs, Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University

Pt 3 - Carboholics: The Power Industry and Global Warming (length 49:43)

  • David Crane, CEO, NRG Energy

Pt 4 - Sustaining African Landscapes: Fostering Conservation and Development through Science and Engineering (length 39:16)

  • Daniel Rubenstein, Professor and Chair, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University

Pt 5 - How much technology do we need to solve the climate problem? (length 43:42)

  • Stephen Pacala, Fredrick Petrie Professor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Director, Princeton Environmental Institute, Princeton University

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At 10:05 PM, Blogger Calvin Jones said...

Robert Socolow
Living in a Greenhouse with the Help of Stabilization Wedges

In 2004 Steve Pacala and I introduced the “stabilization wedge” as a useful unit for discussing climate stabilization. A wedge is the reduction of global CO2 emissions by one billion tons of carbon per year in 2057. Any campaign or strategy designed to mitigate carbon emissions can be measured in wedges. Implementing eight wedges should enable the world to achieve the interim goal of emitting no more CO2 globally in 2057 than today, and in the following 50 years driving CO2 emissions to net zero emissions would place humanity, approximately, on a path to stabilizing the climate at a concentration less than double the pre-industrial concentration. Eight wedges may be available from an aggressive, globally coordinated scale-up of a mix of already commercialized or nearly commercialized technologies. Carbon numeracy needs to become part of general education. Increasing the competitiveness of carbon mitigation technology and accelerating its delivery worldwide are challenges that need the attention of the most talented researchers.

Denise Mauzerall
Interconnections between Air Pollution, Climate Change and Health

Air pollution levels are highly sensitive to weather, and it follows that climate change will likely have air quality implications. In turn, air pollutants are recognized to be major climate forcing agents and are well known to have detrimental effects on human health, agriculture and ecosystems. Policies to mitigate climate change could have important implications for air quality and vice versa. It is becoming increasingly important to view air quality from a global perspective and to integrate air quality and climate stabilization goals in the design of environmental policy. This talk will provide an overview and analysis of the interconnections between air pollution, climate change and their impacts on human health and will discuss opportunities for jointly addressing them.

David Crane
Carboholics: The Power Industry and Global Warming

As the 10th largest electricity generator in America, NRG has a strong interest in climate change. In his address, Crane will discuss the electric power sector’s view on climate change, our role in it and how we, as an industry and as a corporation, should respond to threats to our climate. It is NRG’s view that the power sector needs to acknowledge its role in climate change, demonstrate leadership in slowing, stopping and reversing greenhouse gas emissions and then lead the way toward helping other sectors address their problems. Crane will talk about technological, market and political solutions to the problem and how we in America need to lead on the issue if we are ever to solve this problem globally.

Daniel Rubenstein
Sustaining African Landscapes: Fostering Conservation and Development through Science and Engineering

More then 70% or Kenya’s wildlife lives outside protected areas. The challenge facing conservation biologists is determining if wildlife populations can be sustained on these landscapes while the welfare of humans also inhabiting them can be improved. Otherwise, Kenya’s wildlife will be restricted to game reserves and national parks where barriers to movement and climate induced changes in habitat distribution threaten survival even in these refuges. Studies on the ecology and behavior of two zebra speices—the endangered Gravy’s zebra and the more abundant Plains zebra—sharing the semiarid grasslands of north-central Kenya with pastoral herders and their livestock illustrate the problems facing ‘charismatic megafauna’ in general. They also provide important insights into how basic research, when focused on problems of animal survival and reproduction as well as range use and ecohydrology, can point the way to reducing tension between people and wildlife. Today’s talk will examine how science and engineering can help empower people to sow the seeds for sustaining landscapes where multiple landuse will be the way of life long into the future.

Stephen Pacala
How much technology do we need to solve the climate problem?

The amount of new technology required to solve the climate problem obviously depends on how much carbon-free energy we need. This talk focuses on the scientific and economic uncertainties surrounding the required emissions cuts. I first review the relationship between expected damages from climate change and the atmospheric concentration of CO2. Here, the primary uncertainties come form a large class of poorly understood possibilities, such as the rapid de-glaciation of Antarctica and Greenland. After looking at the risks, the next step is to set a target. The target behind most pending bills before Congress is to prevent the atmospheric CO2 concentration from rising above 450 ppm. Then, one must forecast both the time evolution of natural sinks for CO2 if the atmospheric target is met, and the emissions that would have occurred without any mitigation. The uncertainty at each of these steps is large enough to create a factor of two uncertainty in the amount of mitigation required, and the errors of all four steps compound one another. Even so, the time scale over which we are learning is too slow to substantially reduce these uncertainties before we must either act or allow significant and dangerous climate change.


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