On the eve of Earth Day April 21, more than 80 guests attended a GreenTown Los Altos educational lecture, “Global Climate Change in the Decades Ahead: Fact vs. Fiction,” at the Los Altos main library.
Stanford University Earth Science Professor Robert Dunbar discussed the current and future states of global climate change, highlighting his presentation with animation and film clips.
Dunbar, director of the Earth Systems Program at Stanford, provided a scientific perspective based on his research in the Antarctic, the Pacific Ocean and the Americas. He showcased the ways scientists differentiate between manmade and natural climate-change effects using ice and sediment drilling and prehistoric research.
Addressing a series of commonly held climate-change misconceptions, Dunbar said a knowledge gap exists between scientific and public understanding. For example, many nonscientists assume that the most pressing problem is warming temperatures. Dunbar explained that, in fact, changes in rainfall, ocean acidity and sea-level rise are more serious threats due to increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Dunbar noted that globally, the first three months of 2010 registered this year as the second warmest winter on record, with 2005 the warmest. Rebutting those who point to this winter’s extensive snowfall on the East Coast, he said, “A cold winter does not end global warming!”
But there is hope, according to Dunbar, and the good news is that it is not too late to act. Studies show that efficiency measures account for two-thirds of the emission reductions required by the state over the next several years.
“Through personal action, each of us can impact global climate change,” Dunbar said. “Individual acts offer the greatest opportunity for positive change – for example, the car you drive, your home energy use and support of good policy.”
GreenTown Los Altos is a non-profit, grassroots organization that promotes sustainable practices.
For more information, visit www.greentownlosaltos.org.