Peter Ward: "Who is afraid of the big bad climate? What is the worst that global warming could do?"

Start Date/Time: Wednesday, January 27, 2010, 7:00 PM
Location: Kane Hall, Room 130, UW Campus

34th Annual Faculty Lecture
by Dr. Peter Ward

Department of Earth and Space Sciences and the Department of Biology

About This Lecture

In the last five years, global warming has morphed from two relatively powerless words into a potent term that causes enormous political and economic upheaval. The controversy and hyperbole about the accuracy and truthfulness of predictions, threats and "tipping points" regarding global warming have replaced the controversy about evolution as the major intellectual and religious battleground in America.

But just how serious are the actual threats from a warmed world? We can gain a great deal of insight from a little-visited point of view: the rock and fossil record. This record about ancient times, when the world warmed at rates and fashions comparable to what we see today, can tell us plenty about what lies ahead. The view is not reassuring. It tells us that global warming's threat to human life and to various national economies comes from both sea level rise and, ultimately, from mass extinction.

But critical points of the science, whether from the ancient record or current conditions, are still often lost on a public bombarded with contrarian opinions. The question is whether this has resulted in part from a culture that values science faculty more for research than for public scholarship or outreach.

The Annual Faculty Lecture

Since 1976, members of the UW faculty have chosen a faculty peer who has made a demonstrable impact on their profession to deliver the Annual Faculty Lecture. This is the highest honor the University of Washington faculty can bestow on one of their own. The 34th Annual Faculty Lecturer, Peter Ward, joins a distinguished roster of Nobel laureates, historians, artists, scientists and authors who have participated in this series.

Link to the Faculty Lecture Page for additional information: