Climate Feedback

The Two-Degree Target

As promised, Nature’s film on climate change went online last week on October 1. You can view the film in full on (it lasts about twenty minutes in total). It will also be on YouTube next week, at which stage I’ll embed it here.

The film was shot this July on location in Lindau at the 59th meeting of Nobel Laureates, and follows three young researchers – Brian Krohn, Faroha Liquat and Brandi Kiel Reese – on a journey to discover how their work on various aspects of chemistry can help solve the climate change problem.

Brian Krohn is interested in how algae can be used as a source for biofuels. He was based at the company SarTec Inc. in Minnesota at the time of filming, where he was converting oil extracted from algae to biodiesel using a novel process that is more economical and more environmentally friendly than traditional methods. Now Brian is at the University of Oxford studying for a degree in Environmental Change and Management, for which he received a Rhodes scholarship. He’s going to use this opportunity to look at how governmental policies can best stimulate alternative energy research.

Faroha Liquat, a PhD researcher based at Quaid-i-Azam University in Pakistan, is interested in devising novel ways to harness the power of the sun for the benefit of mankind. She’s especially interested in developing cost-effective photovoltaic cells. During the film, she has a very valuable interaction with the IPCC’s Rajendra Pachauri on whether developing countries can prosper and be part of the climate change solution. She’s currently visiting Pachauri’s institute, TERI, in Delhi.

Brandi Kiel Reese is also doing a PhD and is based at Texas A&M. Having previously worked as an environmental consultant, Brandi is now looking at how humans are impacting the Gulf of Mexico, a region that has become increasingly devoid of oxygen due to the massive influx of nitrogen fertilizers and due to warming.

During their week at Lindau, our young researchers hear about the changes already underway from climate experts, they challenge (and in some cases agree with) the views of political scientist Bjørn Lomborg, and they learn about the social responsibilities of scientists from the Nobel Laureates who first discovered the danger of CFCs.

Through these interactions, they explore the challenge of keeping global temperatures to within the 2 °C target. Their take: we have the brains and the tools to solve this problem, we just need the political willpower. Despite the expert nature of many of our interview subjects, the film provides a great overview of the climate change problem for anyone in need of an update in the run-up to Copenhagen.

What are the chances of staying within 2 °C? Let us know what you think.

Olive Heffernan


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    David B. Benson said:

    Even 2 K will be quite, quite bad.

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    Frank Smith said:

    Imagining we can control the climate is a fantasy that seems to be part of the Climate Munchausen Syndrome whereby disturbed people see climate disorders in a planet which is just chugging along in much the same as it has done for thousands of years.

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