Dr. David Keith Discusses Climate Change and Geoengineering in Chapel Speech

Anticipation was high in the days leading up to Dr. David Keith’s Chapel speech. Dr. Keith, one of the most distinguished and respected scientists and professors, specializes in the controversial area of climate engineering, the intentional manipulation of the Earth’s climate to combat global warming. He has given a TED talk, appeared on The Colbert Report, and was named to Time Magazine’s Heroes of the Environment List in 2009. He was brought to the school in large part by sophomore William McCormack. On April 5th, students and teachers took a break from their school day and watched Dr. Keith command the audience for his full 40 minutes. He started out by discussing the dangers of climate change, explaining that human infrastructure and natural ecosystems may not be able to adapt if something is not done. He then began to make a case for geoengineering. Stressing the uncertainty about what the future will hold and the amount of time it will take for renewable energy to counteract carbon’s effects, Dr. Keith asserted that we will need to do something more drastic than just phasing out fossil fuels if the planet is to survive. All this led into an explanation of the main types of geoengineering, such as the hotly contested idea of solar radiation management, which would involve putting reflective particles, possibly sulfuric acid, into the upper atmosphere to block out the sun and cool down the planet. The plan has met some skepticism from people who worry about the unintended consequences of deliberately putting pollution, as Dr. Keith called it, into the atmosphere, but it is an inexpensive and possibly effective strategy. The lecture left no doubt that climate change is an urgent and serious threat, and that it is up to our generation to address it, whether it is through renewable energy and reduced waste, or, as he suggested, through geoengineering.


Tags: , , , ,

Story Page