Events Rapid Climate Change in The Arctic: Why Everybody Should Care

Time: Thursday, June 6, 2019  16:00-17:30
Location: Reception Hall, Main Building, Tsinghua University
Speaker: John P. Holdren
Former Chief Science Advisor to President Obama
Professor of Environmental Science and Policy at Harvard University


Naturally-occurring greenhouse gases are essential to support earth life, however, excessive human production of greenhouse gases is changing the energy balance of and warming the Earth. Professor Holdren’s presentation focused on human-induced climate change in the Arctic, where the pace of temperature increase is 2-4 times faster than the global average. Through analysis of the impact of shrinking Arctic sea ice and thawing permafrost on accelerating temperature increase, Professor Holdren highlighted resultant effects on land subsidence, coastal settlements, survival challenges for polar animals and vulnerability to extreme weather events. What happens in the arctic doesn’t stay in the arctic, thus we should all care about its rapid rate of climate change.

Coal, oil and natural gas still supply about 80% of worldwide electricity generation and deep emissions cuts are needed worldwide to limit global warming. Professor Holdren discussed what is being done and what more needs to happen to slow the pace of climate change, including the potential introduction of a global carbon tax. This would promote the use of readily available low/no-emission technologies and encourage clean energy innovation to reduce the cost of wind and solar power, improve capture and sequestration of carbon dioxide for fossil and biomass power plants, make nuclear-energy safe and affordable, research and develop new alternative technologies. Professor Holdren described the potential for greater application of existing innovations, such as nuclear power and geoengineering.

By Alice Emily Osborne