Climate Change | David Suzuki Foundation

We can’t keep going on the way we’ve been going, losing control of earth atmos­phere,” Chairman and Pro­fessor of Physics Kenneth Hayes said. “If you love life and care for those who come after you, you have a moral oblig­ation to do what you can to make things right.” 

On Nov. 27 at 7 p.m., the Con­ser­vation Club and American Enter­prise Institute Exec­utive Council spon­sored an event that had pro­fessors from three depart­ments discuss the issue of Climate Change and pos­sible solutions. 

“Given that the sta­tis­tical evi­dence for climate change is increas­ingly unde­niable, the question has now shifted from whether the climate is changing at an alarming rate to what mea­sures must be taken to pre­serve the envi­ronment,” Hayes said, reading from an email from Hillsdale AEI Chairman Josiah Johnson. “With that in mind, what can be done from a sci­en­tific stand­point to address this issue?”

Through a detailed pow­er­point pre­sen­tation pro­viding various graphs assembled by other sci­en­tists and Hayes, he explained how CO₂ was the leading factor in causing climate change. 

He empha­sized the slope of a graph from a Science Mag­azine article titled “Observed Arctic sea-ice loss directly follows anthro­pogenic CO₂ emission” that mea­sured the average sea-ice area for the past 30 years. The slope indi­cated a neg­ative trend with a slope of four square feet of ice lost per tank of gas (15 gallons). While there are tons of ice still afloat in the Arctic Sea, the levels are on the decline at an alarming rate. 

“There’s a lot of numbers being thrown at you, and if this is the first time seeing this, I’m not expecting you to master it,” Hayes said. “But this number is worth remembering.”

“The problem is not engi­neering or sci­en­tific, but getting people to make dif­ferent choices,” Hayes concluded. 

Assistant Pro­fessor of Pol­itics Adam Car­rington, the second speaker, empha­sized the need for climate change to be addressed at the voting booth and through the leg­islative branch. 

“The trouble is when the rubber hits the road,” Car­rington said. “There is a dif­ference between saying so and actually stepping up to make a difference.” 

Director of the eco­nomics program and Pro­fessor of Eco­nomics Gary Wolfram was the last to speak and expressed the most skep­ticism towards climate change. 

“It’s a sig­nif­icant problem because we don’t really know what’s going on,” Wolfram said. “It could be caused by CO₂ emis­sions or solar energy changes.” 

He explained that the U.S. has reduced natural gas emis­sions more than any other country, seeking alter­na­tives such as nuclear power and hor­i­zontal fracking. 

“Which country has the largest CO₂ emis­sions? China pro­duces 28% of the world’s emis­sions, fol­lowed closely by India,” Wolfram said. “The two coun­tries increased emis­sions more than US reduced last year. If you don’t get China and India on board, you’re not going to make any progress.”

Wolfram cited the XPRIZE Foun­dation, which pledges a 20 million dollar prize to a group  that could design a way to remove carbon dioxide from the atmos­phere and then do some­thing pro­ductive with it. 

“They will probably end up making a com­bi­nation of solar power and taking carbon out of the atmos­phere to solve climate change,” Wolfram said. 

Stu­dents overall found Hayes’ argu­ments to be compelling. 

“Since high school, I’ve been a believer in climate change, and my under­standing has been increased,” freshman Francis Luc­chetti said.