ASU Origins Project: Climate Change

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The Origins Project at Arizona State University has invited some of the top names in climate science to participate in a discussion on climate change Saturday, February 2nd at Gammage Auditorium. ASU Senior Sustainability Scientist Arjun Heimsath previews some of the issues to be addressed at the forum.

Ted Simons: ASU's origins project brings together multiple disciplines to explore key scientific issues. The project has invited some of the top names in climate science to participate, in a discussion on climate change. This Saturday at Gammage auditorium in Tempe. Here to talk about the event is ASU professor of earth sciences from the school of earth and space exploration, Arjun Heimsath. Good to have you here. Thanks for joining us.

Arjun Heimsath: great to be here.

Ted Simons: The debate on climate change, what is the debate and is there still a debate?

Arjun Heimsath: No, there's not a debate on climate change necessarily. It's the series is called the great debate. And the selling won't be a debate, it will be a moderated discussion among some of the world's top climate scientists on climate change, perhaps mitigating climate change, what we dock to prepare for climate change, what we can do to reduce carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, what we can do to change our fuel use potentially. So it's not -- This isn't about a debate, this is about a discussion on climate change the realities of climate change.

Ted Simons: Define climate change, and are we talking man made climate change?

Yes. That's a great question. I know you've talked about this in the past. The climate change that this session, both on Saturday, all of these participants are going to be in a workshop on Saturday. Dealing with both the science and some of the policy aspects of climate change. And it's focused on what we're currently thinking of an anthroPOGENiCALLY driven climate change. Because of increased carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere driven by humans, potentially. That's the climate change we can do something about. Because we can alter our behavior, we can alter our fossil fuel consumption and use. Climate change in general, the world has experienced climate change since its inception. But that's a different topic. This is human driven climate change, linked to fossil fuel consumption and what we can do about that. Because that we have control of.

Ted Simons: Talk about what's at stake.

Arjun Heimsath: What's at stake, what I like to think, or what I like to say is the largest issue at stake is uncertainty. Is risk. Humans don't like uncertainty. And the insurance companies don't like uncertainty, to take good example. But what's at stake typically predictions go from increased storm frequency, obviously the warming of the planet, but some areas of the planet are going to get much, much colder. Increased drought, very likely for our neck of the woods and for other places that are already hot and dry. Most of the greatest impacts of this accelerated climate change are going to hit the belt of already impoverished people around the Equatorial regions. Perhaps we're getting a taste of what increased storm frequency might -- And then what we have to face is think about the cost of dealing with it. Look at the cost associated with cleaning up after Hurricane Katrina. Is it $65 billion or something? That's one storm.

Ted Simons: The conference itself, though, panel discussion, how to expand talk into policy and these kinds of things, what is the goal here? What do you want to achieve with this?

Arjun Heimsath: I would say public awareness is probably one of the highest goals. Whether something is going to emerge from this workshop and this discussion that would be a significant step beyond what the scientists are doing already, I think the horizons project -- I'm sorry, the origins project.

Ted Simons: I like that horizons project.

Arjun Heimsath: I like the name horizon, it's a good name. The origins project and the series of great debate is about education and public awareness. And so being able to raise awareness to some of these key issues, both in the science around climate change, as well as potential steps we can do to help mitigate it, and adapt to it, and some of the policy and economic issues.

Ted Simons: OK. So we got a panel discussion, 7:00 at Gammage auditorium on Saturday. Correct?

Arjun Heimsath: Correct. I believe so.

Ted Simons: It sounds good. It's good to have you here to explain it. Good luck with the conference.

Arjun Heimsath: Thank you so much

Arjun Heimsath:Senior Sustainability Scientist, ASU;

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