The first lecture of the semester for CSUN’s “Speak Your Mind” series discussed climate change, including the impact of heat waves, water shortages and pollution on the world, on Oct. 25 in the Plaza Del Sol Performance Hall. Stanford professor and the 1992 recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship award Stephen H. Schneider spoke during the event, titled “Climate Crisis: Can California Cope?”
As an advisor to the White House staff for the past five U.S. presidents, Schneider told students to be aware of the ways their disciplines fit into local and global decision-making. Although California is the first state in the country to adopt environmental regulations, the speaker explained the importance of continuing to create solutions to help the emerging climate crisis on a national level.
“We have to do more than just sit back and think we’ll get lucky,” he said.
Throughout the slide presentation, Schneider showed several cartoon pictures humorously illustrating the side effects of global warming. On one slide, there was a cartoon picture of a polar bear resting on a small square block of ice in the ocean. Schneider explained that the media commonly presents extremes where global warming will lead to extinction or that global warming does not exist.
“The side effects of global warming are communicated badly,” he said. “The extremes are less likely to happen. but that does not fit with the media model. It is the job of educators to teach students the capacity to see through that.”
After researching the changes in the climate, Schneider said there are many factors that are causing global warming. In determining these possible factors, Schneider explained that climate change must be observed over a long period of time rather than observing it in pieces.
“When people look at global warming in bits, they create confusion,” he said. “The tough question is not how much warming is happening, but how much of that is us?”
Schneider said data alone isn’t enough to figure out the possible causes of global warming. Instead, researchers must form and test theories.
“You have to have a theory. You have to test your predictions to see which has the highest correlation,” he said.
“(Schneider) has a more reasonable and practical view. He focuses on solutions that are feasible,” said Sociology major Andrew Resendez, who attended the event.
Schneider explained that global warming is not a political or financial issue. By providing cost benefit analysis, there are ways to help the global warming problem without putting companies in jeopardy, said the speaker.
“We have to work together to solve it, not blame each other,” Schneider said. “This is not a financial problem. This is an ethics problem. It is not about money. It is about what you care about.”
On another slide, Schneider showed the audience the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s fourth assessment report summary for policymakers, which was issued in February 2007.
“Warming of the climate system is unequivocal as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice and rising global mean seal level,” the document reported.
“Thirty years ago, this was all theoretical. Now, the environment is cooperating with the theory. Spring is happening earlier. Snow is melting earlier,” he said. “This is getting the governor’s attention and this is a reason California is a pioneer in environmental regulations. There needs to be rules that are fair and cost-effective. There also needs to be cooperation in all countries and companies in these countries.”
Anthropology student Alfonso Mazarigos said “it’s good to know that California is the leader compared to the rest of the country” in producing the least carbon dioxide.
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