Global warming topic of public lecture

By Kelly Foss | Jan. 1, 2011

Global warming caused by human activities presents a serious challenge to human societies. But in that challenge lies an opportunity to do things better, to unleash a new era of creativity, improve the stewardship of our natural environment, and revitalize our economy while generating new, cleaner industrial activity.

That’s the theme of an upcoming public lecture taking place at Memorial University and hosted by the Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society (CMOS). Dr. Thomas F. Pedersen, executive director of the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions at the University of Victoria, will be the guest lecturer for the 2011 CMOS tour, with the lecture taking place at 7 p.m. on Jan. 11 in the Inco Innovation Centre, room IIC-2001.

“Taking such action demands concerted political leadership and policy development informed by high-quality interdisciplinary research,” says Dr. Pedersen.

The latter requirement led the Government of British Columbia to create in 2008 the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICS), an endowed four-university consortium hosted and led by the University of Victoria that focuses on blending the social and physical sciences and engineering to provide best-practice policy pathways that the provincial government can follow.

“The role PICS is now playing in contributing to British Columbia's response to the climate-change challenge will be described and set within the larger North American context,” explains Dr. Pedersen. “But there remains a problem: most 'climate solutions' are not of provincial scale, and many span, if not the full globe, at least the scale of the nation or continents.

For example, he says in Canada, our provincially-controlled electrical grid system hampers our ability to accommodate renewable energy, thereby limiting the scope we have to reduce CO2 emissions. Europe is taking a collective, aggressive and different tack that will be contrasted to the current situation in Canada.

“It is also increasingly clear that Canada could take steps that would simultaneously allow us to reduce carbon emissions – an imperative that climate science tells us is a must – while yielding significant new economic value,” he said. “Getting there will require recognition by the Canadian public, and its mirror, our politicians, of both need and opportunity. Therein lies another challenge – one which PICS is also addressing – that is rooted in the communication of science, economic perceptions and economic reality, and human behavioural psychology. “

Born and raised in the Okanagan Valley, Tom Pedersen completed an undergraduate degree in Geology at the University of British Columbia. Curiosity about the earth, and particularly the ocean, propelled him to graduate school and in 1979 he graduated from the University of Edinburgh with a Ph. D. in Marine Geochemistry. He was appointed to faculty at the University of British Columbia and served as Associate Dean, Research, for the Faculty of Graduate Studies at UBC from 2000. He joined the University of Victoria in 2002 as Director of the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences and later became Dean of Science. In 2009 he became Director of the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions.


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