Sunday, March 20, 2011

Pontifical Academy of Sciences Hosts a Workshop on the Fate of Mountain Glaciers in the Anthropocene

"The earth is suffering from global warming as a result of our excessive consumption of energy."---The Vatican (Scroll down.) See also Day 4.

Earth to Virginia's Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli:

The Pontifical Academy of Sciences accepts the science of climate change and has created a Working Group on the Fate of Mountain Glaciers in the Anthropocene.

[UPDATE: Here is the Report of the Working Group.]

Wikipedia explains:

The Anthropocene is an informal geological epoch that serves to mark the recent extent of human activities that have had a significant global impact on the Earth's ecosystems...The term was coined in 2000 by the Nobel Prize-winning atmospheric chemist Paul Crutzen, who regards the influence of human behavior on the Earth in recent centuries as so significant as to constitute a new geological era.

[See Dr. Crutzen's Wikipedia, his homepage at the Pontifical Academy, his homepage at the Max-Planck-Institute, his Nobel Prize autobiography, and an article by James Hansen in Time (10-17-07) about Dr. Crutzen's achievements.]

The Pontifical Academy's Working Group is having a workshop at the Casina Pio IV on April 2-4, 2011. The Prologue of the program, which was written by Pontifical Academician P.J. Crutzen, L. Bengtsson, and Pontifical Academician V. Ramanathan, states:

Mountain glaciers in Europe, North America, South America, Africa, and the largest of them all in the Himalayan-Tibetan region are retreating, some at alarming rates. The hypothesized causal factors include global warming, atmospheric brown clouds, land surface modification, recovery from the mini ice-age, and large scale drying of the air among other factors. Some glaciers are expected to disappear during this century and others are predicted to experience significant loss of spatial cover and mass. The downstream consequences include glacial lake outburst floods, disrupted availability of water for agriculture and human consumption, changes to mountain eco systems, increased frequency of forest fires, loss of habitat, and other potential catastrophes. A holistic study covering the physical science, social science, and the human dimension sides of the problem has not been attempted thus far. It is our hope that this first of its kind workshop organized by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences will lay the foundation for studying and monitoring this potential disaster that will impact the entire planet.

The workshop will also explore avenues available for mitigating and adapting to this potential tragedy.

P.J. Crutzen, L. Bengtsson and V. Ramanathan

[Update: See the Report of the Working Group as well as the Prologue.]

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