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FULLY BOOKED - Climate change: an evening with James Lovelock

Thursday 14 March: 7:30pm - 9:00pm

Babbage Lecture Theatre, New Museums SiteDowning Street, CB2 3RS

Cambridge Climate Lecture Series
In his 100th year, James Lovelock talks with Chris Rapley and Helen Czerski on the theme of Climate Change, Can We Fix It? Only three months after COP24 we hear if Lovelock, the father figure of our climate concerns, remains optimistic. Is Gaia alive? Will the Earth self-regulate whatever we do?

Unfortunately, due to poor health, James Lovelock will not be present in person at the event. Dr Helen Czerski, Professor Tim Lenton and Professor Chris Rapley will hold a live discussion of the implications of the Gaia Hypothesis with recorded interviews with James.

James Ephraim Lovelock was born on 26 July 1919, he graduated as a chemist from Manchester University in 1941 and in 1948 received a PhD from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Since 1964 he has conducted an independent practice in science, with honorary academic associations as a visiting professor, first at the University of Houston and then at the University of Reading in the U.K. Since 1982 he has been associated with the Marine Biological Association at Plymouth. James has applied for more than 40 patents, one of these, the electron capture detector, was important in the development of environmental awareness. It confirmed the ubiquitous distribution of pesticide residues and other halogen bearing chemicals. It was responsible for the discovery of the global distribution of nitrous oxide and of the chlorofluorocarbons, both of which are important in the stratospheric chemistry of ozone.

Forty years ago James postulated that the Earth is a self-regulating system able to keep the climate and chemical composition comfortable for organisms. This was the Gaia Hypothesis, which as evidence and mathematical models accumulated has now become Gaia Theory.

Chris Rapley is Professor of Climate Science at UCL. Previous to this, Chris was the Director of the British Antarctic Survey (1998 to 2007) and Director of the Science Museum (2007-2010). In 2008 he was awarded the Edinburgh Science Medal – “For professional achievements judged to have made a significant contribution to the understanding and well-being of humanity” Since January 2014 Chris is the Chair of European Space Agency Director General's High Level Science Policy Advisory Committee. Chris Rapley is amongst scientists to comment on the future state of the Earth System. The report warns of the potential of a ‘Hothouse Earth’, whereby self-reinforcing feedbacks could push the Earth System through a planetary threshold to a new state characterised by a combination of high global temperatures and rising sea levels unprecedented in the Holocene.

Dr Helen Czerski is a physicist, first and foremost, but she’s acquired a few other labels along the way: oceanographer, presenter, author and bubble enthusiast. Helen studied Natural Sciences at Cambridge and continued her academic studies gaining a PhD in experimental explosives physics. After research at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego and a post doc at the Graduate School of Oceanography in Rhode Island Helen returned to the UK to start her own research programme on the physics of oceanic bubbles, first at the University of Southampton and then at her current academic home, University College London. Helen gets particularly excited about the physics of the everyday world and the oceans and has presented documentaries on a wide range of subjects relating to physics in general, and also atmospheric and ocean science. She is passionate about conveying the beauty and ingenuity of the physical world around us, and the perspective on the world that science provides.

Professor Tim Lenton studied Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge. Reading Jim Lovelock’s books on Gaia ignited his passion for studying the Earth as a whole system. This led to his PhD studies on what regulates nutrient balance of the ocean and the oxygen content of the atmosphere, supervised by Professor Andrew Watson at Plymouth Marine Laboratory and later the University of East Anglia (UEA). After gaining his PhD, Tim worked at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Edinburgh. In 2004 he returned to UEA and built up an Earth system modeling group, working on key events in the coupled evolution of life and the planet, including human-induced global change. Tim moved to the University of Exeter in 2011, where he and his group are focusing on understanding these past revolutions, on developing an evolutionary model of the marine ecosystem, and on early warning of climate tipping points.

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Age: 11+, Talk, Arrive on time, Free