Posts Tagged ‘ Scripps Oceanography

Panel Discussion on Scripps Science Presented at COP15

Click to view a panel discussion featuring presentations from Scripps researchers present at the COP15 climate summit in Copenhagen filmed at the Hub Culture Pavilion Dec. 11. The discussion features an overview of topics Scripps sought to highlight during the conference.

Victoria Fabry on Ocean Acidification

Click to view an interview of Scripps biological oceanographer Victoria Fabry from the Ocean-Climate Forum, an interactive project launched in conjunction with Oceans Day, Dec. 14, 2009.

Tony Haymet on the Power of Direct Action

Click to view an interview of Scripps Director Tony Haymet from the Ocean-Climate Forum, an interactive project launched in conjunction with Oceans Day, Dec. 14, 2009.

Copenhagen Diagnosis Press Conference

Click to view the webcast of the Dec.15 press conference with the authors of the Copenhagen Diagnosis, including Scripps distinguished professor emeritus Richard Somerville.
(Video may take a few minutes to load)

Scripps Oceanography/Stanford University Press Conference

Click to view the webcast of the Dec. 14 Scripps Oceanography/Stanford University COP-15 press conference, “The Oceans and Climate Change: Perspectives from Science”
(Video may take a few minutes to load)

Let the games begin!

This morning, I spent an hour watching the main negotiating body. It was fascinating. While it seemed to start out as mostly an informational session or a chance for the COP-15 President to make some announcements, it quickly turned into the start of the bricklaying that will lead to the major negotiations early next week. The announcement that several potential plans, frameworks, protocols have been submitted to the Secretariat triggered quite a response from several delegates. Tuvalu, a small island state that is one of those most threatened by climate change, spoke for five minutes in support of their submitted amendments to the Kyoto Protocol to strengthen it before its expiration in 2012 and proposed a new Copenhagen Protocol which would offer legally binding emission reductions; support of technology, science, and adaptation centers; and stable financing for developing states. Their speech was received with rousing applause and started a chain of events that was fun to watch and gave me an idea of just how difficult this is going to be. ALL of the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) lined up to support Tuvalu’s speech, plan, and general idea. Coastal African states came up next. Cape Verde was not subtle in their claims that climate change is a human rights issue and that folks will die. They went so far as to say that coastal and island people will not be the only to die, just the first. Cue second round of loud applause. Then, the other side started to line up against this plan. China, India, Venezuela, and the Middle East began giving statements to the contrary:

You are wasting our time…this is not the appropriate time to discuss this…we have a strong, existing protocol that should be implemented more fully.

No, the political will will never be higher than it is now…we must act…the time to act is now

We have a strong protocol in place now…this is not the time to try to start a new discussion…it’s the time to finish the ongoing one.

After rounds and rounds of objections, it seemed like the President almost did not know what to do. She suggested the body move on; continue giving announcements.

Tuvalu: We object.  These negotiations must be done with transparency. If all the negotiations will be behind closed doors between developed states, then we move to suspend COP-15.

A long pause…

President:  “We are moving on.”

110 heads of state will arrive next week.

–Grant Galland, Scripps graduate student

University of East Anglia

Since this is a highly politicized topic, it’s important to note that any opinions you can pick out from my diction in this entry are my own and do not reflect an official stance by my apolitical scientific graduate institution.

I’ve always wanted to start something with a disclaimer!

Yesterday several of the heads of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had a cross between a press briefing and a scientific lecture. It began with a public response to the topic of the day among science skeptics…the stolen e-mails from the University of East Anglia. These are a number of personal e-mails stolen from the computers of climate researchers at this British University that were selectively published out of context in the recent weeks. These e-mails painted a picture of an author locked in a bitter battle with another scientist. At one point the author stated to the recipient that he was going to prevent his rival’s work from getting into the IPCC reports. He also called the rival hurtful names. Naturally, pundits have used this to attempt to call all of climate change research and, indeed, all of peer reviewed science into question.

However, truly peer reviewed science is, by its very definition, resistant to being called into question. Were it not, it probably wouldn’t have survived the peer-review gauntlet. I think I can speak for Scripps on this account.

The IPCC response began by discussing the sheer numbers of people involved in any peer review process and the (much larger) numbers involved in peer review for the IPCC AR4 assessment. The numbers I jotted down were 400 lead authors, 800 contributing authors, and 2,500 review authors for the assessment report. The speaker talked about how no one author has the kind of power implied by the researcher in the e-mails, and called the review process “objective, robust, and open.” The most striking point that he made was that the rival’s research (that the e-mails’ author was so vehemently opposing) was, after the peer review process, actually included in the IPCC’s Fourth Assesment Report (Working Group 1, chapter 6, look for “divergence”). The speaker then paused for questions briefly before having the heads of each of the Working Groups (sections) of the IPCC report give an update on any findings that have emerged since AR4, but that have yet to be compiled to form AR5.  Sadly one of the research topics that Scripps is present at COP-15 to call attention to, ocean acidification, falls between these particular cracks. There was some discussion of ocean acidification during the second part’s Q&A, but I’ll save that for the blog entry on that topic.

–Brendan Carter, Scripps Oceanography graduate student


This city has been transformed by NGOs and interest groups in preparation for COP-15. Public squares, billboards, subways, and even a local small college have been remade with artwork, exhibits, and forums. Many of these pieces are simple messages of hope or pleas to the people in power to “seal the deal.” Others are clearly part of a city/nation-wide PR campaign. Still others are heavy-handed symbolism: a polar bear ice sculpture left by the World Wildlife Foundation to slowly melt in a just-above freezing courtyard. One photographic exhibition with a clear message displayed in a plaza was entitled “Top 100 places to remember before they disappear.”

Naturally, interspersed with all of these are advertisements for the latest green industries. The city hall plaza hosts a giant ball about 3 stories tall made to look like the rotating Earth using projected light. The base of this globe was also the site of a Euro-rock show last night, though they skipped the cover band in lieu of speeches by UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo De Boer and some local politicians.

Copenhagen is an interesting and, in some ways, ideal choice to host this 15th “Conference of Parties.” The city is several steps ahead of any other modern city I’ve been to with respect to green practices. I’m certain that some of this is a result of pre-COP-15 preparations (such as the corn-husk disposable plates), but most of the meaningful differences are reflected in the actions of the residents and the existing infrastructure. Windmills are everywhere… including a giant one that dwarfs the rather large conference center we’re in. I’ve also heard the statistic that 50% of the population here takes their bikes to work. I believe it too. They have much larger bike lanes on every downtown road complete with lights and curbs. Weirder still, they’re occupied! I mention this partially as a warning… as a San Diegan, I generally feel free to drift into the middle of bike lanes with semi-impunity secure that, if I get run over there, it’ll probably be by a car that drifted out of the road. Here though, pedestrian incursions are met with fiercely tingling bells and clumps of passing cyclists. It’s exciting how efficient the bikes are at getting around once they have a little infrastructure and room to move. Traffic is also essentially a non-issue… even with the extra 15,000-20,000 people in town for the meeting. It’s not just bikes though… the people of this town seem especially engaged in these issues. Our group had an offsite event yesterday evening, and a large number of the attendees were just people from town who were curious about ocean acidification.

Also curious about ocean acidification?  More entries to come! Unfortunately my ability to write about what’s going on is being outpaced by seeing neat things to ramble about…

–Brendan Carter, Scripps Oceanography graduate student

The Second Shift

I guess I’m the only one left to start posting!  I won’t be leaving until a week from now, due to me finding out a little late that they actually let grad students attend these things, but I’ll be following it closely on the Internet and will hopefully be able to pick up the blog, etc where Tamara, Brendan, and Grant leave off in the latter half of the conference.  I’m very excited to be in Copenhagen at such an important moment, and am very much looking forward to being able to contribute in whatever small way I can.

Beyond that, I’ll pretty much just echo what everyone else has said: I’m not really sure what to expect, but I hope that some agreement is reached, because it’s too important an issue for me and my generation to keep dragging our feet.  I realize there are economic and political issues at play, but this is too important and too massive an issue to not take action as soon as possible.  We need to stop thinking of this as a national issue and recognize it for the global problem that it is.  I know it’s hard, and expensive, and scary to change, but I hope that everyone can put aside their fears and differences and come together for the long-term greater good, before it’s too late.

Regardless, I’ll be watching the news and blog sites very closely until I leave on Monday!

–Kristina Pistone, Scripps graduate student

Getting Ready…

The Scripps delegation is traveling over in waves.  My advisor and I leave tomorrow morning and we will arrive at almost the same hour (after some time zone hijinx) the next day. Right now we’re saying goodbyes and getting ready.  Of course, readying oneself suggests preparing to meet an expectation, and at the moment I’m entirely unsure of what to expect.

As a graduate student my role is simple: staff a booth, get out Scripps’ press materials, stay out from underfoot, and direct as many people as possible to speak with the senior scientists in our delegation. Thankfully, this meshes well with my duty as a concerned earthling.  I can imagine a number of ways we can respond as individuals/cities/states/nations/a species to the climate issue, but the only viable ways begin by focusing on the science.

So far getting ready has mostly just entailed reading and downloading recent climate research outside of my immediate discipline.  For anyone wanting a read-able summary of this body of research (as of 2007) I suggest the 4th IPCC report for policymakers or, if you’re feeling more ambitious, the report for scientists (available piecemeal here)

Perhaps the most daunting preparation for a graduate student raised on Scripps formality though…finding that pair of dress socks.

–Brendan Carter, Scripps Oceanography graduate student

scripps oceanography uc san diego