Association for Behavior Analysis International

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2012 Behavior Change for a Sustainable World Conference

Event Details

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Invited Paper Session #8

Opening Keynote: The Greatest Challenge of Global Climate Change

Friday, August 3, 2012
6:10 PM–7:00 PM
Performance Hall
Area: CSE; Domain: Theory
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Chair: William L. Heward (The Ohio State University)
LONNIE G. THOMPSON (The Ohio State University)
Lonnie G. Thompson, Ph.D., is distinguished university professor in the School of Earth Sciences and senior research scientist at the Byrd Polar Research Center at The Ohio State University. One of the world's most renowned paleoclimatologists, Dr. Thompson has led 60 expeditions to remote ice caps atop the world's highest mountains. His findings have resulted in major advances in our understanding of climate change by demonstrating how tropical regions have undergone significant climate variability, countering the earlier view that higher latitudes dominate climate change. Thompson's research has been featured in hundreds of publications, including National Geographic and the National Geographic Adventure magazines, in the book Thin Ice by (Bowen, 2006), and is highlighted in Al Gore's documentary film on global warming, An Inconvenient Truth. His paper, "Climate Change: The Evidence and Our Options," was published in the special section on the human response to climate change published in the Fall 2010 issue of The Behavior Analyst. One of Time magazine's 2008 "Heroes of the Environment," Thompson was identified as one of six scientists and innovators whose work is key to addressing global climate change. An elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, Dr. Thompson's numerous honors and awards include the Tyler World Prize for Environmental Achievement (2005), the environmental sciences equivalent of a Nobel Prize, the Einstein Lecturer Award from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and The National Medal of Science (2007), the highest honor the United States bestows on an American scientist.

Climate change is no longer a future threat; it is here now. The widespread melting of high-elevation glaciers and ice caps, particularly in low to middle latitudes, provides some of the strongest evidence that large-scale, pervasive, and in some cases, rapid change in Earth's climate system is under way. Physical evidence from ice cores retrieved from shrinking glaciers confirm their continuous existence for hundreds of thousands of years, and that atmospheric conditions that dominate those regions today are radically different from those under which these ice fields originally grew and were sustained. A large and continuing increase in atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations, the result of human activity, is the major cause of both global warming and climate change. Despite this, societies have taken little action to address this global-scale problem. Hence, the rate of global carbon-dioxide emissions continues to accelerate, bringing with it increasingly rapid changes in climate. The major challenge of climate change is not to prove that it is real, but to get people, especially those in government, religious, and environmental organizations around the world, to change their behavior. For global climate change, nature is the timekeeper; none of us can see the clock, but there is no question that time is running out.

Target Audience:


Learning Objectives: Forthcoming.



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