Interrogating climate (change): what we know, don’t know and where we might be going wrong
Dr Andrew Kythreotis, School of Planning and Geography, Cardiff University
It was with great pleasure that on Friday 1st May HMSG’s Geographical Society welcomed Dr Andrew Kythreotis to discuss the topical issue of climate change.
Dr Kythreotis started by asking a full audience of over 40 A Level and GCSE students, who believed in climate change? He then proceeded to give scientific evidence of its existence, explaining that ‘natural climate variability’ (mainly due to the Earth’s orbit, sun spots and volcanic processes) has been occurring over millions of years, unlike the more recent anthropogenic climate change (human induced). The increased release of greenhouse gas emissions since the industrial revolution has contributed to the unprecedented warming of the earth by 0.7°C in the last 140 years.
Predicting future climate change is a complex process. Dr Kythreotis explained how climate scientists use observations alongside models that, for example, estimate how greenhouse gasses might rise in the future. He demonstrated the use of several models including those designed to replicate ocean-atmosphere circulation. Such models are useful to explore the effects of rising temperatures on unlocking trapped greenhouse gasses thus contributing to more rapid warming. It is, however, uncertain when these regional ‘tipping points’ on earth will be reached.
Our speaker finished by discussing the international politics of climate change and invited the audience to reflect on the issues that require a concerted international effort. Regrettably, many of the current international policies are non-legally binding. However, the Kyoto Protocol, whilst being legally binding for 37 industrialised nations, is founded on market-based discourse. This raises the question of whether it can be right to trade carbon given it is a natural resource; should it belong to everyone, not just the wealthiest nations?
We look forward to inviting Dr Kythreotis back to HMSG next year to hear further on his current research.
Mrs J Harper
Dr Andrew Kythreotis is a Lecturer and Research Fellow under the Cardiff University Serious Brain Power initiative in the School of Planning and Geography. His research and teaching revolves around the broad theme of climate change and how its policy and governance is constructed around scalar ontologies. Before moving to Cardiff, he was based at the University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia, researching sea level rises in his role as Australian Research Council Super Science Research Fellow. He received his PhD from Hull University and is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.