Hans-Peter Plag spoke at May monthly dinner: adapting to the future climate.

Hans-Peter Plag, Professor, Ocean, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, and Director of the Mitigation and Adaptation Research Institute at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA spoke about how society can prepare for the changes in our earth due to climate and global changes that are taking now taking place world wide.

ECWG Han-Peter Plag 2

His talk was entitled: “Preparing for a Journey into the Unknown: The Transition to the Post-Holocene.”

Some scientists propose that we call this new period the “Anthropocene”, geologic chronological term that begins when human activities have had a significant global impact on the Earth’s ecosystems. See Science: 3 April, 2015,Vol 348, Issue 6239, p38-39.

Since the last ice age, about 12,000 years ago the earth has experienced a  period of exceptionally stable climate favoring our transition from hunters and gathers to agriculture. This relatively warm period is known as the Holocene epoch.  During the last 6,000 years there has been very little change in the amount of water locked up as ice on Greenland and Antarctica so the sea level has been exceptionally stable, allowing humanity to build permanent settlements in coastal areas and, in particular, river deltas and utilize the many benefits of these areas.

Fema-Surge Sandy with textHowever in the past 100 years as world temperatures have warmed ice shelf melt from Greenland and Antarctica have increased sea levels on average 8 inches world wide. Flood damage from Hurricane Sandy was enhanced compared to what it might have been 100 years ago because of today’s higher ocean level.

In the past couple of hundred years humanity has introduced extreme and rapid changes in the coupled human-environmental system: increased CO2 and CH4 into the atmosphere, land clearing practices, agricultural practices, soil erosion, etc.

Prof. Plat argues these changes have pushed us out of the Holocene into a Post-Holocene, or Anthropocene (from Greek anthropos: human being).

In the Post-Holocene, Earth will be a planet unknown to humanity. Our inevitable journey to the unknown new Earth may turn out to be the greatest challenge  humanity has to face since the super-eruption of Toba about 75,000 years ago, estimated to have caused a 10 year long winter worldwide.  Fundamental changes of our way to interact with the Earth’s life-support system are needed to make this journey less threatening for modern society.

Prof. Plag is also Editor-in-Chief: Journal of Physics and Chemistry of the Earth. His column, “On the Edge”,  can be found at http://www.mari.odu.edu/people/hpplag/my_column.php                                                    the MARI site is here:  http://www.mari.odu.edu/                                                                   and his bio is here:  http://www.mari.odu.edu/people/hpplag/

Saturday, May 16th, 2015: 6-9 PM

“Preparing for a Journey into the Unknown: The Transition to the Post-Holocene”

Please reserve  ____  places for

Name _____________Guest name(s)_____________________________       Number of vegetarian meals (if any) desired __________________________ Organization Affiliation if other than ECWG  _________________________

Number of dinners @ $55 each ____________  

Enclosed is a check for $  _______________ (Make check payable to “ECWG”)

Send form and payment to:

Arnella Trent, 115 Willis Street, Cambridge, MD  21613-1618     Phone: 301-526-0822, Arnellat@gmail.com

No cancellations will be accepted after Tuesday evening, May 12, 2015

The next ECWG event will be the summer picnic, date to be announced soon.   Forthcoming 2015 ECWG Dinners at the Cosmos Club:                                             September. 19 (NOAA’s Kathy Sullivan),   November 21,  and December 5.

ECWG website: www.explorersclubdc.com

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