Last week I had the privelage of hearing Dr. Peter Ward, Astrobiologist and Paleontologist, lecture at the University of Washington. The lecture was entitled: Who is afraid of the big bad climate? What is the worst that global warming could do?
Peter was introduced by University of Washington President, Dr. Mark Emmert. The occasion was The Annual Faculty Lecture. Since 1976 members of the UW faculty have chosen a faculty peer who has made a demonstratable impact on their profession to deliver the annual faculty lecture. This is the highest honor the University faculty can bestow on one of their own.
Peter delivered a fascinating and important talk. I was able to find a video of an earlier talk that he had made covering much of the same information, so I include it here for your perusal: Peter’s Talk.
How serious are the actual threats from a warmed world according to Dr. Ward? Extremely serious! Peter framed his thesis as follows:
Dr. Ward’s thesis is that when the carbon dioxide levels reach 1000 ppm there in no ice on planet earth, sea levels rise by two-hundred and fifty feet, toxic bacteria dominate and there is mass extinction of most all of the higher species. The CO2 levels now are at 350ppm and rising. Unless we do something, biologists are saying we will reach the 1000 ppm level in between 100 to 300 years. As we have discussed in our newsletter over the last year and a half, the de-evolutionary process is well underway and unless we fully engage in corrective measures, the precambian world will be our horizon.
The above brings the urgency of our present situation into focus. Green house gasses are rising, dead zone (hypoxic zones) in the oceans and seas are spreading, one species after another (of amphibians, reptiles and mammals) must be placed on the endangered list—many are being lost to extinction each year—one-third of the world’s frogs will be lost within the next several years. Looking squarely into the face of this de-evolutionary demon, we must come to grips to the fact that we are the cause of this loss of biodiversity. We are both the problem and the possible solution. Next week we will look at some amazing people and organizations who are definately part of the solution. You will be inspired.
A week from Thursday, on February 11th at 5:00pm PST I will be conducting a webinar entitled, DeEvolution and the Ecology of the Microbiome. It will be 45 minutes of lecture and fifteen minutes for discussion—starting at 5:00pm and ending at 6:00 sharp. Let me know if you would like to join us, and I will send you a link.
The Last Quiz Answer: This gorgeous creature is the Six-plummed Bird of Paradise in full courtship display as you will see in this clip. There are thirty-eight species that inhabit New Guinea and they vary remarkably. For example, the diminutive King Bird of Paradise is bluebird-sized and glistening red and white. The Crinkle-collared Manucode is like a compact crow, shiny black with highlights of purple and blue. The Magnificent Rifle Bird of Paradise, that we disclosed last week, is also in this clip. It is chunky, long billed, and nearly tailess, the male being glossy black with an iridencent blue throat shield, the female buff brown with fine barring underneath.