September 11, 2007
Focus on evidence for climate change and the consequences for us. It will be based on the past
so we will look at historical evidence on what the earth has done since life began. Many of you
want to be medical doctors or engineers but this phenomenon will affect you. We have a real
problem and it will come with a vengeance. It will be evidence based and the field is evolving so
we don’t know the answers. This is the first time this course has been taught but I have taught
similar courses. The field is moving quickly in terms of the evidence.
When I was a child my parents talked in their own language and I listened to them and now I am
49. They used to talk about the war and for me it never happened because I was born 4 years
later. Your perception is the world that you have grown up in but that is not the world, it is much
larger. My parents immigrated because they didn’t want to see another war with Russia. You all
have a different heritage but we all come from the human heritage. I just came back from the
Yukon, trying to find out how the world works. I went between ecology and physiology and
they stayed with ecology. I am interested in how organisms live and the changes they go
through. You guys may think about sex but at my age my testosterone has dropped so that
doesn’t interest me as much. The point is that is the point and phase in your life you are at and I
am interested in how we age and die. My wife operates on a cute principle, baby red squirrels
are cute. 100% are born and 95% are dead by fall and that is the way it is. I am interested in the
rate of aging and what changes in cells. I am an ecologist and have worked in Australia, the
North, and here.
•One handout gives course details and I will give details about my expectations.
•The second handout will tell you about what the course covers.
Introduction and Details
Room:#214 – in H wing
Office hours:At the end of this lecture for 1 hour and on Wednesdays for 1 hour
TA:Brendan Delehanty in S426
Prerequisites – ecology and evolution. If you haven’t taken these sections you have to come and
see me. I expect a background and that is a fundamental background in ecology and evolution.
You have to understand this to take this course.
BGYC58H3F.September ,11, 2007 LECTURE 1 1
Test – there is no text for this course. Many of the texts are too low a level or too high a level.
We will have readings from current literature and I will put them on the intranet. You can
download them as PDF’s. You will be responsible for those as well as the lecture material.
Lectures – they will not be put on the internet but I will try to put the PowerPoint notes so you
can consult with them. In other words…take notes. I hope you think about this and challenge
me when you can.
E-mail – they are a black hole from a Professor’s standpoint. This morning I had 20 e-mails and
I happen to have another life so I am busy. If you have a question please ask me. If you e-mail
me and I find it trivial I will not respond.
Tutorials – I won’t have one every week and there won’t be one this week. I will put a very
good article from News Week for this week. It is entitled “global Warming, the Hoax” and it
tells what is happening over the last 30 years. It talks about the Petroleum industry. It is very
good and incisive. It will talk about the many changes that are required by us. Large companies
say it isn’t going to happen but in my life the first thing that came to light was DDT which was a
pesticide. It accumulates and has bad effects on wildlife. The next problem is the autobiography
by Everett Koop and it is an interesting illustration of how power works. He was the Surgeon
General under Ronald Regan. The first issue was the effects of smoking. One billion people
will die this century because of cigarette smoke. Why do we allow this? My father had
Emphysema because he started smoking at 10. One of the first researches that published after
WWII said that smoking doesn’t hurt and most men smoked then. There is a lot of pressure
brought on and he said that it was a bad drug that would kill people. Congress said they don’t
care about how many die that people in their riding need smoking because it gives them money.
They are saying that they don’t care that smoking kills, the riding needs the money. He is really
saying that his job depends on that. The tobacco industry has brought enormous energy on and
throws stones at the evidence and creates doubt. Many of the population in the U.S. don’t
believe that we are in trouble. The other problem is the newspapers. They don’t do a good job
they are there to entertain not to stimulate your critical thinking. Look at TV; they are there for
sex, crime, etc. The cigarette industry has many judgments against them and the biggest one we
$235 million dollars. They raised the price of cigarettes by .45 cents to cover this. Now we are
on a direct line, we have to keep cigarettes to pay the bill. So there is a parallel to global
warming. Be careful even things that I say may be wrong. I don’t know all the answers because
it is an evolving field.
Tutorials – next week there will be one. They will be 1 – 4 on Thursdays.
Reading – I will have at least one reading for you. The material will discuss things.
BGYC58H3F.September ,11, 2007 LECTURE 1 2
Please be on time and if you are late please don’t walk in front of me as it is disrespectful. I may
yell at you but I will try not to. I find it disruptive.
Exams – there are two but I haven’t set the mid-term yet. You see they are worth 45% and 55%.
Half way through I have to go to Barcelona for a conference on aging so it will be around the 17th
of October. That is approximately when the exam will occur. The exams by in large are not
cumulative unless I indicate otherwise.
S:Are tutorials going to last for hours?
T:Some may but I can’t guarantee it. Is your attendance necessary? No. You are in
university and you don’t have to come to class either but I hope you do. You can have someone
else take notes for you.
Lecture – it is 2 hours long and we will try to have a break.
Progress of Course (Handout)
(Reads handout) We will look at the evidence of past climates and the present climates. Impact
of short and long-term changes and then there are many unknown surprises. Finally the
biological impacts and what nature can do to counter these things. We will talk about how to
deal with the threat. Even if we stop producing what we are doing now we are committed for a
few years. We will talk about the ozone protocol both the good and bad things. We are still
dealing with this situation and will be for the next 50 years. In Australia the weather can differ
from day to day. It tells the UV index and it is usually 6 or 8 here and that is low but in Australia
it is 12 and that is high, they don’t go out, they live with it.
GLOBAL CHANGE (Lecture)
“Now there is one outstandingly important fact regarding Spaceship Earth, and that is that no
instruction book came with it” r. Buckminster Fuller 1895-1983.
Profound changes are now underway but what fraction of these changes is a consequence of our
activities on earth. How can we be sure that the variability in our climate is not natural
variability? How do we gage the severity and long term effects of the changes that we are
observing? Part of this answer will lie in our understanding of the past. If we have a good
grounding of what has happened then we can project into the future. We are dealing with a
complex system where there are huge linkages between the oceans, atmosphere, and land which
are still being understood. Only a couple years ago they found out that one of the greenhouse
gases (methane) was actually being produced by plants and we didn’t know that. So a challenge
BGYC58H3F.September ,11, 2007 LECTURE 1 3
Focus on evidence for climate change and the consequences for us. It will be based on the past so we will look at historical evidence on what the earth has done since life began. Many of you want to be medical doctors or engineers but this phenomenon will affect you. We have a real problem and it will come with a vengeance. It will be evidence based and the field is evolving so we don"t know the answers. This is the first time this course has been taught but i have taught similar courses. The field is moving quickly in terms of the evidence. Your perception is the world that you have grown up in but that is not the world, it is much larger. My parents immigrated because they didn"t want to see another war with russia. You all have a different heritage but we all come from the human heritage.