November 17, 2015

CORNUCOPIA | Bruce Monger Talks the Science of Climate Change

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Cornucopia is a biweekly podcast that covers research stories unfolding across campus. Join hosts Addison Huneycutt ’18 and Ali Jenkins ’18 as they dig into the juiciest discoveries they can find. In each episode, you’ll meet a researcher, chat with Addison and Ali and hear some corny jokes. Check out the science section of The Cornell Daily Sun for biweekly updates about the latest episodes. Queries relating to Cornucopia may be sent to [email protected].

This week’s episode features Dr. Bruce Monger, who teaches Introductory Oceanography at Cornell. He spoke about several of the most serious problems with climate change and how we might start to fix them. Most of these problems revolve around the ocean, which he says is central to everyone’s lives.

“Even if they don’t live near the ocean, or make a living off the ocean by going out and fishing or something like that, [people] should still really care about this because it supports their ability to live on this planet,” Monger said. “Every other breath you take you owe a ‘thank you’ to the ocean because half the photosynthesis that makes oxygen every year is made by the oceans.”

He went on to describe the increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. In the past seven years, humans have raised the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere by around 200 parts per million, leading to a global increase in temperature. Monger explains that the most trusted climate change research in the world, compiled by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, states that this increase in temperature is “unambiguous.” Furthermore, scientists are 95 percent certain that humans are largely responsible for this global warming.

“We are now more certain that humans are largely responsible for global warming than we are that smoking causes cancer,” Monger said.

Monger explained that while investing in environmentally friendly technology is costly, we cannot afford to ignore the problem. The increases in temperature have caused the sea levels to rise, and a one meter rise would be disastrous to coastal areas. He explained that scientists have calculated “how many assets are within a meter rise by the end of the century, and it is in the trillions of dollars.”

Finally, Monger spoke about the activism he hopes to instill in his students.

“You guys have chosen a path of knowledge, and you now have a responsibility to use that knowledge to make a better world,” he said. “People build universities so that you can give back to the society and lift the whole society and make it better.”