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Climate Change & American Values with Distinguished Speaker Dr. Michael E. Mann

For the past two years Texas has been experiencing severe drought. Is this unseasonably dry weather part of a natural climate cycle? Or is human activity dramatically influencing our climate? Climate scientists studying Earth’s climate history seek to answer questions such as these. Although climate models cannot directly connect global climate change to a specific weather event such as the drought here in Texas, these models do predict that the frequency of extreme weather is increasing with the rise in global temperature.

Climate scientists use historical climate records along with climate proxy data from various paleontological records, such as tree ring records, ice cores, sea floor sediment samples, and coral formations, to develop models of past climate as well as predict future climate change. The paleoclimatology records and models represent an overwhelming amount of evidence that suggests that the average global temperatures have been increasing dramatically and rapidly over the past 150 years. The increase in global temperature impacts cloud formation and precipitation amounts that result in varying effects such as droughts in some regions and an increase in precipitation in others. Rising global temperatures have also caused melting of polar ice at an unprecedented rate.

While climate change is influenced by both natural causes and human activity, climate scientists conclude that the change in climate we have observed for the past 150 years, since the industrial revolution, is heavily influenced by human activity including the burning of fossil fuels, which releases carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas) into the atmosphere and results in trapping heat on Earth. This increase in carbon dioxide is one of the main causes of the unprecedented rise in the average global temperature in recent history.

The publication of a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) thrust climate change into the political realm. Many perceived the implications of the report as a direct attack on U.S. and global economic interests. As a result, some sectors of the public professionally and personally attacked and even vilified some of the report’s authors.

One of the Iead authors of the IPCC report and a direct target of these attacks, leading climate scientist Michael E. Mann is the keynote speaker for the 2013 E. James Holland Symposium on American Values. Join us as he shares his personal experience and insights into Climate Change and American Values.

Distinguished Speaker

Michael E. Mann, Ph.D. is currently the Director of Earth System Science Center and Distinguished Professor of Meteorology at Pennsylvania State University. As a leading researcher in the field of climate science he has published over 160 peer-reviewed journal articles. His commitment to communicating science to the general public is evident in the publication of two books, Dire Predictions: Understanding Global Warming and The Hockey Sticks and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines. He also uses various social media outlets to engage the public in conversations about science and policy and contributes to a website about climate science:

Professor Mann earned B.A. degrees in both Applied Math and Physics from the University of California-Berkeley. At Yale University he earned an M.S. in Physics and a Ph.D. in Geology and Geosciences. Prior to his current position at Penn State, he served as an Assistant Professor of Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia and held a Research Assistant Professor position at the University of Massachusetts in the Department of Geosciences.

Professor Mann is the recipient of numerous awards including the Hans Oeschger Medal of the European Geosciences Union and the National Conservation Achievement Award for science in 2013 from the National Wildlife Federation. He also contributed to the award of the Nobel Peace Prize for 2007 to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Among his academic accolades he was recently appointed as a Distinguished Professor at Pennsylvania State University, and he is an elected fellow of both the American Meteorological Society and the American Geophysical Union.

As the keynote speaker for the 2013 E. James Holland Symposium on American Values, Professor Mann will discuss the intersection between climate science and American values in a talk entitled: The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars.

E. James Holland and the History of the Symposium

In 1984, Dr. E. James Holland established the Symposium on American Values that is held annually at ASU and named in his honor. 

During his 36 years at ASU, Holland served as professor of government and head of the Government Department, Director of Curriculum Development, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, and Dean of the College of Liberal and Fine Arts. With degrees from Southwestern University, Yale Divinity School, and the American University in Washington D.C., Holland was instrumental in developing ASU’s international student and faculty exchange programs and establishing new degree programs in inter­national studies, communications, studio arts, and criminal justice.

Holland is an active member of the San Angelo community, serving as president of Adult Day Care, Concho Educators Federal Credit Union, and United Campus Ministries as well as a member of the Ancillary Manpower Planning Board of the Concho Valley Council of Governments. He is also active at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, where he chaired the Administrative Board of the Finance Committee.

Since its inception, the symposium has brought more than 50 nationally prominent scholars, academicians, and policymakers to the ASU campus to provoke thought and discussion on a wide range of themes. A collaborative presentation by students, faculty members and administrators, the symposium is dedicated to improving the overall academic environment of the university and is committed to exploring the national character as expressed in issues related to American Values. 

The symposium is sponsored by the Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. It is the central event in a broader program of related activities that includes class visits by the featured speaker, a video production of the symposium itself, and a creative contest with cash awards for students.