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Program Information
 Professor Richard Alley - West Antarctic Ice Sheet (in)stability
 Professor Richard Alley, Professor Douglas MacAyeal - Host
 Dale Lehman/WZRD  
 For non-profit use only.
 Attribution Share Alike (by-sa) 
 No Advisories - program content screened and verified.
Professor Richard Alley on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (in)stability. He spoke at the Department of Geophysical Sciences Noon Ballon, a weekly informal lunchtime presentation. Professor Alley was in town to receive an Honorary Doctorate of Science from the University of Chicago. Professor Douglas MacAyeal, a longtime colleague of Richard Alley was host of the event. He introduces him to the standing room only crowd in the Goldsmith Common Room with a short history of the role that glaciology played in Chicago's location, the Departments founding and its contributions to scientific discovery. Both he and the questions following the presentation are off mic but audible. I had a single lav mic on Professor Alley for the presentation.

Professor Alley is the Evan Pugh Professor of Geosciences Associate, Earth and Environmental Institute, Pennsylvania State University.

In this talk about the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, Professor Alley speaks of the historical record of sudden ice sheet disappearance and sea level rise such that defending long established coastal cities and population infrastructure would not be economically viable. He speaks about the assumptions made by economists who discount future costs in order to validate their theory that society would be better off if it minimized climate mitigation spending in the present, as there are better things to do with the money. Having contributed to several past IPCC reports he explains the IPCC's "go slow" recommendation to de-carbonizing the economy to economist assumptions about the nature of future losses, along with their belief that future generations will be richer and hence better able to buy solutions to the problems we bequeath. He also suggests that the evolving technical precision of science itself, could be responsible for minimizing perceptions of future outcomes that are not at all nice and hence a reticence to
raise greater public alarm with regard to their findings.

The image he ends his presentation with is of a group of penguins standing on a deeply undercut ledge of ice, looking toward the water below. Professor MacAyeal references the image in the last question.
Geophysical Sciences Department - University of Chicago

Additional information on this topic:
MacAyeal and his colleagues have been able to show that events in the Arctic have consequences in the Antarctic.

EPS/SEAS Climate Science Breakfast: “Coupled Feedbacks in the Climate Structure That Set the Time Scale for Irreversible Change: Arctic Isotopes to Stratospheric Radicals" with James Anderson, Philip S. Weld Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry, Harvard University.

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00:57:46 English 2015-06-12
 Hinds Laboratory, University of Chicago
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Professor Alley  00:57:46  128Kbps mp3
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