October 17, 2004

Warming up to Gaia

David Archer, a professor of ocean chemistry in the University's Physical Sciences Department, addressed a group of core biology students Tuesday evening with a talk entitled "Gaia and Global Warming."

Archer showed graphs compiled by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, explained the difference between human and geological time, and mapped out the basic chemical equations that result in global warming. The result was "ozone-licious," according to first-year in the College James Moreno, who described the presentation as "hotter than global warming."

Archer presented a list of global warming's effects on the near and distant future. "In our lifetime, we will see warming in the winter and at night, and natural phenomena will be more intense," he said. "Droughts will be dryer, floods will be deeper." When asked why we should care how our actions will affect the inhabitants of earth thousands of years from now, Archer responded, "How would we feel if the ancient Greeks had knowingly screwed up the climate for us?"

Many core biology professors gave extra credit to students who attended. Though many students may have been there for the free pizza or ten points on their midterm, the reaction was largely enthusiastic.

Archer fielded a number of student questions after the presentation. When asked if global warming was the immediate threat shown in the recent blockbuster "Day After Tomorrow," Archer replied on a lighter note, "If I thought the world was going to end, I wouldn't have had children. I did have children. I don't think we're all going to have to jump off buildings anytime soon."