Climate 21

Sea-level rise - what's coming, and how business can help minimise it - a chat with Prof Maureen Raymo

June 23, 2021 Tom Raftery / Prof Maureen Raymo Season 1 Episode 30
Climate 21
Sea-level rise - what's coming, and how business can help minimise it - a chat with Prof Maureen Raymo
Chapters
Climate 21
Sea-level rise - what's coming, and how business can help minimise it - a chat with Prof Maureen Raymo
Jun 23, 2021 Season 1 Episode 30
Tom Raftery / Prof Maureen Raymo

On this 30th episode of the podcast, I'm honoured to be joined by renowned climate scientist Professor Maureen Raymo. Maureen is Co-Founding Dean of Columbia Climate School, and Director at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University.

Here is a sample paragraph from her bio on the Columbia Climate School Leadership page:
Prof. Raymo is an elected fellow of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Geophysical Union, The Geological Society of America, The Geological Society of London, and The Explorer’s Club.  In 2014 she became the first woman to be awarded the Wollaston Medal, The Geological Society of London’s most senior medal previously award to Charles Lyell, Louis Agassiz, and Charles Darwin.  She was awarded the Maurice Ewing Medal by the AGU and U. S. Navy “for significant original contributions to the ocean sciences” and the European Geosciences Union, upon recognizing her accomplishments with the Milankovic Medal, wrote, “Maureen E. Raymo’s work has given names to critical, foundational ideas: the ‘uplift-weathering hypothesis’, the ‘41-thousand-year problem’, ‘Pliocene sea level paradox’, and ‘the Lisiecki-Raymo δ18O Stack’ are all central themes in palaeoceanography that appear in textbooks and have their roots in Raymo’s research and intellectual contributions.”  Maureen’s work, firmly based on observations and data, has shaped our understanding of Earth’s natural climate variability and her many landmark papers have influenced a generation of climate scientists.

So you can see why it is such a great honour to have Prof Raymo (or Maureen as she asked me to call her) come on the podcast.

We had a fascinating conversation, which although it started out bleak discussing sea-level rise, ended on a very optimistic note, I'm delighted to report.

As always, I learned loads (including how to correctly pronounce Pliocene 🤦🏼‍♂️), I hope you do too.

If you have any comments/suggestions or questions for the podcast - feel free to leave me a voice message over on my SpeakPipe page, head on over to the Climate 21 Podcast Forum, or just send it to me as a direct message on Twitter/LinkedIn. Audio messages will get played (unless you specifically ask me not to).

And if you want to know more about any of SAP's Sustainability solutions, head on over to www.sap.com/sustainability and if you liked this show, please don't forget to rate and/or review it. It makes a big difference to help new people discover the show. Thanks.

And remember, stay healthy, stay safe, stay sane!

Music credit - Intro and Outro music for this podcast was composed, played, and produced by my daughter Luna Juniper

Show Notes Transcript

On this 30th episode of the podcast, I'm honoured to be joined by renowned climate scientist Professor Maureen Raymo. Maureen is Co-Founding Dean of Columbia Climate School, and Director at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University.

Here is a sample paragraph from her bio on the Columbia Climate School Leadership page:
Prof. Raymo is an elected fellow of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Geophysical Union, The Geological Society of America, The Geological Society of London, and The Explorer’s Club.  In 2014 she became the first woman to be awarded the Wollaston Medal, The Geological Society of London’s most senior medal previously award to Charles Lyell, Louis Agassiz, and Charles Darwin.  She was awarded the Maurice Ewing Medal by the AGU and U. S. Navy “for significant original contributions to the ocean sciences” and the European Geosciences Union, upon recognizing her accomplishments with the Milankovic Medal, wrote, “Maureen E. Raymo’s work has given names to critical, foundational ideas: the ‘uplift-weathering hypothesis’, the ‘41-thousand-year problem’, ‘Pliocene sea level paradox’, and ‘the Lisiecki-Raymo δ18O Stack’ are all central themes in palaeoceanography that appear in textbooks and have their roots in Raymo’s research and intellectual contributions.”  Maureen’s work, firmly based on observations and data, has shaped our understanding of Earth’s natural climate variability and her many landmark papers have influenced a generation of climate scientists.

So you can see why it is such a great honour to have Prof Raymo (or Maureen as she asked me to call her) come on the podcast.

We had a fascinating conversation, which although it started out bleak discussing sea-level rise, ended on a very optimistic note, I'm delighted to report.

As always, I learned loads (including how to correctly pronounce Pliocene 🤦🏼‍♂️), I hope you do too.

If you have any comments/suggestions or questions for the podcast - feel free to leave me a voice message over on my SpeakPipe page, head on over to the Climate 21 Podcast Forum, or just send it to me as a direct message on Twitter/LinkedIn. Audio messages will get played (unless you specifically ask me not to).

And if you want to know more about any of SAP's Sustainability solutions, head on over to www.sap.com/sustainability and if you liked this show, please don't forget to rate and/or review it. It makes a big difference to help new people discover the show. Thanks.

And remember, stay healthy, stay safe, stay sane!

Music credit - Intro and Outro music for this podcast was composed, played, and produced by my daughter Luna Juniper

Prof Maureen Raymo:

The decisions we make in the next 10 years will determine whether we have, you know, six to 10 feet of sea level rise in the next 100 years. Or if we keep it to two feet. I mean, it's those numbers are obviously not perfectly exact, but the ballpark of that choice is very accurate.

Tom Raftery:

Good morning, good afternoon or good evening wherever you are in the world. This is the climate 21 podcast, the number one podcast showcasing best practices and climate emissions reductions. And I'm your host, global Vice President for SAP. Tom Raftery. Climate 21 is the name of an initiative by SAP to allow our customers calculate, report and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. In this climate 21 podcast, I would showcase best practices and thought leadership by SAP, by our customers, by our partners and by our competitors if their game in climate emissions reductions. Don't forget to subscribe to this podcast in your podcast app of choice to be sure you don't miss any episodes. Hi, everyone. Welcome to the climate 21 podcast. My name is Tom Raftery with SAP and my special guest on the show today is Maureen Maureen, would you like to introduce yourself?

Prof Maureen Raymo:

Hi, Tom. Sure. So my name is Maureen Ramo. I work at Columbia University and Professor of Earth and climate science. And I would call myself a geologist who studies Earth's past history with a special focus on how climate has changed over millions to 1000s to decadal, time timeframes.

Tom Raftery:

Okay, and you may be being a tad modest there. When you say you work at Columbia University. Do you want to expand a little under?

Prof Maureen Raymo:

Ah, okay, so well, now I'll start waving the flag for Columbia University. So I'm actually recently became the director of Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory, which is a satellite campus of Columbia University where percent over 70 years, all the earth and climate scientists of the University have worked. We have our own campus, so to speak,

Tom Raftery:

there was a very famous paper came out of there being the first mention of global warming, is that correct?

Prof Maureen Raymo:

That is correct. One of my old professors who passed away a few years ago was Wally Broker an he wrote a paper back in the 70 , predicting that co2 in the at osphere was going to cause gl bal warming

Tom Raftery:

superb. And your position in Columbia is sorry.

Prof Maureen Raymo:

So I am the G Unger Vetelson, professor of Earth and climate science, I am also one of the CO founding deans of the Columbia climate School, which doesn't need mention here that just is getting off the ground. And I'm also director of Lamont, as I said,

Tom Raftery:

so you, we can take it, then, you know a little bit about climate.

Prof Maureen Raymo:

Yeah, it's been my life, for sure.

Tom Raftery:

Super, super. Thank you for agreeing to come on the podcast.

Prof Maureen Raymo:

It's my pleasure

Tom Raftery:

in your own area of study and expertise is more around if, if I, if I'm understanding correctly, is more around looking back in time to see how increasing co2 levels impacted on sea levels? Is that correct?

Prof Maureen Raymo:

So that is definitely a focus of the research we're doing right now. But if I think about what I've done over my career, I mean, it very much is looking at the history of the Earth is recorded, and it's rocks and sediment and ice and fossils, and asking, what is it telling us about the Earth's climate? How is the climate changed in the past? Why has it changed in the past? What are the important influences on Earth's climate? And that really, you know, I've been doing that for almost 40 years, if I if I go back to you know, my graduate student days, and, and that body of work, not just my own, but collectively people in this field, it informs in it. It creates the context within which we understand what is happening on the earth today.

Tom Raftery:

Okay, and that's obviously important because I, I don't know how many times a week or a month I see articles talking about glaciers breaking down the Antarctic ice sheet breaking up, the Arctic, sea ice, diminishing sea level, rise, all this kind of thing, and it's very rare that you get In those kind of an idea of when all this massive sea level rise is going to come, because it talks about sea level rise of three meters, five meters, seven meters, 10 meters, depending on the article on the day, but the timespan is typically, realistically over, you know, one to two to 300 years. Am I right?

Prof Maureen Raymo:

Yeah, that's, that's correct. But um, you know, a few meters over 100 years is perfectly reasonable, you know, to just circle back to your request, you know, one of the reasons we studied the past is we can, we can see what parts of ice sheets melt, how fast they melt, how fast sea level can rise in the past when the climate is out of equilibrium. And, for instance, we can we have data that shows that at the end of the last ice age, when the world was warming, and the ice sheets are melting quite quickly, sea level was rising at rates, about four meters per century. And that's, you know, that's about 10 feet 10 1112 feet per century. So that's quite extraordinary. So what does that mean? That tells you that when the Earth's climate is out of equilibrium, and the polar ice sheets are melting, that extremely fast rates of sea level rise are possible, almost 10 times higher than we're already observing. So the potential is, is there to get for this for the whole situation to get worse, so to speak. That's not good news, right. But at least it provides bounds from the geologic record. So obviously, the take home messages, we're putting the climate out of equilibrium right now. So we got to be very cognizant of the potential responses of the system as we continue to warm the atmosphere.

Tom Raftery:

Okay. Now, many, many eons ago, when the world was, as you know, at similar levels of co2, as we have today, it's at about 420 parts per million. And it was that is it the Pleistocene era? It was that as well. And does that give us indicators as to where we're headed to? And if so, what does that look like?

Prof Maureen Raymo:

Yeah, Tom. So it was the Pliocene period was the last time there was this much co2 in the atmosphere. We know that through geochemical proxies that that that we can measure in the ocean. And, and that was about 3 million years ago. There was no ice on Greenland, Greenland. There's fossils on the North Shore of Greenland and Ellesmere Island of large forests, kind of mixed step large forests. And there was probably significantly less ice in Antarctica. And if you look, where the shorelines were, at that time, they were about 50 miles inland, if you will, on the east coast of the US, and it is probably that sea level was about 15 feet higher than it present. So that that's pretty significant. So most of the East Coast coastal plain was underwater. From New York down to Florida, Florida was completely underwater.

Tom Raftery:

Sure. Florida is fairly flat and low land anyway. Is that where we're headed?

Prof Maureen Raymo:

Yeah, if we did nothing, and we kept on this trajectory, we would be there in about 1000 years. And you know, obviously, you don't melt 50 feet, sea level equivalent of ice overnight. But you, you know, you, let's say in 500 years, 10 feet first century, right, that gets you to that point. So it is possible to melt an ice sheet at that rate. And here's the kicker, the thing is, once you start it, it's hard to stop it. Right, and we're starting at the rate of sea level rise has doubled in the last 100 years.

Tom Raftery:

And I mean, this is gonna sound like a stupid question, because it is a stupid question. But how much of that is natural? And how much of that is man made?

Prof Maureen Raymo:

That's the perfect question. That's not a stupid question at all. Exactly why you have, you know, hundreds of scientists just like me looking to the past and, and getting funded by the National Science Foundation. So how do we know how much is natural, and how much is manmade. So one way we can do that is look at how sea level has changed over the last 1000 years, for instance, on the east coast of the US and there's a number of ways to do that. One clever way of doing that is go to coastal marshes, and there's very specific little like Little plankton, Marsh plankton, and they live at a very specific, like elevation in a marsh. And so we could take a core and look at what the elevation of those communities were in the core through time. And we can infer where sea level was through time. And you've maybe you've heard of the hockey stick, which is this record of global temperatures. And for the last 1000 years, it's kind of going along, up and down, up and down relatively flat. And then about 150 years ago, it just like, takes a steep turn upward. It's like a hockey stick line on it's lying on the ground, and then going right up. And the sea level record of the East Coast looks just like that. It's like a sea level hockey stick. And so, you know, you can put all this together, and you could say, Okay, well, the sea level rise is following the temperature record. And it makes sense, you know, the ocean warms up, the atmosphere warms up. And two things happen. One, as the ocean warms up it, it expands just the thermal expansion. And of course, it can't expand downward, because it's a solid bottom to the ocean. So it expands up. And that's about half the cause of the sea level rise we've observed over the last 100 years. And again, it's just like, the numbers all add up, right? It's just physics. And then the other half of the sea level rise and increasing contribution to the sea level rise is the change in mass of the polar ice sheets. And that's measurable as well. And that's accelerating as well, we've been measuring the mass of the ice sheets with satellites for I don't know, about two decades now. And we can see that they're losing mass, we can see the ice streams are speeding up, we can also see that the height of the elevation of the ice sheets lowering as it gets drawn down. So there's multiple lines of evidence that says that points to the ice sheets losing mass. And then of course, the flip side is the seas are rising,

Tom Raftery:

and increased volume of water.

Prof Maureen Raymo:

Yep, yep, the water goes into the ocean.

Tom Raftery:

Is there a significant lag between the rise in temperature and the increase in the sea level?

Prof Maureen Raymo:

Yes, there is. That And therein lies the rub. That's the tricky bit, right. You know, I think a lot of people think, Okay, well, when things just get really bad, we'll just somehow magically switch from carbon based fuels, to renewables, not put any more co2 into the atmosphere, and the problem will be solved, you know, we'll just be able to get out of this quickly. But that's not quite how it works. Because the co2 stays in the atmosphere for centuries, it it gets absorbed into the ocean of biosphere very, very, very slowly. And so even if we just stopped putting co2 in tomorrow, the the earth and the atmosphere would continue to warm. And the analogy I like to use is think of the atmosphere is as an oven in your kitchen, and you've preheated it to 350. Okay, and then you take a frozen lasagna out of the freezer and put it in the oven. And you know, the ovens work, and lasagna is frozen. And you know, you can just keep that up and at the same temperature for an hour, and that frozen lasagna will gradually defrost. And that's kind of what's happening with the ice sheets, they just have that huge thermal mass, and they are slowly catching up with the amount of warming that's in the atmosphere right now. So we haven't seen the full equilibrium expression of sea level rise and ice volume for the amount of warming in our atmosphere right now.

Tom Raftery:

And what kind of lag period are we talking about, roughly?

Prof Maureen Raymo:

Centuries. It's like what we said before, like, you know, could take 500 years for the ice sheets to come fully to equilibrium. But the thing is, this is this is where this is what's so cool. I mean, this is where we need to, you know, here, here's another metaphor, so to speak, right? The Titanic is crossing the Atlantic. And somebody sees the iceberg, finally, and they're saying, oh, my god, there's an iceberg. We got to turn the ship, but it's too late because it's just not enough time to turn the ship. And you know, all the scientists, they see this it's like, Look, we got to decarbonize the atmosphere, take the carbon out of the atmosphere, not putting any more tried keep the temperature kept the way it is now. If not get it back to where it was. And because if we don't the ice sheets are going to continue to melt. And you know, that's really problematic because you can't What? Imagine once that water goes into the ocean, it's hard to get it out again, right? How do you regrow an ice sheet when it's this warm? Anyway, it's it's problematic. So the other thing is, we definitely are committed to a certain amount of sea level rise, it's probably going to be a few feet in this century. But the decisions we make in the next 10 years will determine whether we have, you know, six to 10 feet of sea level rise in the next 100 years. Or if we can keep it to to be. I mean, it's, those numbers are obviously not perfectly exact, but the ballpark of that choice is very accurate.

Tom Raftery:

Okay, you've referred several times to the east coast of the United States. Is that because you're based there? Or is there some other scientific reason that you use that as a basis?

Prof Maureen Raymo:

So the East Coast of the United States? I, it is obviously, nearby, I'm in New York, but it is also an area where we've done a lot of research because there's a beautiful continuous shoreline from the Pliocene period 3 million years ago, that goes stretches from Georgia up to Northern Virginia. And so we've done a lot of work, mapping the elevation of that paleo shoreline, collecting fossils, you know, dating it and have shown that, indeed, this is where the shoreline was the last time atmospheric co2 was as high as today. So Washington, DC would be completely underwater, for instance,

Tom Raftery:

some people would argue that might not be a bad thing

Prof Maureen Raymo:

I'm pretty happy right now. When we I mean, we have an administration right now that understands the seriousness of the of the climate change threat.

Tom Raftery:

Fair point, fair point. If we magically stopped carbon emissions tomorrow, or in 2030, or in 2050, if we magically turned off carbon emissions? Is it I mean, will that stop the temperature rise and subsequently stopped the sea level rise? albeit, you know, 500 years later?

Prof Maureen Raymo:

Um, yeah. So if we just were able to just stop emissions? Yeah, it would, the temperature would stabilize. Most people think we also should take out some of the co2 we've already put back in. But yeah, the climate would stabilize.

Tom Raftery:

So the sooner we do that, the better.

Prof Maureen Raymo:

I mean, that that's it this long, it's like, it's, it's definitely a problem where the longer you put off taking action, the more severe the consequences will be, and the harder the job will be in the long run. So it's almost like a preventive. You could think of it as preventative maintenance. Except it's not quite preventative because we've already obviously polluted the atmosphere so much. Yeah. But really it is this, the longer we leave it, the more severe the consequences, the greater the suffering, the more damaging just to ecosystems to sea level to, to all aspects of of the earth, you know, the outcome will be?

Tom Raftery:

Yeah, yeah. I think part of the problem with this discussion can be that when you talk about effects that take place in 500 to 1000 years, people kind of go. So what, yeah, you know, how do we make it more immediate?

Prof Maureen Raymo:

Well, I mean, when you talk about 10 feet of sea level rise, yes, that's 100 200 years. On the other hand, the negative consequences of climate change are already here. I mean, we've already had a little less than a foot of sea level rise in the last 120 years associated with the one degree Celsius, average warming of the entire planet. And that's already causing a lot of problems. it you know, Superstorm Sandy was a perfect example, in New York. I mean, you add an extra foot of water on top of the storm surge. It is far more devastating and damaging, nuisance flooding all up and down the East Coast and Gulf Coast in the United States. Sunny Day nuisance flooding never happened 3040 years ago. It's happens all the time. Now. They've had to raise the roads in my town. There's whole communities out on the Outer Banks that they're discussing, you know, what their long term future viability even is. And that's just sea level, then you could talk about things like the increasing drought and temperatures in the West, and in Australia, in any number of places around the world. And what is that resulting in extraordinarily devastating wildfire seasons, woods are warmer, there's less rain, you know, the wildfires are, are just unbelievably devastating. I mean, last summer in, in California, I mean, people just had to wear masks all the time, just because the air quality was so awful. You know, there's any number, you know, there's just so many impacts of climate change, and they're already here, and more and more people are beginning to be impacted by them. That, you know, just imagine gifting that to your children, the next generation. And, you know, and not only as bad as it is now, but significantly worse. And so it really is a problem to come back to your original question that requires us to think not not about ourselves, but the world, we want to leave our children and our grandchildren. The problems we want to want them to inherit, because they will inherit it. Yeah. Yeah.

Tom Raftery:

Maybe Maybe I'm cynical, but I think that we've demonstrated as a species, that we don't tend to be very good at thinking of future generations.

Prof Maureen Raymo:

That's true. Yes. I'm really optimistic, though. Right now, Tom. I mean, I think that, you know, the engagement of the business community and thinking about climate change right now. I mean, that's like that. I didn't see that five years ago. And you know, and I think it does come back to, you know, I'm not quite sure how but but it must all be affecting everybody's bottom line at this point. And maybe it's consumers, demanding increasing awareness of climate change and demanding products that aren't toxic to the environment and increasing awareness that co2, which is invisible, and you can't smell it or see it, but it is a pollution, it is a pollutant, and it we're polluting our planet. And I think more and more people understand that and does have consequences. So I don't know, I'm really optimistic that we can solve this problem.

Tom Raftery:

So and what what, what can we do? I mean, a lot of the listeners to this podcast, I want to think are in the business community, what can we do in the business community to help solve this problem?

Prof Maureen Raymo:

Well, that's, that's actually, I actually bet you could answer that question better than I, you know, there's, yeah, I don't know. That's, that's really interesting. I think about it, I get asked that question by individuals a lot. Right. And, you know, when I give talks about climate change to public audiences, and I usually say, you know, buy, educate, vote, just remember bad. You know, consumers have, you know, I believe in the power of the person in capitalism moderated by strong government, but, you know, we can demand products and in services that are good for the planet, we, you know, we can choose renewable electricity, we can choose to drive electric cars, we can choose not to eat beef, for instance, which is huge environmental costs associated with it. And, and, and more and more, we're seeing that happen, right? I mean, my glasses right here, I love them. They're made out of recycled ocean plastic, oh, well, I don't like I'll buy those. That's cool. And, and so that's by that, you know, consumers are driving this, educate, educate yourselves, educate your families, educate your neighbors, engage in in, in your communities, and then vote, you know, we've seen the power of the vote recently in the US. I mean, that's all it took was just changed, who was in charge in Washington, and all of a sudden, all these really forward looking legislation is coming out, specifically tackling climate change problems in huge planned increases in funding for science and engineering to try to figure out clever ways to decarbonize both the economies and the existing carbon that's in the atmosphere, infrastructure projects that help the country transition to renewable energy. infrastructures, increased funding just for basic science research, use inspired engineering research. I mean, it's really like night and day, honestly, Tom, and it's really exciting to just see this kind of go from ostrich head in the sand, not happening, not nothing we need to worry about to, you know, an approach. It's like, Hey, this is a problem. It's not a hoax, it's real. And the sooner we solve it, the better and so let's throw the collective, like just brain power and creativity of our nation at this problem. And I will say, just to wrap that up with a bow, the, you know, the, the military considers climate change to be the most the single greatest threat to, to the nation just in terms of, you know, the negative impact of climate change around the world, in destabilizing countries, populations, creating climate refugees. And so there's, you know, there's just many, many reasons to be focused on solving this problem.

Tom Raftery:

I like it. I love it BEV. Buy Educate and Vote. I'm used to the term BEV standing for a battery electric vehicle, and I'm a huge enthusiast of electric vehicles. But so this one will be easy for me to remember. Oh, good. Thank you for that. Maureen, we're coming towards the end of the podcast. Now. Is there any question I have not asked you that you kind of wish I had? Or is there any aspect of this that we've not discussed that you think it's important for people to be aware of?

Prof Maureen Raymo:

Oh, that's interesting. I can tell you about one of my favorite cartoons

Tom Raftery:

superbe. I love cartoons, go for it.

Prof Maureen Raymo:

So I have this, I have this favorite cartoon. It's from a cartoonist named Joel pet. And I'm looking at it right now on my desk. And it's a picture of, you know, white girl white guy behind a podium at a climate summit. And there's a big display behind him, you know, his PowerPoint, and it says energy independence, preserve rain forests, sustainability, green jobs, livable cities, clean water, air, healthy children, etc, etc. And then in the back of the audience, there's these two folks talking going, what if it's a big hoax, and we create a better world for nothing. And that's how I always think about it. It's like, we shouldn't be doing all these things we're doing anyways, just because it's we're building a better world. And I really optimistic we're gonna get there I really am. And more and more people are see the impacts of climate change around them. Certainly anyone that lives near an ocean knows that. And, you know, the logic of having to do tackle this straight on with ambition and creativity, I think is becoming increasingly appreciated across the entire cross section of population. So cool. That's my optimistic Thought for the Day.

Tom Raftery:

Good, great. James Hansen, has said we should get the co2 levels back down to 350. I'm always wondering why 350? And not, you know, 250, or 270 where it was for millennia?

Prof Maureen Raymo:

Yeah, that is a good question. Three, the 350 really comes from that kind of threshold above which you went pre or prior to the ice ages and to the Pliocene, and where we saw the higher sea levels. In fact, I haven't, I have a personal connection to the 350 paper, that 350 paper, I was a co author on go when it comes back to that Pliocene data that we talked about the sea level data. So that's between 350 and 450, you kind of bake in a sea level rise, that starts to be on the order of 10s of 10s of feet. And, you know, that's just think about the world, most of the major cities in the world are at sea level, just kind of an inherited result of the days of sea travel and commerce around the world, you know, going back hundreds of years, you raise sea level by 1020 feet. It's it's just hard to imagine how you would even I mean, it would be a crisis of unmanageable proportions. So that that's where that number comes from. 350. So to how would we get to 350 I would be aggressively pivoting away from fossil fuels, combined with aggressive removal of co2 from the atmosphere, but you got to do it all So there's not a single silver bullet that's going to be able to solve this problem really have to have a very holistic approach to it all.

Tom Raftery:

Sure. And should we stop at 350? Why not go for 250?

Prof Maureen Raymo:

Why not? Well, 250, we'd start going back into an ice age 280 is where it was 280 sorry, started the Industrial Revolution. So and we weren't going back into an ice age. I mean, that that this is another funny thing. I don't know if we have time. But still people I get this, you know, from the like, Twitter, trolls or whatever they say, Oh, you climate scientists, you were talking about how we were going into an ice age in the 70s. And now you're talking about global warming. And the funny thing is, is that that was exactly when I was in college and then going into graduate school. And it was so exciting in the field of paleoclimate because the first proof was published, of the orbital theory of the ice ages, which is an understanding that the ICE agents are caused by these very long timescale wobbles in our orbit around the sun. And, you know, it's been a hypothesis for 100 years or more, and it's finally been proven. And and once we realized that, it was like, Oh, my God, we should be going into an ice age next. And we should, and we would probably be getting cooler, if not for the fact that we have turned up the greenhouse gas style at the same time. So

Tom Raftery:

had we gone into a another Ice Age? How long would that have lasted?

Prof Maureen Raymo:

Probably about 100,000 years. That's how long the 80,000 years is about how long they last? Yeah. Okay, so

Tom Raftery:

maybe maybe we should leave it at 350.

Prof Maureen Raymo:

I mean, the funny thing is, right, Tom, let's say over the next few 100 years, there was no co2 because we were all nuclear powered world or something like that. And, you know, the scientists would have been, I don't know, it's been getting colder for like a couple 100 years getting cars getting called going into the ninth stage, we understand that theories, the Earth's orbit is shifting. And they would have said, Oh, my God, what can we do? We can't, can't go into an ice age. That's no fun either. And probably what we would have done is say, Okay, well, we just got to counteract it by putting co2 in the atmosphere. So let's go dig up some coal and oil and combust it and put the co2 in that will counteract the Ice Age trend.

Tom Raftery:

There. So maybe in some ways, it's not a bad thing. That's not as bad as Yeah, it's a bad thing.That's just silly.

Prof Maureen Raymo:

The point is, is that we control the climate now, we're just not doing a very good job. Okay. Humans have the ability to control the climate of a planet. That's crazy.

Tom Raftery:

That's insane. That is insane. Great. Maureen. If people want to know more about yourself, or about the topics we've discussed today, or about the Columbia climate center, or any, anything else we talked about, where would you have me direct them,

Prof Maureen Raymo:

so they could absolutely go to the website of the Columbia University climate school or the website of Lamont Doherty Earth observatory. And find lots of information. There's also just more broadly, lots of information about climate on NASA websites, I find them terrific National Academy of Sciences website. There's a lot of great places to get information.

Tom Raftery:

Superb Maureen. That's been great. Thanks a million for coming on the podcast today.

Prof Maureen Raymo:

Thank you, Tom. It's been a pleasure.

Tom Raftery:

Okay, we've come to the end of the show. Thanks, everyone for listening. If you'd like to know more about climate 21, feel free to drop me an email to Tom raftery@sap.com or connect with me on LinkedIn or Twitter. If you liked the show, please don't forget to subscribe to it in your podcast application of choice to get new episodes as soon as they're published. Also, please don't forget to rate and review the podcast. It really does help new people to find the show. Thanks. Catch you all next time.