Sunset For GannetsClimate change is front and center at COP 21, which kicked off on Nov. 30 in Paris. At UW’s College of the Environment, a variety of scientists and researchers—biological, chemical, ecological, social, geophysical, and more—are examining climate change through their own unique lenses. Here’s what a few of them are looking to hear discussed through Dec. 11 at this year’s gathering of the Conference of Parties:

  • “If you’re going to create a durable international agreement, it has to be something that everyone can be happy with this year, 10 years from now, and 20 years from now. Keeping parties from walking away from an international agreement is really hard. I’m interested in that difficult problem—how do you keep people at the table?” —Ryan Kelly, Marine and Environmental Affairs
  • “I’m so pleased to see the climate conversation broadening to include issues of human health, transportation, water and energy systems, trade and national security, and economic development. A changing climate will have a broader impact than many people realize—fundamentally upsetting our implicit expectations about what kind of a world we live in.” —Amy Snover, UW Climate Impacts Group
  • “One of the most important things that came out of the 2013 IPCC is that we are about half way to 2 degrees Celsius warming, and we will get there in about 35 years at current rates of emission. So, we have little time to act if we don’t want to initiate very damaging warming that will be unstoppable and virtually permanent, giving rise to melting of significant parts of Greenland and Antarctica, and lots of other major changes.” —Dennis Hartmann, Atmospheric Sciences
  • “Strangely, I think one of the most interesting things about the climate conversation is not climate science itself, but what we learn about how people process scientific information and arrive at opinions that ultimately translate into decision making (or the lack thereof). There is still much to be learned about the climate itself, but the more important question is how we translate it into policy.” —Axel Schweiger, Applied Physics Laboratory

Written by: Kelly Knickerbocker, kknick@uw.edu