Freshman students learned about climate changes first-hand from Elizabeth Kolbert, the author of “Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change,” during two lectures Wednesday at the Morgan Auditorium.
The book is a required reading as part of the One Book, One University Program for the Freshman La Verne Experience.
Though the book was a requirement, many students said they related to it and the lecture.
“Smart creative people like you will tackle these problems and the world is in good hands,” Kolbert said.
“We all have an obligation to try. These problems will be here for your lifetime and the lifetime for your children.”
According to Kolbert, climate change is occurring at a faster pace than expected, with the oceans absorbing one additional million metric ton of carbon dioxide every four hours.
The acidity of oceans has also increased 30 percent since 200 years ago. Carbon dioxide concentration is also increasing rapidly each year.
“We’ll never go back down to less than 400 ppm (parts per million) and it’ll continue increasing,” Kolbert said.
“The carbon dioxide level has never gone up to 300 ppm until very, very recently.”
This will cause temperatures to increase around the world, especially in the North Arctic. In the decades to come, there will not be any ice caps in the Arctic during the summer, Kolbert said.
“Many people argue and say it is exaggerated,” Kolbert said. “There’s little people that think the situation is more severe than expected, although this seems to be the case.”
Climate change doubters are probably too conservative in measuring the severe climate change, Kolbert said.
Kolbert also said the 21st century America is a product of choice and anyone can contribute to change.
She said humans are currently determining the future of evolution, whether some species will die or live.
“Some archeologists are saying we are now living in a new period, the Age of Man,” Kolbert said. “We are affecting species of so many organisms due to our actions.”
Kolbert summarized many other main points from her book and ended the lecture with encouragements for the freshman students to think about what they can achieve in college and beyond.
“The most interesting part is Chapter 5 because it was about the connection between Asian societies and climate change,” freshman business administration major Jeff Zhang said. “The book is so far, so good.”
Some students are not as optimistic about the issues.
“It’s a matter of changing habits,” sophomore chemistry major Katherine Bay said.
“We’re all aware of global warming, but are we really going to stop driving cars to lower carbon dioxide emission? Are we going to stop using air conditioning? The answer is no.”
Although the lecture was short, many significant issues were discussed, leading to faculty members and students discussing the lecture after it ended.
“Mrs. Kolbert let the facts speak for themselves while bringing them to the level and the context of the FLEX freshmen classes to whom she was primarily speaking,” Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs Al Clark said.
“If anyone left her lecture doubting the fact of global warming and possible dangers that it poses to the human species, they either slept during the talk or refused to listen.”
Cody Luk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.