Lovelock’s public lecture ‘Climate change on the living Earth’ 18:30 GMT=11:30 PDT

October 29, 2007 at 9:52 am | Posted in Climate change, Lovelock, Royal Society, Uncategorized, Webcast | 2 Comments

Today, Monday 29 October 2007 at 6:30 pm GMT there’s a Public Lecture at The Royal Society by Professor James Lovelock CH CBE FRS that will be webcast live at

Observations from around the Earth suggest that even the gloomiest predictions of climate change from the 2007 IPCC report may underestimate the seriousness of the changes due this century. In this lecture, Professor James Lovelock will discuss the consequences, particularly for the UK and Europe, and how we might respond by an adaptive retreat whilst at the same time seeking a global solution to what seem to be ineluctable adverse changes in the Earth’s climate.

Our clocks changed (we fell backwards) this weekend, so if you are interested in watching this in California, you need to know that we are now only seven hours ahead of you, until you fall backwards too!

Well, I don’t know what to make of Lovelock, nor how to explain his approach to kids.

Looking up the official Royal Society press release after noticing that this talk had ended with a note of hope in The Independent in Rapid global warming will create famine and drought, Lovelock warns, while The Daily Telegraph jumped at the chance to promote the hopeless business-as-use-u-all scenario in James Lovelock: Reducing emissions could speed global warming, I found today’s Royal Society Science in the News summarises thus:

James Lovelock FRS will tonight warn the Royal Society that climate change is happening faster than expected and its consequences could have dire consequences for the survival of the human race.

There’s nothing new in that: if we take no significant action now, we know we are heading for trouble.  The abstract for the Royal Society press release reads:

Humans at war with Earth on climate change says James Lovelock
29 Oct 2007
We could be on the brink of natural disaster and even the gloomiest predictions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) latest report are underestimating the current severity of climate change, Professor James Lovelock will say at a public lecture at the Royal Society – the UK National Academy of Science – today (Monday 29 October 2007).

Hmmm …  so, I don’t disagree we are in deep trouble here, but I can’t help thinking Lovelock’s attitude is coming across as so negative as to be useless at this time.  Does this alarming talk inspire action?  I think not.  What do you make of this?  How would you explain his emphasis to kids?



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  1. No end of people have been hopeful and positive about the future.
    It has done no good.
    As he asks in the lecture; Kyoto was 10 years ago, and what have we achieved?
    He also mentions that it appears a shocking event is needed to prompt action. A mere 30,000 deaths in the European 2003 heat-wave were basically ignored.

    Yes, this “alarming talk” inspires action, at least in me and a few other people.
    The problem is that on TV everything appears to be business as usual, so end-of-the-world talk doesn’t seem quite real.

    If you don’t act now, how are YOU going to explain your inaction to your kids?
    Perhaps something like “It just all seemed too hard”???

  2. Dear Derek,

    I am not in favour of inaction while remaining hopeful.
    Rather, I advocate action—and as much as possible—while increasing hope.
    The reason I posed the question is that I know many people who have worked long and hard on environmental issues, who are now tending to fall into despair. I also know teenagers who look at the world with dim views, and certainly hold a dim view of my generation of slackers!
    So, for many people, Lovelock’s alarms are too depressing. He says he is advocating action, but the media report the alarm, more often than not, without the action that follows. This, to my mind, is counterproductive.
    As far as my own life is concerned, my own kids know exactly the changes we have made and continue to make, and they are pleased that we are taking action in many ways, including learning best practices and not waiting for others to take the lead.

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