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Memorial Lecture Series
 

 

Forty-Fifth George Gamow Memorial Lecture

Dr. Richard Alley

Evan Pugh Professor of Geosciences and Associate of the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute Pennsylvania State University

"Learning While Burning:
Peak (whale) Oil, Changing Climate and Our Future"

Free and open to the public

Monday, March 29, 2010 at 7:30 p.m.
Macky Auditorium
University of Colorado at Boulder

Dr. Richard Alley is Evan Pugh Professor of Geosciences and Associate of the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute at the Pennsylvania State University, University Park, where he has worked since 1988. He was graduated with the Ph.D. in 1987 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and with M.Sc. (1983) and B.Sc. (1980) degrees from Ohio State University-Columbus, all in Geology. Dr. Alley teaches, and conducts research on the climatic records, flow behavior, and sedimentary deposits of large ice sheets, to aid in prediction of future changes in climate and sea level. His experience includes three field seasons in Antarctica, eight in Greenland, and three in Alaska. His awards include election to the US National Academy of Sciences, the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, the Revelle Medal of the American Geophysical Union and the Horton Award of their Hydrology Section and Fellowship in the Union, the Seligman Crystal of the International Glaciological Society, the first Agassiz Medal of the European Geosciences Union Cryospheric Section, Fellowship in the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the US Presidential Young Investigator Award, the Public Service Award of the Geological Society of America, the Easterbrook Award of their Quaternary Geology and Geomorphology Division and Fellow in the Society, the American Geological Institute Award for Outstanding Contribution to Public Understanding of the Geosciences, and at Penn State, the Eisenhower Teaching Award, the Evan Pugh Professorship, the Faculty Scholar Medal in Science, and the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences Wilson Teaching Award, Mitchell Innovative Teaching Award and Faculty Mentoring Award.

Dr. Alley has served on a variety of advisory panels and steering committees, including chairing the National Research Council's Panel on Abrupt Climate Change and participating in the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (which was co-recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize), and has provided requested advice to numerous government officials in multiple administrations including a US Vice President, the President's Science Advisor, and committees and individual members of the US Senate and the House of Representatives. He has published over 190 refereed papers, and is a 'highly cited' scientist as indexed by the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI). His popular account of climate change and ice cores, The Two-Mile Time Machine, was chosen science book of the year by Phi Beta Kappa in 2001. Dr. Alley is happily married with two daughters in college, two cats still at home, two bicycles, and a pair of soccer cleats.

Abstract about the Lecture:

You, and Einstein, and Lincoln, each use or used about as much energy inside as a 100-watt light bulb, but your share of total energy use in the US is about 100 times that much, with almost all of that "outside" energy from fossil fuels that will run out.  We have high scientific confidence that learning to use alternatives while burning will make life easier for our grandchildren, but that burning before learning will make their lives harder. Testing this science against the history of Earth's climate motivates faster learning.  Fortunately, we are surrounded by more options than we'll ever need, and we already have our learner's permit.

photo of Dr. Alley coutesy of BBC