On Wednesday 27 Februari 2013 Rik Leemans, chief scientist of the Earth Systems Sciences Partnership and Professor at Wageningen University, delivered a lecture entitled “Giant Steps - the Scientific Perspective” for the EPA climate change lecture series. This lecture was the first in a series of “Giant Steps” lectures to coincide with the Irish Presidency of the Council of European Union.
The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) aims to be a leader in the climate debate in Ireland, and provide up-to-date scientific information to a range of audiences, from policymakers to the general public.
Commenting on the lecture Laura Burke, EPA Director General, said:
“Ireland’s presidency of the EU comes at a time when world governments have a renewed focus on the development of a global agreement to enhance actions on climate change by 2015. There are also major initiatives underway by businesses, community groups and institutions to address this challenge. Professor Leemans will outline the messages from science and the extent of the challenges which need to be addressed. His lecture will review the options - or Giant Steps - that are needed to address these changes from a scientific perspective.”
Professor Leemans reviewed the messages coming from Earth systems science which include those from studies of land, ocean, and atmospheric systems as well as the social and economic drivers of change in these systems. Human induced changes to these systems are shifting the Earth to a new state which has never been experienced before. The changes are accelerating with climate change being one of the central drivers of this change.
Ms Burke continued:
“A stable climate is central to human social and economic development. We are now moving to an era in which that stability can no longer be assumed. This requires a new perspective on how we manage our resources and ensure that the essential Earth systems that have allowed us to prosper are maintained.”
As well as coinciding with the Irish Presidency, this lecture is a key outreach event in association with the Science Foundation Ireland Joint Programming Conference 2013. Future lectures in this series will aim to focus of global policy development and responses by key stakeholders.