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I am Bill Moomaw, Professor Emeritus of International Environmental Policy at Tufts University, and Chair of the Science Committee at Earthwatch Institute. AMA!
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Hi Reddit, Last year, I retired from Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy (the only chemist on the faculty!), where I founded and directed the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy (http://fletcher.tufts.edu/CIERP) for 22 years. I supervised many masters’ and doctoral students during that time, including the co-chair of the Paris climate negotiations. I continue to work on climate science and policy, energy, water, forests and oceans to develop scientifically valid and effective strategies and policies. I served as a lead author on five IPCC reports over a 19-year period. Until recently I served as Chief Scientist at Earthwatch Institute (http://earthwatch.org/) and continue to serve as the Chair of their Science Committee. I also serve on the board of directors of Woods Hole Research Center (http://whrc.org/), ranked as the most influential climate think tank for the past two years, and several additional environmental science and consensus building organizations. The science of climate change is complex, and the politics are more so. I have always found the interaction between the two to be fascinating, and remember being shocked as a young scientist that science did not always determine the political outcome of a policy process. I want to share with you the role of science in the outcome of the Paris climate negotiation that just ended on December 11th, 2015. A bit of history: back in the 1980s, a group of scientists convinced some governments that based on their research, the release of heat trapping gases into the atmosphere would heat the earth to a point where there could be uncontrollable and irreversible warming with devastating consequences for all life, including humans. This science prompted two actions. The first was to create the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to provide scientific input to governments on the science, impacts, vulnerabilities, adaptation, and mitigation of climate change. The second was to negotiate an international treaty, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change that was signed by 154 nations in 1992. The Paris negotiations were the 21st meeting of the parties to the original treaty, and its actions both utilized and ignored science in the final outcome. I invite you to join me in a discussion about how science and policy came together and diverged over issues like the 2oC global temperature goal during the recent Paris talks. I’ll be back at 1 pm EST (10 AM PST, 6 pm UTC) to answer your questions, ask me anything! EDIT: We are live! EDIT IN CLOSING: Thank you all for your engagement, and your thoughtful questions. It has been very gratifying to hear your concerns. Let me close with one final thought. So many actions to address climate change have many additional benefits for providing sustainable energy to all and lift people out of poverty. There would be far less damage to the planet and our health if we can make the shift away form fossil fuels. As I said earlier, we also need to do Restorative Development to mobilize the biosphere so that we improve our forests and land quality every time we use them instead of constantly degrading them. Perhaps, you will enjoy one of my favorite cartoons as a closing. http://imgur.com/up6yu