Alumnus honored at climate change talk

By Andrew Musur

Former University analytical chemist and alumnus, Charles David Keeling, was honored at an event last Thursday at Noyes Laboratory by George Mason University Professor Edward Maibach. Maibach has been working since 2009 with several meteorologists around the country in order to teach citizens about local climate changes. 

“Most Americans are convinced the climate is changing and they want solution enacted, but most feel little sense of urgency,” Maibach said.

Keeling, who died in 2005, was a 1948 graduate from the University. He was known for his methods of taking precise measurements of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which were the first to show the possibility of human contribution to the greenhouse effect and global warming.

Keeling produced a data set known as the Keeling Curve, which shows that the oceans readily absorb excess carbon dioxide produced by burning fossil fuels.

Keeling helped change the way scientists looked at the world, Maibach said, and was known for changing the way scientists monitor atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. Keeling received the National Medal of Science in 2002 from President Bush, the nation’s highest award for lifetime achievement in scientific research.

Maibach said he wants to educate people on climate change, so they can see it does matter. 

“While many Americans are changing their behavior to do something about climate change, the behaviors they are performing do not make all that much of a difference,” Maibach said.

The ultimate goal for Maibach is to have people understand the importance of climate change through informing meteorologists on his theories, who can then educate the general public.

“TV weather broadcasters now have the ability to show people that climate change is part of a broader trend,” Maibach said.

University students’ opinions stand divided on what they think about Maibach’s presentation.

“Overall the presentation by Maibach was very informational, and I was able to see the big picture, but I just do not see how this will help us,” said Nick Portillo, freshman in LAS. “I know for one, I am too lazy to get up and completely change my life around to stop climate change, and I feel most Americans can agree with that.”

On the other hand, not all students agree with this viewpoint, such as Natalie Gacek, freshman in Media.

“I really think we are going to change as a society,” Gacek said. “Maibach is opening a door that no one has ever been introduced to, this will change what the world becomes in the future.”

Andrew can be reached at [email protected]