Living in an uncertain world
Cabot Institute Director Prof Rich Pancost
8 West 3.22 Lecture Theatre
Abstract: Our future Uncertain World is not one of which we have no knowledge - we have high confidence that temperatures and sea level will rise – but there is uncertainty in the magnitude and speed of change. Nor should we view The Uncertain World with existential fear - we know that warm worlds have existed in the past. However, crucial details remain difficult to predict: we do not know whether many regions of the world will become wetter or dryer. Moreover, the consequences of these rapid changes on the wider and complex biological and chemical systems, and the people dependent upon them, are poorly understood. How do we better understand such issues? What are their implications in terms of policy decisions being made today? And how do we become a resilient city - both to the changes that are likely to come but also those that are difficult to forecast?
Biography: Professor Richard Pancost obtained his BSc in Geology from Case Western Reserve University, a PhD in Geosciences from Penn State University and subsequently studied global environmental change at the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research. In 2000 Rich was appointed as a Lecturer in Biogeochemistry in the Organic Geochemistry Unit of the School of Chemistry, University of Bristol, and in 2010 was promoted to Professor. He conducts research on how organisms adapt to environmental conditions, how they mediate our planet’s chemical environment and how their molecular signatures can be used to reconstruct the history of our planet’s climate and environment. Three major themes have emerged from his research: 1) the past record of climate broadly confirms our first order understanding of the climate system: a doubling of CO2 will bring about 2-4C of warming; 2) current rates of environmental change are essentially without precedent in geological history creating deep uncertainty in predicting biotic responses to rapid global warming; and 3) it is very difficult to predict how complex biogeochemical systems respond to rapid global warming, revealing the deep uncertainty associated with climate change, especially with respect to the sustainability of ecosystems on which we depend. In 2013, Professor Pancost became Director of the Cabot Institute which engages interdisciplinary approaches to address the major environmental challenges of the 21st century.
Prof Richard Pancost is also:
Advisor to Bristol 2015 European Green Capital http://www.bristol2015.co.uk/
Professor of Biogeochemistry
Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Scholar
Organic Geochemistry Unit
School of Chemistry
The Cabot Institute
University of Bristol