One of the most exhaustive, comprehensive, cerebral and unimaginably superior lectures ever delivered on the topic ‘Climate & Society’.
Mr. Ramaswamy, in a serious tone, prophesied that the future would be bleak if the leaders of today cannot shed their inept reluctance in learning from the climate catastrophes of the past. The speaker observed that, we, the civilization of present times, are blessed with the technological sophistication that can distil clear patterns from the infinitely complex history.
Referring to Dr. Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s proposition “To build robustness into negative ones that occur, and being able to exploit positive ones”, he pointed out that it is vitally important to hear out opinions of critics and scientists both. Taking leafs out of Al Gore’s climate campaign, Dr. Ramaswamy noted that the struggle to bear upon the nations, the gravity of situation on the climate front, has always been there.
In a different context, the speaker quoting Einstein “Not everything that counts can be counted…” cautioned us that in the fight to decode climate changes and their direct correlations to the rise and fall of civilizations, we may end up with conclusions the solutions to which might have slipped away from our hands by then.
The speaker also presented to us, the notion of Alarmists ( CO2 levels dominant) and the Deniers (influence of oceans and changes in sunlight). Here, he advised us that in our endeavour to find answers, we make provisions to hear from both the parties, not just in climate but elsewhere too.
About “Maunder Minimum-period of minimal sunspot activity”, the speaker spent some time ruminating on the monsoons of India, and whether there was a connection. About Marib Dam, Yemen built in 750 BC, upgraded in 1968, Dr. Ramaswamy took us through the rationale behind Yemen tribes moving away from the region following the collapse of the dam.
His lecture included tireless evocation of the forces behind the victims of Tambora volcanic explosion that resulted in crop failures, increased sulphur content in atmosphere, etc. Towards the end, the speaker ran us through the events surrounding Toba’s explosion (74000 yrs ago that killed all but 3000 people on the planet), the recent Tsunami, Global impacts of the El Nino southern oscillation that is depriving India of rainfall.
He also discussed at length, the theories of Eccentricity, precision, obliquity and their combined effect on climate; Thermohaline circulation; The 8.2 ka BP event 6250 BC, sudden cooling of northern hemisphere; 4.2 ka BPGiant release of ice bergs into the atlantic oceans ;ITCZ inter tropical convergence zone and thermal equator; Tipping points in earth’s climate system-chaotic tipping points; “runaway greenhouse dynamics”.
Dr. Ramaswamy ended his delightful lecture of epic proportions with Dr. Jared Diamond’s analysis of societies in his book “Collapse”.