Everyone has heard about global warming, but few understand how environmental feedback loops amplify the warming even further. With captivating illustrations and interviews with leading climate scientists, this 5-part science documentary and panel discussion series explores how human activity is setting off Earth’s own warming loops that are pushing the climate to a point of no return—from the melting ice and snow in the Arctic to the atmospheric jet stream to the thawing of permafrost—and what we can do to stop them.
Join Physicians for Social Responsibility Pennsylvania for five intriguing panel discussions over the next six months as we delve into the Climate Emergency: Feedback Loops. Technology hosted by Halt the Harm.
Watch the short films prior to the discussions here: https://feedbackloopsclimate.com/
Attend one or all of these sessions on the dates shared below. Please note that all sessions will take place from 6 - 7 PM Eastern.
July 21, 2022: Permafrost
Permafrost, an icy expanse of frozen ground covering one-quarter of the Northern Hemisphere, is thawing. As it does, microscopic animals are waking up and feeding on the previously frozen carbon stored in plant and animal remains, releasing heat-trapping gasses as a byproduct. These gasses warm the atmosphere further, melting more permafrost in a dangerous feedback loop. With permafrost containing twice as much carbon as the atmosphere, its thaw could release 150 billion tons of carbon by the end of the century.
Robert Max Holmes, PhD (President and CEO, Woodwell Climate Research Center)
Lisa Winter - Environmental Scientist, Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council
Steph Lee, MD, MPH, FAAP - Pediatrician and Preventive Medicine Specialist / Spokesperson for American Academy of Pediatrics
Moderator: Alan Greenglass, MD
September 15, 2022: Atmosphere
Global warming is altering Earth’s weather patterns dramatically. A warmer atmosphere absorbs more water vapor, which in turn traps more heat and warms the planet further in an accelerating feedback loop. Climate change is also disrupting the jet stream, triggering a feedback loop that brings warm air northward, and causes weather patterns to stall in place for longer.
Jennifer Francis, PhD (Acting Deputy Director and Senior Scientist, Woodwell Climate Research Center)
Deepti Singh, PhD (Assistant Professor, School of the Environment at Washington State University Vancouver)
Moderator: Daniel Wolk, MD
October 20, 2022: Albedo
The reflectivity of snow and ice at the poles, known as the albedo effect, is one of Earth’s most important cooling mechanisms. But global warming has reduced this reflectivity drastically, setting off a dangerous warming loop: as more Arctic ice and snow melt, the albedo effect decreases, warming the Arctic further, and melting more ice and snow. The volume of Arctic ice has already shrunk 75% In the past 40 years, and scientists predict that the Arctic Ocean will be completely ice-free during the summer months by the end of the century.
Joellen Russell, PhD (Thomas R. Brown Distinguished Chair of Integrative Science and Professor at the University of Arizona in the Department of Geosciences);
Sarah Zhou Rosengard, PhD (Assistant Professor of Environmental Chemistry, School of the Art Institute of Chicago)
Moderator: Pouné Saberi, MD, MPH
November 17, 2022: Forests
The world’s forests are responsible for removing a quarter of all human carbon emissions from the atmosphere and are essential for cooling the planet. But that fraction is shrinking as the three major forests of the world—tropical, boreal, and temperate—succumb to the effects of climate feedback loops. The resulting tree dieback threatens to tip forests from net carbon absorbers to net carbon emitters, heating rather than cooling the planet.
Michael Coe, PhD (Tropics Program Director and Senior Scientist, Woodwell Climate Research Center)
Beverly Law, PhD (Professor Emeritus, College of Forestry, Oregon State University).
Susan Masino, PhD (Vernon D. Roosa Professor of Applied Science, Trinity College)