Friday, August 03, 2007

Secret Science Club Encourages Lay Scientific Musing

On Wednesday, Geekanerd Correspondent Sarah B checked out Secret Science Club at Union Hall in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

The guest speaker this month was biogeochemist (I learned this word from Union Hall's myspace) William Schlesinger, global warming expert.
Here's a guerilla photo of Dr. Schlesinger talking about trees (Park Slopics and Environmentalists in foreground).

You may know that plants eat CO2, so you may think: well if CO2 emissions are choking the Earth, isn't that OK, since trees will have more to snack on? Answer I learned at the club: a few extra trees will grow (he said 10% more), but not enough to take in all the bad molecules. Or something like that. I think. The point is, the trees aren't going to save us at this point. This isn't Lord of the Rings.

More Scientalk after the omega jump...

Anyway, Dr. Schlesinger described a pretty interesting experiment on this point. Some Duke kids put a CO2 cloud all around a patch of forest to see how this would affect botanic growth, and the plant with the highest growth rate increase turned out to be......... poison ivy.

The conclusion I came to the next day when thinking about this: we're all going to be wearing more tank tops once this global warming thing starts to make us "awkward and uncomfortable"* and all that exposed see where I'm inevitably going to end up all itchy and irritated since poison ivy will have taken over the Earth. Not the Uma Thurman kind, just to be clear.

This was just one of many sub-subjects discussed during the lecture. Other topics featured:
  • GDP and carbon emissions correlation line graph
  • penguins
  • Are the environmental benefits of driving a hybrid car negated by all the energy used to create a hybrid car?
  • Ethanol
I liked Secret Science Club because it was like a New Yorker article that talks to you: a wide range of causes and implications were hashed over by an expert. There were slides. Also: some bitch asked the professor if cell phone waves commanded thunderstorms. He was like, No.
Here's a shot of a special drink Union Hall was serving for the event. The Climate Cooler. 3 dollars.

*William Schlesinger's phrasing

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