Symposium Tackles the Challenges Raised by Climate Change

Speakers Will Assess the Science of Climate Change at UH Symposium

The state climatologist, the climate change adviser for Royal Dutch Shell and a scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will discuss the challenges faced by a warming world at a University of Houston symposium next week.

“Regardless of your political views, this is something that’s going to impact everybody,” said Barry Lefer, associate professor of atmospheric science and atmospheric chemistry at UH, who will moderate the discussion. “I want to focus on what scientists are concerned about, what the threats are.”

The speakers will be Richard Feeley, senior fellow at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle, David Hones, London-based chief climate change adviser in the Shell CO2 team and John Nielsen-Gammon, professor of atmospheric sciences at Texas A&M University and the Texas state climatologist.

The discussion will begin at 6:30 p.m., Feb. 11, at the Hilton University of Houston Waldorf-Astoria Ballroom. RSVP at Media can RSVP to Jeannie Kever at

This will be the third of four discussions on critical issues facing the energy industry and the nation, sponsored by UH Energy and the UH College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. The final talk, on the sustainability of renewable energy, will be March 4.

Dan Wells, interim dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, acknowledged that climate change is a politically volatile topic.

“But people need a better understanding of the science that is driving our understanding of it,” he said. “The speakers may not agree on all of the details of that science, but the audience is sure to leave much better informed about what’s true and what is not in the ongoing debates about climate change and the impact those debates will have on our country’s energy policy.”

Lefer said he expects each of the speakers to address their area of expertise. Nielsen-Gammon, for example, will talk about the impact of climate change on Texas agriculture, including the devastating 2011 drought, which caused an estimated $10 billion in losses.

“We’re looking for a broader point of view,” Lefer said. “Not hysteria, but a focus more on the economic impact of future climate.”

Some of that impact undoubtedly will reverberate through energy policy, said Ramanan Krishnamoorti, chief energy officer at UH.

“Climate change and the policies that government enacts in response to climate change are likely to have a big impact on energy sources and production in the future,” he said. “To ensure that the country and the world continue to have a stable energy supply, while still maintaining sustainable environmental practices, it is critical that both policymakers and the general public are well-informed about the impact of climate change and the science behind it.”

The talk, sponsored by the Houston Business Journal and Houston Public Media, is free and open to the public.