Managing Global Warming “A Herculean Effort” Warns Max Planck Scientist at Public Lecture

February 25, 2011



It was another full house in the Royal Poinciana Chapel for the second lecture in a three-part series hosted by the Max Planck Florida Institute. More than 150 guests filled the Fellowship Hall on Feb. 23 for a discussion on climate change and global warming, presented by Dr. Martin Heimann, director of the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, Germany

Titled, “A Balancing Act: Linking the Global Carbon Cycle to the Mitigation of Climate Change,” Dr. Heimann’s talk explored the data that demonstrates scientifically that the Earth is warming and the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are increasing, measured by temperatures recorded at weather stations in key points on the globe, rising sea levels and the steady retreat of glaciers worldwide. He believes that it is very likely that human activities are primarily responsible for this trend, and that the most important climate change drivers are the increasing emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) from the burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas) and changes in land use (primarily deforestation) which currently exceeds 35 billion metric tons of CO2 per year. The U.S. now leads the world in CO2 emissions per capita. The link between these emissions and the climate is called the global carbon cycle.

“Managing the global carbon cycle will be a Herculean effort,” said Heimann, who served as the lead author in assessment reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. “Finding a workable balance between the need for food and energy versus climate change mitigation poses one of the biggest and most important challenges for our society in the coming decades.”

Dr. Heimann’s talk was followed by an interactive question-and-answer session with the audience. The event concluded with a private reception at Sea Gull Cottage.

Notable guests at the lecture included Palm Beach County Commissioner Jess Santamaria; Economic Council of Palm Beach County president Mike Jones; Consul General Eva Countess Kendeffy; Howard and Patricia Lester; Michael and Barbara Mitrione; Erik Joh; Kathleen Emmett; and Richard and Arthur Bernstein.

In addition to his public lecture, Dr. Heimann also visited a science class at Jupiter High School earlier that afternoon in coordination with the Palm Beach County School District to discuss global warming with a group of 150 students.

The final lecture in the series will be on Wednesday, March 30 featuring Dr. Stefan H.E. Kaufmann, founding director and director of the department of immunology at the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin, with a presentation titled, “Threat of Plagues.”

The Max Planck Florida Institute lecture series is free and open to the public. All lectures will be held in the Fellowship Hall at the Royal Poinciana Chapel, 60 Cocoanut Row in Palm Beach. Seating is limited and can be reserved by calling 561.972.9007 or rsvp@maxplanckflorida.org.