Paleoclimatologist Presents Findings on Early Farming and Climate Change

Feb. 24, 2010

Follow us on Twitter: @BaylorUMediaCom

Baylor University's department of geology in the College of Arts and Sciences will present a lecture by Dr. William F. Ruddiman, professor emeritus of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Va.

As part of the geology department's O.T. Hayward Lecture Series, Ruddiman will present his lecture "Early Agriculture Started the Anthropogenic Era Thousands of Years Ago" at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 25, in Baylor Sciences Building (BSB) room D. 110. At 3 p.m. Friday, Feb. 26, Ruddiman also will lead a more specialized lecture on the same subject in BSB room E. 231. Seating is limited.

Ruddiman's lecture will discuss his 2003 hypothesis that early farming caused small releases of carbon dioxide and methane before the Industrial Revolution that may have offset natural cooling driven by Earth's orbital variation. The offset of natural cooling would have caused the start of the next glaciations by now, he said.

"If my hypothesis is correct, it doesn't really change anything about our climatic future, but it puts our past effects on climate in a different light," Ruddiman said.

"Impact on climate from 200 years of industrial development is an everyday fact of life," Ruddiman said.

In addition to presenting evidence to support his hypothesis, Ruddiman will bring in arguments against his hypothesis. "Most of the criticisms have been part of the normal process of science and a positive thing. I have used the criticisms to look more closely into the observations and assumptions on which my hypothesis is based," Ruddiman said.

Ruddiman earned his doctorate from the Columbia University in New York in 1969. His most recent publication is Plows, Plagues and Petroleum: How Humans Took Control of Climate.

"Dr. Ruddiman is a world-renowned paleoclimatologist," said Dr. Steven Driese, professor and chair of geology. "The series and our department are very lucky to have him."

The O.T. Hayward Lecture Series is part of an endowment provided by Connie Hudson and his wife Virginia. The Baylor alumni named the series after Dr. O.T. Hayward, professor emeritus of geology at Baylor.

Hayward spent more than 4,000 hours in the field with students. He became a professor at Baylor University in 1955, retiring in 1992, and directed more student research than any other geology faculty member.

For more information, call (254) 710-2361.

by Colton Wright, student newswriter, (254) 710-6805

Looking for more news from Baylor University?