For Immediate Release — March 3, 2004


University of Utah Scientist to Discuss Global Warming, Climate Change

GENESEO, N.Y. — Should we wait for greater certainty about global warming, or should we take steps immediately to stabilize the climate change that may be occurring?

Dr. David S. Chapman of the University of Utah will address this dilemma in his presentation "Global Warming: Just Hot Air?" when he delivers the first American Rock Salt Lecture on Geology at the State University of New York at Geneseo on March 25. The event, which is free and open to the public, will be held at 7:30 p.m. in the George D. Newton Lecture Hall on campus.

Professor of geology and geophysics at the University of Utah, and dean of the university’s graduate school, Chapman says that global trends suggest that allowing "business as usual" on planet earth is a risky path. In his presentation, Chapman will outline research into how human activities are substantially increasing the atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases – principally carbon dioxide and methane – to levels far above those that have existed for the past 200,000 years. "We do not know all the details of our complex climate system sufficiently well to predict the exact consequence of greenhouse gas increases on global temperature," he says.

Chapman adds that world population has now surpassed six billion and will likely rise to 10 billion in the lifetimes of our children, and that much of this population growth will be in developing countries with a natural desire for an increased standard of living. "That living standard increase will come with increases in per capita energy consumption, and because 90 percent of society’s energy presently is produced by burning fossil fuels, the inevitable population increase and drive towards higher standard of living will simultaneously aggravate the enhanced greenhouse gas condition and, with it, global warming," he explains.

Chapman says there is an alternate path. "We could unleash our engineering, economic, and political entrepreneurs to improve energy conservation and efficiency, and move us towards greater use of renewable energy sources," he says. Ultimately, he believes that this would reduce excessive consumption in developed countries, and provide conditions that would bring worldwide population growth under control.

Chapman is an internationally recognized scholar who studies thermal aspects of the Earth. He has published more than 100 scholarly articles in refereed journals, including Nature, Science and Scientific American. A current focus of his geothermal research is to deduce the pattern of global warming over the past two centuries from detailed measurement of temperatures in drill holes. He has been recognized for his teaching with awards at the department, college and university-wide levels, and in 1999 earned the Hatch Prize for Excellence in Teaching, the highest teaching award at the University of Utah.

For more information on Dr. Chapman’s visit, contact Assistant Professor of Geological Sciences Amy Sheldon by phone at (585) 245-5988, or by e-mail at

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