Jody Victor: Global warming is big news these days–and Lonnie Thompson, an Ohio State geologist who's one of the world's leading experts on climate change–is having one sizzling summer.
Thompson's list of accomplishments had already been long:
He's been named one of “Amerca's Best” by Time and CNN; featured as one of “25 leaders who are fighting to stave off the planetwide catastrophe.” in Rolling Stone; won the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, the environmental science equivalent of a Nobel Prize; named a Distinguished University Professor; and been the subject of a book, Thin Ice, which comes out in paperback this summer, just to name a few.
But while some people might be content to retire with those accolades, Thompson shows no signs of slowing.
This summer, his work is highlighted in An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore's long-awaited global warming documentary, for which he was a consultant.
He's also just released the most comprehensive research on high-altitude tropical ice caps to date, combining data collected from seven locations north and south of the equator, from the Andes in South America to the Himalayas in Asia.
The research–just published in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences–posits that the earth experienced a major shift to a cooler climate 5,000 years ago, and is currently in the throes of a shift back to a much warmer climate.
“Approximately 70 percent of the world's population now lives in the tropics,” he said, “so when climate changes there, the impacts are likely to be enormous.”
The take-home message is that global climate can change abruptly, and with 6.5 billion people inhabiting the planet, that's serious. For the full story go to www.osu.edu.