The Joseph Priestley Lecture Series,
Science at the Solstice
The Priestley Lecture series is inspired by the traditional Christmas Lectures of the Royal Institution in London, initiated by Michael Faraday. Our series is named after Joseph Priestley (image at left), an 18th century Unitarian minister, early chemist, discoverer of oxygen, and refugee from England for holding such beliefs as a denial of mind-body duality.
For this annual celebration of science at the winter solstice, we invite active researchers and educators to amaze us with contemporary advances in worldly knowledge. Previous Priestley lecturers have included: Vicki Colvin of the Center for Biological & Environmental Nanotechnology at Rice University; Robert Curl, co-discoverer of buckyballs; John Lienhard, engineer and radio host of "The Engines of Our Ingenuity;" Robert Hardt, mathematician; Connie Barlow, evolution educator; David Wheeler of the Human Genome Sequencing Center at Baylor College of Medicine; and Dr. David Eagleman, also with Baylor College of Medicine.
This Year's Lecture
Ron Sass, Ph.D.
"Global Change By Humans: Narrowing Choices For Our Future Climate"
Dr. Sass gave his presentation at First Unitarian Universalist Church of Houston, Museum District on Sunday, January 19, 2014
View the slides from Dr. Sass' presentation (15 MB PDF file)
Our climate is changing more rapidly than at any other time in the Earth's history. The average temperature of the world is increasing, with extreme weather events becoming more common. Humans are causing this by excess emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases; other factors, such as small variations in solar output, are vastly outweighed by the changing chemistry of the atmosphere.
As human populations continue to grow, our strategies for energy sources and conservation form a driving choice for our quality of life on the future Earth.
Dr. Sass is currently the Fellow in Global Climate Change at the James A. Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University. During more than five decades as a chemistry and biology professor, his research has included wetland sources of biogenic greenhouse trace gases and the role of methane in particular. He has consulted for the EPA and worked with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, sharing as a member of the IPCC in the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.