Climate Change: First, the bad news, then the good – David Wasdell and Peter Read

Feasta, in association with the Trinity Greens presented
The Will Howard Memorial Lecture:

Climate Change: First, the bad news, then the good.

Please click on the poster to open a full-size, printable pdf version. (250 K)

7.30pm, April 18th, 2008

Emmett Lecture Theatre

Trinity College, Dublin.

Admission free but donations requested.


David Wasdell, Director of the Meridian Programme, a world-renowned expert in the dynamics of climate change, delivered the bad news: Feedback Dynamics and the Acceleration of Climate Change. He argued that because many feedback mechanisms have been ignored, the pace at which climate change is now happening has taken politicians, policymakers and even the UN by surprise. Greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere have already exceeded a safe limit. Consequently not only will every tonne of CO2 emitted from now on have to be recovered and sequestered before its full heating effect has developed but some past emissions will have to be recovered too.

Peter Read, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Applied and International Economics at Massey University in New Zealand, delivered the good news: Addressing Abrupt Climate Change.
Plants and soil lock up huge amounts of carbon. Read contends that it would take only a relatively small increase in the
levels of that stored carbon to return atmospheric concentrations of CO2 to safe limits. This would also improve soil fertility and raise incomes for millions of farmers.

Note added Dec 2009: We were saddened to learn of the recent death of Peter Read. You can read his obituary here.


This lecture was dedicated to the memory of Will Howard. Will was Co-ordinator of Cap and Share in Britain (see He worked in the 1980s for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, then as National Coordinator of the broad-based UK organisation Nuclear FREEZE.
His new-media company produced The Carbon Gym for the Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales. Feasta wishes to join with his wife Lyn and his sons in honouring his work and celebrating his life by dedicating this lecture to him.

Will Howard obituary

Will Howard: a Tribute

Note: Feasta is a forum for exchanging ideas. By posting on its site Feasta agrees that the ideas expressed by authors are worthy of consideration. However, there is no one ‘Feasta line’. The views of the article do not necessarily represent the views of all Feasta members.