Thank you very much indeed, Alan.
And thank you especially for the extraordinary care you went to
to render your lecture and your slides relevant to the immediate audience.
We really appreciate that.
I know there are big themes there, and if you were speaking in Italy
obviously you would have the map of Italy and so on.
Yes, you would, yes.
I really appreciated that. So have we questions?
Thanks very much. That was a really good talk. Thank you.
I am just a PhD student in Trinity. This might be slightly naive.
And your name?
This might be slightly naive, but I was just wondering,
you were talking about over-population and ranching
as being some of the biggest problems that we face.
Is there any talk in climate change circles on family planning issues,
access to contraception and our dependence on animal agriculture?
Because I never hear it. It's never something that seems to ever be brought up anyway.
It's always about industry and what we can do to lessen our dependence on oil I suppose.
By any chance is your PhD related to that?
Absolutely not. No, I do geology.
Because there's no such thing as just a PhD student.
They are the lifeblood of science. No, unfortunately the answer I think at this stage.
Yes, there is a social element to the work of the IPCC,
the inter-governmental panel on climate change.
But I think certainly in my area the systematic observations of the climate system,
we are still wrestling with the huge uncertainties.
I mean just think about my comment on the soils.
13%-18%, that's an enormous error margin.
So we are wrestling with really very basic lack of data.
And that's not to say that the problem you have raised
or flagged is not important, because it is.
But certainly as far as we are concerned,
we are still trying to wrestle with the very basic stuff,
that the map that we want is not always there,
and it's not accurate and it's not available.
But isn't the big picture that it's the diet of the developed western world particularly,
perhaps the Anglophone world or the European and North American world
and their preference for meat over vegetable.
Isn't that a huge part of the answer to the question?
I think, personally, and this is a personal view, yes.
I do believe that. I can see that there's an economic issue as well.
Because the driver in Latin America is all to do with development issues in that country as well.
And it's certainly not my position, sitting in a research ivory tower,
to tell a government in Latin America how they should or shouldn't use their land.
But I guess that that land use is partly coming in response to demand from us.
So I think the very last bullet point, that the public need to engage
and I guess eating less meat is not necessarily a bad thing.
Liam Murtagh, Co. Monaghan.
I just have an interest in sustainability, and it was a fantastic lecture.
Just one question.
I suppose when we read the newspapers and see satellite imagery,
it's often of the polar regions, and the decline in the area of the ice sheets.
So I know, I suppose that's an indirect...
what you are showing here was direct impact of man's activity.
I suppose the ice is an indirect one.
And I know you didn't show us stuff tonight,
but perhaps because we are all seeing it all the time maybe.
But I am just wondering whether, just to mention a little bit about the role of satellite imagery
in the whole, I suppose, monitoring of the change in the arctic particularly. Thank you.
It is fundamental. I concentrated on the land.
As our Chairman said, I chair the terrestrial observation panel for climate,
so land is my speciality if you like.
But we have other teams working with us in the joint research centre
who are focusing on ocean observations.
You remember the picture I showed of Ireland
as a beautiful image, that last one.
If you look at that picture again on the slides you will see
something coming down through the ocean off the coast.
That's an algal bloom.
And we use the same satellite technology to monitor what's going on in the vegetation in the oceans.
And then we use the radar imagery, like I showed of the African forest,
to map the ice extent in the north.
And that's being done on a very routine basis.
And it's a fundamental part of...that's the picture,
yes...and you see the light coloured streak in the sea.
That's not cloud, that's actually algal bloom in the ocean itself.
But it behaves like vegetation on the land. So we get a signal.
So we have oceanographic capability and it is a critical part.
In fact the global climate observing system has a terrestrial panel,
an ocean panel, and an atmosphere panel.
And each of those panels is looking after systematic observations.
And sea ice and open water are very much part of that.
And could the human eye, say from an ocean liner, see that colour? Or is that ...?
You could see it....the human eye could see it? Or do you need the satellite picture to enhance it?
That's a good question.
If you were actually crossing that you would notice ...
if you had been paying attention and you had been looking over the side of the ship
while you were in the non-bloom sea, and then you had passed that,
you would notice a change in the water. But you are not going to do that.
And the other thing is, you would just see a tiny little strip.
Whereas the satellite gives the whole context in relation to the coast.
The satellites is also very sensitive to light beyond the sensitivity of the human eye.
The human eye would pick that up as greenish water.
But the green in the water is actually photosynthesising.
And that process, and the behaviour of plant material,
reflects very very strongly in the infrared, which you don't see as a human, but the satellite sees.
And in some of your pictures of Dublin to the east
there was a very marked difference in colour over the water.
What was that?
The satellites are sensitive to water quality.
We use them operationally for looking at variations in water quality,
not just in the oceans but also in fresh water too.
So that sounds like a critical answer.
In other words are you saying that that is pollution,
immediate proximate pollution to the Dublin coastline?
Or can it be depth as well...depth of the sea.
It can be depth. It's not automatically pollution.
In that particular case whether that's pollution or not is debatable.
But it's algae in the water.
When you look off the coast you are picking up a mixture of reflectants
from the material on the bottom of the ocean,
and the material that's actually suspending in the ocean.
So it's attribution of cause is not automatic from the measurement from the satellite.
Yes, somebody here.
Thank you. My name is Phyllis McMonigle.
I taught geography for many years and have a great interest in your subject.
I am just curious about information gathered re land degradation due to war.
Your comments on that.
We actually see various signs of land cover change and conflict.
It's not a particular research topic of my own.
But one of the things that as climate scientists we were very interested in
is fire, vegetation fires. You burn off the surface, so you change that.
And you also cause a massive amount of emissions to the atmosphere.
When we were looking at fires in Africa we saw
changes in the spatial pattern of the fire where there were conflict areas.
Because people were starting fires to hunt animals to eat them,
and then there was nobody going in to control the fire,
because it was too dangerous, because of the conflict.
And the fires were running out of control,
and you were getting fires of 50km, 60km, 100km, 150km in length,
raging across the Savannah. And those could be linked back to conflict.
That's a personal mapping experience.
But there are others who use it, they use the high resolution data for much more careful studies.
And of course that is savagely disproportionate for the food value.
Isn't it? Of course...awful.
Absolutely. I mean in that case the fire, one of the major drivers....
certainly in the tropics most fires most of the time are caused by humans.
And a lot of the time it's for hunting.
Yes, microphone, yes.
Hello. I am Enda Reilly.
I write songs about climate change and I do workshops with school kids.
I am just wondering do you see ...are you seeing sea level rise in any particular areas,
like in some low lying places...or that's just...are you spotting,
can you tell how much is going away, or is there none or....? How is it going?
No, there is.
You need to go to the global climate observing system's website
or the global ocean observing systems website,
and they will point you to the measurements.
There are two sets of measurements that are being made on the global scale for sea level rise.
One is from buoys or buoys, I am not quite sure on the pronunciation,
the things floating about in the ocean with instruments on them.
And then satellite altimetry.
You can make very accurate measurements of the surface from space using satellite altimeters.
And yes, sea level change is being detected and rise is being monitored.
And do you find that children appreciate the song element when it comes to climate change?
Do you....? They are up for it. Yes?
OK. With the microphone, yes.
My name is Mike Jones from the Botany Department of Trinity College Dublin.
Very impressed with what we have seen happen since the early 1970s
in terms of satellite imagery and what we can see.
But I was just wondering about the way you see this developing in the future.
What new satellites do we need, what sort of questions do they need to answer?
I am particularly interested in the point you made about leaf area index.
And as far as I understand we still don't have any satellite imagery
that can actually provide that sort of data.
And that's what we really need on a global scale
in order to really understand what's happening in terms of the carbon cycle.
Yes, good questions.
The biomass and above ground biomass
which I think is probably as important as leaf area index -
leaf area index we can get a pretty good estimate on it,
based just on the light measurements,
biomass we would get an accurate picture if we had the right radar satellites or lidar.
Again the same idea of measuring height.
If you do it accurately enough with a lidar instrument
you can measure the height of the vegetation above the ground.
But we don't have space based lidar at the moment.
We had one on a shuttle for a while. But we don't.
So I think anything that can measure biomass and vegetation height would be required.
I think one fundamental step forward though has been the free and open access to data.
And when the Americans opened up their archive...
to prepare the talk for today, to get the pictures of Dublin
I could go to the U.S. website and I could interrogate the archive
going right back to 1972, find the image I wanted.
If it had not been processed, put in an order,
they processed it, sent me an email saying it's ready to collect, go and get it.
And it was all ...well it's not free, somebody is picking up the bill,
but it's free and open to me as a scientist or to you indeed, to everybody.
And I think that enabling factor is a significant step forward.
And I know it's something that's being wrestled with right now.
I mean the European Union has got a bunch of satellites ready to launch
and these are all issues that are under discussion.
Hi, I am Matt Sonit from UCD.
I am just going to follow on from that point -
can you make a comment about the utility of this approach
to reconcile what we see from the global network of ecosystem
observational flux tails in terms of carbon exchange
and greenhouse gas exchange at a kind of global scale.
To me there's no doubt that we get the best value
when we merge the satellite observations with some degree of in situ as a verification,
as a calibration exercise if you like.
I am not going to say I don't trust the satellites, because I do.
And I trust them implicitly.
...and there are some things that you will never measure from the satellite.
We have been looking at changes in ecosystems purely from the surface.
If you look at soil degradation for example
we don't know what's going on below the surface of the soil.
So you will never replace in situ measurements for the whole story.
Even with the biomass example that we talked about before,
the lidar will give us above ground.
You will still need in situ measurements if you are going to get the full picture.
The satellites are part of the story, they are not the whole story.
Good evening. Eugene Coyle, Dublin Institute of Technology
and also researching in climate change
and what technologists and scientists need to be doing in order to mitigate CO2 emissions.
And I would congratulate Alan on a wonderful lecture,
and for bringing a lot of insight and clarity
and showing what satellite systems can add to the question.
As we know the parts per million of carbon emissions are in the region of 400 at the moment
and where in somewhere like 270 for almost a million years,
800,000+ years up to the industrial revolution
and rising at a very high rate in recent years,
and the challenge of course being to reduce CO2 emissions
through the work of the EPA international climate committee etc.
And there are very big challenges.
And I think you point out that it's a combination of science,
policy and public opinion and public concern.
I have just been a year at Purdue University on a Fulbright in this area
at the global policy research institute.
And I have a sense that there is a great awareness coming,
and a great need of such awareness amongst people of all ages and all categories,
because we have a very serious problem.
And I wonder if Alan might comment on your feeling
as to what might be achievable of the next 20...30 years.
Because we really do need to make the changes from carbon emitting sources,
the motor car, carbon fuels, etc.
And one other comment I would make,
it was very apparent to me that as you point out,
the amount of concrete that is now filling up the spaces of the world.
So it's a very multi-complex problem. It's not just a turning off of the emissions.
But the greenhouse gases are all inter-related to a number of issues. Thank you.
I think we have got an uphill struggle. There's no doubt about it.
And climate change and the sort of changes of the global environment
that I have illustrated are massive. They are on a massive scale.
I think as I put on a slide, deforestation starts one tree at a time.
But you sum it all together and you have got
a Stade de France every three seconds disappearing.
I think the fact that our governments are making the right noises,
and people are writing songs about it with children, is heartening in the extreme.
We are moving in the right direction.
And maybe the next generation needs to be sensitised massively to the issue.
How? How will that happen?
Events like this are a start. And I think they are very important.
I take my hat off to the EPA for doing this, and it is a move forward.
I think that it's sad that climate change is being knocked off the public agenda a little bit.
Maybe making the connection with something more immediate
like the land take and the soil loss, which is part of the same story ultimately,
is something that people can perhaps relate to much more immediately.
Are you saying that the agenda should be broken down?
Well in a sense it is with these lectures indeed as well.
But that to get the story over, that it's so big an issue
that you get this butterfly sort of effect...argument against it.
And we are helpless and hopeless so we can't do anything.
And you also have disinformation from people who should know better.
One particular former...well I won't say it because we are on satellite.
But I think people might know.
No we are not on the satellite, but we are on...I am aware of Twitter
and I am aware of Lord McAlpine ...just there it just crossed my mind.
But there's a certain person who is a very prominent politician in a neighbouring island
who I think is heard too often on the BBC about this issue.
And do you know who I am talking about?
I can guess. I can guess.
but to come down to popularising and vulgarising the argument,
why have not all you scientists captured the Olympic games as a showcase
to get some simple logo that's there, instead of Coca Cola being part of the Games.
Why isn't the world's attention focused on some small little logo
where kids can capture it and understand it and
where all that attention is focused, and in other ways...make this a more popular issue?
I don't know. Maybe we need a good song. I mean, it would help.
But it is ultimately, it's the first question is actually extremely pertinent.
And as I started, it's the 7+ billion.
I am not going to say there's too many of us, but the planet can only just cope.
And the pressure on it is remorseless and relentless.
And we do need to communicate more effectively.
Hello. Declan McCool from DCU.
I chair a green society in DCU and I am also a former chair of Amnesty International DCU.
I come from an international relations background.
I studied international relations, so it's a politics background.
And I hope I don't deviate, but I think it's kind of connected with the last comment that was made.
Ireland is going through a process of re-understanding itself
through a constitution convention and through a process I took part in,
Being Young and Irish, and other processes to find out what it really is to be Irish.
And one of the key things that has come up a number of times
throughout these processes has been the fact that
young Irish people want an environmental clause in the constitution of Ireland.
although it wasn't in the...it's in the report,
but it's not in the declaration for Being Young and Irish.
In the constitution convention one of the key issues that
young people want to see put forward is an environmental clause
to make sure that the Irish government understands
that we as Irish people want a green environment
for our generation and for generations after our generation.
And I am just curious to ask the panel, and particularly the EPA,
what do they believe an environmental clause would look like in the Irish constitution?
Or since the environmental talks at the moment aren't going so well,
is Ireland really ready to step forward and be an environmentally friendly nation,
since it can't even push for environmental processes in an international arena?
Or do we have to start at home and put in an environmental clause in our constitution first?
Or strong legislation on green emissions and so on in Ireland?
I think that's one for Darragh.
It's a wide ranging question.
But I was just struck by even the last discussion there.
It's such a complex issue. And it needs a complex solution.
And I suppose logos and songs, although they are lovely,
just aren't going to be any match for the complexity of the issue.
And you asked whether Ireland is ready. I think it doesn't matter whether it's ready.
It has to be ready is the answer to that.
There is a vision by the European Commission that talks about
decarbonisation of this economy and the European economy by 2050.
It talks about a phasing out of fossil fuels for electricity generation.
It talks about a step change of the types of vehicles we use for transportation
and a step change about how we use heat and energy to heat our homes.
And the response to those types of challenges at a Commission level
and at an Irish level need a lot of actors to coordinate their actions.
And that means actors at a high policy levels, actors at an agency level,
like the EPA, who are out to a certain degree at the coal face
trying to trial various measures to see if they work,
to see if they can be scaled up from a couple of hundred,
to a couple of million people involved in behavioural change.
And it also relies heavily on the likes of the JRC who externalise data,
who capture data from the world and condense it to a position
where policy makers can make decisions upon the hard evidence.
And I suppose the EPA would replicate that role from an Irish point of view,
trying to collect so much data from an Irish context,
and then condense it so that policy makers,
government agencies, public servants, and private sector can make the decisions upon that data.
So a complex answer for a complex question.
Fred McDarby, Environmental Consultant.
Could I bring back the topic to climate change particularly and your observations of the land?
And how the changes that you are observing, I would think urbanisation,
deforestation, how they are contributing directly to climate change.
There would be an assumption that all of these things are bad in terms of rising temperatures.
The other one bit would be,
how much does the land use changes you are observing
contribute to climate change compared to say the usual, the big culprit, the burning of fossil fuels?
The emissions from deforestation are ...
I have to reach back into my memory for the...it's something like a fifth of the ...
at least a fifth of the emissions from transport. So it's a big number.
I think on the last slide it's got 1.6 Pg. of CO2 emitted from deforestation.
So it's a big number that you get from losing the forest.
And it's not just the emissions from cutting it, clearing it, burning it.
You are losing the sink as well. So you are getting that.
You are also changing the energy interaction.
You are changing the water interaction and you are changing the surface roughness.
So when you are losing forest on the planetary scale,
it's affecting multiple elements of the climate system, not just the carbon cycle.
But it is a significant factor in the carbon thing.
I should have the number in my head.
And I haven't got it in my head. I have got it on the slide.
Derek Brown, TCD.
Is there much in the way of real time remote imagery we can access in the public domain?
Real time. The real time imagery you can get is limited.
It will be from...basically from the weather satellites.
One stream of that would come from UMetSat as a provider.
But even at the level of the pictures I was showing of Dublin,
those are available online free to anybody.
You have to go to the USGS website.
And the satellite is up there flying even today. It's wounded.
You get the black stripes on it, from the last picture, from August of this year.
But there's a lot of useful information in there still.
And you can order that.
And you can get it directly to your computer in ...not real time but a few days...
a few weeks after overpass at the latest.
Yes. Who has the mic? Yes, this man here.
Eoin Loughlin is my name. I am trained as a librarian.
And as such I would have an interest in environmental information
which feeds into policy formulation and all the rest.
Just one very brief question, which I always ask at things like this.
Is there any chance of getting those slides if I were to contact the Joint Research Centre?
Yes. I think they are available anyway from the EPA.
I think the EPA will make them available.
OK. Well then I will contact the EPA.
I believe they will be posted on the EPA website with the video.
Fantastic. This is the first of these lectures I have been to.
Yes. So the normal practice is,
in a short period of time the video will be available and also the slides.
So as you watch the video the slides will change.
So all of those will be available to you, along with our last number of lectures.
So there's a whole catalogue of them there.
And we have a YouTube channel I think and everything.
Thank you very much.
And your own question tonight will be on the web as well.
So you will be a star in your own library. Yes, yes.
Hi there. Eoin Campbell from DCU. I am studying climate change in the media.
The answer there from...sorry, your name from the EPA...
about it being a complex answer, a complex problem and a complex answer.
To me, coming to all these talks over the last year or so,
it seems that science is certain about what's going on, and that .....
It seems to me that science, the science community is 99% certain
about what's happening for years now.
And there's been no real initiative in society I guess,
politics mainly really, to given inertia to change.
And to me it seems quite simple it needs a fundamental change in how we think,
which is hard to do, but it's a simple answer.
So I would argue with the fact that it's quite complex.
And it seems to me it's more vested interest in industry.
Somebody like Naomi Klein is researching a new book and documentary about climate change.
And she has released a video in the last few days about this kind of answer.
And she's talking about a vested interest being the underbelly of the problem.
And so I would kind of disagree with what you said about it being quite complex.
It seems that science is very much behind what we are talking about here.
But the change is not forthcoming for those reasons.
Just to respond, it is difficult.
But we also know that we do a lot of things that aren't good for us.
We have plenty of information to say we shouldn't smoke,
we shouldn't speed, we shouldn't eat too much,
we shouldn't drink too much fizzy drinks, but we still do.
No, but we have stopped a lot of...
I tell you the people in this room have probably stopped smoking,
the intelligentsia who are with us tonight.
But I mean the statistics on smoking are that people...it has come down appreciably.
I mean 20 years ago 66% of Spanish medical doctors smoked, 20 years ago.
So we are changing in a lot of those areas.
And the question is, that we haven't sold this agenda sufficiently.
And that it is of course complex, but it's also simple.
The big picture is pretty simple. Science has given us the facts.
I suppose the point I am making is,
just because it's to do with climate change
doesn't mean that people are going to do the right thing.
It is more complex.
And the EPA is funding an awful lot of research in social science at the moment
to define the reasons why people act the way they do with the information they have.
And you talked about smoking and a few other things.
You know, it has taken a long time for that to happen.
At the moment it is a very hard sell to go into the business community and say,
that you should pay extra for various things because it's good for the climate.
They have very immediate concerns right now.
So what the EPA is trying to do is trying to
map the reasons people do the actions they do on the basis of the information they have.
So once we understand that,
we can communicate clearly and hopefully get the behavioural change that we are looking for.
And would not a sort of tax on that behaviour,
wouldn't that be the instrument that would get industry to change?
It is part of the reason we already have a carbon tax.
But there are limitations to that.
And the response previously was that there are many responses needed,
both at a policy level, like taxes, like facing down some of the vested interests that are there,
but a huge amount of this is around technology, R&D, investment,
in a recession, and also behavioural change. And we need to hit the buttons on all of those.
Yes. The woman here.
Hi, I am Mary O'Sullivan. I am a Resource Teacher in a primary school.
And thinking of the interests of small children with whom I work,
and among whom I work, I wonder do you have any instrument
that can measure or give evidence of what we hear about the methane emissions of our cattle?
I am pretty sure kids would be interested in that one.
They would. We don't measure it directly, no....not from space.
There is two big bits to that within the climate system from land.
One is, I guess it wouldn't be that difficult to put together a series of satellite images
showing the expansion of the ranching in various parts of the world....
I am not going to say particular places...and pictures of cows.
You could build that story up fairly convincingly. It's not just the cows though.
You would also have to look at the permafrost in the high latitudes.
And there the big scary scenario is that the permafrost starts to run,
you start to get a runaway warming,
permafrost is melting and that releases massive amounts of methane
immediately to the atmosphere.
So you would have to put that into the story as well.
But the cattle one is appealing actually. But we don't measure it directly, no.
Yes, the gentleman here, yes.
Yes, hi, Dave Fitzgerald. I am an Environmental Manager with Diageo.
My question is in relation to awareness and engagement of people.
It's been touched on by a number of people here today.
But can you comment on the use of tools like for example social media has been mentioned,
also things like Google Earth.
I would hazard a guess that most people here have used Google Earth.
I know I have used it to find my house, to look at my town from above.
How tools like that can be used to engage people more.
And what work is happening in that area?
There is actually two elements to Google.
There's the commercial wing which we are all familiar with.
But there is actually a philanthropic arm to Google as well.
And Google.org the philanthropic side are actually working with the climate change
monitoring and measuring community to try and develop tools to publicise
or make more publicly available this sort of cover change thing.
So I have seen presentations where they are introducing this sort of thing.
So there is a move from that side of society as well.
It is happening. It is beginning to happen.
Hello. My name is Micheal Callaghan.
I am a final year law student in Trinity College.
Some of the points, a point made over there about the idea of vested interests.
And I think there was another point over there about
someone who was involved in the constitutional conventions
and you know young people want environmental clauses in the constitution.
I think it's all very well sitting looking at it from an academic point of view,
and maybe a legalistic point of view,
and someone who has done limited study of human rights law and international law
sometimes I quite often realise that a lot of these international conventions,
they are very...I hate to say...maybe sometimes they are not worth the paper they are printed on.
But I think quite often what gets lost and maybe not forgotten about in these academic circles
is what the real implications are for the lives of ordinary people.
This is what I mean when we are dealing with...to deal with climate change,
and if we actually are to combat emissions and other ...
in the face of other environmental problems like biodiversity laws and things like peak oil.
The impact that will have on our very comfortable western lifestyles.
That's something that maybe quite often gets missed,
especially for my generation, the generation that has grown up having,
a lot of material items and constantly being told that you can rise to the top,
of your game, which is I think something that's maybe not quite very true.
So I would just like to hear the opinions of the panel ...
I suppose your own opinions on that,
based on your dealings with policy makers and government and other interest groups.
I think that the conventions are absolutely fundamental.
Because these are...I mean deforestation one tree at a time, but it's everywhere.
It's a global issue.
And the conventions are the only means that we have at the moment
to engage that many diverse countries. And so they are an indispensable part of it.
They are beginning to try and codify and legalise rules
for reducing emissions and for commitments to it.
They are an expression, they are a public expression of commitment at least, by the countries.
You have always got questions of follow through,
but the engagement of each individual and that's a more difficult question to answer.
But it's absolutely fundamental that the conventions won't work
unless people agree to turn to a low energy light bulb, just as one example.
You have to get that buy-in, that commitment.
Thank you. Padraig Larkin, ex EPA. Thank you Alan for a very interesting talk.
I think it bears out the adage that, one picture is better than a thousand words sometimes.
And we certainly saw some good ones.
One of the things your pictures did not show was the wind speeds over Ireland.
And just getting back to some of the questions earlier,
we have the potential here to eliminate our fossil fuel bill completely.
And that's about 6.5bn euro at the minute per annum.
So that's 6.5bn we could save our economy by having totally renewable energy in this country.
And we have the potential to supply 2.5% of all the European demand
for electricity, just from Ireland alone.
Just the question I have relates to the rock and the hard place.
You have a growing population, 7+ billion, and that shrinking green area of productive land.
When is the rock and the hard place going to meet?
Wow. Can I not answer that?
However, there is a dispute about whether this planet can feed many more billions.
Yes, oh definitely. I mean I think....
That it's the land use, it's what's grown or ...how the land is used for food that's the issue.
Yes, it is.
Rather than just absolute.
I mean I am not going to put a number on it. I am not going to say 2050.
But land is finite. We are running out of land.
And there's more and more of us making more and more demands on it.
And sooner rather than later I guess.
I want to complement the audience for using the microphone system and being ready with the mic.
We have three microphone questions now. And I will take them in sequence. Yes.
Cathal Jordan, I am a student in UCD.
I was just enquiring regarding the satellite imagery,
which is harder, getting the imagery or processing it?
Oh very good question. It used to be that getting it was a nightmare.
When we started this forest monitoring project,
we literally had to go around the world with empty suitcases,
go to a receiving station, bring the tapes back to Ispra and process them.
The internet has revolutionised that.
So getting the data, here in Europe anyway and North America, is easy.
In Africa it's a different story. And there we use satellite telecommunications links.
So you can find a way around. Processing it is still a headache.
Now I can get data for the entire world at the resolution of the pictures I showed you of Dublin.
But to process that into a realistic accurate map of land cover at that scale is a huge challenge.
And can you use...can you not use the internet
with all this tweeting and what have you, and the multiplier effect?
Surely there are images there.
You guys should be using YouTube and capturing the young
with small videos and so on, and getting the message out that way.
It is starting. I mean there was a big push this year.
We had the 40th anniversary of the LandSat programme.
And they did a great job. There is a couple of websites.
If you try and find earth as art it's a great one to look at.
This is a collection of the most beautiful satellite images over the last 40 years.
And then if you follow on from that you will find
some very very thought provoking video links, for example, of the growth of Las Vegas.
So that's been monitored throughout the history of the LandSat programme.
But this is the first time we have had 40 years of satellite imagery.
It is still relatively new technology.
Just the cartoon of the number of satellites over time that I showed you.
Sure, in the last few years we have got them.
But they have not been a given throughout. We have had ones and twos....not tens.
OK. I will take the final three or four questions. Yes...yes, here.
Norbert McCabe. I am a retired Science teacher.
Alan, you illustrated your talk by using examples of deforestation
from Indonesia and Africa and South America.
You couldn't use us because we got rid of our forests long before the satellites came along.
How is it planned to compensate the people in these countries
for not doing what the rest of us did in the developed world?
That links to the question which I haven't answered
about the actual quantity of emissions, which is so big...
it's such a significant part of the emission cycle
that the convention, the people signing up to the convention....
again to the question that came from the front here...
have come to this thing called REDD, this Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation.
And there will be a monetary aspect to that.
So you will actually pay countries not to deforest.
If you are going to do that though, you have to have a bench line.
Because you have to say, this is the rate of deforestation today,
and then we will pay you to reduce it.
And so you need to be able to measure it and monitor it.
But essentially the tools are in place for that.
There's already another policy tool called the Clean Development Mechanism
which is also to provide financial return for doing the right thing for emissions in a simplistic view.
But there will be money.
Yes, this gentleman here.
Hello. Kevin Mooney from the Dublin Institute of Technology.
My question relates to dealing with the impact of the effect of climate change.
And I am thinking of catastrophic events that might be
attributed to weather patterns changing.
What is the future for earth observation and satellite technology
in preparing people, mitigating against and responding to situations like that?
And I am thinking in particular also of say the non-developed world,
areas that don't have broadband.
The preparation is largely trying to build up
that baseline of pre-disaster maps, pre-disaster situation.
I think it's very important to give some attention
to the European Union's earth observation programme.
It's called GMES which is Global Monitoring for Environment and Security.
And the security aspect is largely in terms of security from disasters and things like that.
And in fact right now there is an operational programme in existence
where when there is a disaster you can trigger this service and immediately get rapid access.
The question earlier about real time access.
In the case of a disaster, if you trigger that service,
through the GMES emergency mapping process,
you can get access to data and maps very very quickly.
When it comes to countries without access to broadband
and so on then there are various technological options being discussed and even developed
- portable receiving stations and things like that.
But the service already exists today under the GMES programme.
Yes, the gentleman there.
Hi, my name is Noel Fitzpatrick, Met Eireann.
My question is in relation to albedo, how the planet reflects solar radiation.
I was wondering if, over the years that we have had global satellite imagery,
what the figure is for the direct human impact on albedo
and whether or not policy would consider making policy for the effect of changing albedo,
changing the land surface use, excluding the impact of emissions also?
So just specifically for land use change and how that affects albedo.
Wow. What a great question. I can't answer that.
Well I can sort of answer it.
Albedo is one of what we call the essential climate variables.
And the space agencies around the world
are collectively building up long term datasets of surface albedo.
The trouble is you have got the fires that I mentioned before,
the vegetation fires are so big that even they change the albedo briefly,
because you are going from lush vegetation or even dry vegetation to black ash very quickly.
So it's a fairly complex story.
But the space agencies have at least all agreed on what different measures of albedo mean,
and how they are inter-compared, and are actively building up those datasets now.
Nobody has gone quite as far as you have just postulated.
But that needs to be done.
But the datasets are pretty much there now to do that. No-one has gone that far though.
You work for Met Eireann - Yes?
Yes. As you may have noticed,
I am interested in how do you vulgarise this message?
How do you capture it and put it out in a simple way
or in as incremental a way as possible to the widest audience?
And the only group of scientists who are speaking regularly ...
7, 8, 9 times a day to all populations everywhere are the weather forecasters.
And I often wonder, how well informed or how intellectually interested,
in your experience, are your colleagues in all of this agenda?
And what are the opportunities to very very occasionally
smuggle in a little aside or a little ...
You know, only where appropriate.
We all know the famous Michael Fish forecast where he said,
those worried about a storm can have no worries.
And then every oak tree in England fell that night or something.
So I am just saying that, how possible is it for weather forecasters
to just generally smuggle in a little bit of this into their work do you think?
Well I am not a weather forecaster.
So I know that...just speaking with my colleagues they are very well informed on it.
I think the focus obviously is on the immediate short term weather and climate.
But I think the evidence even of tonight is that there is a great hunger for more information.
So I believe if the time is given to it that they would be more than willing to.
Yes. Gerard Fleming, who is probably one of our most famous weather forecasters,
is with us and has a microphone in his hand. So Gerard.
Or infamous possibly.
It's a very good point and one which weather broadcasters discuss a lot among themselves.
And I have been at a number of seminars where this has been discussed
with the U.S. broadcasters, particularly where there's a lot more, if you like,
political pressure on broadcasters, depending of course
on what sort of stations they actually work for.
In the U.S. the model of weather broadcasters is rather different to here,
because they work to the station, they work for a station.
But a lot of them also spend a good deal of their time doing education work.
So they are working with school children and so on.
Here in Europe it tends to be that they work for met services or for private met companies,
or for broadcasters. But they don't have that outreach element to them.
In this country the team of weather broadcasters in RTE certainly
are very conscious of their responsibilities.
In the two minutes or one minute 30 seconds which we have for weather broadcasts
we have to focus on the weather because that's our job.
You know most of us would be active beyond that in seminars,
perhaps such as this, or those organised by the Meteorological Society
or with the Irish Science Teachers Association, groups like that,
working with them and talking to them and explaining,
and indeed even going into schools and classrooms.
But I think there is a gap there certainly.
Because you are quite correct that those of us who do appear before the public do,
for better or worse, well because of the work of our scientific colleagues, do carry a credibility.
And that credibility must have some currency in this particular argument.
But climate change is such a politicised discussion
that when you come with the voice of science,
and you must stick to the science if you are a scientist,
because once you go beyond the science and you move into political areas
then you are on very shaky territory. It's a difficult line to walk.
OK. Thank you very much, Gerard, for that.
And I will take on final question here and then wrap.
John Brennan, organic farmer, somewhat responsible for climate change
or CO2 emissions and methane emissions.
I would just like to ask Dr. Belward, would there be any possibility
of using this technology to quantify the soil mass on a country by country base?
So that you could set a target for basic...
for soil retention, so that governments are aware there's a target set,
and they have actually something to work towards.
Because I think a lot of the time, even here in Ireland,
we take it for granted,
because we have so much grass cover that we are not actually losing any of our soil.
But I just wonder what is the potential for the technology to address that?
What a wonderfully pertinent question.
And no pun intended, but we are just beginning to scratch the surface on that one.
But we are.
And last week we had a special session at the European Parliament on land degradation in Europe.
And we presented a new, a brand new metric of land productivity dynamics,
where we are looking at changes in the vegetation over a 30 year period.
Now 29 years at least, because we have got 29 years of continuous observations.
And we are able to start, we are just beginning to start linking it to issues
like changes in soil organic content, compaction, agricultural intensification.
And so just beginning.
So I think give us time and we may be able to provide some complement to it.
But it is getting to be a very pressing question
in a European and global context now,
especially after Rio where everybody agreed to a land degradation neutral world
without really going into detail as to what that meant.
And your question really touches that very accurately.
Final words with our hosts, with the EPA.
Really just on your behalf just to thank Alan for such a stimulating talk today,
and it definitely stimulated a lot of very good questions from the floor.
And hopefully that you will join us again at our next climate change lecture.
I think it might be in February of the New Year.
And also just to say thank you to John as always, as Chair,
today was very useful and very helpful.
today was very useful and very helpful.
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Dr Alan Belward, Head of the Land Resource Management Unit of the European Commission's Joint Research Centre, Ispra, Italy
The Satellites' view of our changing world Q&A