Expert presents chilling evidence on global warming

Paleolimnologist discusses how to change

By Deundra Smyth
On April 6, 2017

Photo by Kaitlin Trujillo
John P. Smol greets fellow professors as he prepares to give his talk "Canaries in the coal mine: Polar lakes as sentinels of environmental change."

Arctic lakes and ponds are disappearing at an alarming rate and offer proof of human caused climate change and environmental effects, a world leading paleolimnological expert said Tuesday.

In an annual lecture series held in the CJ Davidson Conference Center at ASU, Dr. John P. Smol provided evidence of the often-ignored consequences of human interaction on the environment and welcomed any skeptical parties to review and even criticize his decades of research.

"Criticism is the oxygen that drives science," Smol said. "So I welcome the critiques."

Smol, a professor in the Department of Biology and the Canada Research Chair in Environmental Change at Queens University in Ontario, Canada, told an audience of approximately 200 students, faculty members and colleagues, that his decades of research has provided evidence of irreversible damage done to the Arctic and Antarctic regions caused by humans.

As a paleolimnologist, Smol is able to study environmental and ecological changes over time by extracting and analyzing lake sediments.

These sediments, according to Smol, act as a record book, holding and preserving valuable physical, biological and environmental information of the past.

In the annual distinguished lectureship honoring Dr. Roy E. Moon, Smol expressed that his work on a wide range of subjects including acid rain effects and sewage input, have taken a backseat to his discoveries in the area of climate change.

For nearly three decades, he has studied the Arctic lakes and ponds and provided evidence of the effects on these ecosystems caused by human stressors.

His research has been studied by several prominent policy makers and has encouraged and allowed them the information required to make informed policies and decisions based on public interest.

Alen South attended the speech and was pleasantly surprised by the amount of evidence Smol provided.

"I didn’t realize there was this much concrete evidence on the matter," South said. "I believed in the concept of climate change, but the facts and proof he provided today only goes to strengthen that stance."

Smol believes that the more we know about our environment and global ecosystems, the better off we will be about decision making and stresses that this information should be spread everywhere.

Smol admits that not all of the changes that he has documented are manmade. However, while some of these effects are natural, we must focus on what we can change, and that starts with mankind.

The Arctic lakes and ponds that Smol study are a prime location for researching climate change because of the sensitivity this portion of the world has towards even slight changes in temperature and climate.

Junior Robyn Simkins attended and believes that the human effects on climate change should be the focus of these talks.

"The fact that this is happening and it affects us directly makes it a priority," Simkins said. "When people speak on climate change, they talk in terms of future generations. However, we will have to bear the brunt of these changes. So why not begin finding solutions sooner rather than later?"

The presentation entitled, "Canneries in the Coal Mine: Polar Lakes as Sentinels of Environmental Change" was the first of two lectures given by Smol that day.

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