Climatic, scientific, and technological change will be the topic of a free, public lecture on the campus of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego.
At 3 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 16, Colby College Professor James Fleming will present "A Historian Looks at Climate Dynamics, Science Dynamics, and Technological Change." The presentation will be held in Scripps's Sumner Auditorium, 8602 La Jolla Shores Drive, in La Jolla (one-half block south of Naga Way). The public is invited.
Fleming is being recognized with Scripps Institution's William E. and Mary B. Ritter Memorial Fellowship, which is traditionally awarded to a recognized scholar of marine science history and is named for Scripps founding director William Ritter and his wife Mary. This year's award recognizes Scripps's centennial, which the institution celebrated on Sept. 26, 2003.
Fleming is a historian of science and technology and Professor of Science, Technology, and Society at Colby College in Waterville, Maine. His teaching bridges the sciences and the humanities with research interests that involve the military history of the geophysical sciences, especially meteorology, climatology, and oceanography.
His lecture will cover how the science of climate change has evolved and how people's ideas about such science have changed.
"Ideas about the climate have changed quickly, even faster than climate itself," said Fleming. "One hundred years ago, the climate was perhaps a little bit cooler, but the ideas that we have about climate are stunningly different. So a student of climate dynamics also has to become a student of science dynamics in order to understand fully how far it has come."
Fleming also will discuss the changes brought about by technological advancements. As an example, he points to the idea of solar flares. He notes that since the International Geophysical Year in 1957-58, the concept of solar flares has taken on increasing importance because of technology. Satellites have been launched since the 1950s, and solar flares have taken on greater significance due to their potential for disrupting satellites and our increasingly important reliance on them for telecommunication, the Internet, cell phones, and other advances.
"Technology gives you an edge to investigate the weather and climate phenomena," Fleming notes, "but it also opens a vulnerability that is as dynamic or more so than climate itself."
Fleming earned a bachelor's degree in astronomy from Penn State University, a master's in atmospheric science from Colorado State University, and master's and Ph.D. degrees in history from Princeton University.
His books include "Meteorology in America, 1800-1870," "Science, Technology and the Environment," "Historical Perspectives on Climate Change," and "Weathering the Storm: Sverre Petterssen, the D-Day Forecast and the Rise of Modern Meteorology."
Fleming was recently elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science "for pioneering studies on the history of meteorology and climate change and for the advancement of historical work within meteorological societies."
Previous honors include a listing in "Who's Who in America," and fellowships from the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Smithsonian Institution, and others. Fleming serves as president of the International Commission on History of Meteorology, associate editor of Earth Science History, and history editor of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.
Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego, is one of the oldest, largest, and most important centers for global science research and education in the world. Now in its second century of discovery, the scientific scope of the institution has grown to include biological, physical, chemical, geological, geophysical, and atmospheric studies of the earth as a system. Hundreds of research programs covering a wide range of scientific areas are under way today on every continent and in every ocean. The institution has a staff of more than 1,400 and annual expenditures of approximately $195 million from federal, state, and private sources. Scripps operates oceanographic research vessels recognized worldwide for their outstanding capabilities. Equipped with innovative instruments for ocean exploration, these ships constitute mobile laboratories and observatories that serve students and researchers from institutions throughout the world. Birch Aquarium at Scripps serves as the interpretive center of the institution and showcases Scripps research and a diverse array of marine life through exhibits and programming for more than 430,000 visitors each year. Learn more at scripps.ucsd.edu and follow us at Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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