The talk will review some recent developments in climate science, including the IPCC 1.5 degrees report and findings related to Arctic amplification, accelerated warming, and ocean energy absorption—taking account of the key distinction between thermodynamic and dynamic circulatory responses to greenhouse forcing. It will then discuss the evolving national and global politics of the issue, especially the implications of the broad reaction by some governments against carbon mitigation. It will conclude with some reflections on the role of political ideology in hindering an adequate policy response.
Thomas Homer-Dixon holds the CIGI Chair of Global Systems at the Balsillie School of International Affairs in Waterloo, Canada. At the University of Waterloo, he is a Professor in the Faculty of Environment, with a cross-appointment to the Political Science Department in the Faculty of Arts. Between 2009 and 2014, he was founding director of the Waterloo Institute for Complexity and Innovation. Born in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, he received his B.A. in political science from Carleton University in 1980 and his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in international relations, defense and arms control policy, and conflict theory in 1989. He then moved to the University of Toronto to lead several pioneering research projects investigating the links between environmental stress and violence in poor countries. Since joining the University of Waterloo in 2008, his research has focused on threats to global security in the 21st century, including economic instability, climate change, and energy scarcity. He also studies how people, organizations, and societies can better resolve their conflicts and innovate in response to complex problems. His work is highly interdisciplinary, drawing on political science, economics, environmental studies, geography, cognitive science, social psychology, and complex systems theory. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on topics ranging from environmental security to international relations and complexity theory. In 1999 he received the University of Toronto’s Northrop Frye Teaching Award for integrating teaching and research. Dr. Homer-Dixon’s books include The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity, and the Renewal of Civilization, which won Canada’s 2006 National Business Book Award, The Ingenuity Gap, which won the 2001 Governor General’s Non-fiction Award, and Environment, Scarcity, and Violence, which won the 2000 Caldwell Prize of the American Political Science Association. His academic writing has appeared in leading journals, including Ambio, International Security, Journal of Peace Research, and Population and Development Review. He has written for non- academic audiences in Foreign Policy, Scientific American, The New York Times, and the Financial Times. He now writes regularly for the Toronto Globe and Mail in Canada. A widely sought speaker, Dr. Homer-Dixon has delivered addresses on his research to academic and general audiences around the world. He has also consulted to senior levels
of government in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom.