HU Center for E3 presents ‘The State of Climate Science, and What It Means’

Join Harrisburg University’s Center for Environment, Energy, and Economy for the final installment of its Climate Disruption and Sustainable Development Speaker Series the evening of April 25.

The lecture, titled The State of Climate Science, and What It Means, will feature two prominent expert speakers, Richard Alley, of Penn State University, and Donald A. Brown, Widener Law Commonwealth. The lecture will take place in the 14th floor auditorium at Harrisburg University, 326 Market St. Harrisburg, at 6 p.m. This is a free event.  An RSVP is requested. Click here to register.

The lecture takes place the evening prior to a landmark legal conference the Environmental Law and Sustainability Center at Widener University Commonwealth Law School and the Center for Environment, Energy, and Economy (E3) at HU will co-present at Widener Law School in Harrisburg April 26.

Donald Brown is Pictured left. Richard Alley is pictured right.

Alley, the Evan Pugh Professor of Geosciences and an associate of the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute at Penn State University,   will review the scientific conclusions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and discuss sustainable energy systems during his lecture. We enjoy the good we get from our use of energy, now mostly from fossil fuels.  But, the carbon dioxide from the use of fossil fuels changes the climate based on unavoidable physics, and the climate changes they are causing will become increasingly damaging if we continue to raise carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. Strong scholarship shows that if we make wise use of our knowledge on risks and opportunities, we can move toward a sustainable energy system that supports a larger economy with more jobs and greater national security in a cleaner environment with improved health more consistent with the Golden Rule. Today’s students are the first generation in history who know they can do this. Many possible paths exist, and the students likely will invent even better ways if given the opportunity.

Alley is widely credited with showing that Earth has experienced abrupt climate change in the past—and likely will again, based on his meticulous study of ice cores from Greenland and West Antarctica. His research interests focus on glaciology, sea level change and abrupt climate change.

In recent years, he served as one of the authors on the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, whose members shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former Vice President Al Gore. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2008.

Brown, the scholar in residence and professor of sustainability ethics and law, Widener University Commonwealth Law School in Harrisburg,  will discuss issues citizens around the world urgently need to understand about climate change in light of the most recent climate change science. They are:

  • The enormous magnitude of GHG emissions reductions needed to prevent catastrophic warming.
  • The speed of GHG emissions reductions needed to prevent catastrophic warming.
  • No nation may either legally or morally use national self-interest alone as justification for their failure to fully meet their obligation under the UNFCCC.
  • No nation may either legally or morally use scientific uncertainty as justification for their failure to fully meet their obligations under the UNFCCC.
  • Developed countries must legally, morally, and practically reduce their GHG emissions more aggressively than developing countries.
  • Developed countries must legally, morally, and practically help finance mitigation and adaptation programs in poor developing countries.
  • The need for broad understanding among civil society of these issues follows from several recent scientific reports on climate change that lead to the conclusion that the international community is facing an urgent existential crisis that threatens life on earth.

Brown is a contributing author to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), 5th Assessment Report.  Previously, he was associate professor of environmental ethics, science, and law at the Penn State University.  Prior to that, he was an environmental lawyer for the states of Pennsylvania and New Jersey and program manager for UN Organizations at the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of International Environmental Policy where he represented US EPA negotiating sustainability issues at the UN including climate change, international water issues, biodiversity, and Agenda 21.  His newest book, Navigating the Perfect Moral Storm, Climate Ethic, was published in 2012. He has written over 180 books, book chapters, and articles on environmental and sustainability ethics and law. He manages an award-winning web site,, which examines ethical issues that arise in climate change policy formation. RSVP online to


About the Book: The book is available in two forms.  Summary and Key Recommendations version of the book, with thumbnail summaries of chapters, key recommendations, and a listing of key recommendations by actor, is available is book is available here.   The complete book includes a detailed analyses of more than 1,000 recommendations for federal, state, and local governments as well as the private sector.  It also includes an index of recommendations organized by actor.  You can order a copy here.

About Harrisburg University 

Accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, Harrisburg University is a private non-profit university offering bachelor and graduate degree programs in science, technology, and math fields. For more information on the University’s affordable demand-driven undergraduate and graduate programs, call 717.901.5146 or email,