Climate Change: Why all the Fuss? Environment Canada advisor Henry Hengeveld says scientists need to better communicate urgency of climate change


TORONTO, May 23, 2001 -- Henry Hengeveld, Environment Canada's Advisor on Climate Change, will deliver the 2001 Morris Katz Memorial Lecture in Environmental Research at York University on Friday, May 25, 2:30 - 4 p.m.

Hengeveld, whose lecture is entitled Climate Change: Why all the Fuss?, says that scientists need to do a better job of communicating the risks of climate change and the need for action to reduce these risks to North American policymakers and public audiences. He says that while nature has played a role in past global warming, there is now overwhelming evidence to suggest human interference in the climate system – such as the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere from automobiles and coal-burning electricity plants – is rapidly accelerating the rate of change.

Hengeveld says that Canadians and Americans generally don’t appear to perceive climate change to be a serious problem. He says the benefits of warmer, milder winters in a traditionally cold climate area is among the barriers to convincing policymakers and the public about potential dangers and hence the need to take action. "It takes a shock -- such a major flood, wildfire, drought or heatwave -- to change public perceptions on climate change," says Hengeveld. "The challenge for scientists is to effectively communicate the science of climate change to non-scientists, and the media is a critical link for reaching them."

Hengeveld will also review the latest scientific evidence on the human factors precipitating climate change presented by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He will examine a range of climate change scenarios for the next 100 years and possible consequences -- such as increased risks of droughts and other types of extreme weather -- and discuss what people can do to help reduce rapid climate change and its effects.

Hengeveld has been Environment Canada’s Science Advisor on Climate Change since 1982. He is responsible for assessing national and international scientific literature and research activities related to climate change. He has published numerous reports on the science of climate change, and frequently speaks to a broad range of audiences on the topic. He has also been actively involved in a variety of domestic and international meetings dealing with both climate change science assessment and the development of global agreements on mitigative action. Prior to assuming his current duties, he spent more than a decade studying operational methods of monitoring sea ice using remote sensing.

Hengeveld’s lecture, which is sponsored by York’s Centre for Atmospheric Chemistry and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, will take place in the Senate Chamber, N940 Ross Bldg., York University, 4700 Keele Street.

The Morris Katz Memorial Lecture series commemorates the life and work of York University chemistry professor Morris Katz who died in 1987.


For more information, please contact:

Carol Weldon
Centre for Atmospheric Chemistry
York University

Prof. Geoff Harris, Director
Centre for Atmospheric Chemistry
York University

Ken Turriff
Media Relations
York University
416-736-2100, ext. 22086