Global Warming Lecture – May 22

On May 22, 2018, the Emeriti Center held a lecture about climate change called “What In The World Should We, Can We, and Will We Do About Global Warming?” which was presented by Tom Flood, an Emeritus Professor of Chemistry and Environmental Studies at the University of Southern California. The lecture was held at the Crowell Public Library. For more information about climate change and Professor Tom Flood, please read below.


Informed individuals are well aware of climate change from the countless reports in the media.  What is less well known is the state of progress in dealing with its mitigation.  This presentation summarizes the changes that should be made to head off the most serious consequences that will likely occur if society continues on the path of “business as usual.”  The fact that carbon dioxide, the dominant greenhouse gas, remains in the atmosphere for centuries makes our pollution effectively irreversible and creates urgency for change that we must not ignore.

We can accomplish our goalsWe already have the scientific and technological knowledge needed to make substantial progress in their implementation.  The fact that not every part of the technological puzzle is fully developed must not be used as an excuse to delay progress on switching to renewables.  Climate change mitigation is not all-or-nothing.  If we can’t get to 100% renewables right away, it is still extremely important to get to 50 or 60 % as soon as possible.

Will we make enough of the necessary changes soon enough?  Unfortunately, powerful advocates for the status quo have muddied the waters of public discussion with amounts of misinformation that at times seem overwhelming.  The necessary changes will lead to great dislocations in the fossil fuel and related industries, and they are fighting back.

Overall, the change to renewable energy can be accomplished as a net positive for society, while leaving most remaining fossil fuels in the ground.  Political will is the most important missing ingredient.

Biographical Sketch of Professor Flood

Thomas Flood, Professor of Chemistry and Environmental Studies, gave courses at the University of Southern California on atmospheric chemistry and pollution, conventional and renewable energy sources, and climate change.  Since retiring in 2012, he has given courses and lectures on climate change, renewable energy and sustainable transportation in the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute of the UCLA Extension, in the Emeriti College at USC, and at various community organizations in the greater LA area.  He has participated in Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project Leadership Training program, the Citizens Climate Lobby, the Sierra Club, and the Union of Concerned Scientists.

After receiving his doctorate in Chemistry at MIT, Prof. Flood spent most of his forty years at USC conducting research on how metal-containing molecules react with hydrocarbons.  The work has direct relevance to fossil fuels and led to his interest in energy sources and the effects of their use on the environment and climate, which interest he has pursued intently for many years.