e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry
e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry

ESF Professor Joins Oxford Round Table Discussion

Dr. Thomas Amidon participates in meeting to address ‘complex and difficult’ problem

Dr. Thomas Amidon of ESF's Department of Bioprocess and Paper Engineering was one of 37 scientists from around the world who participated this spring in an Oxford Round Table meeting that examined the findings of the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Conference.

The meeting, titled, "The Copenhagen Protocol: Problems and Possibilities," drew experts from an array of fields "to discuss what came out - and what didn't come out - of Copenhagen," Amidon said.

Serving as a discussion leader, Amidon joined scientists and professionals from Australia, Canada, Japan, South Africa, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Zimbabwe and the United States at the meeting. The participants brought technical expertise in scientific fields as well as areas of policy and the social sciences.

Discussions and presentations at Oxford went beyond climate change, Amidon said, to include broader issues about resource consumption, international perspectives on economic growth and embedded historical inequities regarding resource distribution.

"This is a more complex and difficult problem than the nations and cultures of the world have ever tackled," he said. "This could be the big one."

The participants issued a statement after the meeting that said, in part: "The earth processes are changing in numerous ways; many of these are detrimental to humanity and other species. Worldwide, human society has accelerated the use of natural resources, bringing about massive changes in the productive base of land, air and water resources. … The climate change will exacerbate the degradation of ecosystems that are necessary to support a still expanding human population."

The participants also made a series of recommendations, including:

' Indigenous and historical knowledge should be synthesized with technical improvements and democratic decisions to benefit humans and the earth.

' Energy, manufacturing and waste cycles should be closed loops.

' Science and technology experts should advocate that government leaders enact stronger and more cohesive climate change policy and strategy.

' Local, regional and global action should involve all stakeholders and be based on data-driven science and public participation rather than influence by special interest groups.

' Educational institutions should foster stronger curricula to foster the environmental consciousness of young people.

"The difficulty in arriving at a consensus is illuminating. It's really hard to see a path that doesn't offend someone," Amidon said. "This is going to be more difficult than anything we've undertaken as a planet. It's daunting."