UN Climate Control Panel Shares 2007 Nobel Prize with Al Gore; CSU, Chico Environmental Scientist One of Lead Authors

Date: 10-12-2007

Kathleen McPartland
Public Affairs
Jeff Price
Geological and Environmental Sciences

California State University, Chico biologist Jeff Price, Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences, is one of the lead authors of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report that received the Nobel Peace Prize, which was announced today.

Price is the only professor in the California State University system among the lead authors of the IPCC report, which includes three working groups and 19 chapters.

The UN’s IPCC shares the prize with former vice president Albert Gore for “their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about manmade climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change,” the Nobel committee said.

Price is one of roughly 2,000 scientists that are part of the IPCC. According to the Associated Press, “Rajendra Pachauri, the IPCC chairman, said he and Gore really had 2,000 co-laureates — each of the scientists in the UN panel’s research network.”

“Our colleague Jeff Price is one of these scientists,” said Jim Houpis, dean of the CSU, Chico College of Natural Sciences. “The Nobel Award to IPCC is long overdue in honoring the hard work and dedication of climate scientists such as Dr. Price and their impact on turning the corner on addressing the severe climate challenges that face our planet.”

Price contributed significantly to the chapter “Ecosystems, Their Goods and Services” within the main report “Climate Change 2007: Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability.” He specifically covered biodiversity, adaptation and mitigation and valuing ecosystems.

Price and his co-authors made several projections in the ecosystems chapter, including that approximately 20-30 percent of plant and animal species assessed so far are likely to be at increased risk of extinction if increases in global average temperature exceed 1.5-2.5 degrees Celsius.

“The extinction message is one of the most significant in the report,” said Price. “The accelerating risk of extinction for species—and we’ve only studied a small fraction of the species of the world—should be of great concern to everyone. Some people will be extremely hard hit, also. For example, people living in Africa have little adaptive capacity as that capacity has already been impacted through water shortages and diminished agriculture.”

“Maybe the attention from the Nobel Prize will actually spur the world’s governments to finally take action,” said Price. “Few are meeting their Kyoto targets. It will take the will of all the governments to make the changes that need to be made.”

Some governments have started to reduce emissions to meet their Kyoto targets, said Price, but many have not. In order to prevent some of the most significant impacts of climate change, it may now take a reduction of emissions by 60-80 percent. “Meeting targets would have been so much simpler if we had started more than a decade ago when the Kyoto agreement was put forth. It is going to be so much more difficult now,” said Price.

The Kyoto agreement will run out in 2012. Price suggests that we cannot wait until then to begin implementing change. “Even if we were to eliminate 100 percent of emissions today, we would still see a significant raise in global temperatures of one-half degree Celsius. And, if we begin meeting Kyoto guidelines, it will still take 50 to 100 years to see many of the changes.”

Price pointed out that the IPCC is a consensus document. It is important, he thinks, for people to understand that it is not a “fear-mongering” document. “In the IPCC process, everyone has his point of view,” said Price. “To get everyone to agree, you come down in the middle. Every single statement in the Summary for Policy-makers is approved ‘yes’ or ‘no’ by policy-makers in every government.”

Price believes that it is not too late, but that it is urgent that action is taken soon. “Each year we put taking action off, the more expensive it will become and the more difficult it will be to avoid major damages,” said Price. “It is not a question of how much it will cost to do something; it is a question of how much it will cost to do nothing.”

Price is also co-author of “Fingerprints of Global Warming on Wild Animals and Plants,” an article in the international journal “Nature.” He is author of the joint American Bird Conservancy/National Wildlife Federation publication “The Birdwatcher’s Guide to Global Warming,” as well as author of a number of scientific papers on the potential impacts of global warming on birds. He has been a faculty member at CSU, Chico since 2004.

The Nobel Prize has been honoring men and women from all corners of the globe for outstanding achievements in physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, and for work in peace since 1901. The prize was established by Alfred Nobel, who left much of his wealth to the establishment of the prize. He died in 1896.