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University of Washington faculty, students, staff and friends are cordially invited to the 34th Annual Faculty Lecture:

Who is afraid of the big bad climate?
What is the worst that global warming could do?

By Dr. Peter Ward
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
7 p.m.
Kane Hall, Room 130

The lecture is free and open to the public. A reception will follow in the Walker-Ames Room in Kane Hall.

About This Lecture

In the last five years, global warming has morphed from two relatively powerless words into a potent term that causes enormous political and economic upheaval. The controversy and hyperbole about the accuracy and truthfulness of predictions, threats and "tipping points" regarding global warming have replaced the controversy about evolution as the major intellectual and religious battleground in America.

But just how serious are the actual threats from a warmed world? We can gain a great deal of insight from a little-visited point of view: the rock and fossil record. This record about ancient times, when the world warmed at rates and fashions comparable to what we see today, can tell us plenty about what lies ahead. The view is not reassuring. It tells us that global warming's threat to human life and to various national economies comes from both sea level rise and, ultimately, from mass extinction.

But critical points of the science, whether from the ancient record or current conditions, are still often lost on a public bombarded with contrarian opinions. The question is whether this has resulted in part from a culture that values science faculty more for research than for public scholarship or outreach.

The Annual Faculty Lecture

Since 1976, members of the UW faculty have chosen a faculty peer who has made a demonstrable impact on their profession to deliver the Annual Faculty Lecture. This is the highest honor the University of Washington faculty can bestow on one of their own. The 34th Annual Faculty Lecturer, Peter Ward, joins a distinguished roster of Nobel laureates, historians, artists, scientists and authors who have participated in this series.

See a list of the previous Annual Faculty Lecturers.

To request disability accommodation, contact the Disability Services Office at least 10 days in advance at: 206.543.6450 (voice), 206.543.6452 (TTY), 206.685.7264 (fax) or

Dr. Peter Ward

Department of Earth and Space Sciences and the
Department of Biology

Photo of Peter Ward

Dr. Peter Ward, a Seattle native, earned his bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Washington and his Ph.D. from McMaster University. He joined the UW faculty in 1985 and has published more than 140 scientific papers and 15 books addressing topics associated with paleontology, zoology and astronomy. An expert on mass extinctions and the role of extraterrestrial impacts on Earth, he was among a small group of faculty members who brought the first known graduate program in astrobiology — the study of life away from Earth — to the UW.

His books include The End of Evolution, The Call of Distant Mammoths and the best-selling Rare Earth, co-authored with UW astronomer Donald Brownlee. In 2003, Ward was awarded the Jim Shea medal for popular science writing by the National Association of Geoscience Teachers. He has appeared in numerous television documentaries and was a primary writer and commentator for the eight-hour miniseries Animal Armageddon, aired in 2009 by the cable channel Animal Planet. He will narrate and appear in a four-hour Canadian Broadcasting Co. production about past oceans scheduled to air in 2010, and he recently completed filming in Antarctica for an upcoming National Geographic television adaptation of his sixteenth book, Our Flooded Earth.