S1E1. Deborah Lawrence on Forests and the Climate
Play • 1 hr
On this episode of Free Range, Mike Livermore speaks with Dr. Deborah Lawrence, a Professor of Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia, about her research on land use and the connection between deforestation and climate change. In this discussion, Lawrence provides an in-depth explanation of the role forests play in affecting the global climate and then discusses how climate scientists use mathematical modeling to project the future of climate change. Professor Lawrence begins by describing how she developed her interdisciplinary approach to studying land use, which she calls “Food, Fuels and Forests” (2:30 – 5:30). This approach recognizes that the surface of the earth is a finite good, so the decision to use a part of it for one thing necessarily means it is not being used for another. Lawrence and Livermore then discuss the current state of carbon capture technology (5:55 – 13:25). Professor Lawrence explains that one of the fundamental flaws in most climate change models is the fact that almost every model relies on carbon capture and sequestration technology that is either unproven (direct air capture) or prohibitively expensive (like BECCS – bioenergy with carbon capture and storage). The conversation then shifts to a discussion of the importance of forests in relation to climate change on both a global and local scale, with Professor Lawrence offering a detailed explanation of the process through which forests cool the planet (15:00 – 24:15). Lawrence then explains the role of modeling in climate change science, generally, and in her work specifically (24:30 – 44:35). Finally, Professor Lawrence provides insight into her research on land use, how land use decisions fit within the broader considerations of climate change science, and the benefits of approaching land use questions from a multidisciplinary perspective (45:00 – 59:45). Professor Michael Livermore is the Edward F. Howrey Professor of Law at the University of Virginia School of Law. He is also the Director of the Program in Law, Communities and the Environment (PLACE), an interdisciplinary program based at UVA Law that examines the intersection of legal, environmental, and social concerns.
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