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David Grinspoon: The Earth in Human Hands

Weber State College of Science
Event organized by Weber State College of Science

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Please join the Weber State Department of Physics in welcoming David Grinspoon to discuss his latest book: Earth in Human Hands. Event Details:

When: April 21, 7 PM
Where: Weber State Ogden Campus, Hurst Center, Dumke Hall

Aboud Dr. David Grinspoon:

David Grinspoon is an astrobiologist, award-winning science communicator, and prize-winning author. He is a Senior Scientist at the Planetary Science Institute and Adjunct Professor of Astrophysical and Planetary Science at the University of Colorado. His research focuses on climate evolution on Earth-like planets and potential conditions for life elsewhere in the universe. He is involved with several interplanetary spacecraft missions for NASA, the European Space Agency and the Japanese Space Agency. In 2013 he was appointed as the inaugural Chair of Astrobiology at the U.S. Library of Congress where he studied the human impact on Earth systems and organized a public symposium on the Longevity of Human Civilization. His technical papers have been published in Nature, Science, and numerous other journals, and he has given invited keynote talks at conferences around the world. Grinspoon’s popular writing has appeared in Slate, Scientific American, Natural History, Nautilus, Astronomy, Seed, The Boston Globe, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times and Sky & Telescope Magazine where he is a contributing editor and writes the quasi-monthly “Cosmic Relief” column. He is the author and editor of several books, including Lonely Planets: The Natural Philosophy of Alien Life which won the PEN Center USA Literary Award for Nonfiction. Grinspoon has been recipient of the Carl Sagan Medal for Public Communication of Planetary Science by the American Astronomical Society, and has been honored with the title “Alpha Geek” by Wired Magazine. He lectures widely, and appears frequently as a science commentator on television, radio and podcasts, including as a frequent guest on StarTalk Radio and host of the new spinoff StarTalk All Stars. Also a musician, he currently leads the House Band of the Universe. He resides in Washington DC with his wife and dog.

About the book:

For the first time in Earth's history, our planet is experiencing a confluence of rapidly accelerating changes prompted by one species: humans. Climate change is only the most visible of the modifications we've made--up until this point, inadvertently--to the planet. And our current behavior threatens not only our own future but that of countless other creatures. By comparing Earth's story to those of other planets, astrobiologist David Grinspoon shows what a strange and novel development it is for a species to evolve to build machines, and ultimately, global societies with world-shaping influence.

Without minimizing the challenges of the next century, Grinspoon suggests that our present moment is not only one of peril, but also great potential, especially when viewed from a 10,000-year perspective. Our species has surmounted the threat of extinction before, thanks to our innate ingenuity and ability to adapt, and there's every reason to believe we can do so again.

Our challenge now is to awaken to our role as a force of planetary change, and to grow into this task. We must become graceful planetary engineers, conscious shapers of our environment and caretakers of Earth's biosphere. This is a perspective that begs us to ask not just what future do we want to avoid, but what do we seek to build? What kind of world do we want? Are humans the worst thing or the best thing to ever happen to our planet? Today we stand at a pivotal juncture, and the answer will depend on the choices we make.