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This weekend, a concerned group of Penn faculty brought experts on climate change together to inform the Penn community about the challenges and opportunities that climate science presents.

The event, "Symposium: Responses, Risks and Adaptation to Climate Change," was held Friday morning and afternoon in the Chemistry building. Five speakers, three from outside the Penn community, spoke on a range of topics within global climate change, from its scientific aspects to its connection to business and public policy.

Roberto Schaeffer, a Penn graduate who currently teaches at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, concluded the afternoon with a lecture titled "Impacts of Climate Change on Energy Security."

"The current situation is worse than the most negative prediction in 2000," he said. "The recent past does not leave us very optimistic."

However, after discussing the use of hydroelectric power in Brazil, Schaeffer concluded optimistically by pronouncing, "The good news is there is a significant potential to reduce emissions."

Earlier in the afternoon, Eric Orts, of the Legal Studies and Business Ethics Department of the Wharton School discussed "Climate Contracts" - international agreements to reduce greenhouse gases. Orts took the unusual stance that the current "financial cooling" is actually slowing global warming.

Additionally, Orts blames the "tragedy of the commons" - the phenomenon of individuals putting their personal interests above those of society - for the failure of previous attempts to mitigate climate change.

The morning portion of the symposium began with a presentation by Brent Helliker, a Penn Biology professor, who spoke on the effects climate change has on plant physiology, ecology and evolution.

Helliker was followed by Ron Stouffer of the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Tony Broccoli, of Rutgers University's environmental science department, then spoke about regional perspectives on past and future climate change.

The event also featured a poster session, in which 15 undergraduate and graduate students presented their climate-related research.

"I say this not because I have to but because I really believe it: Today we saw some of the best talks by some of the best experts on climate change," said Doug Jerolmack, associate professor in the department of Earth and Environmental Science and one of the organizers of the symposium.

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