Transcripts of NASM-Dr

[Music] Behold the Earth, teaming with life, ideally suited for the development of human civilization. It's no wonder that previous generations held the fundamental belief that the that the resources of the world were unlimited, that our planet with this ideal environment for life was provided for our benefit and that we bear no responsibility for ensuring that the Earth remains fertile for the development of our civilization. But as our population has grown, our appetite for energy has increased and in some cases we have misused our land. We can no longer assume that the Earth will remain eternally ideal for the advancement of our civilization or the quality of our life. Rather we will forevermore be called upon to heed that biblical admonition, we need to be wise stewards of creation. But how do we know what to do? How does the Earth really work? How could humans influence our climate or sea levels or any other aspect of the habitability of our planet? Fortunately, as our technological civilization has grown to where humans can affect the Earth, we have also been provided with the tools to study the Earth and understand it, predict its future and determine the actions that will be most effective to protect our future for generations to come. In the early 1980s, we've been studying the individual components of the Earth; the atmosphere through meteorology and atmospheric chemistry, the oceans through oceanography, the land and its biology through ecology, but the Earth is more complicated than that. The atmosphere, the oceans, the biosphere, the cryosphere are all coupled with complicated feedback mechanisms, governing their interactions. The Earth is not simply individual components. It is an integrated system that we need to understand is a system, if we are to predict the future of the Earth. In the late 1980s, NASA embraced the concept of Earth system science by bringing to bear the most important resource for studying the earth as a system, the global perspective of Earth that is provided by orbiting spacecraft. NASA undertook one of its most important programs, the Mission to the Planet Earth and the Earth observing system with the Terra and the Aqua and the Aura satellites as the principal observatories for studying the Earth as a system. Many satellites have been added to this fleet of satellites observing the Earth and these satellites are and will continue to provide comprehensive observations from which we can understand the earth and develop the models that allow us to predict our future. In tonight's program, we are going to celebrate what we have learned about the key components of the Earth systems since we embarked upon Mission to Planet Earth some three decades ago. But as we celebrate, all that we have learned, we need to be aware that we are in a race against time. The Earth is changing. Human civilization is influencing the Earth. We need the best possible scientific understanding of all the factors that will influence the future of the planet so that we can make wise policy decisions to protect and to preserve this planet on which our civilization depends and if need be adapt to the changes that will come. We need to become and forevermore remain wise stewards of creation. We begin this evening with Gail Jackson; who will discuss the water cycle that is essential for life. Then Lola Fatoyinbo will talk about the carbon cycle which is driven by many events including changing forest covers and Thorsten Markus will examine the key ice sheets of the Antarctic and Arctic and their role in sea level rise and finally Piers Sellers will wrap up with all the tasks that still lie before us. Gail!