His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg will speak with leading scientists on 9 January about growing concern over climate feedback loops: human-induced changes in the environment that accelerate global warming. The discussion will be hosted by the Mind & Life Institute, drawing from the Dalai Lama’s latest book, Greta Thunberg’s activism, and a new series of educational films on climate change.
Climate feedback loops—such as the thawing of permafrost releasing more methane into the atmosphere, and melting sea ice reducing the planet’s albedo and thus causing more light and heat from the Sun to be absorbed—have come under greater scrutiny in recent years, driving increased urgency among environmental activists. The implication they point to is that simply cutting back on human-caused emissions over the coming decades will not be enough as we have triggered secondary mechanisms of climate change that will continue to drive catastrophic climate and weather patterns.
The discussion will be offered as a free live-streamed event on 9 January at 10:30 p.m. EST, and is expected to explore various ways that people can address and confront this addition to the climate crisis. The talks will be moderated by Dr. Diana Chapman Walsh, former president of Wellesley College, and will revolve around a recently released series of educational films, Climate Emergency: Feedback Loops, narrated by Richard Gere.
Scientific experts scheduled to take part in the discussion include Dr. Susan Natali, Arctic Program Director at the Woodwell Climate Research Center, and Dr. William Moomaw, Professor Emeritus of International Environmental Policy at Tufts University and the lead author of several reports for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. Also taking part will be Susan Bauer-Wu, president of the Mind & Life Institute, and Dr. Thupten Jinpa Lagri, the principal English translator for the Dalai Lama and a research fellow in Eastern religions at Girton College, Cambridge University.
The event follows closely after the publication of the Dalai Lama’s latest book, Our Only Home: A Climate Appeal to the World (Blackstone Publishing 2020), released in November. In the book, the Dalai Lama praises Greta Thunberg and other young climate activists for their commitment the environment and their efforts to effect positive change.
However, the Dalai Lama also noted the need for governmental and global organizations to take on a stronger role in preventing further climate crises. In an interview about his book last month, the Dalai Lama stated: “The United Nations should take a more active role in this field. The big nations should pay more attention to ecology. I hope you see those big nations who spent a lot of money for weapons or war turn their resources to the preservation of the climate.” He added: “We see too much emphasis on my nation, my religion, their religion. That really is causing all these problems due to different religions and different nations are fighting. So now we really need oneness.” (The Guardian)
The live-streamed event will include coverage of recent scientific findings, the moral imperative of taking action, and what everyone can do collectively to slow, stop, and reverse the increasing potential for devastating climate feedback loops.
The Dalai Lama with Greta Thunberg and Leading Scientists: A Conversation on the Crisis of Climate Feedback Loops (Mind & Life Institute)
‘Buddha would be green’: Dalai Lama calls for urgent climate action (The Guardian)
Climate Emergency: Feedback Loops (Moving Still Productions)