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Living scenarios: Engineers and the future of human emissions

Wednesday 20 March 2019, 15:30 - 16:30
Civil Engineering Room LTC (3.13)
Tami Bond, University of Illinois

Joint Priestley Centre & School of Civil Engineering Seminar


Climate models of the distant future show discouraging temperature increases and other changes in the Earth system, mainly caused by accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. How do we know what carbon dioxide emissions will occur in the future? “Emission scenarios” are inputs to future climate models. They estimate human activity, and the resulting emissions, from simulations of population growth and wealth. These projections of activity describe air and other pollution, in addition to climate impacts.

Many scenarios do not account for the complexity of engineering systems, because they are built on economic principles of supply and demand for different activities. The long lifetimes of capital stock, built infrastructure, and land use distribution are some aspects that have been neglected. The distribution of income within a country, which may affect the ability to adopt new technology and energy sources, is not considered either.

Engineering know-how, connected with future emission scenarios, would add realism and reflect pragmatic pathways of societal choice. These technical road-maps would provide guidance for both policy and innovation. Drawing on my previous work on projecting freight and residential emissions, I’ll discuss how engineers and Earth scientists can join hands toward envisioning achievable futures.

The seminar will be chaired by Dr Katy Roelich


Tami Bond is a Professor of Environmental Engineering at the University of Illinois. Her research has followed a thread from combustion, to atmospheric chemistry and climate, to technology change and future scenarios, to the intimate relationship between technology and human choice. Her research group now spans considerations as small as a particle’s skin and as large as a national transportation system in the quest to characterize the dance between humans, “their stuff,” and the atmosphere and climate. Professor Bond first earned two degrees in mechanical engineering, before succumbing to an interdisciplinary PhD, pursuing a NOAA Climate and Global Change post-doc, and eventually landing in a civil engineering department. She is the Nathan M. Newmark Distinguished Professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union and a 2014 John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellow.