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Honors Colloquium

Fall 2008 Honors Colloquium

URI scientists to examine ‘Great Global Warming Hoax’ in Honors Colloquium discussion Sept. 16

Rebecca RobinsonUniversity of Rhode Island professors Rebecca Robinson and John Merrill will discuss the rhetoric surrounding the debate over global warming with the help of documentary film clips as part of URI’s 2008 Honors Colloquium.

Free and open to the public, the discussion – entitled “The Great Global Warming Hoax?” -- will be held Sept. 16 at 7:30 p.m. in the auditorium of the Chafee Social Science Center on URI’s Kingston Campus.

The Honors Colloquium, “People and Planet: Global Environmental Change,” explores human-caused global change, its consequences and potential responses through a series of lectures, films, exhibits and a cabaret. Weekly events run through Dec. 9.

In their discussion, Robinson, a marine geochemist, and Merrill, an atmospheric chemist, both of whom teach at the URI Graduate School of Oceanography, will use clips from the film “Unstoppable Solar Cycles: The Real Story of Greenland.” The film was produced by the Idea Channel, an advocacy group that is leading the battle to deny global warming.

John Merrill“Our plan is to debunk some of the common arguments we hear from naysayers,” explained Merrill. “We’re going to use this beautifully produced film that shows dramatic imagery, has portentous music, and explains to us that all of the world’s leading scientists are trying to convince you of something that isn’t so.”

Robinson focuses her research on the cycling of biologically important elements and their relationship with climate change on various timescales. Of particular interest to her is the role of the nitrogen cycle in regulating biological productivity and atmospheric CO2 concentrations, both in the ancient and in the modern ocean.

Merrill uses meteorological techniques to study the long-range transport of substances in the atmosphere and the impacts of meteorological processes on the environment. He conducts weekly observations of the distribution of ozone using equipment carried aloft by weather balloons.

The discussion will be moderated by Peter August, director of the URI Coastal Institute and a professor of natural resources science.


Major Sponsor:

The G. Unger Vetlesen Foundation

Sustaining Sponsors:

URI Office of the President; URI Honors Program; The Mark and Donna Ross Honors Colloquium Humanities Endowment; The Thomas Silvia and Shannon Chandley Honors Colloquium Endowment.

Leadership Sponsors:

URI Graduate School of Oceanography and URI College of Arts and Sciences.


Environmental Data Center, URI Department of Natural Resources Science; R.I. Center for the Book at Providence Public Library; R.I. Office of Library and Information Services; R.I. Sea Grant College Program; U.S. E.P.A. Office of Research and Development, Atlantic Ecology Division; URI Classroom Media Services; URI Coastal Institute; URI College of Business Administration; URI College of Engineering; URI College of the Environment and Life Sciences; URI College of Human Science and Services; URI College of Nursing; URI College of Pharmacy; URI Division of Student Affairs; URI Division of University Advancement and the URI Alumni Association; URI Foundation; URI Office of the Provost; URI Office of the Vice President for Administration; URI Office of the Vice Provost for Information Technology Services; URI University College.

Colloquium Coordinators:

Professor Steven D'Hondt, Graduate School of Oceanography;
Professor Arthur Spivack, Graduate School of Oceanography;
Professor Judith Swift, Theatre and Communication Studies.

For information about ways to support the Honors Colloquium, contact Tom Zorabedian at 401-874-2853 or