The solution to pollution is not simply a matter of turning the taps off. That was the message conveyed by Dr. Fei Wang, one of Canada's leading scientists in environmental chemistry, as he delivered the Stairs Lecture in Chemistry on November 8, 2016 at Peterborough's Market Hall.
An audience of students, faculty, and community members, gathered to hear Prof. Wang's presentation, Chemical Contamination in the Arctic Under a Changing Climate, which looked at how chemistry can help solve two of the most pressing environmental issues the world is facing: climate change and chemical contamination.
Professor Wang teaches Environmental Chemistry and Biogeochemistry at the University of Manitoba and is the chief scientist of the Sea-Ice Environmental Research Facility, Canada's first experimental sea ice facility. He pointed out that, in spite of efforts to control the emission sources of contamination, the ecosystem is not recovering in a timely manner, indicating that the driving force for contamination is no longer the emission source. Instead, changes in processes, such as permafrost melting in the Arctic due to climate change, are releasing previously deposited contaminants.
"The solution to pollution is not simply to just turn the tap off," Prof. Wang said. "You have to think about how the climate is changing and how that affects the contamination. So we need to fight climate change and chemical contamination on the same front: the two are intrinsically linked to each other."
The audience included Bachelor of Arts and Science students from the Knowing and Wondering course (ASCI 1000Y) who attended in lieu of their regularly-scheduled classroom lecture.
"This is an interdisciplinary course, and we're currently talking about scientific ways of knowing and about controversies versus consensus within science," Dr. Jessica Marion Barr, course instructor, explained.
Professor Barr applauded Trent for opening up the lecture to the public, saying "This is a very valuable contribution that the University makes to the culture and intellectual life of the community."
The Stairs Lecture in Chemistry was created by Trent professor emeritus Dr. Robert Stairs and his wife, Sibyl, in 2010, to showcase the field of Chemistry. It brings internationally recognized Chemistry experts and scholars to Trent to share their ground-breaking discoveries.