Queen`s lecture 2019

On the 11th of November 2019 the AP-classes grade 12 of Ms. Weiland and Mr. Riedel used the opportunity to receive profound information about the currently, globally discussed topic of climate change. Therefore, we went to the “Audimax”, the largest lecture hall, of “Technische Universität”, rather known as TU Berlin, which is located on “Straße des 17. Juni” 135 in 10623 Berlin. The lecture discussion took about 70 minutes starting at 5 pm.

Queen`s Lecturen is an annual event which was first introduced as a present by Queen Elizabeth II. for Berlin on the occasion of her visit in 1965. Since 1997 this row of presentations by famous British scientists has been hosted by the TU Berlin. This event is organized by the British Council, the TU Berlin and the British Embassy.

At first, we were welcomed by Prof. Christian Thomson, the president of TU Berlin. He underlined the importance of our topic and pointed out how glad the university is to host such a high-profile event concerning global warming, the way it affects our planet earth and some approaches to solve the problem. Afterwards H.E. Sir Sebastian Wood, the British ambassador to Germany accentuated that it´s a pleasure for Great Britain to be able to hold their yearly presentations by well – respected scientists at TU Berlin. Following that, the introductory part was rounded up by a few words by Steffen Krach, the permanent secretary for higher education and research Berlin.

Afterwards Corinne Le Quèré, a well-known professor of climate change and research from the university of East Anglia began her very informative and often illustrated presentation with many intricate graphs which were based on long-term experiments widespread over the Earth. In order to understand the main parts of her presentation, it might be helpful to be aware of the scientific fields Corinne Le Quère, an originally Canadian scientist, is working on. She focusses on the interactions between climate change and the carbon cycle, including the impact of human emissions, which was also her main topic that evening. Besides she has led the yearly global carbon budget update for 13 years, which represents the international aim to inform about global climate arrangements.

The lecture by Corinne Le Quèré can be divided into several subtopics. It started off with the physical basis of climate change science. Therefore, she showed the results of global temperature records of 170 years. The belonging graph made it easy to see a dramatic widespread warming of one degree. The danger of this seemingly small figure, became clear after the scientist talked about body temperatures of
humans and certain animals and the effects of one single degree above the ideal number.

Later that evening, the audience learned about the interactions between climate change and the carbon cycle. It was interesting to hear that the terrestrial vegetation and the oceans together store 57 times more carbon than our atmosphere. Clearly, the more carbon gets released the more dangerous the situation becomes. As mentioned earlier, Corinne le Quèré worked on the carbon budget. During this part of her presentation, there was a graph which depicted the dimensions of the emissions due to fossil fuels and land use on the upper half. The other half was used to show the partitioning of the ocean, the land and the atmosphere on the emissions.

In the end, the lecturer focussed on the future we choose.  The scientist used a collection of photos showing different actions by people all over the world. They were all meant to illustrate the global response to the climate crisis during 2018. For instance, one could see Greta Thunberg, the “Fridays for future demonstrations” nut also inhabitants of France protesting against the rising carbon tax.

All in all, it can be said that this talk was very interesting even though it eventually focussed slightly too much on the carbon cycle. Nevertheless, it is recommendable to attend similar events about effecting our planet.


written by Oliver Muß and Paul Fischer, AP English class by Ms. Weiland, grade 12