Local Doctor, Pianists Combine For Climate Talk, Concert At Norton

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By: Dale King Contributing Writer

If the level of carbon dioxide in the air were to increase, humans could still survive without serious harm, said scientist Dr. John Strasswimmer, a Palm Beach resident, dermatologist and a Mohs surgeon with offices in Delray Beach.

But for Planet Earth, such a condition, he declared, would be “catastrophic.”

The doctor, who is also a professor of dermatology at the Schmidt College of Medicine at Florida Atlantic University at Boca Raton, offered his thoughts on global climate change as part of a recent talk and four-hand piano concert at the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach.

Pianists Estibaliz Gastesi and Márcio Bezerra – husband and wife – opened and closed the event by performing climate- and weather-related musical pieces. Márcio is an instructor at Bak Middle School for the Arts in West Palm Beach; Estibaliz is a teacher at Don Estridge Middle School in Boca Raton.

The program at the Norton was held in recognition of United Nations Climate Month. The U.N. has been encouraging these combination piano concerts and lectures — a series called “ClimateKeys” – to offer a venue for non-confrontational discussion of global weather changes.

Part 1 of the concert featured such melodies as “Ripple Marks” by Michael Lysight, “Sub Vesperum” by Fabio Mengozzi and “Adriadne’s Crown” by Terry Owens.

They continued with songs such as “From the Faraway Nearby” by Charles Griffin and “Before Sleep” by Lola Perrin, founder of the ClimateKeys project. The performers concluded with “La Mer” (“The Sea”) by Claude Debussy.

During a mid-concert break, Dr. Strasswimmer said excess carbon dioxide is “the cause of global warming.” He said the level of the gas in the atmosphere is increasing, the result, he said, of fossil fuel emissions.

The CO2 problem would not be so bad, he noted, if forests and oceans which have helped offset the level of the gas were not being either cut down or tainted, since plants and seawater absorb carbon dioxide.

The amount of carbon dioxide in the air should not exceed 4%. “But it has,” he said. “We have a big problem, and the world’s temperature is increasing.”

To remedy the situation, the world’s population much reach “a consensus” with scientists. “We all believe in the scientific method. We trust scientists. We trusted them to cure cancer, and some cancers are now being cured.” To delay or deny such trust, he said, would be detrimental to the earth.

The doctor said fossil fuel companies are fighting to stop citizens and researchers from agreeing on the causes of global warming the way cigarette manufacturers battled early indications that smoking was harmful.

The concert/lecture at the Norton Museum ties in with a photography exhibit that depicts how humans are directly and indirectly impacting the Earth. The display features works by Justin Brice Guariglia, who in 2015 and 2016, flew seven times with NASA to study how melting glaciers affect sea level rise. Strasswimmer said the photos also show how Greenland’s ice sheet has receded, and how villages have disappeared as a result.

Guariglia’s display runs through Jan. 7.