Public Lectures

Each year, AGCI hosts several public talks featuring leading global change researchers and practitioners. Presented by participants in AGCI’s signature workshop series, these lectures cover the gamut of global change topics from biodiversity threats to urban heat resilience to the history and future of Earth’s climate trajectory. AGCI’s public lecture series honors Walter Orr Roberts (1915-1990), noted humanitarian, scientist, and founder of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).

Why Food Systems Hold the Key to Reversing Climate Change and Biodiversity Loss


Aspen Global Change Institute (AGCI) proudly presents “Why Food Systems Hold the Key to Reversing Climate Change and Biodiversity Loss,” a Walter Orr Roberts Memorial Public Lecture. Presented by Pete Pearson (World Wildlife Fund), this free talk will take place both in person at the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies (ACES) and live-streamed on Zoom. The talk will be followed by a live question and answer session and a reception for those attending in-person.

Date & Time: Tuesday, June 4, 2024 6:30pm MT

In-person Address: Hallam Lake (event tent), Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, 100 Puppy Smith Lane, Aspen, CO 81611

Live-stream (Zoom) registration required: bit.ly/4b23RQa

About the talk:

Feeding 10 billion people sustainably by 2050 while conserving nature and addressing climate change is humanity’s greatest challenge. Almost a billion people worldwide experience food insecurity, while an estimated 40% of all food produced is lost or wasted. At the same time, food and agriculture are the main drivers of biodiversity loss globally, constituting a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions, with a large climate impact.

In this talk, Pete Pearson, Global Initiative Lead for the Food Circularity program at World Wildlife Fund (WWF), will explain WWF’s strategy for moving food systems toward a more regenerative and waste-free future. His presentation will explore both global and local solutions for reducing food loss and waste, including zero conversion of forest and grassland habitat and the role of mindful consumption and diets.

About the Speaker:

Pete Pearson is the Global Initiative Lead for the Food Circularity program at World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the world’s leading independent conservation organization, whose mission is to create a world where people and nature can thrive together. Pete specializes in food waste prevention and food circularity as part of WWF’s larger food system efforts.

Pete has led local and national sustainability programs within the retail grocery sector across 2,000 grocery stores in 37 states. He also has over 10 years of technology experience with companies including Hewlett-Packard, Accenture, and Albertsons. He has worked with public schools and hospitals as an independent sustainability consultant, co-founded a nonprofit focused on sustainable and regenerative agriculture, and also co-produced a documentary film on regenerative and local food production. Pete currently lives in Washington DC and enjoys fly fishing, sailing, and exploring the outdoors with his family.

June 4, 2024
Hallam Lake, Aspen Center for Environmental Studies

Harvesting Sustainability: Ecologies of Knowledge Democracy


The monoculture of knowledge and scientific tradition tends to ignore, devalue, silence, and exclude multiple knowledge cultures and practices. Encouraging plurality of ways of producing, validating, and sharing knowledge supports inclusive, contextual, and actionable knowledge solutions for deepening sustainability. In this talk, Dr. Rajesh Tandon shares stories from around the world of traditional knowledge solutions in action.
November 16, 2023

Thinking Big about Reducing Agricultural Emissions: Recognizing Creativity, Promise, and Hype


How can innovations in agricultural production and distribution reduce climate-altering food system emissions? Which approaches hold genuine promise and which are more hype? In this talk, Dr. Mario Herrero, professor in the Cornell CALS Department of Global Development and director of Food Systems & Global Change, explores the opportunities and challenges of mitigating climate impacts through sustainable agriculture strategies and the implications for equity and food security in a low-emissions world.
August 23, 2023

Accelerating Actionable Climate Information Through Machine Learning


To improve societal and environmental wellbeing, decision makers need climate information that is actionable. Actionable climate information needs to be timely; sufficiently detailed as to describe the region and processes of interest; trustworthy and truthful in acknowledging uncertainties; and policy- or decision-relevant. We have already begun to observe the transformative power of machine learning (ML) to produce actionable knowledge in weather forecasting (where we can conveniently check whether our predictions are correct). How could machine learning do the same, and more, in the context of climate change? This talk will introduce how we make climate predictions, and then describe ways in which machine learning can enable us to make more trustworthy and more detailed climate predictions, at a faster pace. We'll also explore how machine learning can provide a bridge between climate.

June 7, 2022
Aspen, Colorado

When Science Outreach Can Move Mountains: The Last Tropical Glaciers


Today, about 3000 glaciers straddle the Equator in Latin America, East Africa, and Indonesia. Dr. Heïdi Sevestre will present her ongoing project, “The Last Tropical Glaciers,” initiated in 2019 in Colombia. Together with local glaciologist Jorge Luis Leballos and citizen science project Cumbres Blancas Colombia, they conducted several field campaigns to support the monitoring of the small tropical glaciers in the country and raise awareness of these rapidly disappearing glaciers all the way to the desk of decision makers. Today, about 3000 glaciers straddle the Equator in Latin America, East Africa, and Indonesia. Dr. Heïdi Sevestre will present her ongoing project, “The Last Tropical Glaciers,” initiated in 2019 in Colombia. Together with local glaciologist Jorge Luis Leballos and citizen science project Cumbres Blancas Colombia, they conducted several field campaigns to support the monitoring of the small tropical glaciers in the country and raise awareness of these rapidly disappearing glaciers all the way to the desk of decision makers.
May 18, 2022
Aspen, CO and on Zoom

Long-Term Planning in the Colorado River Basin: The Challenge of Deep Uncertainty


The Colorado River is critically important--it supplies water to over 40 million people, irrigates over 5 million acres of agriculture, and supports hydropower, environmental, and recreational resources. The Colorado River Basin is also incredibly complex--it spans seven U.S. states and two Mexican states, has highly variable hydrology, and is overallocated. Long-term planning in the Colorado River Basin has always been challenging due to uncertainties in hydrology, demand, policy, and different management priorities among stakeholders. These challenges are now exacerbated by the need to account for potential impacts of climate change. This context is best described as deep uncertainty, where a wide range of assumptions about future conditions are plausible, multiple management perspectives are expressed, and it is impossible to identify the best assumptions about conditions or priorities.

This talk presents studies conducted by Bureau of Reclamation's Colorado River Basin Modeling and Research Team that demonstrate uncertainty in climate and hydrology and explore Decision Making under Deep Uncertainty (DMDU) techniques to help address planning challenges.

November 18, 2020
Virtual