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).

November 13, 2018
Aspen CO

Storm Clouds With Silver Linings: Climate Change and Health in the Pacific


Sea level rise, storm surges, heatwaves, and increases in dengue and other infectious diseases are projected to increasingly affect the health of populations in the Pacific with global climate change. The risks will vary over time and place, challenging the ability of communities and health systems to adequately prepare. Further, these hazards will interact with other social and environmental trends, with the potential for increasing or decreasing the extent of the challenges. Effective and timely adaptation can increase the resilience of individuals and communities to what climate change brings. Further, reducing greenhouse gases and pursuing sustainable development goals through cutting emissions of air pollutants, increasing biking and walking, and changing dietary patterns can benefit health in the short-term and reduce the projected health risks of climate change in the longer-term. The magnitude and pattern of health risks over the coming decades depends on the choices we make navigating the course ahead.

May 22, 2018
Honolulu, HI

How a Sentence Changed Science: Lessons Learned from the 1995 Climate Report


In November 1995, after three days of deliberations in Madrid's Palacio de Congresas, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reached the historic finding that "the balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate". This sentence changed the world. While other individuals and national scientific organizations had reached similar conclusions before Madrid, the "discernible human influence" statement marked the first time that the international climate science community had spoken so clearly and forcefully.

The reaction was swift. The "discernible human influence" conclusion led to Congressional investigations, charges of "scientific cleansing" allegations of corruption of the peer-review process and professional misconduct, and claims of political tampering. Santer spent several years addressing such criticism. This lecture is a reflection on the top ten scientific and personal lessons Santer learned after publication of the IPCC's 1995 Report. Many of these lessons still have relevance in today's world.

August 1, 2017
Aspen CO

The Music in the Noise: Identifying the Jet Stream Response to Human Activity


Elizabeth Barnes loves noise - atmospheric noise that is. Her passion is sifting through geophysical data in search of previously undetected signals. She gets to do this every day, as well as teach the next generation of scientists techniques for doing so, as an Assistant Professor at Colorado State University. Her research covers a variety of questions related to atmospheric variability, including, "Can we forecast extreme weather 5 weeks in advance?" to "How does the atmosphere respond to volcanic eruptions?" Prof. Barnes and her fantastic research group have written over 40 papers on extracting atmospheric "music" from the "noise" across a range of past, present and future climates.

June 13, 2017
ACES, 100 Puppy Smith St, Aspen CO

Climate Research and Science Policy: What is Ethical Practice and How Do We Get There?


Prof Mark Howden is the Director of the Climate Change Institute at ANU and a Honorary Professor at Melbourne University. Mark's work has focused on how climate impacts on, and innovative adaptation options for, systems we value: agriculture and food security, the natural resource base, ecosystems and biodiversity, energy, water and urban systems. He helped develop the national and international greenhouse gas inventories which are the basis for the Paris Agreement and has assessed sustainable ways to reduce emissions. Mark has worked on climate variability, climate change, innovation and adoption issues for over 27 years in partnership with many industry, community and policy groups via both research and science-policy roles. Mark has over 400 publications. He has been a major contributor to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) since 1991, sharing the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. He is now a Vice Chair of IPCC Working Group 2. Mark sat on the US Federal Advisory Committee for the 3rd National Climate Assessment and currently contributes to several national and international science and policy advisory bodies.

October 11, 2016
Aspen CO

Climate Change and the Evolution of Mankind


Dr. Richard Johnson of the University of Colorado will share results from his collaborative research that investigated how climate change during the Miocene caused a near-extinction of our ancestors, and how certain mutations led to the emergence of a lineage that later became humans and modern apes. Insights from these studies have led to a better understanding of how all animals survive climate change, and also for the diseases that are expected to emerge or worsen in the next century. It also may lead to new approaches to stay healthy with increasing global temperatures.

September 13, 2016
Aspen CO

Coral Reefs and Ocean Acidification: Effects of an Unsustainable Energy System


Most of the CO2 released when we burn coal, oil or gas is eventually absorbed by the oceans, where it reacts with seawater leading to acidification. Ocean acidification has been shown to harm many marine organisms, including corals, under controlled laboratory conditions.

This talk will describe how Dr. Calderia's team altered seawater chemistry in a natural ecosystem without any artificial confinement, for the first time ever, and measured the biological response in order to better understand ocean acidification and its impacts on corals.

Dr. Caldiera will describe the effects of ocean acidification on corals, his team's research in the great barrier reef, and the need for energy technologies that provide for human systems while protecting the natural environment.

August 2, 2016
Aspen CO