Video lectures

Frederic Hanusch studied from 2005-2011 at the universities of Gießen, CastellĂłn and Heidelberg, where he received a M.A. in political science, philosophy and sociology. From 2011-2015 he did his Dr. phil. as part of the research group “Democracy and Climate Change” at the Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities in Essen (KWI). Besides, he worked from 2013-2016 at the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU). In 2014 he was a visiting scholar at the University of Toronto. Since 2016 he is part of the IASS. His research is focused on a combination of democracy research and dynamics of global change. He published with the WBGU on the SDGs, international climate protection and global urbanization. At the KWI, he worked on a wide range of topics in the humanities and social sciences. In 2017, his book Democracy and Climate Change was published in the Routledge Global Cooperation Series. At the IASS, he studies the importance of time and future in context of global change.

October 21st 2017

The Democracy-Climate-Nexus

Frederic Hanusch

In his lecture Dr. Frederic Hanusch takes a look at established democracies separately, some appear to be more successful in dealing with climate change than others. Yet the characteristics of climate change and the unintended consequences of democracy might contradict each other to different degrees, e.g. some democracies perhaps find better solutions than others to overcome their short-termism, in order to be able to better deal with the long time horizon of climate change. Hence, different levels of democracy might be an explanatory factor for differences in the climate performances. This lecture introduces the democracy-climate nexus by describing findings about the relationship, discussing main arguments of the debate and presenting an empirical overview by comparing the climate policies of over 30 democracies.

Frederic Hanusch studied from 2005-2011 at the universities of Gießen, CastellĂłn and Heidelberg, where he received a M.A. in political science, philosophy and sociology. From 2011-2015 he did his Dr. phil. as part of the research group “Democracy and Climate Change” at the Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities in Essen (KWI). Besides, he worked from 2013-2016 at the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU). In 2014 he was a visiting scholar at the University of Toronto. Since 2016 he is part of the IASS. His research is focused on a combination of democracy research and dynamics of global change. He published with the WBGU on the SDGs, international climate protection and global urbanization. At the KWI, he worked on a wide range of topics in the humanities and social sciences. In 2017, his book Democracy and Climate Change was published in the Routledge Global Cooperation Series. At the IASS, he studies the importance of time and future in context of global change.

October 21st 2017

Learning from Canada's Kyoto Protocol Process

Frederic Hanusch

In his lecture Dr. Frederic Hanusch looks at the case study of Canada’s Kyoto Protocol process from 1995-2012 to explain the mechanisms of democratic influence on climate change in depth. The Canadian type of democracy detected is characterized by a strong prerogative, diminished accountability, partially well-organized inclusiveness, a lack of participatory structures and, overall, low degrees of democratic quality. The Canadian process was one of missed opportunities. Undemocratically developed targets will neither get the legitimation nor the momentum to be translated into a climate change plan and will doubtless not be implemented in the form required to reach sufficient GHG reductions. Consequently, this lecture shows that overall stronger democratic qualities would have led to improved climate performances.

Frederic Hanusch studied from 2005-2011 at the universities of Gießen, CastellĂłn and Heidelberg, where he received a M.A. in political science, philosophy and sociology. From 2011-2015 he did his Dr. phil. as part of the research group “Democracy and Climate Change” at the Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities in Essen (KWI). Besides, he worked from 2013-2016 at the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU). In 2014 he was a visiting scholar at the University of Toronto. Since 2016 he is part of the IASS. His research is focused on a combination of democracy research and dynamics of global change. He published with the WBGU on the SDGs, international climate protection and global urbanization. At the KWI, he worked on a wide range of topics in the humanities and social sciences. In 2017, his book Democracy and Climate Change was published in the Routledge Global Cooperation Series. At the IASS, he studies the importance of time and future in context of global change.

October 21st 2017

Global Change Challenges: It's about Time

Frederic hanusch

In his lecture Dr. Frederic Hanusch discusses how time has always been a central dimension, both for humankind and our interactions with the Earth system. Consequently, time has been a consistent theme of philosophy and the sciences, and specific issues such as social acceleration or future generations have recently gained attention in the humanities and social sciences. However, to investigate and direct the influence of time on global change, more temporal elements — such as linear and cyclic time arrangements, (de)synchronization of social and natural times, or the past-, present- or future orientations of political institutions — have to be explored. This is necessary, since in the Anthropocene humankind seems for the first time able to manipulate time extensively and thus to significantly influence planetary systems. This lecture starts exploring how humans create time designs shaping the planet and, accordingly, why time should become a matter of public debate.

Christian Parenti is an American investigative journalist, academic, and author. His books include: Lockdown America: Police and Prisons in the Age of Crisis (2000), a survey of the rise of the prison-industrial complex from the Nixon through Reagan Eras and into the present; The Soft Cage: Surveillance in America From Slavery to the War on Terror (2003), a study of surveillance and control in modern society. The Freedom: Shadows and Hallucinations in Occupied Iraq (2004), is an account of the US occupation of Iraq. In Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence (2011), Parenti links the implications of climate change with social and political unrest in mid-latitude regions of the world. Parenti has also reported from Afghanistan, Iraq, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ivory Coast and China. He is now Associate Professor of Economics at John Jay College.

October 21st 2017

The Case for Hope. The Climate Crisis, Solutions
and the Role of the State

Christian Parenti

In the lecture “The Case for Hope” academic and investigative journalist Christian Parenti talks about the role of the federal government in solving the climate crisis, through new technologies, policies and regulation. Christian Parenti travelled along the front lines of this gathering catastrophe – the belt of economically and politically battered postcolonial nations and war zones girding the planet’s midlatitudes. Here he found failed states amid climatic disasters. But he also reveals the unsettling presence of Western military forces and explains how they see an opportunity in the crisis to prepare for open-ended global counterinsurgency. Parenti argues that this incipient “climate fascism” — a political hardening of wealthy states– is bound to fail. The struggling states of the developing world cannot be allowed to collapse, as they will take other nations down as well. Instead, we must work to meet the challenge of climate-driven violence with a very different set of sustainable economic and development policies.

Christian Parenti is an American investigative journalist, academic, and author. His books include: Lockdown America: Police and Prisons in the Age of Crisis (2000), a survey of the rise of the prison-industrial complex from the Nixon through Reagan Eras and into the present; The Soft Cage: Surveillance in America From Slavery to the War on Terror (2003), a study of surveillance and control in modern society. The Freedom: Shadows and Hallucinations in Occupied Iraq (2004), is an account of the US occupation of Iraq. In Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence (2011), Parenti links the implications of climate change with social and political unrest in mid-latitude regions of the world. Parenti has also reported from Afghanistan, Iraq, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ivory Coast and China. He is now Associate Professor of Economics at John Jay College.

October 21st 2017

Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and
the New Geography of Violence

Christian Parenti

In his lecture Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence Dr. Christian Parenti talks about our new climate reality. From Africa to Asia and Latin America, the era of climate wars has begun. Extreme weather is breeding banditry, humanitarian crisis, and state failure. The academic and investigative journalist Christian Parenti travelled along the front lines of this gathering catastrophe–the belt of economically and politically battered postcolonial nations and war zones girding the planet’s midlatitudes. Here he found failed states amid climatic disasters. But he also reveals the unsettling presence of Western military forces and explains how they see an opportunity in the crisis to prepare for open-ended global counterinsurgency. Parenti argues that this incipient “climate fascism”–a political hardening of wealthy states– is bound to fail. The struggling states of the developing world cannot be allowed to collapse, as they will take other nations down as well. Instead, we must work to meet the challenge of climate-driven violence with a very different set of sustainable economic and development policies.

Mann is a physicist and climatologist. He is director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University. He has written more than 140 peer-reviewed and edited publications, and published two books, most recently The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines (2012). Mann received a personalized certificate from the IPCC for “contributing to the award of the Nobel Peace Prize for 2007 to the IPCC”.

May 27th 2016

Dire Predictions: Understanding Climate Change

Michael Mann

This lecture will begin with a review of the now-solid evidence for a human influence on the climate of recent decades.  Such evidence includes instrumental measurements available for the past two centuries, paleoclimate observations spanning more than a millennium, and comparisons of the predictions from computer models with observed patterns of climate change.  The lecture will then address future likely impacts of human-induced climate change including possible influences on sea level rise, severe weather, and water supply.  The lecture will conclude with a discussion of solutions to the climate change problem.

Rahmstorf is an oceanographer and climatologist. Since 2000, he has been a Professor of Physics of the Oceans at Potsdam University and is Department Head at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. He was one of the lead authors of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report and is a fellow of the American Geophysical Union. He is a co-founder of the blog RealClimate, and was portrayed as one of the world’s 10 leading climate scientists by the Financial Times in 2009.

May 27th 2016

Rising Seas: How Fast, How Far?

Stefan Rahmstorf

Sea-level rise is one of the inevitable results of global warming, as warmer ocean waters expand and land ice is melting and adding water to the oceans. Observations show that the seas are indeed rising, and that the rise in the 20th Century is unique in the context of the previous millennia. However, more difficult to answer is the question of how fast and how far sea level will rise in the future. The billion-dollar-question is: How stable are the ice sheets on Greenland and Antarctica?

Rahmstorf is an oceanographer and climatologist. Since 2000, he has been a Professor of Physics of the Oceans at Potsdam University and is Department Head at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. He was one of the lead authors of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report and is a fellow of the American Geophysical Union. He is a co-founder of the blog RealClimate, and was portrayed as one of the world’s 10 leading climate scientists by the Financial Times in 2009.

May 27th 2016

Is the Gulf Stream Slowing?

Stefan Rahmstorf

A slowdown or even collapse of the Gulf Stream System as a result of global warming has long been a concern of climate scientists and has fuelled the imagination of Hollywood. Regular direct observations of this giant ocean current system do not go back far enough to tell whether there is any long-term trend. However, in recent years indirect evidence is mounting for a remarkable slowdown over the 20th Century.

Mann is a physicist and climatologist. He is director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University. He has written more than 140 peer-reviewed and edited publications, and published two books, most recently The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines (2012). Mann received a personalized certificate from the IPCC for “contributing to the award of the Nobel Peace Prize for 2007 to the IPCC”.

May 27th 2016

The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars:
The Battle Continues

MICHAEL MANN​

A central figure in the controversy over human-caused climate change has been “The Hockey Stick,” a simple, easy-to-understand graph my colleagues and I constructed to depict changes in Earth’s temperature back to 1000 AD. The graph was featured in the high-profile “Summary for Policy Makers” of the 2001 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and it quickly became an icon in the debate over human-caused (“anthropogenic”) climate change. I tell the ongoing story behind the Hockey Stick, using it as a vehicle for exploring broader issues regarding the role of skepticism in science, the uneasy relationship between science and politics, and the dangers that arise when special economic interests and those who do their bidding attempt to skew the discourse over policy-relevant areas of science. In short, I attempt to use the Hockey Stick to cut through the fog of disinformation that has been generated by the campaign to deny the reality of climate change. It is my intent, in so doing, to reveal the very real threat to our future that lies behind it.

Mann is a physicist and climatologist. He is director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University. He has written more than 140 peer-reviewed and edited publications, and published two books, most recently The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines (2012). Mann received a personalized certificate from the IPCC for “contributing to the award of the Nobel Peace Prize for 2007 to the IPCC”.

May 27th 2016

The Madhouse Effect

MICHAEL MANN​

The Madhouse Effect: How Climate Change Denial is Threatening our Planet, Destroying our Politics, and Driving us Crazy

I offer a somewhat lighthearted take on a very serious issue—the threat of human-caused climate change and what to do about it, based on my collaboration with Washington Post editorial cartoonist Tom Toles. We target the ongoing campaign to deny that threat through satire and where appropriate, ridicule, built around Tom Toles’ famously insightful, edgy, and provocative climate-themed cartoons in the Washington Post. Using Tom’s cartoons (existing ones and some new ones exclusive to the book) as a template, we review the scientific evidence of climate change, the reasons we should care, and the often absurd efforts by special interests and partisan political figures to confuse the public, attack the science and scientists, and deny that a problem even exists. Despite the monumental nature of the challenge this poses to human civilization, we find a way to end on an upbeat and cautiously optimistic note.

Rahmstorf is an oceanographer and climatologist. Since 2000, he has been a Professor of Physics of the Oceans at Potsdam University and is Department Head at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. He was one of the lead authors of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report and is a fellow of the American Geophysical Union. He is a co-founder of the blog RealClimate, and was portrayed as one of the world’s 10 leading climate scientists by the Financial Times in 2009.

May 27th 2016

Extreme Weather:
What Role does Global Warming Play?

Stefan Rahmstorf

Humans have had to cope with extreme weather events throughout their history. However, the data show that the number of certain types of extreme events is on the rise in recent decades. For some types of extremes, such as heat waves, droughts and extreme rainfall events, this is an expected outcome of global warming. Other consequences have surprised climate researchers, such as changes in the jet stream and planetary waves in the atmosphere that have been linked to some unprecedented recent extreme events.

Kevin Anderson is professor of energy and climate change in the School of Mechanical, Aeronautical and Civil Engineering at the University of Manchester. Anderson recently finished a two-year position as director of the Tyndall Centre, the UK’s leading academic climate change research organization. Kevin’s work makes clear that there is now little to no chance of maintaining the rise in global mean surface temperature at below 2°C, despite repeated high-level statements to the contrary. Moreover, it demonstrates how avoiding even a 4°C rise demands a radical reframing of both the climate change agenda and the economic characterization of contemporary society.

February 25th 2015

The Ostrich or the Phoenix?: Dissonance or creativity in a changing climate

Kevin anderson

Many scientists and policy-makers continue to claim it is possible, albeit challenging, to contain the global increase in mean surface temperature at or below 2°C relative to preindustrial levels.

However, despite the increasingly vociferous rhetoric around ‘transitioning to a low carbon economy’, current emissions growth is much more aligned with temperature rises of 4°C or higher, and possibly within just a few decades. Disturbingly, against the backdrop of unprecedented emissions growth, even a 4°C future now demands significant levels of mitigation.

This framing of climate change represents a radical departure from the more incremental mitigation proposed by many policy makers and scientific reports. Whilst orthodox expertise maintains “2°C is not only possible but achievable without sacrificing the benefits of economic growth and rising prosperity”, this lecture argues “it is difficult to envisage anything other than a planned economic contraction being compatible with 2°C, 3°C and increasingly 4°C futures”.

Consequently, whether in terms of mitigation or adaptation, we face a profound paradigm shift, triggered ostensibly by climate change, but with repercussions across all facets of contemporary society.

Such a fundamental transition leaves society with three clear choices. To continue the delusion that climate change can be addressed adequately through rhetoric, financial fine-tuning and piecemeal incrementalism; to interpret such conclusions as a message of despair and futility; or to acknowledge that “at every level the greatest obstacle to transforming the world is that we lack the clarity and imagination to conceive that it could be different”, and that through immediate harnessing of human will and ingenuity we can yet deliver relatively low-carbon, climate-resilient and prosperous communities.

GuĂ°ni ElĂ­sson is a Professor in Comparative Literature and head of Faculty of Icelandic and Comparative Cultural Studies at the University of Iceland. He has written two books and close to fifty articles on various subjects matters in the fields of literature, cinema, cultural studies, as well as on environmental issues. He has also edited over twenty books. He is especially interested in the way political think tanks influence environmental debates in modern Western societies.

March 1st 2015

Hot future, cold war:
Climate science and climate understanding

GuĂ°ni ElĂ­sson

Earth2015 – opening lecture.

Schmidt began his career at NASA GISS in 1996, and is now Director. His primary area of research is the development and evaluation of computer simulations of the Earth’s climate, and is particularly interested in how they can be used to inform decision-making. Schmidt received a doctorate in applied mathematics from University College London in 1994.

March 1st 2015

Simulating the Emergent Patterns of Climate Change

Gavin Schmidt

Lecture

Erick Fernandes is an Adviser on Agriculture, Forestry & Climate Change at the World Bank and Co-Led the Bank’s Global Expert Team for Adaptation to Climate Change (GET-CCA). Erick is from a Kenya and grew up in the arid lands of northern Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia. He holds a PhD in Soil Science from North Carolina State University. Prior to joining the Bank he was an International Professor of Crop and Soil Sciences at Cornell University with research and teaching programs on tropical agroecosystems, hydrosheds, and natural resources. He served as the Global Coordinator of the GEF-UNDP-CGIAR program on Alternatives to Slash and Burn Agriculture (ASB) and was a Principle Investigator in the NASA-sponsored, Large Scale Biosphere-Atmosphere (LBA-Eco) program.

March 1st 2015

Turn Down the Heat –
Why a 4oC Warmer World Must be Avoided

Erick Fernandes

Despite the global community’s best intentions to keep global warming below a 2°C increase above pre-industrial climate, higher levels of warming are increasingly likely. Scientists agree that countries’ current United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change emission pledges and commitments would most likely result in 3.5° to 4°C warming.

Without serious policy changes that lead to drastic reductions in GHG emissions soon, the 4°C scenarios are devastating: the inundation of coastal cities; increasing risks for food production potentially leading to higher malnutrition rates; many dry regions becoming dryer, wet regions wetter; unprecedented heat waves in many regions, especially in the tropics; substantially exacerbated water scarcity in many regions; increased frequency of high-intensity tropical cyclones; and irreversible loss of biodiversity, including coral reef systems and fisheries. And most importantly, a 4°C world is so different from the current one that it comes with high uncertainty and new risks that threaten our ability to anticipate and plan for future adaptation needs.

For the World Bank Group, the steps are clear. First, we accept the science that humans are changing the climate. We are looking at all our business operations through a “climate lens.” Currently, the Bank is helping 130 countries take action on climate change by supporting on-the-ground action to finance projects that help the poor grow their way out of poverty and increase their resilience to climate change. Last year, we doubled financial lending that contributes to adaptation; this trend will accelerate in the future. Second, the Bank is taking decisive steps on mitigation. We are helping countries identify cost-effective options to reduce emissions, and exploring opportunities to deliver co-benefits, such as climate smart agriculture and resource efficiencies. The Bank’s infrastructure lending portfolio has moved toward less carbon intensive projects, and the share of renewable energy in our energy projects has doubled over the last five years. Countries must adopt aggressive national strategies for emissions reductions, and then show the political commitment needed to deliver on them. Innovation in energy efficiency and renewable energy will also prove vital to reducing carbon emissions. And countries — developed and emerging — need to make major headway in rolling back the $1.9 trillion in annual fossil fuel subsidies!

Kevin Anderson is professor of energy and climate change in the School of Mechanical, Aeronautical and Civil Engineering at the University of Manchester. Anderson recently finished a two-year position as director of the Tyndall Centre, the UK’s leading academic climate change research organization. Kevin’s work makes clear that there is now little to no chance of maintaining the rise in global mean surface temperature at below 2°C, despite repeated high-level statements to the contrary. Moreover, it demonstrates how avoiding even a 4°C rise demands a radical reframing of both the climate change agenda and the economic characterization of contemporary society.

March 1st 2015

Delivering on 2°C: evolution or revolution?

Kevin Anderson

With fourteen of the fifteen warmest years on record having occurred since the year 2000; with oceans both warming and acidifying; and with unequivocal scientific evidence that burning fossil fuels is the principal cause – what can we do to rapidly reduce emissions?

This lecture will revisit the mitigation agenda in light of the IPCC’s carbon budgets for 2°C, arguing that whilst the science of climate change has progressed, we obstinately refuse to acknowledge the rate at which our emissions from energy need to be reduced. Speculative negative emissions technologies have become de rigueur in balancing the escapism of incremental mitigation with rapidly dwindling 2°C carbon budgets. Similarly, the eloquent rhetoric of green growth continues to eclipse quantitative analysis demonstrating the need for radical social as well as technical change.

Taking these issues head on, this seminar will develop a quantitative framing of mitigation, based on IPCC carbon budgets, before finishing with more qualitative examples of what a genuine 2°C mitigation agenda may contain

Erik Conway is a historian of science and technology residing in Pasadena, CA, currently employed by the California Institute of Technology. He studies and documents the history of space exploration, and examines the intersections of space science, Earth science, and technological change. Conway has co-authored two books with Naomi Oreskes on climate change, the Merchants of Doubt (2010), concerning the deliberate misrepresentation of climate change by a few high-level scientists, and The Collapse of ‘Western’ Civilization (2014), a science-based work of fiction that gives a critique of our present time from a future perspective.

March 1st 2015

Merchants of Doubt:
How Climate Science Became a Victim of the Cold War

Erik M. Conway

There is a long-standing “debate” over the reality of anthropogenic climate change between the mainstream climate science community and a handful of “skeptics,” most, though not all, of whom are financed by fossil-fuel companies and right-wing political foundations. This is well documented. Less well documented, and far less well understood, is the motivation of these deniers. Conway (2008) briefly argued that they are motivated by market fundamentalism. In Merchants of Doubt, Oreskes and Conway (2010) have also argued that this market fundamentalism is rooted in the American Cold War experience. In this talk, Conway will discuss the origin of one of the principal founts of misinformation about climate science, the George C. Marshall Institute, in the political fight over the Strategic Defense Initiative.

Pinkus is a professor of Italian and Comparative Literature at Cornell University and a member of the Advisory Board of the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future and a member of the Atkinson Center Climate Change Focus Group. Karen has published widely in Italian culture, literary theory, cinema, visual theory, and environmental theory.

May 27th 2015

The Humanities and Climate Change:
Against the Practical

Karen pinkus

In this talk Karen advocates for the humanities as crucial to confronting climate change, not because they have something practical to add to a mix of technological and policy solutions, but precisely in their impracticality, as critical theory that recognizes its own inadequacies with regard to the massive disruption that we are facing in the time now called the Anthropocene.

Pinkus is a professor of Italian and Comparative Literature at Cornell University and a member of the Advisory Board of the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future and a member of the Atkinson Center Climate Change Focus Group. Karen has published widely in Italian culture, literary theory, cinema, visual theory, and environmental theory.

May 27th 2015

Climate Change and Narrative:
Imaginative Failures, Possible Futures

Karen pinkus

Karen examines the new genre of “climate change fiction.” Yes, novelists have begun to address climate change as an issue, either in the present or projected into a (dystopian) future. But most of these narratives employ conventions and language that are entirely familiar. She suggests that our repetition of old embedded narratives, even in climate change fiction, demonstrates nothing less than a singular lack of imagination. This talk helps to unsettle or dislodge the idea that conventional realist fiction—even if set in a changed climate—is commensurate with the Anthropocene. Perhaps to truly be adequate to the massive temporal disruption of extracting and burning carbon built up over millions of years below the earth’s surface, we might better turn to ancient epic. Long before “the environment” was term to refer to “that which surrounds but is other than the human,” long before an explosion of population or the extraction of fossil fuels tied in a reciprocal knot with industrial production, texts such as The Odyssey or the Icelandic sagas exhibit the kind of temporal instabilities that might somehow be more appropriate for our times.

Karen Pinkus, professor of Italian and Comparative Literature at Cornell University is a member of the Advisory Board of the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future and a member of the Atkinson Center Climate Change Focus Group. Karen has published widely in Italian culture, literary theory, cinema, visual theory, and environmental theory. Karen has become ever more convinced that the humanities—critical theory—must play a role in confronting what is the most wicked problem humans have faced. But humanists, she argues, are precisely misunderstood. They are often viewed as either “artists” (“you can create works to raise awareness of what is happening and appeal to emotions”) or “journalists” (“you can help translate our difficult science into legible prose to get people to act”) or “behaviorists” (“you can explain why people act the way they do and get them to change.”). In contrast, Karen advocates for the impractical humanities, for thinking about anthropogenic climate change as unique, not just another environmental issue, and not one that we can solve with better technology inserted into the same paradigms.

May 27th 2015

Thinking With Fuel

Karen pinkus

It might be enough to insist on the separation of fuel and energy just to get people to think; to draw our attention away from the machines and systems that are in place only because the future—with all of the compounded effects of climate change–might look radically different. In a recent study, a group of British scientists have quantified (in both monetary and purely physical terms) how much oil and coal already discovered would have to remain in the ground in order to avoid “catastrophic warming.” This study imagines not using over 90% of US and Australian coal as well as almost all of Canada’s oil sands (20 trillion dollars). Karen is convinced that critical theory puts this phenomenon of non-use into a crucial perspective: to leave fuel in the ground means to acknowledge that it exists, to have measured and studied it, to have invested money in research and development, leases, and so on. Leaving fuel in the ground, then, also means a special relationship to it that is not just non-consumerist, but is so complex that critical theory, taking into account its own failures to mastery the phenomena of the world, seems both necessary and ethically imperative.

Mike Berners-Lee is a leading expert in carbon-footprints and director of Small World Consulting at Lancaster University. He is the author of How Bad are Bananas? The Carbon Footprint of Everything (2010) and with Duncan Clark he wrote The Burning Question: We can’t burn half the world’s oil, coal and gas. So how do we quit? (2013).

December 4th 2015

Burning Questions: How much fuel needs to stay
in the ground? (Part 1)

Mike Berners-lee

Emissions from energy use have been rising exponentially for at least 160 years. So far the world’s talk and action on climate change has produced no detectable deviation in this long-term trajectory. Why haven’t innovation, efficiency or renewables helped us yet? Why haven’t personal, local or national targets made any difference? Where will the curve take us if it continues? Is deliberate intervention really necessary? And if so what blend of politics, economics, technology and psychology will make this possible? Drawing on Mike Berners-Lee and Duncan Clark’s book, The Burning Question, Mike explores the macro dynamics of the energy system.

Mike Berners-Lee is a leading expert in carbon-footprints and director of Small World Consulting at Lancaster University. He is the author of How Bad are Bananas? The Carbon Footprint of Everything (2010) and with Duncan Clark he wrote The Burning Question: We can’t burn half the world’s oil, coal and gas. So how do we quit? (2013).

December 4th 2015

What is to be done?
Defining the climate change problem. (Part 2)

Mike Berners-lee

Having established the macro dynamics of a world energy system in which efficiency, innovation and piecemeal actions are all incapable of perturbing the exponential emissions growth, this second talk by Mike Berners-Lee looks at what it will take to achieve the global carbon constraint that the world urgently needs. Mike focuses on six important key steps: Waking up, capping the carbon, pushing the right technologies hard, dealing with land and smoke and making a plan B. Mike finds realistic cause for hope, despite humankind’s failures so far and looks at what each of us might do to help achieve the climate deal.

Dan Laffoley is Principal Advisor on Marine Science and Conservation for IUCN’s (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Global Marine and Polar Programme and also acts as Marine Vice-Chair for the World Commission on Protected Areas. He has a place on the Boards and Councils of many UK leading marine science organizations and acts as an independent advisor to the UK Government on marine science.

April 7th 2014

The Ocean - The Futre We Want

Dan Laffoley

In recent decades there has been a growing recognition of the challenges facing ocean conservation efforts. Science is showing that the ocean is under stress from multiple sources — not just from the pressures and impacts from how we use the ocean, but also from climate change, ocean acidification, pollution, and hypoxia as oxygen levels lower. To counter such impacts most nations of the world have signed up to global targets to better protect and manage ocean areas using marine protected areas (MPAs) and other management means. Dan Laffoley reviews some of the main threats to the ocean, and explores recent progress to protect and recover ocean health. Recent events such as Rio + 20 have demonstrate that we need to pick up the pace in ocean conservation and management. Such are the scale of challenges we now face with ocean health that all involved should have a common interest in sustaining the resilience of the ocean and in so doing sustaining the different ways in which we value, use and manage ocean resources. The presentation will explore some of these common concerns and future opportunities.

GuĂ°ni ElĂ­sson is a Professor in Comparative Literature and head of Faculty of Icelandic and Comparative Cultural Studies at the University of Iceland. He has written two books and close to fifty articles on various subjects matters in the fields of literature, cinema, cultural studies, as well as on environmental issues. He has also edited over twenty books. He is especially interested in the way political think tanks influence environmental debates in modern Western societies.

October 5th 2013

Earth101

GuĂ°ni ElĂ­sson

The lectures shared here were given on October 5th 2013 in the following order:

Guðni Elísson: “Earth101”
Stefan Rahmstorf: “The Climate Crisis”
Michael Mann: “The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars”
Kari Norgaard: “Living in Denial: Climate Change, Emotions and Everyday Life”
Peter Sinclair: “Communicating Climate Science in the Disinformation Era”

Recorded by Phil Coates and edited by Ryan Chapman.

Rahmstorf is an oceanographer and climatologist. Since 2000, he has been a Professor of Physics of the Oceans at Potsdam University and is Department Head at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. He was one of the lead authors of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report and is a fellow of the American Geophysical Union. He is a co-founder of the blog RealClimate, and was portrayed as one of the world’s 10 leading climate scientists by the Financial Times in 2009.

October 5th 2013

The Climate Crisis

Stefan Rahmstorf

In his lecture “The Cimate Crisis”, professor Stefan Rahmstorf explains how, since the start of the industrial age, the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere has risen to the by far highest value of the last million years. At the same time, global average surface temperatures have increased by 0.8°C. This warming is continuing unabated: 2010 was, followed by 2005, the hottest year on record since global measurements began more than 130 years ago. The ice cover on the Arctic Ocean is shrinking rapidly and reached a record low value in September 2012. The huge ice sheets both in Greenland and Antarctica are losing mass at an increasing rate, as satellite data show. This contributes to the accelerating rise of sea levels, which rose at a rate of one centimeter per decade at the beginning of the 20th Century, but have been rising at over three centimeters per decade for the past twenty years. The last decade has witnessed a sequence of unprecedented weather extremes, including the 2010 Russian heat wave, the flooding in Pakistan that same year, and the 2012 summer heat wave in the US. To prevent unmanageable climate change, humanity can still limit global warming to a maximum of 2°C – but only if decisive and rapid action is taken to transform our energy system.

Mann is a physicist and climatologist. He is director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University. He has written more than 140 peer-reviewed and edited publications, and published two books, most recently The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines (2012). Mann received a personalized certificate from the IPCC for “contributing to the award of the Nobel Peace Prize for 2007 to the IPCC”.

October 5th 2013

The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches From The Front Lines

MICHAEL MANN​

“The Hockey Stick” has been a central figure in the controversy over human-caused (“anthropogenic”) climate change. It is an easy-to-understand graph Michael E. Mann and his colleagues constructed to depict changes in Earth’s temperature back to 1000 AD. The graph was featured in the high-profile “Summary for Policy Makers” of the 2001 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and it quickly became an icon in the debate over human-caused climate change. In his lecture, professor Mann tells the story behind the Hockey Stick, using it as a vehicle for exploring broader issues regarding the role of skepticism in science, the uneasy relationship between science and politics, and the dangers that arise when special economic interests and those who do their bidding attempt to skew the discourse over policy-relevant areas of science. In short, he attempts to use the Hockey Stick to cut through the fog of disinformation that has been generated by the campaign to deny the reality of climate change and reveal the very real threat to our future that lies behind it.

Norgaard is an Associate Professor of Sociology and Environmental Studies at the University of Oregon. Over the past ten years she has published and taught in the areas of environmental sociology, gender and environment, race and environment, climate change, sociology of culture, social movements and sociology of emotions. Her book Living in Denial: Climate Change, Emotions and Everyday Life was published in 2011.

October 5th 2013

Living in Denial:
Climate Change, Emotions and Everyday Life

Kari Marie Norgaard

In her lecture, professor Kari Norgaard uses interviews and ethnographic data from a community in western Norway during the unusually warm winter of 2000-2001 to describe how knowledge of climate change is experienced in everyday life. Stories in local and national newspapers linked the warm winter explicitly to global warming. Yet residents did not write letters to the editor, pressure politicians, or cut down on the use of fossil fuels. Norgaard describes the disturbing emotions of guilt, helplessness and fear of the future that arose when people were confronted with the idea of climate change – and then builds a model of socially organized denial to describe how people normalized these disturbing emotions through the deployment of conversation norms and discourses that served as “tools of social order.” Using literature from sociology of emotions, environmental sociology and sociology of culture, she describes “the social organization of climate denial” through multiple levels, from emotions to cultural norms to political economy.

Sinclair is the author of “Climate Denial Crock of the Week”. He is a regular contributor to the prestigious Yale Forum on Climate Change and the Media, for which he produces a companion video series titled “This is Not Cool.” There are now more than 100 videos in the two series, which are used around the world to better understand and explain the most important environmental issue of our time.

October 5th 2013

Communicating Climate Science in the
Disinformation Era

Peter Sinclair

Videographer Peter Sinclair has created more than one hundred YouTube videos that are used in universities around the world to show the discoveries of climate science, and how organized climate denial campaigns attempt to mislead the public. Mr. Sinclair describes his process of learning from and interacting with leading scientists to better communicate what their research is showing. The presentation includes powerful images and animations, which illustrate the scope of global change, what scientists are saying about it, and what citizens can do if they want to begin dealing with this critical global issue.