Blavatnik Public Lecture Series – Prof. Charles Kennel and Prof. Stephen Briggs

Date: 26 February

Time: 16:00-18:00

Location: Seminar room, 1st floor, David Attenborough Building, Cambridge.

Lecture Title: Planetary Vital Signs, Planetary Decisions, Planetary Intelligence.

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Doesn’t the world need to look beyond global temperature to a set of planetary vital signs? When all indicators of change are fragile, you should not rely on one; you risk over-focusing policy on it.  You look at a number different of ones and ask whether they all point in the same general direction.  You look at the balance of evidence.

A coalition of scientists and policy makers should start work at once, since some vital signs should be ready at the entry into force of the Paris Agreement in 2020 or it will be hard to infuse any into policy processes later.

But vital signs are only the beginning.  They are not indicators of risk to the things  people care about.  And the world needs to learn how to use the vast knowledge we will be acquiring about climate change and its impacts.

Is it possible to use the tools at hand- observations from space and ground networks; demographic, economic and societal measures; big data statistical techniques; and numerical models-to inform politicians, managers, and the public of the evolving risks of climate change at global, regional, and local scales?

Should we not think in advance of an always-on social and information network that provides decision-ready knowledge to those who hold the responsibility to act, wherever they are, at times of their choosing?  Shouldn’t we prepare the social infrastructure-policies, governance, institutions, financing- needed to knit climate knowledge and action together?

Professor Kennel will be joined by Professor Stephen Briggs who will talk about planetary vital signs.

About the speakers:

Charles F. Kennel is Distinguished Professor, Vice-Chancellor, and Director emeritus at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California. He was educated in astronomy and astrophysics at Harvard and Princeton. He served as UCLA’s Executive Vice Chancellor, its chief academic officer, from 1996 to 1998. From 1994 to 1996, Kennel was Associate Administrator at NASA and Director of Mission to Planet Earth, a global Earth science satellite program. Kennel’s experiences at NASA influenced him to go into Earth and climate science, and he became the ninth Director and Dean of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Vice Chancellor of Marine Sciences at the University of California, San Diego, serving from 1998 to 2006.

Stephen Briggs is currently the senior advisor to the ESA (European Space Agency) and the chair of the UN Global Climate Observing System. He headed the Department of “Earth Observation” (EO) Science, Applications & Future Technologies of ESA at ESRIN (European Space Research Institute). Before joining ESA in 2000, Stephen worked as Director of Earth Observation British National Space Centre & Head of Earth Observation NERC, UK (1994-1999), Head of Remote Sensing Applications Development Unit, NERC/BNSC (1986-1994), Senior Scientist at NERC Thematic Information Systems (1983-1986), and Lecturer at the Dept of Physics, Queen Mary College London (1982-1983). Stephen Briggs is also a Visiting Professor in the Dept. of Meteorology, Reading University.