Climate & Sustainability: The Defining Issue of the 21st Century

May 22, 2023 - 3:30 pm to 4:30 pm

SLAC, Kavli Auditorium

Arun Majumdar (Stanford University, Doerr School of Sustainability) In Person and zoom

Zoom info:…

The dramatic increase of human population and consumption over the last 100 years has led to exponential growth, both in the use of natural resources and the production of waste streams. The use of fossil fuels and the emissions of greenhouse gases is one example, as are the use of freshwater, minerals, plastics and others. This paradigm of economic growth is presenting unprecedented and interconnected challenges - global warming and climate change, water stress, food security, loss of biodiversity and ecosystems, and public health. While these trends and challenges were recognized in the 20th century, they have been elevated in our global discourse as the defining societal issue of the 21st century. This is raising the question about whether the current approach to economic development is sustainable without significant impact on humanity and our planet. In response, most major nations have now made climate commitments, and more than 60 percent of major global corporations have announced climate or sustainability goals. The world is embarking on a once-in-a-century global economic transition; how to achieve these goals and commitments, however, remains largely unclear and uncertain. Addressing climate change and sustainability requires a deep understanding of earth, climate and society. It is a topic where science, engineering, business, law, social sciences, global health, and humanities are intricately connected. In short, the challenge is complex; and it spans all of academia. Therefore, our response to the challenge demands a whole campus effort towards a common goal. Recognizing this, Stanford launched its first school in 75 years, with the goal of catalyzing an all-campus effort to address these challenges and offering an opportunity to reimagine academia and its value to society. This talk will describe scale, complexity and urgency of the challenge, and how academic research, education and the development of scalable solutions can provide significant value to the global society and our planet.

SLAC Colloquium site