Humans have been transforming the planet through agriculture, urbanization, transportation and fossil fuel use. The rapid changes to Earth’s climate and environments have many scientists arguing that we have entered a new geologic age dubbed the Anthropocene, or the Age of Humans. Recognizing the impacts of humanity means we can alter our behaviors and find solutions to shape a more resilient and responsible society.
A one-day symposium, held on October 9, 2014 and sponsored by the Smithsonian’s Grand Challenges Consortia, brought together leaders in the fields of climate, health, economics and security to discuss the challenges and opportunities related to human actions. You can watch the full recording of the symposium above, or get the highlights from each of these speakers:
- W. John Kress, Interim Under Secretary for Science, Smithsonian Institution
- Admiral Thad Allen, former 23rd Commandant of the USCG and coordinator of the federal response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico
- James J. Hack, director of the National Center for Computational Science, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
- Rachel Kyte, group vice president and special envoy for climate change at the World Bank
- George Luber, epidemiologist and associate director for climate change at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Andrew P. Jones, co-director of Climate Interactive
A summation of the day’s discussion was provided by Thomas L. Friedman, award-winning author and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for The New York Times.
John Kress Introduces the 2014 "Living In The Anthropocene" Symposium
The Smithsonian's interim under secretary for science talks about the genesis of this year's presentation and the critical role that Smithsonian scholars play in bringing context to discussions about human-induced change.
George Luber on the Health Hazards of Climate Change
The CDC scientist highlights some of the physical and mental ailments already affecting people due to climate shifts, and offers some possible ways to re-shape communities to be more resilient and adaptable.
James Hack on Modeling a Changing Climate
The Oak Ridge scientist presents the latest efforts to model complex climate systems with some of the most powerful computers on the planet.
Rachel Kyte on the True Price of Carbon
The World Bank's special envoy for climate change makes the case for putting a price on carbon emissions in a way that reduces the human footprint while maintaining or even improving quality of life.
Thad Allen on Katrina, Deepwater Horizon, and Disaster Response
The former Coast Guard admiral gives his personal insights on responding to complex risks, gleaned from his work in the aftermath of two major environmental and social disasters.
Drew Jones Simulates A Potential Climate Change Solution
The simulation specialist presents a "climate calculator" tool that shows why we need a multi-pronged approach to climate response.
Thomas Friedman on Nature, Economics and Foreign Policy
The award winning author and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for The New York Times discusses how the natural world influences geopolitics.