This is the full transcript of the 2014 Charles David Keeling lecture delivered by Professor David Victor, an internationally recognized leader in research on energy and climate change policy.
Introducing Speaker: Welcome to this Charles David Keeling lecture. This is my first and so I’m really looking forward to sharing it with you. The past few days have been ones where climate has been very much in the news. About a week ago the US released its third National Climate Assessment and the very strong message from that Climate Assessment was that climate change is not no longer something that’s just in the future, its impacts are upon us already. Now it is a very sobering message and one that I can assure you the scientific community was concerned to hear.
We’ve also in the last few days received media attention from around the world concerning the Keeling Curve that was Charles David Keeling’s research program to measure CO2 continuously and that has been carried on since he stopped running the program by his son Ralph Keeling who you’re going to hear introduce David Victor and Ralph’s Keeling research group reported May 1st that April 2014 was the first month in human history in which the concentration of greenhouse gases — carbon dioxide, not greenhouse gases in general — in the atmosphere stayed above 400 parts per million for the entire month. So that also was quite a sobering reflection for the entire community.
The choice of David Victor as tonight’s Keeling lecture is also especially timely because discussion of climate change has moved beyond just the detection of it, the attribution of it but spurred by the knowledge that it is already happening has moved into the issue of adaptation and how we’re all going to deal with this in the present day.
And that really brings climate change to society and so it’s very important for us to start broadening our discussions beyond the scientific community into the social science community. We’re going to require help from economists to help us understand the implications of decisions that we have to make, the practical decisions about how to adapt to climate change. Where do we draw the line between protecting assets and maybe having to abandon some of our assets? How do we adapt what we’re going to face to our personal values, messages that people should make prudent decisions after important floods or wildfires about the implications of that for where they live, municipalities discussing how to share water rights for dwindling water resources.