Is Climate Change an Existential Risk? | Paul Edwards

Tuesday, April 30, 2024
1:00 PM - 2:00 PM

William J. Perry Conference Room

About the Event: Catastrophic, civilization-threatening climate change is a genuine possibility within the coming century. This talk will consider evidence that a variety of climate tipping points and other planetary boundaries have already been crossed, and that climate sensitivity to greenhouse gases may be considerably higher than recent IPCC estimates. Further, modeling of cascading risks – such as how multiple tipping points might interact if thresholds are crossed – suggests that the full impact of anthropogenic environmental change remains unknown and likely underestimated.  Meanwhile, a widespread focus on high-level international and national governance obscures how denial, disinformation, and multi-layered, subnational governance processes are delaying and derailing changes needed to reach Paris Agreement goals. The talk will end with reflections on ways forward. 
About the Speakers: Paul N. Edwards is Senior Research Scholar at the Center for International Security and Cooperation, Director of the Program on Science, Technology & Society, and Co-Director of the Stanford Existential Risks Initiative, as well as Professor of Information and History (Emeritus) at the University of Michigan. Edwards is the author of A Vast Machine: Computer Models, Climate Data, and the Politics of Global Warming (MIT Press, 2010) and The Closed World: Computers and the Politics of Discourse in Cold War America (MIT Press, 1996), and co-editor of Changing the Atmosphere: Expert Knowledge and Environmental Governance (MIT Press, 2001), as well as other books and numerous articles. With Janet Vertesi, he co-edits the Infrastructures book series for MIT Press. Edwards recently served as a Lead Author for the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2021).

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