Climate Change and Us: What Does the Future Hold?

Peer beyond the headlines as experts explain what the IPCC report really says about global warming and what it means for our planet and for mankind.

Event Details


YBCA Forum
701 Mission St., San Francisco, California 94103 United States


December 14, 2013 from 7:30 pm to 11:00 pm America/Los Angeles (UTC-08:00)


$20 general admission, $10 Long Now members

Climate change is not slowing down and humans are a major factor in its acceleration. That’s the main gist of the fifth Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment, published in September 2013. Beyond the headlines, though, what does the report really say about the magnitude of climate change and humankind’s relationship with it? How does the IPCC go about producing these assessments and for what purpose? And, perhaps most importantly, what can we do to ensure a hospitable climate that supports health and opportunity for the future of life on Earth?

In partnership with The Long Now Foundation, swissnex San Francisco invites the public to hear from a diverse panel of experts on the report’s key takeaways for the scientist, the citizen, and the entrepreneur, moderated by Professor Paul Hawken. Be prepared to come with your questions and join the discussion around short- and long-term strategies for a warming planet.


7:00 pm   doors open
7:30 pm   moderated panel discussion
8:30 pm   audience Q&A
9:00 pm   networking reception
11:00 pm   event ends


Susan Burns

Senior Vice President, Global Footprint Network

Over the last decade Susan Burns has built Global Footprint Network into one of the world’s leading scientific organizations addressing global ecological limits. Prior to launching Global Footprint Network, Susan founded the pioneering sustainability consulting firm Natural Strategies. She has over 20 years of experience working with more than 50 organizations on sustainability-related issues and has spoken widely on the subject of sustainability, having addressed audiences at over 100 events.


Saul Griffith

Inventor, Co-founder Otherlab

Saul Griffith has multiple degrees in materials science and mechanical engineering and completed his Ph.D. in Programmable Assembly and Self Replicating machines at MIT. He co-founded numerous companies including Squid Labs, Potenco, Instructables, Makani Power, and Otherlab. A large focus of his research is on minimum and constrained energy surfaces for novel manufacturing techniques and other applications. He holds multiple patents and is the co-creator of the carbon calculator WattzOn. In 2007, he was awarded a MacArthur “genius” grant.


Paul Hawken

Environmentalist, entrepreneur, journalist, author, professor

Paul Hawken is an environmentalist, entrepreneur, journalist, and author. Starting at age 20, he dedicated his life to sustainability and changing the relationship between business and the environment. His practice has included starting and running ecological businesses, writing and teaching about the impact of commerce on living systems, and consulting with governments and corporations on economic development, industrial ecology, and environmental policy. He moderates this event.


Gian-Kasper Plattner

Director of Science, IPCC WGI Technical Support Unit, University of Bern, Switzerland

Gian-Kasper Plattner was born in Basel, Switzerland, and obtained a Ph.D. in Climate and Environmental Physics from the University of Bern in 2001. He held research positions at the University of California Los Angeles, University of Bern, and ETH Zürich. Since 2009 has been Director of Science at the Technical Support Unit of Working Group I “The Physical Science Basis” of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), hosted by the University of Bern.


Thomas Stocker

Co-Chair Working Group I, IPCC

Thomas Stocker was born in Zürich, Switzerland, and obtained a Ph.D. in Natural Sciences from ETH Zürich in 1987. He held research positions at University College London, McGill University (Montreal), Columbia University (New York), and University of Hawai’i (Honolulu). Since 1993 he has been a Professor of Climate and Environmental Physics at the University of Bern, in Switzerland, and in 2008 he was elected Co-Chair of Working Group I “The Physical Science Basis” of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

More Info

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the international body for assessing the science related to climate change. The IPCC was set up in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to provide policymakers with regular assessments of the scientific basis of climate change, its impacts and future risks, and options for adaptation and mitigation.
IPCC assessments provide a scientific basis for governments at all levels to develop climate- related policies, and they underlie negotiations at the UN Climate Conference – the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The assessments are policy-relevant but not policy-prescriptive: they may present projections of future climate change based on different scenarios and the risks that climate change poses and discuss the implications of response options, but they do not tell policymakers what actions to take. The 5th assessment report is a worldwide scientific collaboration between 259 scientific authors from 39 countries who took some 55,000 comments in finalizing it.

The Long Now Foundation
The Long Now Foundation was established in 1996 to develop the Clock and Library projects, as well as to become the seed of a very long-term cultural institution. The Long Now Foundation hopes to provide a counterpoint to today’s accelerating culture and help make long-term thinking more common. We hope to creatively foster responsibility in the framework of the next 10,000 years.

This event is a project of the U.S.-wide program ThinkSwiss-Brainstorm the Future. As a leading country in science, research, and technology, Switzerland is working with its American counterparts to address key global topics such as sustainability to better understand trends and arrive at solutions.



Photo: Myleen Hollero

Event Photos