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John Holdren, Obama’s science advisor, visits campus to discuss the energy-climate challenge

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Dean Orr, Rosina Bierbaum, John Holdren, Provost Rankin, Steve Fetter
Photo by Ceylon Mitchell

If it seems like climate change is getting worse each day, that’s because it is, according to John Holdren, professor of environmental science and policy at Harvard University. At his talk on campus Feb. 26, Holdren, who formerly served as Assistant to Obama for Science & Technology and director of the Office of Science & Technology Policy, presented how the situation continues to worsen — and provided strategies for how we can combat it. 

“The most demanding driver of energy-technology innovation is the need to reduce energy’s impact on climate,” said Holdren. “Increased impacts of climate change can be greatly slowed, if society takes more aggressive remedial action starting now.”

The School of Public Policy hosted Holdren for a lecture titled “Meeting the Energy-Climate Challenge: Science, Technology, and Policy at a Crossroads.” The lecture, followed by a panel discussion, addressed how advances in technology can serve as an important part of the solution to energy-related challenges.

Holdren suggested steps we can take for mitigation and adaptation at the policy, university and individual levels, including increasing public-private-university partnerships for developing and implementing adaptation measures and advocating for political candidates who support the necessary action. 

After his talk, Holdren engaged in a discussion with a panel of environmental and campus leaders:

  • Panel Moderator: Rosina Bierbaum, Roy F. Weston Chair in Natural Economics, School of Public Policy
  • Mary Ann Rankin, Senior Vice President and Provost
  • Steve Fetter, Associate Provost and Dean of the Graduate School
  • Fernando Miralles-Wilhelm, Professor and Interim Director, Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center; Executive Director, Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites

The panel covered some of the steps the university is taking, and can take, to support energy-technology innovation on campus.

“What we need is enough mitigation to avoid unmanageable climate change and enough adaptation to manage and avoid climate change,” Holdren said.

Download presentation slides [PPT]

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Megan Campbell
Senior Director of Strategic Communications
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