Top scientists, policymakers to speak at UCSC climate conference March 13-14

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Richard Alley
Keynote speaker Richard Alley is a leading expert on ice sheets and glaciers.

UC Santa Cruz will host a major national conference on climate change on Friday and Saturday, March 13 and 14, featuring top climate scientists and policy experts from across the country in a series of talks and panel discussions.

"No Prospect of an End: Living with an Ever Changing Climate" is the second annual UC Santa Cruz Climate and Policy Conference, co-sponsored by the UCSC divisions of Physical and Biological Sciences and Social Sciences. The event is free and open to the public. Advance registration is required (go to

Keynote speaker

The event kicks off Friday evening with a lecture by eminent Earth scientist Richard Alley, the Evan Pugh Professor of Geosciences at Pennsylvania State University. Alley, a leading expert on the Earth's ice sheets and glaciers, has made extensive contributions to the scientific understanding of climate change, served on numerous advisory panels, and received many prominent awards for research, teaching, and science communication. Host of the PBS miniseries Earth: The Operators' Manual, he has been described as "a cross between Woody Allen and Carl Sagan." Alley will discuss "Big Challenges and Bigger Opportunities on Climate Change and Energy."

Scientists now recognize that without dramatic reductions of greenhouse gas emissions from human sources, climate and environments may be changing for thousands of years into the future. From a societal perspective, climate change would seem to be never ending, and predicting environmental conditions in the future "hot house" world would be very difficult.

"At the conference, we want to explore how societies can plan for and reach a future where humans and the natural systems on which they depend are flourishing, not just a century from now, but far into the future," said Paul Koch, dean of physical and biological sciences.

Panel discussions

On Saturday, March 14, there will be two panel discussions featuring climate scientists, civil servants, economists, and educators. The first panel, on "Coastal Resilience: Weathering the Coming Storm," will address the impacts of climate change and sea level rise on coastal areas. UC Santa Cruz coastal ecologist Mark Carr, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, will serve as moderator, and the panelists will include:

  • Eron Bloomgarden, EKO Asset Management Partners
  • Kerry Emanuel, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Charles Lester, California Coastal Commission
  • Susanne  Moser, Stanford University
  • Rob Young, Western Carolina University  

The afternoon panel will address "Wicked Tradeoffs: Unavoidable Tradeoffs Between Food, Water, Energy, and Biodiversity." Moderated by Daniel Press, the Griswold Professor of Environmental Studies at UC Santa Cruz, the five-member panel will include:

  • Renata Brillinger, California Climate and Agriculture Network
  • Noah Diffenbaugh, Stanford University
  • Ellen Hanak, Public Policy Institute of California
  • Lara Hansen, EcoAdapt
  • Daniel Schrag, Harvard University Center for the Environment

The conference will be held in the College 9/10 Multipurpose Room. Additional information is available online at

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