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Saving Ourselves: From Climate Shocks to Climate Action

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Date and time
Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Cambridge Forum continues its “Living on Borrowed Time” climate series with Dana R. Fisher, renowned climate researcher and self-proclaimed ‘apocalyptic optimist’ discussing her belief that we can no longer wait for governments to pass the laws we need, businesses to do the right thing, or technological silver bullets to maintain a livable planet. Each of us must take action to save ourselves and save the planet.

She'll be joined in the conversation by Pennie Opal Plant and Kathleen Sullivan, and polar explorer and scientist, Dr. Susana Hancock.

After 28 years of failed climate negotiations, scientifically informed emissions reductions set by governments have languished. Consequently, the pace at which the world is mitigating and adapting to the threat of climate change is far too slow to meet the challenge. Carbon concentrations in the atmosphere continue to rise quickly, as the ice sheets melt and climate shocks—like droughts, floods, and heatwaves—increase in frequency and intensity.

Meanwhile, leadership of the climate negotiations at this late hour has been relegated to petrostates and former fossil fuel executives, which has helped make it impossible to agree upon, let alone implement, policies that could save us from the worst of the climate crisis. The writing is on the wall: the only way for things to get better is after they get much worse. Lives will be lost, and social conflict driven by climate migration and competition for increasingly scarce resources will proliferate. These look like insurmountable odds, and in many ways they are. But there is a slim chance that we can slow climate change enough to preserve our planet and minimize the catastrophe that is just around the corner.”

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White woman with curly brown hair wearing glasses, smiling. has grey streak in the front of hair.
The Director of the Center for Environment, Community & Equity, and a Professor in the School of International Service at American University. She has written several books and her latest is Saving Ourselves: From Climate Shocks to Climate Action.
P.O.Plant 2018 fearless 2018 - kelly j.jpeg
PENNIE OPAL PLANT (Yaqui, undocumented Cherokee and Choctaw) is a lifelong activist whose focus is on ensuring that the sacred system of life continues in a manner that is safe, sustainable and healthy.
KATHLEEN SULLIVAN says she really "woke up" to climate activism two years ago when she joined Bill McKibben’s organization, Third Act and helped found the Maine chapter.
Dr. Susana Hancock is someone who goes to the ends of the Earth to save the climate. Literally. Every year, the Maine-native clicks into her skis and conducts research on some of the world's most vulnerable ecosystems: the polar ice caps. The poles currently harbor nine of the top 16 climate tipping points, and Susana is particularly interested in understanding and communicating the cascading planet-wide impacts of some of the most pressing ones.

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