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  • [SOUND] Stanford University.

  • [MUSIC]

  • >> This is a problem unlike I would say any we've seen before, and

  • this is why it poses such interesting questions.

  • >> It effects the food that we're trying to grow and

  • the water resource that we're trying to get for people.

  • So, climate change is very much intertwined with so

  • many other things that we care about and are important to humanity.

  • >> There needs to be a way to get beyond that I'm right,

  • you're wrong, to look, this is affecting all of us.

  • >> We're very good at maintaining all this information among the academic elite, but

  • we cannot convey the same information to the rest of the world and

  • the rest of the population.

  • And I think that's where the main work needs to be done.

  • >> I guess I'd want to hear, how are we're going to do this?

  • >> The conversation I want to hear is about what we do next.

  • How do we limit climate change?

  • How do we adapt to the climate change that we're already in, entrained in.

  • >> I think it's also important to,

  • to divorce a question of is climate change happening and

  • is it caused by humans from the question of what should we do about it.

  • Because science can tell you that first question but values are important for

  • the second question you know?

  • What should we do about it?

  • Well that depends on how much do we care about the future or

  • people in other countries or nature. Right?

  • And I can't tell you that,

  • and you know, you, you can't decide that, but together, we have to,

  • kind of, look at our collective values and, and make a judgment on that.

  • >> There's a real opportunity for, for a conversation about climate risk management

  • and discussion of what we can do to build resilience to decrease vulnerability,

  • to adapt to climate changes.

  • >> I want to hear a conversation that's looking forward boldly to the solutions.

  • How can firms make responding to this challenge.

  • Creating the next generation of technology.

  • The business opportunity of the 21st century?

  • How can we act together to rein in emissions and

  • drive them down in this century.

  • How can we all make sure that our communities, and

  • our families, and our countries are safe in a changing climate?

  • >> From the research that we've done over the last 20 years monitoring American

  • public opinion, it's clear that Americans do place a priority on climate change.

  • There's strong public will to see government take action, on the other hand

  • government is not taking the magnitude of action the public would like to see.

  • >> Climate change is something that affects every part of

  • society that matters and that has an impact on people's life's.

  • And, as we move forward, I think the worst part of it, is that those who are,

  • who least have the power to change their circumstances and to protect themselves,

  • are the ones who are most vulnerable and who will suffer the most.

  • And it just seems like,

  • this just seems like the kind of injustice that ought to be addressed.

  • >> There's a wonderful English proverb that is,

  • may you live in interesting times.

  • Some people call it a curse.

  • But it's also just thinking about, challenge as an opportunity.

  • And I think that humanity is going to have to respond.

  • And so our society an our politics will definitely be changing.

  • >> This is a question on which our generation will be judged and

  • evaluated in the future.

  • Do we make tough decisions and solve it?

  • Or do we essentially punt and, and kind of kick the can down the road.

  • And, and push these buttons onto generations to come.

  • [SOUND].

  • >> Please welcome our Stanford round table panelists and our moderator, Leslie Stahl.

  • [APPLAUSE].

  • >> Thank you, thank you.

  • >> Thank you, thank you.

  • [APPLAUSE] Wow, my first time performing on a basketball court.

  • This is wonderful, and in the round.

  • Well, we have with us the rock stars of the environmental and

  • energy sector in the United States, and I am just so

  • thrilled to be able to introduce them to you.

  • Alvaro Umana, who is Senior Research Fellow at

  • the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center, and

  • was Costa Rica's first Minister of Energy and Environment. Alvaro.

  • [APPLAUSE] JB Straubel Co-founder and

  • Chief Technology Officer of Tesla Motors.

  • [APPLAUSE]

  • Chris Field professor of Environmental Earth System Sciences,

  • Senior Fellow at Stanford Precourt Institute and Woods Institute.

  • He is also founding director of the Carnegie Institute's Department of

  • global ecology.

  • Chris.

  • [APPLAUSE] Bina Vankacharmin,

  • Director of Global Policy Initiatives at the Brode Institute of MIT and Harvard.

  • Until earlier this month, just a few weeks ago, she was the White House advisor for

  • climate change innovation. Bina.

  • [APPLAUSE]

  • George Shultz, everybody knows

  • George Schultz, former Secretary of State and former Secretary of the Treasury and

  • distinguished fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institute.

  • [APPLAUSE] And Tom Steyer,

  • president of NextGen Climate, cofounder of

  • Stanford's Tomkat Center for Sustainable Energy and the stier center for

  • energy police and finance, Tom Stark [APPLAUSE].

  • Well I'm assuming this is an subject of great interest to everybody here,

  • not just the panel.

  • And I want to start with Chris Field.

  • And Chris, I want to tell you about an interview I've just done with a senator,

  • a prominent senator of the United States.

  • I'm going to read you the transcript of the section on the, our topic and

  • have you comment.

  • And I want the audience to know, we're going to get to the questions of what we

  • should be doing about this, but I need to hear the answer to this, okay.

  • So I asked him, what, what his thoughts were on global warming.

  • We haven't seen any climate warming in 16 years.

  • Scientists call this a pause, a hiatus.

  • 16 years?

  • Come on Leslie.

  • I say, what about the rising seas?

  • The droughts.

  • None of that can you scientifically say is caused by global warming.

  • Because there hasn't been any.

  • Since I've been in Congress, there hasn't been any.

  • Why are the glaciers melting in Greenland?

  • Why are they building up twice as fast in Antarctica?

  • Okay, take it away Chris Field.

  • >> Thanks Rosie.

  • >> [LAUGH]

  • >> There's no question that the planet's warm.

  • It's warmed by about one and half degrees Fahrenheit over the last century, and

  • there's also no question that the majority of this warming over the last 50 years or

  • so was the result of human actions.

  • The amount of heat in the Earth's system has been increasing really rapidly over

  • the last 15 years or so.

  • The period during which the atmosphere hasn't warmed as rapidly.

  • What we've seen is a small switch so that this big

  • increase in heat in the Earth's system has been partitioned more into the ocean's and

  • less into the atmosphere than in previous decades.

  • We don't know if this'll be sustained or not, but the striking thing is that

  • the amount of heat uptake has actually increased dramatically.

  • We haven't seen a pause in the heat uptake,

  • we've a dramatic increase, such that there may be

  • 40% more rapid warming than we had understood until just recently.

  • the, the impacts of this are really widespread.

  • The, one of the clearest indications came from a brilliant Stanford study that was

  • just published a couple of weeks ago, and it showed that

  • there's basically this mountain of high pressure in the in the Central Pacific,

  • and it's making the storms that come toward California bounce off.

  • That we don't know.

  • >> Is that, is that because of, global warming?

  • >> So, that's the question.

  • And, Noah Diffenbaugh who you saw on the great video's group recently asked

  • that and said is it the case that we can say that California's drought with this

  • big mountain of high pressure air, is causing, caused by climate change?

  • And what they found is that even though you can't say with 100% certainty.

  • That the mountain of high air is a product of climate change,

  • we know that in the climate of today.

  • It's four times more likely we'll see that kind of condition.

  • Than in the climate before humans altered.

  • Four times more likely we'll get the kind of conditions that have

  • produced this devastating drought we're seeing now in California.

  • >> But when you say you can't say for sure, I mean, that's what's gets.

  • That's what I think gets confusing.

  • You can't say for sure it is climate change.

  • You, you think it's climate change.

  • George, jump in.

  • >> We have a guy around here now named Gary Rupping.

  • He recently retired as Chief of Naval Operations.

  • And we have a task force on the Arctic.

  • And what's going on there?

  • And the consequences and the opportunities and the problems and

  • so forth that are associated with it, why?

  • Because the ice is melting, the sea ice is melting fast.

  • And he has a little video that shows over time, gradually, and

  • then, all of a sudden, there's a discontinuity.

  • So how is it that a new ocean is being created?

  • That hasn't happened since the last Ice Age.

  • >> No. I've been to Greenland.

  • I saw it too, but I think the question is about the extreme storms and the drought.

  • You know, it's just a little confusing, because it's out there, and

  • it should be nailed and answered and let's get rid of the question.

  • Why is it even on the table, why does a Senator say this?

  • You know, just, let's get rid of it.

  • But we can't. >> So I think this issue of uncertainty

  • a little bit of a, it's a little bit of a copout for us, as a society.

  • We make decisions amid uncertainty all of the time.

  • We make decisions about bets on financial markets that we're going to invest in.

  • We make decisions about what university we're going to attend.

  • We make decisions about what course of treatment to take.

  • Think of when you're a patient in front of a doctor.

  • A doctor might present you a sort of

  • body of research about people who have symptoms like yours.

  • The doctor can't tell you I'm 100% certain in every case that

  • this intervention's going to turn out perfectly.

  • I'm not 100% certain that if you don't do the intervention that you are going to

  • die or that you're going to suffer.

  • But here are the,

  • here are the probabilities, here is the information that I can tell you.

  • And then let me know about you.

  • What's your tolerance for risk?

  • What's your personal history?

  • What's your vulnerability?

  • And with those decisions,

  • with that interaction with the science we make decisions.

  • And frankly we make decisions to avoid risks.

  • We made a decision, make decisions as a society to avoid harm, and

  • that's what we need to do in this case.

  • >> Tom. [APPLAUSE].

  • >> Well, obviously I agree with Bena but

  • I think there's something else here too because she's talking about the ability,

  • and the need to make decisions in uncertainty.

  • But the other question is what is, what is the size and

  • character of the risk we're willing to undergo?

  • And I was an investor for 30 years and I had a good friend who ran a big company.

  • And he told me the one thing you never do when you run a big company is

  • risk the whole enterprise.

  • So if you have 95% probability coming from scientists,

  • you are saying we really need to nail this we need 100%.

  • We have 95% probability of this with a risk to the whole enterprise.

  • Now what sensible person looking at those percentages and that, you know,

  • gigantic risk that no CEO should ever really take, wouldn't want to take action.

  • [APPLAUSE].

  • >> You nailed it.

  • All right, back to Chris for a minute.

  • So here's another thing I hear, in that it is only 95%.

  • Let's not invest that much right now [LAUGH], because you know there's that

  • little, we can't afford it really, and this isn't the time, we're not there yet.

  • Hit that out of the ballpark the way he just did.

  • [LAUGH].

  • >> Well, there are two elements that are really important to understand.

  • The first is that,

  • there's a tremendous amount of inertia in the way climate change works.

  • Some of this inertial is as result of emissions that have already occurred.

  • And, and the physics.

  • And some of it is inertia as a result of the infrastructure that we have,

  • the coal fired power plants, the all electricity generation.

  • We know that we're going to continue to use fossil fuels for

  • some time in the future.

  • And the only way that we can transition effectively off is to start now.

  • The longer you wait, the more it costs, the more complicated solutions get to be,

  • and the more residual impacts you deal with.

  • There's no reason to wait because there are smart,

  • effective, low cost things we could be doing today.

  • >> Give me one low cost example that you think we should be doing today.

  • >> Just as an example, we could be dramatically increasing

  • the efficiency of water utilization in California.

  • Huge amount of water in California goes, energy goes into pumping water around.

  • We don't need to be doing that.

  • >> Okay someone keep track of all the ideas we get, okay?

  • [LAUGH] And let's get someone to, seriously, seriously.

  • One more question before we open it up Chris.

  • I, in your opinion,

  • in order to really get a handle on this issue, in terms of solutions.

  • Is