Date & Time: 
Wednesday 7 March 2018

On behalf of the UQ Energy Initiative and the UQ Global Change Institute, we are delighted to introduce Emeritus Professor Will Steffen who will present the keynote address at our next Energy Express Seminar.

The Anthropocene: Where on earth are we going?


The proposed Anthropocene epoch has generated much discussion around its reality, its possible start dates, and its implications for contemporary human societies. Relatively less effort has been aimed at understanding the potential future trajectories of the Anthropocene and what processes and feedbacks might determine them. This talk will take a deep time, complex systems perspective on the future trajectory of the Earth System in the Anthropocene. We’ll describe the nature of Earth System dynamics in the late Quaternary in the framework of a limit cycle, and explore possible futures in terms of bifurcation points, internal feedbacks, and tipping elements in the system. An important feature of any future state or trajectory of the Earth System is its potential irreversibility, at least in the timeframes that matter for humans. Finally, we’ll discuss the challenge that the Anthropocene poses for contemporary human society, and the changes in values that are required to meet this challenge successfully.

The audience will then be invited to participate in the question and answer session.

The Speaker

Emeritus Professor Steffen is an Earth System scientist. He is a Councillor on the publicly-funded Climate Council of Australia that delivers independent expert information about climate change, an Emeritus Professor at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra, a Senior Fellow at the Stockholm Resilience Centre, Sweden, and a Fellow at the Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics, Stockholm. He is also an Adjunct Professor at the University of Canberra, working with the Canberra Urban and Regional Futures (CURF) program, and is a member of the ACT Climate Change Council. He is chair of the jury for the Volvo Environment Prize; a member of the International Advisory Board for the Centre for Collective Action Research, Gothenburg University, Sweden, and a member of the Anthropocene Working Group of the Sub-committee on Quaternary Stratigraphy.

From 1998 to mid-2004, Will served as Executive Director of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme, based in Stockholm, Sweden. His research interests span a broad range within the fields of climate and Earth System science, with an emphasis on incorporation of human processes in Earth System modelling and analysis; and on sustainability and climate change.

The University of Queensland, Advanced Engineering Building (No. 49), GHD Auditorium (Rm 200), Staff House Road, St Lucia, Brisbane, Qld 4072

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