Summary of Remarks: The credibility of the science of climate change has been challenged in recent months on a variety of fronts. I will review the basis for scientific understanding with an emphasis on what we know with high confidence as well as which aspects remain relatively uncertain. Prospects for reducing uncertainty in key areas are also discussed. Finally, I will describe the relevance of this scientific picture to proposed measures, including those discussed at Copenhagen and in recent legislative proposals, for ameliorating the problem.
Michael Oppenheimer is the Albert G. Milbank Professor of Geosciences and International Affairs at Princeton University. He is also the Director of the Program in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy (STEP) at the Woodrow Wilson School. He joined the Princeton faculty in 2002 after more than two decades with the Environmental Defense Fund, a non-governmental environmental organization, where he served as chief scientist and manager of the Climate and Air Program. Oppenheimer is a long-time participant in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007, serving most recently as a lead author of the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report and is now a coordinating lead author of an upcoming IPCC Special Report covering climate extremes and disasters. He serves on the US National Academies Board on Energy and Environmental Systems. He is also a science advisor to the Environmental Defense Fund. His interests include science and policy of the atmosphere, particularly climate change and its impacts. Much of his research aims to understand the potential for “dangerous” outcomes of increasing levels of greenhouse gases by exploring the effects of global warming on ecosystems such as coral reefs, on the ice sheets and sea level, and on patterns of human migration. Oppenheimer is the author of more than 100 articles published in professional journals and is co-author (with Robert H. Boyle) of a 1990 book, Dead Heat: The Race Against The Greenhouse Effect. He received his Ph.D. in chemical physics from the University of Chicago.