This series addresses the unprecedented global change we are facing. Its goal is to empower citizens by connecting them with scientists to mobilize positive change. Social and Natural Scientists - using clear and accessible language - explore phenomena that are threatening the future of life on Earth as we know it and explore solutions for reversing these negative trends.  

Each year the series has used a different lens to explore global warming and other threats as follows:

2015 Fall -  Solutions and YOU: Combating Climate Change

2015 Spring - Global Security - Climate Change:  How Safe Are YOU?

2014 - Paleoecology  - Deep Time, Global Change and YOU

2013 - Population Growth - 7 Billion and YOU

2011-2012 - Inaugral Series using different lenses to explore global warming.


The Centre for Coastal Science and Management is pleased to announce the 5th series of free public lectures and discussions in the Planet Under Pressure: Citizens and Scientists Taking Action on Global Warming program that has been running since 2011.  Climate change threatens Earth’s life support systems. The resulting changes are already impacting agriculture, water availability, human health and security, and world economies.  This series will address complex but under appreciated issues associated with climate change and will propose possible solutions.  We hope you will join us!

October 15, 2015,  7:00 pm, Location: SFU Harbour Ctr, 515 W. Hastings, Room 1900  The Optimistic Environmentalist: Planning for a 100% Renewable Future  
Presented by: Dr. David R. Boyd, Adjunct Professor, School of Resource and Environmental Management, Simon Fraser University; Environmental Lawyer and Author. Dr. Boyd will discuss the remarkable renewable energy revolution that is underway globally, with the rate of growth in wind and solar repeatedly surpassing expert projections. Canada’s progress will be evaluated, and the city of Vancouver’s plan for becoming fossil fuel free by 2050 will be introduced.  Reservations:

October 29, 2015,  7:00 pm, SFU Segal Graduate School of Business, 515 West Hastings, Room 1900  A World of Climate Extremes
Presented by: Jana Sillmann, Center for International Climate and Environmental Research – Oslo (CICERO), Norway.  Earth is characterized by a diversity of climates including extremes.  Life has adapted to these extremes but extreme heatwaves, droughts and floods are events that rarely happen and cause severe disruption to the environment or society. This talk will provide insight into the 5th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and focus on observed and future changes in climate extremes on a global scale. The talk will go beyond the physical approach to assessing change and highlight the importance of including societal aspects such as vulnerability and exposure to asses the complex nature of the associated risks of changes in the extreme.
Location: SFU Harbour Centre, Room 1900. Reservations:

TWO presentations by Dr. Chris Hope, Reader in Policy Modelling, Judge Business School, University of Cambridge, UK. 

September 24, 2015,  7:00 pm, SFU Harbour Ctr, 515 W. Hastings, Room 1900  How Large Is the Bill for Global Climate Change?  
This lecture will focus on climate change policies in developed and developing countries with an emphasis on the economic and social costs of carbon. Dr. Hope’s research involves numerical information in public policy and the integrated assessment modelling of climate change. An economist, Dr. Hope was an advisor to the Stern review on the Economics of Climate Change and was the special advisor to the House of Lords Select Committee on Economic Affairs Inquiry into aspects of the economics of climate change. Reservations:

September 23, 2015, 12:30 - 2:00 SFU Burnaby, IRMACS Theatre (Room ASB 10900) Modelling the Risks of Climate Change

TWO presentations by Dr. Michael Mann, Distinguished Professor of Meteorology and Director, Earth System Science Center, Pennsylvania State University, USA

September 17, 2015,  7:00 pm, SFU Harbour Ctr, 515 W. Hastings, Room 1900  The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: The Battle Continues
Building on the findings in his book “The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars”, Dr. Mann will discuss the basics of climate science and reveal the tactics which opponents of climate change use to distort the science and attack the reputations of scientists.  He will describe both the hockey stick controversy and the broader context of skepticism in science and contrarians rejecting evidence of human influence on climate.  Reservations:

September 16, 2015, 12:30 - 2:00 pm - SFU Burnaby, West Mall Centre (Room WMC 2202)
The Past as Prologue: Learning from the Climate Changes in Past Centuries

Dr. Mann will review work over the past decade aimed at establishing the nature of, and factors underlying, patterns of large-scale climate variability in past centuries. He will discuss evidence from proxy climate reconstructions spanning the past millennium, the comparison of proxy reconstructions with simulations with climate model simulations forced by past natural and anthropogenic forcing, and results from climate modeling experiments in which proxy evidence is assimilated directly into coupled ocean-atmosphere model simulations. He will also discuss insights from proxy forward modeling that suggest the possibility that estimates of climate sensitivity derived entirely or partly from tree-ring evidence of past temperature changes may be biased low.  No reservations required.

Global climate change is making us less secure.  We will report on what experts can now see happening: to our food and water, to our health and wellbeing, to international conflict, and even to our pocketbook.  Loss of security will affect everyone, but there are also pressing ethical dimensions to the unfolding crisis. In contrast to other public series we have organized, this one is a call to reasonable, sustained action by us all.  We need to lead our leaders.   


Safety and Risk: Why Values Matter - Presented by Dr. Ingrid Stefanovic, Dean, Faculty of Environment, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC | March 5, 2015

Are you a risk-taker or do you avoid taking risks? Do you feel that the world is less or more secure today than in the last century? In promoting safety in an era of global climate change, should we seek to advance the greatest good overall, or are other criteria more important in environmental decision making? This presentation suggests that answers to these and similar questions about safety and climate change are not value-free. In fact, issues of safety and risk in an era of climate change are very much impacted by peoples’ perceptions, attitudes, judgments, emotions and ethical points of view. We will discuss how hidden worldviews and value systems often affect our assessments of risk. The challenge for decision makers is to ensure that such taken for granted judgment calls are made explicit and critically evaluated as part of the larger risk assessment process.

Abstract and Bio     Video

Welcome to the Pressure Cooker: How Climate Change is Making our World More Violent and Less Secure - Presented by Dr. Marc Levy, Deputy Director, Centre for International Earth Science Information Network, Columbia University, Palisades, New York | February 26, 2015

Climate change threatens human security in ways that are more numerous and more frightening than previously appreciated.  Recent research has brought into focus three phenomena that account for this fact.  First, regulating violence and conflict is harder to carry out under trying climatic conditions.  Second, efforts to manage climate stress on the part of some actors can shift risk to others.  And third, interaction among linked complex systems can unleash cascades of risk capable of rapidly diminishing human security in alarming, surprising ways.  Climate change therefore constitutes a major threat to future security.  This is unsettling, as it raises questions about human agency, introduces doubt about favorable long-term trends, and gives rise to awkward coalitions spanning military, scientific and humanitarian communities.  We must come to grips with these unsettling features so that we can move on and manage the newly discovered risks responsibly and effectively.

Abstract and Bio    Video

The Future Isn't What it Used to Be - Presented by Dr. Kristie L. Ebi, Professor, Departments of Global Health and Environmental Occupational Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of Washington, Seattle | February 19, 2015

Health systems have an impressive history of identifying and reducing health threats, as evidenced by the dramatic increase in life expectancy over the past century.  However, climate change is working against these trends.  Changing weather patterns have the potential to affect any health outcome that is seasonal or that is associated with weather and climate, including injuries, illnesses, and deaths associated with extreme weather events.  Changing weather patterns can affect the geographic range and intensity of transmission of water- and foodborne diseases, vectorborne, and zoonotic diseases; respiratory diseases associated with ground-level ozone and aeroallergens; and undernutrition.  Further, weather and climate influence many key determinants of human health, such as food and freshwater availability.   Climate change may result in resource depletion and other processes that could lead to large-scale population displacement and its associated physical and mental health impacts.  The largest negative health effects are projected for lower-income populations within developed and developing countries, especially those living in tropical and subtropical countries.  With more than 150 years of experience in identifying and responding to health threats, health systems are well placed to avoid, prepare for, and respond to the health risks of climate change.  

Abstract and Bio     Video

Farming on a Warming Plant - Presented by Dr. Navin Ramankutty, Professor, Institute of Resource, Enviornment and Sustainability and Liu Institute of Global Issues, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC | February 12, 2015

Human civilizations have flourished during the Holocene, a period of relatively stable climate. Sedentary agriculture allowed our numbers to skyrocket and we are 7 billion today. But the challenge of feeding humanity continues. Almost 1 in 7 people today remain undernourished and our numbers are expected to rise to between 10-12 billion by 2100. At the same time, our current agricultural practices are one of the major causes of global environmental degradation, including climate change. Climate change, in turn, is expected to be severely damaging to our food production system; indeed, it already is. In this talk, I will present a broad overview of this major challenge of our times. How can we feed more people in ways that are less damaging to the environment, while being resilient to the harmful effects of climate change?

Abstract and Bio     Video

Disease, Risk and Climate Change - Where do we stand? Presented by Dr. Carl Lowenberger, Professor and Canadian Research Chair in Parasitology and Vectors of disease, Biological Sciences, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC  | February 5, 2015

In the era of global change, how are diseases changing, and what are the new, old, or continuing disease risks we face? Are Ebola, Chikungunya, and Chagas disease new, different, or are we simply more aware of them through instantaneous news availability? What is the risk that climate change will bring these to the forefront of our consciousness? Do you go out of your way to avoid disease? How can we help those who live in endemic areas and suffer from one disease after another? This talk will discuss diseases that exist, and the effects of climate change on their global distribution and potential effects in new regions. The challenge to decision makers is to base conclusions on broad scientific data as part of the risk assessment process.    

Abstract and Bio  Video

November 6, 2014 - A Special Lecture and Discussion

The Saga of Life: Notes from the Front Lines of a Magnificient Mass Extinction - Presented by Dr. Shahid Naeem, Professor of Ecology, Columbia University, New York.  7:00 - 9:00 pm, Centre for Dialogue, SFU, 580 West Hastings Street, Vancouver.



Deep Time, Global Change and You is a series of free public lectures and discussions by leading thinkers on how paleoecology can shed light on the consequences of ecosystem disruptions. It is not news that our global environment is currently in a period of rapid and dramatic change, with uncertain long-term consequences. Scientists working in the area of “paleoecology”, the study of past environments and communities of plants and animals, can contribute insights into the long prehistory of natural changes on earth, and shed light on likely future consequences of ecosystem disruptions. Over the long history of our planet, many changes, ranging from continental drift and sudden climate shifts, to wildfires and the recent rise of civilizations have altered our ecosystems, and will continue to do so. How such disturbances have shaped our present environment, and how they might change it in the future is the focus of this series.


Video introduction

Maintaining Humanity's Life Support Systems in the 21st Century, Presented by Dr. Anthony Barnosky, University of California, Berkeley | March 13, 2014
Given that human impacts already define the Anthropocene as a unique time in Earth’s history, & that those impacts are almost certain to increase as the human population grows from 7 billion to over 9 billion by the year 2050, it is inevitable that people’s place on the planet will continue to evolve. While the impacts of people have altered the planet in beneficial ways, studies have documented some human impacts that if they continue, pose serious risks for maintaining the current quality of life. Those impacts form five negative trends: increasing climate disruption, increase of extinctions, loss of non-human dominated ecosystems, growing pollution (air, land,& sea), & rapidly growing human population. The pace and nature of planetary change caused by each of these impacts exceeds what is “normal” for Earth’s past, making plausible unexpected, planetary-scale shifts that take place within human lifetimes. Despite the ‘gloom-and-doom’ scenarios these global problems often engender, solutions are not only possible, as indicated by past human achievements, but are beginning to gain momentum.

What if Extinction is NOT Forever? A Molecular Paleontologist's View of De-Extinction, Presented by Dr. Beth Shapiro, University of California, Santa Cruz | March 6, 2014

Herds of mammoths roaming the Siberian tundra. A sabre-toothed cat skulking behind a van in the grocery store parking lot. Are these the dramatic scenes of our future? Fortunately, the answer is still no -- not in our near future, anyway. Science is, however, inching closer and closer to being able to bring extinct animals back to life, including some that have been extinct for more than 10,000 years. But, do we really want extinct animals to be brought back? Dr. Shapiro will outline the science that needs to be developed in order to make de-extinction possible, and consider the environmental and ethical consequence of de-extinction.

Magnitude 9 - How We Learned that the Largest Earthquakes on Earth Happen on Our Coast, Presented by Dr. John Clague, Simon Fraser University | February 27, 2014

Evidence discovered by Canadian and U.S. scientists over the past 30 years has shown that the largest earthquakes on Earth occur at our doorstep, off the British Columbia coast. . In this presentation, I describe how scientists found and interpreted the geological and biological evidence of these earthquakes. I also review the likely effects and impact of the next “Big One” on Vancouver, Victoria, and cities in the U.S. Pacific Northwest.

The Human Footprint in the Pacific Northwest: From the Deep Past to the Present, Presented by Dr. Rolf Mathewes, Simon Fraser University | February 20, 2014

Environmental changes in the past and present have always played an important role in human affairs and cultural development. Dr. Mathewes will explore links between past environments and the “peopling” of the new world along the coast of western North America near the end of the last ice age, and then look into the evidence of how environmental changes during postglacial time have affected first nations cultural development, and also been affected by early human activities.

A Long View of Fire, Climate, and People: Perspectives From the Paleoecological Record, Presented by Dr. Cathy Whitlock, Montana State University | February 13, 2014

In the last 20 years, parts of western North America have experienced more wildland fires than seen in recent history, and biomass burning around the world is increasing at an alarming rate with consequences for climate change, biodiversity, and human health. The size and severity of recent fires have raised important questions: Are current levels of biomass burning truly unprecedented? What is the role of climate change in altering natural fire systems? Do our forest ecosystems have the capacity to survive increased fire activity? Our understanding of wildland fires benefits greatly from deep-time perspectives. Dr. Whitlock will describe how.

Global Biodiversity and Climate: What Fossil Insects Tell Us, Presented by Dr. Bruce Archibald, Simon Fraser University | February 6, 2014
Why are there more species in the tropics? Why do species compositions of communities tend to change more across mountains in the tropics than the Temperate Zone? Understanding why we see patterns of change in biodiversity from the equator to the poles has been difficult using modern-world systems. Dr. Archibald discusses a novel approach comparing the diversity of insect communities with fossil insect communities. This approach helps resolve longstanding questions in ecology.

Global Warming 56 Million Years Ago & What it Means for Us, Presented by Dr. Scott Wing, Smithsonian Institute | January 30, 2014
Human emissions of greenhouse gases will alter conditions on earth for many thousands of years into the future. The past event that best mirrors present-day warming occurred 56 million years ago and is called the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, or PETM. Dr. Wing will talk about the PETM, explaining what we know about its causes, and what we have learned about its effects on ecosystems in North America and elsewhere. The lessons of deep time have ever more relevance as we rapidly mold our planet in the ongoing geological epoch some call the Anthropocene, or Age of Humans.


Seven Billion and YOU | March 14, 2013

What next?  Informed decisions come from informed discussions; thinking globally begins at the local level. In a moderated final session, audience members will discuss whether the the things they've heard about human population in the last five sessions add up to a need for action. Does the increasing number of humans really represent a problem? If it does, what can be done about it?

Moderated by Don White, Interdisciplinary Studies, SFU


Resources and the Seven Billion - Presented by Dr. William Rees, Professor Emeritus, Population Ecology, University of British Columbia | March 7, 2013
Can the world really support the future population?

Human demand seems to be outstripping supply, a phenomenon driven by both numbers and lifestyle. Can the world community attend to the three billion people who live in poverty, meet the needs of an additional 2.5 billion expected by 2050, and also reduce total energy and material consumption below current levels?

The Economics of the Seven Billion - Presented by Dr. Nicolas Eberstadt, Henry Wendt Chair in Political Economy, American Enterprise Institute, Washington, DC | February 28, 2013
How can health and wealth be expanding as populations grow?

Population levels have nearly quadrupled over the 20th century, but most of us are actually living longer, healthier and wealthier lives. Food production is still outstripping global need. Is it possible we are misreading the situation? Regardless, can voluntary family planning programs have any real impact? What is the effective role of parental choice?

  • Ethics and the Seven Billion - Presented by Dr. Christine Overall, Professor of Philosophy, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario | February 21, 2013
    What major ethical issues must we confront?

    Living among seven billion human beings generates significant ethical questions for all of us. We need to think about our procreative responsibilities and rights, and our duties to the other living beings on the planet. Do we have individual responsibilities to limit our reproduction? Does society have the right to place legal or social barriers to procreation by its citizens? What is the ethical significance of increases in human longevity?
  • Abstract and Bio
  • Video

Drivers of the Seven Billion - Presented by Dr. Shripad Tuljapurkar, Professor of Biology and Population Studies, Stanford University, Stanford, California | January 31, 2013
What are the genetic and cultural influences on our population trajectory?

Human wellbeing and population change turn on the relationship between humans and resources. How did that relationship evolve as human hunter-gatherers made the transition to farming, and then to industry? How did demography and resources shape – and respond to – culture? How is this interaction reflected in today’s human genetic diversity? What important lessons does history provide that inform our future choices and decisions on a crowded planet?

Demography of the Seven Billion - Presented by Dr. Warren C. Sanderson, Professor of Economics, Stony Brook University, New York, US | January 24, 2013
Where is the world population heading - what happens when we get there?

The world’s population is expected to peak at 9 to 10 billion and then slowly decline. There are multiple questions associated with this march toward population stability: how do we know it will happen, what is its timing and regional variation, how much older will the world’s population get, and what are the implications of this stability for world environmental change?

Saving Nemo: The science of marine extinctions -  Presented by Dr. Nicholas Dulvy, Canada Research Chair in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation, Biological Sciences, Simon Fraser University

April 12, 2012

Fisheries catches are stagnating and the seas are warming, raising questions as to whether we face the end of the oceans as we know them. We have drawn heavily from our oceas to feed millions but have we done irreversible harm to the biodiversity of our seas? Nicholas Dulvy shares the travelogue of his wanders from library archives to remote islands and coasts to share a story of theh state of the oceans and the possible future of marine biodiversity.

Abstract and Bio

Abstract and Bio

Dr. Nicholas Dulvy, Biological Sciences, Simon Fraser University

The Canadian Oil Sands: Economic saviour or environmental disaster?-  Presented by Dr. David Schindler, Biological Sciences, University of Alberta

March 28, 2012

The Alberta oil sands are being promoted by industry and government officials as the solution to North American energy needs for the foreseeable future.The impacts of oil sands development have been downplayed in propaganda promoting the oil sands. Dr. Schindler will discuss some of the impacts that have been ignored or misrepresented, such as water quality, fisheries, wetland reclamation, carbon sequestration, and treaties with aboriginal communities.

Abstract and Bio

Video Excerpt

Video Full Presentation

Abstract and Bio

Dr. David Schindler, Killam Memorial Professor of Ecology, Biological Sciences, University of Alberta

It's Wrong to Wreck the World: Climate Change and the Moral Obligation to the Future - Presented by Dr. Kathleen Dean Moore, Philosophy, Oregon State University

March 21, 2012

Although climate change is a scientific and technological issue, it is fundamentally a moral issue, and it calls for a moral response.  Why has climate-change science elicited such stunning indifference?  What calls us to act? How can we respond to the crisis in ways that honor duties of compassion, justice, and respect for human rights?  How can we discuss these values across differences?  How do we live, when we truly understand that we live in complete dependence on an Earth that is interconnected, interdependent, finite, resilient, and heart-breakingly beautiful?

Abstract and Bio

Video Excerpt

Video Full Presentation

Abstract and Bio

Dr. Kathleen Dean Moore, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, Oregon State University

Climate Change and Disease: The Known Knowns, the Known Unknowns & Predictions of the Unknown Unknowns of Vector-Borne Diseases in a Changing World -  Presented by Dr. Carl Lowenberger, Biological Sciences, SFU

February 23, 2012

Insects transmit parasites and pathogens to humans and other vertebrates. Malaria, sleeping sickness and Lyme disease are examples of diseases that are transmitted by insect vectors. Dr. Lowenberger will explore how climate change will affect habitat range extension of vectors of disease and other implications. These unknown unknowns are driving the predictions of what will become the reality of disease transmission in the new era.

Abstract and Bio

Abstract and Bio

Dr. Carl Lowenberger, Canada Research Chair in Parasites and Vectors of Disease, Biological Sciences, Simon Fraser University

Can Ecological Restoration Help a Planet Under Pressure? - Presented by Ken Ashley, Instructor, School of Construction and Environment, BCIT

November 17, 2011

By most metrics the planet is under increasing ecological pressure & is currently experiencing a "6th Great Extinction" of species. What's different this time, is that the species extinctions are not caused by natural causes, but by the cumulative ecological footprint of 7 billion humans and their associated technologies. This lecture examines the emerging field of ecological restoration as a way of addressing pressured ecosystems.

Abstract and Bio

Abstract and Bio

Dr. Ken Ashley, Ecological Restoration Program, BCIT

THE COVE and the Connection to Canada - A free screening and discussion

September 22, 2011

A special screening of the 2009 Academy Award winning documentary, THE COVE, with an introduction and discussion by Leah Lemieux, author of "Rekindling The Waters: The Truth About Swimming with Dolphins". THE COVE uncovers horrifying ecological crimes happening worldwide. Leah will reveal the connection to Canada.

Abstract and Bio

Abstract and Bio

Leah Lemiux

Green and Virtual Water Management: An Option for Global Food Security presented by Hans Schreier, UBC

May 12, 2011

According to the UN projections, we need to increase food production by more than 50% over the next 40 years. Since agriculture is already using 70% of available freshwater, it is unlikely that more water will be available for food production. What are the options and how do we address the global water issues for food? One of the most neglected topics in water management is how to shift attention from blue-water cycle to the green-water cycle. This presentation will provide information on virtual water trade and show how green water management can make a significant contribution to global food security.

Abstract and Bio

Slide Presentation

Abstract and Bio

Hans Schreier, Faculty of Land and Food Systems, University of British Columbia

Presentation Slides

Hans Schreier, Faculty of Land and Food Systems, University of British Columbia

Abstract, Bio and Presentation Slides combined

Hans Schreier, Faculty of Land and Food Systems, University of British Columbia

Generation Us: The Challenge of Global Warming - Presented by Andrew Weaver, University of Victoria

May 5, 2011

This talk will focus on Andrew Weaver's new book which explains, in clear and accessible language, the phenomenon of global warming, outlines the threat it presents to future generations and offers a path toward solutions to the problem.

Abstract and Bio

Abstract and Bio

Andrew Weaver, Canada Research Chair in Atmospheric Science, School of Earth and Ocean Science, University of Victoria

How to Boil a Frog - A special film screening

March 10, 2011

This film is a comedic documentary about the consequences of overshoot: too many people using up too little planet. An everyman dad (Jon Cooksey) gives a satirical overview of our global situation, and five surprising ways we can save civilization while making our own lives better.

Abstract and Bio

Abstract and Bio

Jon Cooksey, Fools Bay Entertainment, Ltd.