"Welcome to the Anthropocene: Lecture I - What on Earth Have We Done?"

Tanner Lectures on Human Values

ABSTRACT:  Elizabeth Kolbert's first lecture will look at the ways humans are changing the world on a geological scale. In this talk, she will focus on changes to the atmosphere, changes to the chemistry of the oceans, and the rearrangement of the biosphere.

Elizabeth Kolbert is an award-winning journalist and author, best known for her groundbreaking work on climate change and the environment. What began with her travels from Alaska to Greenland and interviews with top scientists to get to the heart of the debate over global warming has grown into an ongoing effort to bring the plight of our planet into the consciousness of the American people through her articles and books. 
Kolbert has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1999, Kolbert’s original series on global warming, “The Climate of Man,” won a National Magazine Award and became the book “Field Notes from a Catastrophe.” The Pulitzer Prize-winning “The Sixth Extinction” also originated from her environmental journalism work for The New Yorker.  So, too, her most recent book “Under a White Sky.”

Kolbert’s masterful storytelling has been recognized with numerous additional honors, including a National Academies Communications Award, a Heinz Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Blake Dodd Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Pell Center Prize for Story in the Public Square. 


Marcia Bjornerud - Professor of Geology and Environmental Studies, Lawrence University

Professor Bjornerud's research focuses on the physics of earthquakes and mountain building, combining field-based studies of bedrock geology with quantitative models of rock mechanics. She has worked in high Arctic Norway (Svalbard) and Canada (Ellesmere Island), as well as mainland Norway, Italy, New Zealand, and the Lake Superior region. 

Bjornerud is a fellow of the Geological Society of America and has been a Fulbright Senior Scholar at the University of Oslo and University of Otago.  A contributor to The New Yorker, Wired, Wall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times, she has written three books for general audiences:  "Reading the Rocks," "Timefulness" and the forthcoming "Geopedia."  "Timefulness" was longlisted for the 2019 PEN/E.O. Wilson Prize for Literary Science Writing and a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize in Science and Technology.

Arun Majumdar - Jay Precourt Professor, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and of Photon Science and, by courtesy, of Materials Science and Engineering, Stanford University

Professor Majumdar served from 2009 to 2012, as the founding director of ARPA-E and from March 2011 to June 2012 as the acting undersecretary of energy. After leaving Washington, Majumdar was vice-president for energy at Google.

He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.  He also served as the vice-chairman of the Advisory Board to the U.S. Secretary of Energy, Ernest Moniz, and was the science envoy for the U.S. Department of State. He currently serves as the chair of the Advisory Board of the U.S. Secretary of Energy, Jennifer Granholm, as well as on the advisory board of numerous energy businesses and non-profits.  

Arun Majumdar received his B.S. in mechanical engineering in 1985 from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, and his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1989.