GDB3 | The Great EGU Climate Debate: The Anthropocene - Epochalypse Now?
The Great EGU Climate Debate: The Anthropocene - Epochalypse Now?
Convener: Nick Everard | Co-conveners: Chloe Hill, Hayley Fowler, Noel Baker, Rolf Hut
Tue, 16 Apr, 16:15–18:00 (CEST)
Room E1
Tue, 16:15
For the first time in Earth’s history, one species has developed such power to shape the planet that a new geological age has been identified and named in its honour: that age is The Anthropocene, and the species is us. Our power and influence are now so great that our actions are the primary factors impacting the planet’s landscapes, climate, environment, ecology, and ultimately its future habitability for us, and all other living species.
Whilst humanity’s impact on global climate systems is widely recognised, recent years have produced numerous extreme weather events, including unprecedented heat on land and in the oceans, and record-breaking wildfires: a devastating reality that not long ago seemed a distant future. A worrying indication that, although overall planetary heating is roughly in line with predictions, increases in extreme weather events are occurring faster and with a greater severity than projected, possibly indicating that climatic tipping points have already been breached.

Perhaps lower in widespread public awareness, but equally critical, is that we are in the midst of what is being referred to as “Earth’s Sixth Great Extinction”. With the loss of species running at between 1,000 and 10,000 times natural rates, our actions threaten the intricate web of life that has made our planet so favourable for supporting a rich diversity of life, including ourselves.

Against the backdrop of these unprecedented events and their impacts, there are worrying signs of a green backlash, with individuals, political groups, and industry protesting the steps that are being taken to transition us toward a net zero and resilient future.

In this session, we will explore the critical role of communicating our scientific results to make sure society will effectively mitigate these threats. We will debate the vital role of scientists in addressing this societal greenlash, as well as the increase in greenwashing, and our role in shaping solutions to avoid a catastrophic mass extinction event. Furthermore, we will discuss the tools and pathways needed to ensure that we are able to take everyone with us on our way to a greener and more resilient future.

We are very excited to welcome the following contributors to this great debate: 

•    Prof. Michael E. Mann: Presidential Distinguished Professor of Earth & Environmental Science at the University of Pennsylvania with a secondary appointment in the Annenberg School for Communication. He is also director of the Penn Center for Science, Sustainability and the Media (PCSSM).
•    Prof. Anusha Shah: Senior director for resilient cities and the UK climate adaptation lead at Arcadis, current President of the Institution of Civil Engineers
•    Kelsey Beltz: Global partnerships and education lead at The Good Lobby
•    Carlos Shanka: Youth Delegate, Youth Environment Assembly at UN Environment Programme

Questions from the audience will form a significant part of this session, so come prepared, but please, please, please, be succinct..! Time is limited, so we will allow no question to take longer than 40 seconds to ask....! 

Session assets


  • Anusha Shah
  • Michael Mann
  • Kelsey Beltz, The Good Lobby , Belgium
  • Carlos Shanka Boissy Diaz, Global Shapers Las Palmas, Spain