John-P.-Holdren

John-P.-Holdren

In a recent keynote address before the Kavli Science Forum: 2010 in Oslo, Dr. John P. Holdren — science advisor to U.S. President Barack Obama — provided insight into why climate change is a priority to the Obama administration, and pressed the need for an international effort to mitigate, and adapt to, what he termed the effects of “global climate disruption.” “We cannot solve the great problems of our time alone – any of us – as individual nations,” he stated. “We need to solve them together, and science and technology pursued together are going to be immensely important elements of those solutions.”

Holdren spoke before an audience that included scientists and leaders key to influencing science policy in the US, Europe and Asia. In addressing the international Forum, Holdren framed climate change not only as a critical environmental issue, but one that strikes at the security needs and economic vitality of nations. “Without energy there is no economy; without climate there is no environment; without economy and environment there is no material well being, there’s no civil society, there’s no personal or national security. And the problem is that the world is getting most of the energy its economies need in ways that are wrecking the climate its environment needs. That is the fundamental dilemma and the fundamental challenge we face.”

Holdren noted that the focus now is on mitigating climate change, adapting to what cannot be mitigated, and reducing the suffering for what can’t be mitigated or adapted to. “We’re doing some mitigation, we’re doing some adaptation, we’re doing some suffering… What’s up for grabs – what’s at stake – is the future mix of mitigation and adaptation and suffering. And minimizing the amount of suffering in that mix, which is certainly what we want to do, can only be achieved by doing a lot of mitigation and a lot of adaptation.”

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