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The Sentence that Changed the World

Saturday, February 24, 2018 • 12:00pm–3:00pm Add to Calendar


Orange Hill Restaurant
6410 E Chapman Ave
Orange, CA 92868


A discussion about the impact of climate change on the planet with Dr. Benjamin D. Santer (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory) presented by the Orange County Cal Alumni Club and the Center on Civility & Democratic Engagement.

Ticket Prices (lunch will be served)


  • $30 for members of all Cal Alumni Chapters in Southern California
  • $35 for non-members and guests

At the door:

  • $40 for members of all Cal Alumni Chapters in Southern California
  • $45 for non-members and guests


In November 1995, after three days of deliberations in Madrid’s Palacio de Congresas, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reached the historic finding that “the balance of
evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate”. This sentence changed the world. While other individuals and national scientific organizations reached similar conclusions before Madrid, this statement marked the first time that the international climate science community had spoken so clearly and forcefully.

The reaction was swift, with Congressional investigations, charges of “scientific cleansing”, allegations of corruption of the peer-review process and professional misconduct, and claims
of political tampering. Dr. Santer spent several years addressing such criticism. This lecture is a reflection on some of the scientific and personal lessons he learned after publication of the 1995 Report and the relevance these lessons have in today’s world.

About Dr. Benjamin Santer
Ben Santer is an atmospheric scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). His research focuses on such topics as climate model evaluation, the use of statistical methods in climate science, and identification of natural and anthropogenic “fingerprints” in observed climate records. Santer’s early research on the climatic effects of combined changes in greenhouse gases and sulfate aerosols contributed to the historic “discernible human influence” conclusion of the 1995 Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). His recent work has attempted to identify anthropogenic fingerprints in a number of different climate variables, such as tropopause height, atmospheric water vapor, the temperature of the
stratosphere and troposphere, ocean heat content, and ocean surface temperatures in hurricane formation regions.

Santer holds a Ph.D. in Climatology from the University of East Anglia, England. After completion of his Ph.D. in 1987, he spent five years at the Max-Planck Institute for Meteorology in Germany, where he worked on the development and application of climate fingerprinting methods. In 1992, Santer joined LLNL’s Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison.

Santer served as convening lead author of the climate-change detection andattribution chapter of the 1995 IPCC report. His awards include the Norbert Gerbier–MUMM International Award (1998), a MacArthur Fellowship (1998), the U.S. Department of Energy’s E.O. Lawrence Award (2002), a Distinguished Scientist Fellowship from theU.S. Dept. of Energy, Office of Biological and Environmental Research (2005), a Fellowship of the American Geophysical Union (2011), and membership in the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (2011). He recently visited the Juneau Icefield in Alaska, and enjoys rock-climbing, mountaineering, and exploring the beautiful state of California with his wife Kris.