Kenneth Hyatt Distinguished Alumni Leadership Speaker Series

Spring 2015 Speaker: G. Wayne Clough, Ph.D., P.E.



From the Eocene to the Anthropocene: An Engineer’s View of Climate Change
March 24, 2015

We apologize for the poor audio quality in the lecture video. There were technical difficulties with the recording that we have been unable to correct. You can click the "CC" button above to watch the video with subtitles.

Engineers are increasingly being called upon to design and construct large-scale coastal flood protection facilities that are expected to have long operational lives. Billions of dollars were spent in New Orleans and billions more are being spent in New York City and New Jersey for protection facilities expected to last for 50 to 100 years or more. A major consideration in such cases is sea level rise due to climate change. The federal government has recently required all agencies to develop long-term plans to address all aspects of climate change. The most recent of these is from the Department of Defense, indicating sea level rise, loss of sea ice, and changing weather patterns are issues of major concern for our national defense and its facilities around the world.

Dr. Clough reflects on these growing national issues through the lens of his own experiences beginning with his four-year service as Chair of the National Research Council Committee on New Orleans Regional Hurricane Protection Projects and continuing through his observations of work done by more than 100 Smithsonian scientists related to climate change. As Secretary of the Smithsonian, he was integrally involved in planning to protect Smithsonian museums and facilities that are at risk from storm surges and sea level rise. He concludes with advice about the practical and policy issues that increasingly are facing the engineering profession on matters related to climate change.

Full biography

Presentation Slides:

For Further Reading:

Climate Change and Agriculture in the United States: Effects and Adaptation (PDF)
U.S. Department of Agriculture

2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap (PDF)
U.S. Department of Defense

The New Orleans Hurricane Protection System: Assessing Pre-Katrina Vulnerability and Improving Mitigation and Preparedness (PDF or Read Online)
National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council

Climate Change Impacts in the United States (PDF or Read Online)
U.S. Global Change Research Program
* CEE Professor Aris Georgakakos was one of the lead authors on this report’s water chapter.

Adapting to the Impacts of Climate Change (PDF or Read Online)
National Research Council

Limiting the Magnitude of Future Climate Change (PDF or Read Online)
National Research Council

Climate Intervention: Carbon Dioxide Removal and Reliable Sequestration (PDF or Read Online)
National Research Council



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Inaugural Speaker
G. Wayne Clough, Ph.D., P.E.
President Emeritus, Georgia Institute of Technology
Secretary Emeritus, Smithsonian Institution
From the Eocene to the Anthropocene: An Engineer’s View of Climate Change
March 24, 2015