New Questions for an Old Planet

March 9, 2012


Since the Academy's founding in 1812, our scientists have worked with researchers throughout the world to solve many of nature's great mysteries. As we enter our third century, new and urgent questions have emerged regarding how human behavior impacts the earth and its natural systems and how changes to our planet affect human society. We will explore the complex relationship between humans and our planet this year at our Bicentennial Town Square Series, New Questions for an Old Planet, sponsored by the Academy and our new partners at Drexel University.

This special series of 12 Town Square programs will run from April 2012 to June 2013 and will consist of four three-part series organized around the local, national, and global dimensions of major sustainability issues. We will explore climate change and energy; food and public health; water; and green building, urban design, and the built environment.

The programs will feature expert panels and distinguished speakers who will work to promote awareness of and action on each of these important topics. We will ask:

  • How do we keep our energy-dependent society functioning, even as the effects of climate change begin to ripple through our economy?
  • Faced with climate change, soil erosion, and population growth, how will we feed the world today and still protect the natural systems needed to feed us in the future?
  • What happens when 2 to 3 billion more people need access to the already strained freshwater systems of the world during the coming decades?
  • Can we live more sustainably by changing the way we design, construct, manufacture, and maintain our built environment?

Programs will cover topics like urban heat islands, clean energy, local food, watersheds, sea level rise, urban farming, global green building initiatives, and more. Additional information on dates, speakers, and registration will be available on this website throughout the year. We hope you’ll join us as we work to understand what the next 200 years holds for planet Earth.

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