Episode 170: Interview with renowned climate scientist Will Steffen, first aired in June 2020, on the dangers of “tipping cascades” that could post an existential threat to civilization.

In this fascinating interview, first aired in June 2020, renowned climate scientist Will Steffen discusses Earth System science, and his research on so-called “tipping cascades,” when one tipping point kicks off a series of others, posing a growing threat of abrupt and irreversible climate changes. Will draws parallels between -19 and climate change, in that it’s important to understand science and not just what intervention needs to take place but to plan for the amount of time it takes for it to take effect. A great interview with a pioneering climate researcher who died on January 29th, 2023.


Will Steffen had a long history in international global change research, serving from 1998 to 2004 as Executive Director of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP), based in Stockholm, Sweden, and before that as Executive Officer of IGBP’s Global Change and Terrestrial Ecosystems project. He was the Inaugural Director of the ANU Climate Change Institute, from 2008-2012. Prior to that, he was Director of the ANU Fenner School of Environment and Society. From 2004 to 2011, Will served as science adviser to the Australian Government Department of Climate Change; from 2011 to 2013 was a Climate Commissioner on the Australian Government’s Climate Commission; Chair of the Antarctic Science Advisory Committee, Co-Director of the Canberra Urban and Regional Futures (CURF) initiative and Member of the ACT Climate Change Council. Steffen’s interests spanned a broad range within the fields of sustainability and Earth System science, with an emphasis on the science of climate change, approaches to climate change adaptation in land systems, incorporation of human processes in Earth System modelling and analysis; and the history and future of the relationship between humans and the rest of nature.