The Public Lecture Series

Acterra’s Public Lecture Series features prominent voices from throughout the environmental sector, addressing urgent issues that face region and our planet. With series in both fall and spring, we offer many opportunities to learn about and discuss environmental issues with like-minded community members.

Our lectures take place in and around the Palo Alto area, and are often hosted by corporate partners like Microsoft, Facebook, and LinkedIn. They are open to the public, and cost $10 to attend. For an annual membership starting at $40, you can get free access to our public lecture series for one year. We also offer free access to all students.

Our spring 2018 lecture series is now open for registration, and we look forward to seeing you at any or all of our upcoming lectures!

For more information on our public lecture series, email Bethany Taylor at

Spring 2018 Lecture Series


Kristy Kroeker, PhD
How Climate Change Affects the Health of Our Oceans

Wednesday, April 11, 7:30 pm
The Foster

Kristy Kroeker, PhD, will speak on the ecological effects of climate change on the oceans and the vital role oceans play in mitigating impacts. She is assistant professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz.   She holds a PhD in Biological Sciences from Stanford University and a BS in Marine Biology from UC Santa Cruz. Kristy has worked with organizations like the World Bank and the Nature Conservancy, briefed Congress on the potential effects of ocean acidification and helped plan for climate adaptation for the Central California Marine Sanctuaries. Kristy manages the Kroeker Lab at UC Santa Cruz, which conducts research on environmental change in marine communities.

View the video of Kristy Kroeker's presentation here.

Series Underwriters 
Mary & Clinton Gilliland
Armand & Eliane Neukermans


Lecture Advocate

Series Sponsor

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Gil Friend
A Conversation with Gil Friend, Chief Sustainability Officer for the City of Palo Alto

Wednesday, March 21, 7:30 pm
Palo Alto Art Center

Gil Friend, chief sustainability officer for the City of Palo Alto, will speak on Palo Alto's Sustainability and Climate Action Plan (S-CAP) and where progress can still be made despite the federal administration's climate and environmental policies. He’ll also share his views on cities around the world that are leading the way to address climate change. Gil Friend was a named one of the 10 leading sustainability voices in the U.S. by the Guardian. He is the author of The Truth About Green Business.

View Gil Friend's presentation slides here.
View the video of Gil Friend's presentation here.


Noah Diffenbaugh
How We Know It Was Climate Change: Connecting Extreme Weather Events with Global Warming

Thursday, February 8, 7:30 pm
Lucie Stern Community Center, Community Room

Heat waves, hurricanes, wildfires — extreme climate events are on the rise in the US and worldwide. Dr. Noah Diffenbaugh, Kara J Foundation Professor and Kimmelman Family Senior Fellow at Stanford University, examines the connections between global warming and extreme events and asks the question, did global warming contribute to these recent disasters?


Highlights from Spring 2017 Lecture Series

A Conservative Case for a Carbon Tax with former Secretary of State George P. Shultz
in conversation with Acterra Executive Director Adam Stern
Tuesday, April 4, 7:30 pm
Palo Alto Arts Center, 1313 Newell Road at Embarcadero, Palo Alto

George P. Shultz is a distinguished fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He served as Secretary of State (1982-89) under President Reagan, and Secretary of the Treasury (1972-74), Director of the Office of Management and Budget (1970-72), and Secretary of Labor (1969-70) under President Nixon. He is one of only two people to serve in four cabinet positions. Shultz has taught at MIT, University of Chicago, and Stanford. In 2010, Shultz co-chaired the campaign to stop Prop 23 in California, a ballot measure that would have rolled back the state's climate and clean energy law (AB 32). Thanks in part to Shultz's leadership, Prop. 23 was defeated with 61% of the electorate voting no. In February 2017, he became a founding member of the Climate Leadership Council, an international research and advocacy organization, which supports carbon taxes.

Watch a video of the lecture here:

Former Secretary of State George P. Shultz speaks on his carbon tax and dividend proposal at an Acterra lecture in Palo Alto, California, April 4, 2017

Past Lectures

Carl Pope, Climate of Hope: How Cities, Businesses, and Citizens Can Save the Planet, November 2, 2017, video
Blog post about Carl Pope's lecture:
Many Sources; Many Solutions & What You Can Do,, November 21, 2017

Kat Taylor, Supporting Environmental Sustainability and Social Justice Goals in the Banking Industry, October 20, 2017

Steve Westly, How Millennials are Driving the Clean Energy Revolution, September 28, 2017
Blog post about Steve Westly's lecture: 
The Clean Energy Revolution Is Coming,, Sep. 30, 2017

Erin Cooke, Flying the (Climate) Friendly Skies: Sustainability @ SFO, May 11, 2017, Video

Secretary of State George P. Shultz, A Conservative Case for Carbon Tax, April 4, 2017, Video

Peter Drekmeier, Protecting California's Water: The Bay Delta Water Quality Control Plan, Mar. 2, 2017, Video

John Wick, Lowering Earth’s Temperature and Stabilizing Our Climate: A Report From The Field, Nov. 10, 2016

Chris Field & Katharine Mach, After the Paris Agreement, Oct. 5, 2016, Video

Dr. Stefan Heck, Insights and Updates on the Self-Driving Car, Sept. 13, 2016

Paul and Anne Ehrlich, The Annihilation of Nature: A Clarion Call for Engagement and Action, May 18, 2016

Astronaut Steve Smith, Earth Beautiful: Reflections from Space, Apr. 14, 2016, Video

Peter Gleick, Water and California: Where Do We Go From Here?, Feb. 17, 2016

Gretchen Daily, Harmonizing People and Nature: A New Business Model, Jan. 20, 2016

Jared Blumenfeld, Fossil Fuels, Power Plants, and Greenhouse Gasses: Next Steps for the EPA, Apr. 30, 2015

Wade Crowfoot, Climate and California: An Update from Sacramento, Apr. 15, 2015

Felicia Marcus, California Water 2015: Where are we and where do we need to go?, Mar. 5, 2015