Professor invited to discuss combating climate change at national TED talk

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — David Titley, professor of international affairs and of practice in the Department of Meteorology and Atmospheric Science at Penn State, will discuss the role the military could play in combating climate change during the TED 2017 conference.

Titley will join seven other speakers from 11 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. on Wednesday, April 26, for Session 6: Planet, Protection, hosted by Chris Anderson, the owner of TED, a nonprofit organization that provides idea-based talks. Other guests in the 11-session series include tennis professional Serena Williams, television commentator Gale King and entrepreneur Elon Musk.

Titley will describe how climate change poses an ever-accelerating risk to our national security. His talk will concentrate on the geo-strategic impacts of climate change and how changes in the Arctic today are affecting the security of our allies, neighbors and ourselves in that region. 

While the Department of Defense is aware of these risks, Titley said we need to take out an “insurance policy to manage the very real chance that these risks are worse than expected.”

“I’m humbled and honored to have been asked to present the issue of climate and national security at TED 2017,” Titley said. “Many people think of climate change as a distant, abstract environmental issue, but the impacts are being felt today. Climate change and its effects will be a major security driver for the rest of all our lives.”

TED organizers say the event will explore the world’s most pressing questions and imagine what our shared future might look like. The conference addresses how people will respond to combat these pressing issues through teamwork and the interaction of ideas. For more on the speakers or to watch a stream of the discussions, visit

Titley, a retired rear admiral, is founding director of the Penn State Center for Solutions to Weather and Climate Risk. He earned his bachelor of science in meteorology from Penn State, where he also joined the Navy ROTC program as an undergraduate. The four years of military service he intended turned into 32 years with the U.S. Navy.

While serving at the Pentagon during his last three years on active duty, Titley initiated and led the Navy’s Task Force on Climate Change. Upon his retirement from the Navy, Titley served as the deputy undersecretary of commerce for operations, the chief operating officer position at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Titley joined the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences in 2013.

David Titley, professor of international affairs and of practice in the Department of Meteorology and Atmospheric Science at Penn State. Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

Last Updated April 24, 2017