Institute for Future


26 May 2017

Global and national challenges associated with our coasts and oceans demand a change in the way we conduct and communicate our science.

In the 21st Century Anthropocene, we are just beginning to understand how incredibly important our oceans are to us as a species and the scale of impact we are having on their function and health. Oceans cover 70% of the planet, are a dominant force in the global climate system; a source of food and livelihoods for billions; an increasing source of wealth for developing and developed nations; a sink for CO2 and a raft of other pollutants; a totem for indigenous people from the tropics to the poles; and a valued environmental playground for those of us lucky enough to have access to healthy and beautiful coastal ecosystems.

Over the last 100 years, marine scientists have been on a journey of discovery, in many ways mirroring the quest by astronomers as they explore the universe. Marine science have learned a great deal, yet we have still mapped less of the ocean floor than we have of the surface of Mars and the moon. Although investment in development of technology and systems for monitoring ocean function and health are inadequate, over the last 25 years, marine scientists have begun to discover and document profound changes to the physics, biogeochemistry and ecology of oceans at all latitudes. Ocean warming, acidification, resource over-exploitation and degraded ecosystems from the equator to the poles threaten livelihoods, economies and the delicately balanced Earth system.

Over the last 25 years, we’ve spent a great deal of time describing the problems, in more and more detail, and ringing the bells of impending doom. In this presentation, the speaker will make the case for how science needs to shift its focus more onto developing and driving solutions to the grand challenges we face, and provide ideas on how this will require a change in the way in which we build science capability and conduct science Australia and around the world.

About the speaker

John Gunn (Australian Institute of Marine Science)

John Gunn is a marine scientist who has worked for more than thirty years at the interface of science, industry, government and the community. He is currently CEO of the Australian Institute of Marine Science, having previously held the positions of Chief Scientist of the Australian Antarctic Program and Deputy Chief Research of CSIRO’s Marine and Atmospheric Research Division. He is Co-Chair of the UNESCO-Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission Global Ocean Observing System and past Chair of the National Marine Science Committee.

Ensuring that Australian and global marine science communities provide the evidence base required for sustainable development and management of marine industries, conservation of marine ecosystems, and effective adaptation to the growing impacts of climate change has been a personal and professional driver throughout John’s career. He has lead and contributed to the development of institutional, national and global strategies for science focussed on climate change, fisheries, marine science, ocean observations and sustainable development. A central theme throughout John’s development and execution of strategy has been a strong commitment to building Australia’s marine science capability through investment in the skills of individuals, teams and institutions; world leading research infrastructure; and enduring national and international collaborative partnerships. For contributions to leadership and marine science, he was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering in 2014. He has authored/co-authored more than 150 scientific papers and technical reports and presented science findings to more than 100 audiences throughout the world.

26 May 2017 - 26 May 2017
Level 4, P Block, QUT Gardens Point
Kindler Theatre
Institute for Future Environments
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John Gunn, Australian Institute of Marine Science


Institute for Future Environments

  • Phone: 3138 9500
  • Int. phone: +61 7 3138 9500
  • Fax: +61 7 3138 4438
  • Level 6, P Block
    Gardens Point
    2 George St
    Brisbane QLD 4000
  • Postal address:
    Institute for Future Environments
    GPO Box 2434
    Brisbane QLD 4001