Upcoming Events

Tue 12/16

Image - Dr. Jane Lubchenco: The Stephen Schneider Award

Dr. Jane Lubchenco: The Stephen Schneider Award

Date: Tue, December 16, 2014
Time: 6:00 PM
Former Administrator for the NOAA

Climate Denial, Education, and Politics

Naomi Oreskes, Professor of the History of Science, Harvard; Co-Author, Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco to Global Warming
Joe Romm, Founding Editor, Climate Progress; Author, Language Intelligence: Lessons on Persuasion from Jesus, Shakespeare, Lincoln, and Lady Gaga
Eugenie Scott, Chair, National Center for Science Education

The story of human-caused climate disruption includes tales of distortion and deception that date to the Cold War. That history is told in a new documentary film from Jeff Skoll based on the book Merchants of Doubt. More recently, the battle for public opinion about global warming has also played out in conflicts over teaching climate in schools. In the political realm, most Americans accept climate change and want action, but that attitude is not reflected in Congress. This opening discussion will explore the messaging wars over climate with a historian, an educator and a leading communicator.

Climate One Minute Stories
Michael Mann, Professor of Meteorology, Penn State University; Author, The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines
Ben Santer, Climate Researcher, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory 
Dr. Jane Lubchenco: The Stephen Schneider Award
Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D. Ecology, Harvard; Former Administrator, NOAA; Former President of AAAS
As droughts, fires and rising temperatures continue to make headlines, 2014 is on track to be another record year for extreme weather. No one has had a better view of raging weather than Jane Lubchenco. While she ran the NOAA, the country experienced nearly 800 tornadoes, suffered Super Storm Sandy and other major hurricanes, raging floods and tsunamis. Scientists say that burning fossil fuels increases the likelihood of such weird weather and is having devastating impacts on oceans. What does the latest science say about climate impacts on the U.S. economy and ecosystems? How did science become a political issue? We’ll discuss these questions and more with the person who led the creation of the most ambitious National Climate Assessment ever conducted.

Dr. Lubchenco will receive the $15,000 Stephen Schneider Award for Outstanding Climate Science Communication, awarded each year in memory of the late Stanford scientist Stephen H. Schneider. Dr. Schneider was a founding father of modern climate science, a fearless communicator and the first member of the Climate One Advisory Council. He passed away in 2010. Shortly thereafter Climate One established the award to recognize people who create new understanding in the physical and social sciences and communicate their discoveries to a broad public. Previous recipients are Richard Alley of Penn State University, former NASA scientist James Hansen and Nicholas Stern, former chief economist of the World Bank.

Wed 12/17

Image - Explore (and Taste!) The Essence of Wine

Explore (and Taste!) The Essence of Wine

Date: Wed, December 17, 2014
Time: 6:00 PM
Wine’s mystery and magic!

Alder Yarrow, James Beard-nominated Writer, Vinography.com; Author, The Essence of Wine

Wine’s mystery and magic comes, in part, from its ability to capture so many different aromas and flavors in a glass. Local San Francisco writer Yarrow has just published a unique volume highlighting and celebrating the many essences of wine that make it so special. The coffee-table book is the result of Alder’s collaboration with food photographer Leigh Beisch, who regularly shoots for Williams-Sonoma and Taste magazine. Join Yarrow for a wine tasting and discussion about the wonderful essence of wine.

Image - Socrates Café

Socrates Café

Date: Wed, December 17, 2014
Time: 6:00 PM
Discussion of philosophical issues.

The Humanities Forum brings Socrates Café to The Commonwealth Club. It will be held every third Wednesday evening for the discussion of philosophical issues. At each monthly meeting the group's facilitator, Bob Enteen, will invite participants to suggest topics, which are then voted on. The person who proposed the most popular topic will briefly explain why she or he considers the subject interesting and important. An open discussion will follow, ending with a summary. Everyone is welcome to attend.

Thu 12/18

Image - Russian Hill Walking Tour

Russian Hill Walking Tour

Date: Thu, December 18, 2014
Time: 1:45 PM
An active Commonwealth Club Neighborhood Adventure!

Join a more active Commonwealth Club Neighborhood Adventure! Russian Hill is a magical area with secret gardens and amazing views. Join Rick Evans for a two-hour hike up hills and staircases and learn about the history of this neighborhood. See where great artists and architects lived and worked, and walk down residential streets where some of the most historically significant houses in the Bay Area are located.

Mon 1/5

Go to Silent Voices: People with Mental Disorders on the Street

Silent Voices: People with Mental Disorders on the Street

Date: Mon, January 05, 2015
Time: 5:15 PM
Stories and images that are intimate and gritty.

Robert Okin, M.D., Chief of Service, San Francisco General Hospital’s Department of Psychiatry; Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, UCSF; Vice Chair, UCSF School of Medicine's Department of Psychiatry

We avert our eyes when we meet them on the street: homeless, mentally ill people with hand-scrawled signs, shopping carts and cardboard boxes. Still, we're curious: How did they end up on the street? How do they survive the privations of such a life? What combination of vulnerabilities, traumas, drugs, mental disorders, and financial catastrophes left them on the street? And how do some, against all odds, manage to climb out of this desperate situation? Seeking answers, Dr. Robert Okin spent two years speaking with and photographing mentally ill homeless men and women. Casting a light on their humanity, he masterfully brings these people to life with stories and images that are at once intimate and gritty.

Go to Book Discussion of The Flamethrowers by Rachael Kushner

Book Discussion of The Flamethrowers by Rachael Kushner

Date: Mon, January 05, 2015
Time: 5:30 PM
Huge swaths of politics and history!

In The Flamethrowers, Kushner skillfully navigates huge swaths of politics and history, intimately intersecting the vivid lives of her characters with the external reality in which they move. At the novel’s fulcrum is Reno, a young Nevadan who moves to New York with the vague idea of making it in the art world and finds herself jarred between the chaos of 1970s New York and Italy. All the while, Kushner fearlessly tackles the larger questions, asking what society can afford of its individuals – and where art fits in with everything else. Join us for what promises to be a lively discussion of this dynamic novel.

Thu 1/8

Image - North Beach Walking Tour

North Beach Walking Tour

Date: Thu, January 08, 2015
Time: 1:45 PM
Explore vibrant North Beach with Rick Evans!

Join another Commonwealth Club Neighborhood Adventure! Explore vibrant North Beach with Rick Evans during a two-hour walk through this neighborhood with a colorful past, where food, culture, history and unexpected views all intersect in an Italian “urban village.” In addition to learning about Beat generation hangouts, you’ll discover authentic Italian cathedrals and coffee shops. 

Image - The Home that Watches Over Your Parents

The Home that Watches Over Your Parents

Date: Thu, January 08, 2015
Time: 5:15 PM
The authors discuss this latest report.

Richard Caro, D.Phil., Scientist; Silicon Valley Entrepreneur
Mary Hulme, Gerontologist; Care Manager

Like many of us, the speakers (a scientist and a geriatric care manager) were concerned about elderly family members who spent a lot of time at home alone. What would happen if they fell and hurt themselves? Or if they started to become forgetful and accidentally left the stove on and started a fire?

Hearing of the new class of products that use sensors embedded around the house to keep a friendly eye on a person and report back only if something is wrong, Mary and Richard wanted to find out what products were available, which worked best, and for which life circumstances each was suitable. Many hours of research later, they found that there are lots of products in this new emerging category and that some are particularly suited for specific life situations.

In this talk, they'll share some of the insights they learned on their journey of discovery, and explain how to decide whether these emerging products might be suitable for someone you care about and how to pick the right one.
Go to Explore the World from The Commonwealth Club Planning Meeting

Explore the World from The Commonwealth Club Planning Meeting

Date: Thu, January 08, 2015
Time: 5:30 PM
International Relations Member-Led Forum

All interested Club members are welcome to attend our bimonthly, one-hour planning meetings of the International Relations Member-Led Forum. We focus on Europe, Latin America, Africa and worldwide topics. Join us to discuss current international issues and plan programs for the New Year.

Mon 1/12

Image - Good Food,Great Business: How Food Startups Take Good Ideas from Concept to Success

Good Food,Great Business: How Food Startups Take Good Ideas from Concept to Success

Date: Mon, January 12, 2015
Time: 12:00 PM
Balance “good” with growth!

Susie Wyshak, Author, Good Food, Great Businessss
Kathryn Lukas, CEO, Farmhouse Culture
Lisa Murphy, Co-founder and Chief Sauce Maker, Sosu Sauces
Jill Litwin, Founder and CEO, Peas of Mind
Grace Erickson, General Manager, Ocho Candy
Elizabeth Ü, Author, Raising Dough: The Complete Guide to Financing a Socially Responsible Food Business

Ready to turn your creative expertise with artisan foods into a thriving good food business? Join Susie Wyshak and a panel of smart, innovative women entrepreneurs who have done just that. Learn how these foodie forerunners put their ideas in motion, funded their ventures, kept going through the inevitable peaks and valleys of running a business – and how they continue to balance “good” with growth.

Image - Machtinger on Mercy in Mozart's Menuetto-Allegretto

Machtinger on Mercy in Mozart's Menuetto-Allegretto

Date: Mon, January 12, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM
Steven Machtinger, Attorney & Violinist

Steven Machtinger, Attorney; Violist; Independent Mozart Scholar

Monday Night Philosophy returns to the exploration of the philosophical concepts that are encoded into Mozart's chamber music. In this lecture-performance, we will hear how Mozart, through the use of symbolic motifs, touches on themes of judgment and mercy in the Menuetto-Allegretto movement of his String Quintet in G minor, K. 516.

Tue 1/13

Go to Steven Brill

Steven Brill

Date: Tue, January 13, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM

Steven Brill, Journalist; Author, America’s Bitter Pill: Money, Politics, Back-Room Deals, and the Fight to Fix Our Broken Healthcare System; Twitter @StevenBrill

Brill was the author of Time’s March 4, 2013 special report, “Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us,” for which he won the 2014 National Magazine Award for Public Service. His new book is the fly-on-the-wall story of the fight to pass and implement the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. He goes in-depth to explore what he sees as the profiteering of the health-care industry, America’s largest industry — larger than the entire economy of France.

Brill also teaches journalism at Yale, where he founded the Yale Journalism Initiative to encourage and enable talented young people to become journalists. He has written for The New Yorker, Time, and The New York Times Magazine.

Wed 1/14

Image - Humanity in the Modern World

Humanity in the Modern World

Date: Wed, January 14, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM
With Robert G. Aptekar, M.D., and Susan Weiss, Photographer

Robert G. Aptekar, M.D., Orthopedic Surgeon
Susan Weiss, Photographer

Dr. Robert Aptekar is an orthopedic surgeon who provides essential services annually to a charity hospital in Cambodia. He performs surgeries, trains the medical staff and works to bring awareness of health problems in the area. Susan Weiss accompanied Aptekar to document his work and the community in which he works. Aptekar will discuss his experiences, accompanied by the photographs of Susan Weiss.

Image - Dr. Rajendra Pachauri: Political Science

Dr. Rajendra Pachauri: Political Science

Date: Wed, January 14, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM
Conversation with the chief of the international climate scientists.  

Rajendra Pachauri, Chair, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
Other panelists TBA

The scientific consensus that burning fossil fuels is disrupting the Earth’s biological and economic systems has become even stronger since Rajendra Pachauri accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 on behalf of international scientists. Significant progress has been made since then in clean energy technologies, especially solar power, which is galloping along in Germany, the United States and elsewhere. But political progress has been halting, with Australia and other countries lurching forward and backward.

What does the latest climate science tell us about the present-day risks of continuing business as usual? With climate skeptics running the United States Senate, what are the prospects for an international climate deal in Paris next year? The new national political landscape makes California even more important as a climate leader. Can California drive technological and financial innovation that makes a difference?

Join us for a rare conversation with the chief of the international climate scientists.  

Image - Week to Week Political Roundtable and Member Social

Week to Week Political Roundtable and Member Social 1/14/15

Date: Wed, January 14, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM
The biggest, most controversial and sometimes the oddest political issues.

Panelists TBA 

This program was originally scheduled for January 15.

It's a new year at Week to Week, and we'll explore the biggest, most controversial, and sometimes the oddest political issues with expert commentary by panelists who are smart, are civil, and have a good sense of humor. Join our panelists for informative and engaging commentary on political and other major news, audience discussion of the week’s events, and our news quiz!

And come early before the program to meet other smart and engaged individuals and discuss the news over snacks and wine at our member social (open to all attendees). 


Thu 1/15

Image - Waterfront Walk

Waterfront Walk

Date: Thu, January 15, 2015
Time: 1:45 PM
The waterfront neighborhood that surrounds the future Commonwealth Club headquarters!

Join Rick Evans for his new walking tour exploring the historic sites of the waterfront neighborhood that surrounds the location of the future Commonwealth Club headquarters. Hear the dynamic stories of the entrepreneurs, controversial artists and labor organizers who created this recently revitalized neighborhood. This two-hour tour will give you a lively overview of the historic significance of this neighborhood and a close look at the ongoing development

Image - What You Need to Know Before You're 65: A Medicare Primer

What You Need to Know Before You're 65: A Medicare Primer

Date: Thu, January 15, 2015
Time: 5:15 PM
Esther Koch, Medicare Aging Network Partner

Esther Koch, MBA, Medicare Aging Network Partner, The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid

If you are approaching the Medicare qualifying age of 65 and Medicare seems like one big alphabetical maze to you, you are not alone. Learn the ABCs of Medicare, the realities of what you can expect and what not to expect, and what options might be best for you. Here’s what every boomer needs to know to successfully navigate Medicare.

Image - Dr Sylvia Earle and David de Rothschild: Two Generations, One Big Ocean
This event is Rescheduled

Dr. Sylvia Earle and David de Rothschild: Two Generations, One Big Ocean

Date: Thu, January 15, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM
This program is rescheduled to January 21, 2015

Sylvia Earle, Ph.D., Ocean Explorer; National Geographic Explorer in Residence; Founder, Mission Blue and SEAlliance
David de Rothschild, National Geographic Explorer; Environmentalist
Greg Dalton, Founder, Climate One – Moderator

Dr. Sylvia Earle – fondly dubbed “Her Deepness” by the New York Times – holds the women’s record for the deepest ocean dive and has led more than 100 undersea expeditions, logging more than 7,000 hours underwater. Formerly chief scientist of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Dr. Earle has garnered countless international honors and played a leading role as researcher and educator capable of crossing any barrier – whether it be linguistic, geographic or a seemingly impassible ocean depth. In the same vein, David de Rothschild is an adventurer and activist who utilizes voyages to the world's remote reaches to bring attention to global environmental issues – his recent exploits include a 2010 crossing of the Pacific Ocean in The Plastiki, a catamaran constructed out of 12,500 recycled plastic bottles. De Rothschild, who was designated as a Climate Hero and a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum, has also demonstrated his ability to cut across mediums as the founder of MYOO, an online community dedicated to giving nature a voice. We hope you can join us for an intergenerational conversation between these two adventurers devoted to saving the oceans.

Image - Cornel West: A Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Cornel West: A Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Date: Thu, January 15, 2015
Time: 7:00 PM
Celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King’s 84th birthday!

Cornel West, Ph.D.; Professor, Union Theological Seminary; Author, Black Prophetic Fire

Praised by The New York Times for his “ferocious moral vision” and hailed by Newsweek as “an elegant prophet with attitude,” Dr. Cornel West bridges the gap between black and white opinion about the country’s problems. As a leading voice in societal commentary, Dr. West marched in civil rights demonstrations, taught at Yale, Harvard, and Princeton and is currently a professor at Union Theological Seminary. He draws from traditions of Christianity, the black church, Marxism, and neopragmatism. Hear his fiery oration on the past, present and future of race and injustice in the United States today in conjunction with the release of his latest book, The Radical King. Join us to celebrate January 15 as Dr. Martin Luther King’s 86th birthday.

Fri 1/16

Go to Roads of Arabia

Roads of Arabia

Date: Fri, January 16, 2015
Time: 12:00 PM

Dany Chan, Assistant Curator for Exhibition Projects, Asian Art Museum

Chan will give a presentation about the fascinating exhibit, “Roads of Arabia: Archeology and History of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia”, which is at the Asian Art Museum until January 18th. The SF Chronicle described the exhibit as a "Mesmerizing and astonishing journey to the Arabian Peninsula." Some of the more ancient objects were discovered as recently as 40 years ago.