25 years of PIK - PIK Statements

Hans Joachim Schellnhuber,
Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research

„When I developed the founding concept of PIK in 1991, I presumed that after 25 years the Institute would not exist anymore, and that I myself would again engage in fundamental questions of theoretical physics. Because either the climate problem would soon turn out to be a minor challenge that could be solved with standard measures. Or it would be identified as an existential challenge to humankind, an insight that would trigger definitive countermeasures of the international community.

"Today, however, PIK still exists, and its findings are more sought-after than ever before. Because on the one hand by now we do know about the civilization-threatening impacts of human-made global warming. And on the other hand an appropriate reaction of society to this risk of self-combustion is not in sight. In this regard, the 25th jubilee of PIK is also a tragic event. Yet these 25 years do also stand for the bright and passionate work of hundreds of scientists at the Potsdam Institute. Due to their work, PIK might indeed have become redundant in another 25 years – for the good of the planet.”

Ottmar Edenhofer,
Chief Economist of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research

„I have been working at PIK since the year 2000; and every time there were offers for opportunities elsewhere, I decided again in favour of PIK. Evidently, PIK has become my intellectual home. With its combination of natural and social sciences as well as excellence and relevance, our institute is quite unique. But despite much research progress, climate politics are still not yet on the right path, and our achievements as pathfinders are more called for than ever."

Sven Arndt,
Head of Administration

"PIK's jubilee is a good occasion to pause for a moment and recap the past 25 years. My experiences at PIK in the relatively short time of only 7 years have shown, how dynamical the institute has developed among all working areas. The scientific achievements - the heart of our institute - are enlightening, but also the science-supporting divisions such as the press team, the science coordination, the coordination of research divisions, the IT, or the administration are contributing greatly - without all this, PIK would not have succeeded to set important frameworks for science like i.e. the joined accommodation with the new research building here at the Telegraphenberg or the new super computer. 

"I would therefore like to explicitly thank everybody working with great commitment in the science-supporting areas so that scientists at the institute are provided with the ideal conditions facilitating their creative work. I am looking forward to keep working together with you!"

Karsten Kramer,
Head of IT-Services

"A rookie, fresh from University, I was asked by John Schellnhuber in 1991 if I'd feel able to spent a seven figure budget on IT equipment for a new scientific institute at short notice.  With  total disregard for risk, which only young people are subject to, I agreed. A few years later it became a running gag that my colleagues and I would finally have solved each and every IT problem and that everything would soon run automatically. Nothing challenging left for us to do. But quite the contrary happened. Digital became the new normal. Cloud computing, big data analytics and breakthroughs in artificial intelligence are posed to change not only science but society as a whole. Working at PIK  today feels every bit as exciting  as  in those early days."

Wolfgang Lucht,
Co-Chair Research Domain Earth System Analysis

"The wonderful thing about PIK is that here, the thought process about Earth and us humans never stops. PIK is an ever again exciting, very much alive complex of us all who are the body and soul of the institute and the remarkable personality of our director. I do not know many places where first-rate research goes as strongly hand-in-hand with a feeling of concrete responsibility, and where enormous freedoms in research systematically lead to strategic answers to critical questions in society. It is our ideas and concepts that, on a foundation of science, alter history: such as those of the planetary boundaries, tipping points in the Earth system, decarbonisation of the energy system and transgenerational justice."

Stefan Rahmstorf,
Co-Chair Research Domain Earth System Analysis

"I joined PIK in February 1996 as a postdoc, against the advice of senior German colleagues. In hindsight it was the best professional decision I've ever made. PIK thrived, became a world leader and my intellectual home. I was able to be myself here and feel supported. Life could be great, except for one thing. When I joined PIK, the CO2 level in the atmosphere was 360 ppm. Now it is 405 ppm with no end in sight. There is lots more work ahead!"

Hermann Lotze-Campen,
Chair Research Domain Climate Impacts and Vulnerabilities

"I work at PIK since 2001 - so I have intensely experienced half of the past 25 great PIK-years. Before I joined the Potsdam Institute, I was on a 'personal quest' and I am very glad that I found PIK with its impressing characters and passionate scientists back then. 16 years ago I could never have imagined what progress and and what successes PIK - and I personally - would achieve - and how indispensable our joint work is today more than ever before, if we aim to limit the consequences of climate change to a controllable dimension. I am really looking forward to the next 25 years together ."

Anders Levermann,
Co-Chair Research Domain Sustainable Solutions

"'The Potsdam Institute is a blueprint of how science will be done in the future.' that was said not by me but by a long standing member of our scientific advisory board, a renowned US physicist. And he did not mean 'how CLIMATE science will be done in the future' - he said science in general. I feel very happy to be part of and contribute to this Institute that is showing that an interdisciplinary approach can be more powerful than disciplinary research, and that solving a real-world problem can be more challenging than addressing a laboratory situation."

Jürgen Kurths,
Co-Chair Research Domain Transdisciplinary Concepts and Methods

"I came to PIK in 2008, having had extensive experience at universities and within the Max Planck Society and the Academy of Sciences. My high expectations have been exceeded by far. PIK is a unique place where truly inter- and transdisciplinary research is lived, ground-breaking ideas and risk-taking projects are critically encouraged, and outstanding results are honestly appreciated. To further enhance this excellent environment and to further investigate the earth system in multiple facets - in an as integral way as possible - on the highest scientific level is a challenge to all of us."

Helga Weisz,
Co-Chair Research Domain Transdisciplinary Concepts and Methods

"My first recognition of PIK dates back to the late 1990s, when I associated PIK with the Syndrom Concept. I was a PhD student in Vienna fighting fiercely to convince my colleagues from physics, ecology, economics and sociology that this strange concept of industrial metabolism was essential to understand the connection between climate change and societal transformations. More than ten years later I started as co-chair at PIK and found myself in the middle of breathtaking developments at the frontier of sustainability science. Another ten years later I still think PIK is the best place to be if you are passionate about interdisciplinary science for a global sustainability transition."