UC San Diego SearchMenu

Charles David Keeling

Our Heritage of Sustainability

A UC San Diego scientist made a discovery in 1961 that shocked the world and sparked the global sustainability movement. Today, we’ve transformed our heritage of foresight and innovation into a living laboratory where we study sustainability.

The Keeling Curve

In the late 1950s, UCSD researcher Dr. Charles David Keeling developed a tool that measured carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. Working with Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Keeling established a lab and started tracking C02.

By 1961, Keeling proved that atmospheric CO2 was rising dramatically. Long before “global climate change” became buzzwords, his “Keeling Curve” marked a key moment in science that helped spark initial public awareness that people indeed have an impact on the planet. Today, Professor Ralph Keeling carries on his father’s work at Scripps.

Scientific legacy becomes a living laboratory

living lab

In the years since 1961, researchers, faculty, and students have continued to investigate environmental challenges of all kinds. They’ve also realized that UC San Diego is a great place to put ideas for solutions into practice to see how they work.

Look around our campus and you’ll see:

  • Hundreds of solar panels producing energy on building tops
  • Thousands of passengers riding our biodiesel shuttles
  • Sensors that use sea breezes to help regulate water and energy use, and much, much more.

In our living laboratory, everyone contributes and everyone benefits as great ideas flourish. With other individuals, universities, companies, and governments around the world, we amplify the message and mission of sustainability.

We invite you to join us!