Home > Events > Dr. Keeling’s Curve

Center Theater, Long Beach

Dr. Keeling’s Curve

The Aquarium in partnership with the International City Theatre will present a performance of the play Dr. Keeling’s Curve by playwright George Shea. This one-man show will be performed at the Center Theater by actor Mike Farrell, star of the TV show MASH. Farrell will play scientist Dr. David Keeling, whose research on atmospheric carbon dioxide levels led to the iconic chart now known as the Keeling Curve.

Keeling’s Curve is the most well-known graphed image in all of Earth science history. No single set of measurements demonstrates more clearly than the “Keeling Curve” how humans are influencing our planet. The Keeling Curve—a graph showing the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide since 1958—is based on continuous measurements taken at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii that began under the supervision of Dr. David Keeling. His measurements showed the first significant evidence of rapidly increasing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. When Dr. Keeling first started measuring CO2 in 1955, the CO2 count was 310 parts per million (ppm). On the day of his death in June 2005, it was 382.4 ppm. Many scientists credit Keeling’s graph with first bringing the world’s attention to the ongoing increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. David Keeling died in 2005 of a heart attack at the age of 77. The CO2 monitoring program has been continued by his son, Ralph Keeling. Due in part to the significance of Keeling’s findings, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration began monitoring CO2 levels worldwide in the 1970s. Today, CO2 levels are monitored at about 100 sites around the globe.

Mike Farrell is best known for his role as B.J. Hunnicut on the television series MAS*H. Farrell later produced the film Patch Adams starring Robin Williams. Farrell starred on the television series Providence (1999-2002), appeared as Milton Lang on Desperate Housewives (2007-2008), and plays David Rogers on The Red Road (2014). Farrell most recently appeared on stage in On Golden Pond and Terra Haute (directed by Kirsten Sanderson), and is no stranger to one-person biographical roles, having portrayed Clarence Darrow in Clarence Darrow, and John F. Kennedy in JFK, a one-man show for PBS. He is a longtime activist for political causes, campaigning vigorously against the death penalty. He has also spoken out on behalf of animal rights and against human rights abuses in the U.S., Latin America, and the Middle East.

George Shea, playwright, is an environmental journalist and activist whose other plays have been produced at Playwrights Horizons and Williamstown. Chester Chester Chester, a one-man play about Xerox inventor Chester Carson, was produced in theaters and science museums around the U.S. His work has also appeared on NPR’s AIl Things Considered, and he is the author of many children’s book including a biography of Rachel Carson. During the summer of 2011 he was arrested outside the White House with Bill Mckibben, Dr. James Hansen, and 1,250 other activists protesting the Keystone XL Pipeline.

Dr. Keeling’s Curve
MindfulDigital.com

Bless you for what you’ve done with your wonderful play. Ed Begley

An amazing show…Very important message. Elias Jabbe, EcoSeed

Mike Farrell is brilliant…A perfect mix of serious material and humor. Susan Callery, JPL

A masterful rendition of the history and future of the climate change story. The simple, straightforward character of Dr. Keeling keeps the audience hanging on his words to the very end: a breakthrough performance that was the highlight of the Caltech Earth Week events. Magnus Haw, Teachers for a Sustainable Future

Charles David Keeling was the scientist who famously measured carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere and discovered two important facts: CO2 concentrations are the same everywhere in nature, and they’re steadily rising. The upward-trending plot of measurements he took atop Hawaii’s Mauna Loa volcano became known as the “Keeling Curve” and serves as a keystone in our understanding of global warming and climate change. Bob Silberg, NASA JPL News

One man, even a quiet scientific man, can make a difference in the world. If Keeling had not been so devoted to measuring carbon dioxide, the debate on global warming would be even more mired in polemics than it is now. Instead the ‘Keeling curve’ of carbon dioxide at Mauna Loa has become one of the debate’s few universally acknowledged truths. Wallace Broecker, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University

The saddest irony of Keeling’s relative obscurity is that the Keeling Curve makes global warming so terribly understandable. Its message proclaims the one most basic fact of climate change: Carbon dioxide levels have been climbing and are continuing to rise at an extraordinary and accelerating pace. Revealed by… Keeling’s measurements, it is a message that can’t be missed by any child or adult of reasonable intelligence.George Shea, On Earth