Posts Tagged ‘Climate Change’

On March 11 and 12 the World Affairs Council hosted WorldAffairs 2010, a day and a half of incisive analysis on four key global issues: the economy, climate change and the environment, development and poverty, and global security. Videos from our plenary and breakout sessions as well as interviews with speakers and our Take Action Reception partners are now available. Watch them now at www.livestream.com/worldaffairs2010.

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Climate change, power struggles, and the potential for economic development are bringing the Arctic front and center on the global stage. This Tuesday, March 23, geopolitics expert Charles Emmerson will speak at the Council in conversation with NewsHour’s  Elizabeth Farnsworth to explore the history and tenuous future of the Arctic. A recent interview in The Independent tracks Emmerson’s life-long obession with the region.

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Lester Brown, founder and president of the Earth Policy Institute and author of the recently published Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization, spoke at the Council last Monday night about climate change and food insecurity. Brown acknowledges many problems with modern society, but is especially concerned with global food security, calling it “the weak link in our system.” He cited falling water tables and the melting of the polar ice caps as primary  challenges to food production, but also named population growth and greater reliance on grain-based foods as other important factors. Brown has studied  past civilizations that have declined and collapsed and has come to the conclusion that food security issues were behind many of these collapses. He worries that our modern global civilization could face the same problem and urged the audience to take action. Brown said that we all know the dangers global warming is having on the planet but that we should be most concerned with saving global civilization.

You can listen to the entire program here at our online audio archive. Learn more about what is being done to combat climate change by visiting the website of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Finally, be sure to attend our program on December 2, “Inside the Copenhagen Climate Negotiations,” with Daniel Kammen and Mark Levine.

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Robert Musil, author of Hope for a Heated Planet and Senior Fellow at American University’s Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies, joined the Council Tuesday night to present strategies for combating climate change. Musil said he prefers to be an optimistic environmentalist, rather than  emphasize  “gloom and doom” like so much of what’s found in today’s media. He acknowledged many problems that the world is facing, such as the spread of malaria and the rise of sea-levels, but spent the majority of his time focusing on positive solutions, like the increasing global investment in alternative energy and the changes the Obama administration is making in environmental policy. Musil also discussed the current Boxer-Kerry “cap and trade” bill that is making its way through the Senate and he encouraged the audience to write Senator Boxer to ask her to keep plans for new nuclear plants out of the bill. However, of all the solutions Musil has for fighting climate change, his biggest is getting the general public involved. He cited numerous groups all across the political spectrum that are doing good things for the environment and said the only way we can slow global warming is to become involved ourselves.

To listen to the full program with Robert Musil, please visit our complete online archive here. If you would like to get involved with a group taking action against climate change, check out these organizations mentioned by Musil: 350.org, Earth Day Network, Power Shift, Interfaith Power and Light Campaign, and Save Our Evironment.

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Next Monday the Council will be joined by Lester Brown, President of the Earth Policy Institute and renowned environmentalist. He will be speaking about two pressing issues: climate change and global food insecurity.

Last week, the New York TimesRoom for Debate blog featured the opinions of six experts about biotech food and its potential to cure world hunger. Before coming to our program with Brown, read what they had to say about ending hunger here.

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Steven Chu, our soon-to-be Energy Secretary, in his office at Berkeley

Yesterday, President-Elect Obama announced his new energy and climate change team – the group that will be collectively responsible for achieving Obama’s stated goals for the environment, including huge reductions in global warming emissions and a dramatic restructuring of our national energy system. For his Energy Secretary, Obama named Steven Chu, the director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Nobel Prize winner, and keynote speaker at our conference on climate change back in September. Dr. Chu’s main tasks will be to upgrade our electrical power delivery system, manage our nuclear weapon’s stockpile, and direct research and development of alternative energy sources. Experts, including Scott Segal of the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council, seem excited about Chu’s nomination, quoted in the NY Times saying that he brings “an understanding of the art of the possible in energy technology,” which will be critical to the development of a cost-effective climate change policy.

One potential point of contention between Chu and Obama may arise around corn-based ethanol. Obama has advocated for this as a source of alternative energy, but at a meeting of state agricultural departments this fall, Chu knocked it for its upfront energy costs and competition with food supply.

At our conference in September, Chu spoke about the cutting-edge technologies they’ve developed in his lab toward reducing green house gas emissions. Watch his talk here.

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Today, the Council on Foreign Relations hosted the first session of the Center for Preventative Action Symposium on preventative priorities for the next administration. Madeleine K. Albright, Principal, The Albright Group and former U.S. Secretary of State, moderated the event with CFR President Richard N. Haass. Interestingly, panels throughout the day did not focus heavily on the global financial crisis, threats posed by Al-Qaeda, wars in Iraq or Afghanistan, Iranian or North Korean nuclear ambitions, climate change, or any other major threats that the news has focused on so heavily. Rather, the day focused on the importance of crisis prevention – of anticipating threats not even yet on the horizon, rather than on immediate issues. Madeleine Albright and other panelists make a thought-provoking case.

Watch the event here.

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