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Syracuse University helps focus nation on solutions to global warming
Syracuse University helps focus nation on solutions to global warmingJanuary 22, 2008Sara Millersemortim@syr.edu
On Jan. 31, Syracuse University and the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF) will jointly present a day of speakers and events focused on bringing attention to the issues and solutions for climate change. This on-campus series of programs coordinates with the nationwide Focus the Nation educational initiative taking place that day, during which more than 1,000 colleges and universities, high schools and middle schools, civic organizations and businesses will create a dialogue with the nation’s decision makers about human-induced climate change. A teach-in on global warming solutions on an unprecedented scale, Focus the Nation is centered on the three most essential pillars for today’s youth to embrace solutions to global warming: education, civic engagement and leadership.
SU’s participation in Focus the Nation is sponsored by the Office of Academic Affairs and the University Sustainability Action Coalition (USAC), a group of faculty, staff and students from SU and SUNY-ESF committed to effecting a significant change in the campus culture concerning energy use, recycling and other aspects of sustainability.
“Focus the Nation is unique in its emphasis on engaging faculty and students from all disciplines in the common project of meeting the challenges that humanity will face because of global warming,” says Rachel May, director of the Office of Environment and Society at SU and SUNY-ESF and one of the event co-chairs. “We hope that participants here will feel energized by the national scope of the event and by the intensity of local involvement, from administrators, politicians, industry representatives, faculty, staff and students, who have all come together to build this remarkable program. We also want people to be aware that we have worked hard to keep the environmental impact of the event itself to a minimum in our use of materials and transportation.”
On the evening of Jan. 30, SU and SUNY-ESF will show a national Focus the Nation webcast, “2% Solution,” produced by the National Wildlife Federation and aired by the Earth Day Network. The webcast panelists will include Stanford climate scientist Steve Schneider; Hunter Lovins, CEO of Natural Capitalism and environmental justice leader; and Van Jones, executive director of the Ella Baker Center in Oakland, Calif. The webcast will be shown at 8 p.m. in Marshall Auditorium at SUNY-ESF’s Marshall Hall, the Goldstein Student Center (South Campus) and Day Hall. The Marshall Hall screening will be introduced by WSYR-TV’s Dave Eichorn beginning at 7:30 p.m.
On Jan. 31, a daylong program of Focus the Nation events begins; Hendricks Chapel will host the morning events and speakers while the Maxwell School Public Events Room will be the afternoon location; several break-out sessions will be held throughout the day at various campus locations. Oren Lyons, Turtle Clan faithkeeper, Onondaga Nation member and distinguished professor at the University at Buffalo, will begin the program at 8:30 a.m. at Hendricks with a spiritual invocation, and SU Chancellor and President Nancy Cantor will follow with introductory remarks.
At 9 a.m., William Rees, of the University of British Columbia’s School of Community and Regional Planning (SCARP), will deliver the opening keynote address.
Rees’ teaching and research focuses on public policy and planning implications of global environmental trends and the necessary ecological conditions for sustainable socioeconomic development. Rees is the originator of the “ecological footprint” concept and wrote the book on it, “Our Ecological Footprint” (New Society Publishers, 1996), with his former student, Mathis Wackernagel. Rees is also a founding member and recent past-president of the Canadian Society for Ecological Economics, a co-investigator in the Global Integrity Project aimed at defining the ecological and political requirements for biodiversity preservation, a fellow of the Post-Carbon Institute and a founding fellow of the One Earth Initiative.
At 10 a.m., David Goldstein of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and J. Scott Ryan, engagement manager of global energy at Corning Inc. will give students, faculty and staff the opportunity to learn how human-induced climate change can be curtailed with a more concerted focus on energy conservation with their presentation, “Tapping the Potential of Energy Efficiency.” Vice Chancellor and Provost Eric Spina will moderate this discussion.
Goldstein has co-directed the Energy Program at the NRDC since 1980 and is author of “Saving Energy, Growing Jobs” (Bay Tree, 2007), which illustrates how environmental protection promotes economic growth, profitability, innovation and competition. Goldstein has received a MacArthur Award and the Leo Szilard Award for Physics in the Public Interest, helped to develop and refine energy efficiency standards for new buildings, participated in California Energy Commission proceedings to establish America’s first appliance efficiency standards, organized a consortium of utilities that is currently developing programs to commercialize a new generation of super-efficient appliances, and coordinated a broad coalition of stakeholders to develop legislative proposals for tax incentives that promote the market toward energy-efficient buildings.
Ryan is the engagement manager for Corning’s Global Energy Group and Energy Manager for its Business Services Division. In 2005 and 2006, Ryan led the highly successful energy team that more than doubled its goals for energy reduction. In recognition of the team’s success, they won Corning’s James R. Houghton Quality Award for Improvement for their division.
At 11 a.m., additional breakouts and workshops will be offered. Some of the topics to be addressed by local experts, SU faculty and staff include how the media portray climate change, the future of water, the potential benefits of energy conservation, research priorities for ecologists, and the role of universities in responding to climate change. For a full breakout schedule, visit http://focusthenation.syr.edu.
At 1 p.m., Maxwell School Dean Mitchel Wallerstein will introduce the afternoon session, “Turning Up the Volume about the Ethical Dimensions of Climate Change.” Don Brown, director of the Pennsylvania Consortium for Interdisciplinary Environmental Policy and senior counsel for Sustainable Development for the State of Pennsylvania, will present the keynote on this topic. Brown is also a senior research associate at the Rock Ethics Institute and Penn State University.
The Pennsylvania Consortium for Interdisciplinary Environmental Policy is an organization composed of 52 colleges and universities in Pennsylvania as well as the Pennsylvania Departments of Environmental Protection and Conservation and Natural Resources. Brown has also served in a number of senior legal and policy positions with the Pennsylvania and New Jersey environmental programs, worked as an engineer, and taught philosophy, environmental law and sustainable development at a number of universities. He has written and spoken extensively on the need to integrate environmental ethics, science, economics and law. His most recent book is “American Heat: Ethical Problems with the United States Response to Global Warming” (Rowman & Littlefield, 2002).
At 2 p.m., additional breakout sessions and workshops will be offered. At 3:30 p.m., Barry Rabe, professor of public policy in the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan, will present the keynote address, “States on Steroids: The Intergovernmental Odyssey of American Climate Policy,” and discuss how individual states are addressing global warming.
Rabe has received the U.S. EPA’s Climate Protection Award for his groundbreaking research on how and why U.S. states are taking the lead on climate protection. Much of his recent research examines state and regional development of policies to reduce greenhouse gases, which has been conducted in collaboration with the Brookings Institution and the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. Recent publications include a 2004 Brookings book, “Statehouse and Greenhouse: The Evolving Politics of American Climate Change Policy,” which received the 2005 Lynton Keith Caldwell Award from the American Political Science Association in recognition of the best book published on environmental politics and policy in the past three years.
At 4:30 p.m., SUNY-ESF President Cornelius Murphy will lead a roundtable with students and policy makers. New York State Assemblyman Bill Magnarelli, Syracuse Mayor Matthew J. Driscoll and representatives from local, regional and federal environmental agencies will be on hand to learn about students’ priorities for addressing climate change.
In the evening, a special, high-energy, student-focused event will be held in the Schine Underground featuring Alex Steffen, executive editor and co-founder of Worldchanging, which has become the most widely read sustainability-related publication on the Internet, with an archive of more than 7,000 articles by leading thinkers around the world. Steffen was also the editor of Worldchanging’s highly successful first book, “Worldchanging: A User’s Guide for the 21st Century” (Abrams, 2006). He will speak at 8 p.m., with live music by popular local bands before and after his presentation. Tickets for this event are free and can be obtained in advance or during the show at the Schine Box Office.
On the SU Quad, passersby will notice a large structure representing a ton of carbon dioxide gas (CO2), the most important greenhouse gas causing global warming. Rick Martin of the Office of Energy and Computing Management, who designed the structure, estimates that each SU student is responsible for putting over 10 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere annually.
The final piece of Focus the Nation’s program will be the “Choose Your Future” vote. All students, faculty, staff and community participants nationwide will be encouraged to vote on what they think are the top five solutions from a list of 10-15 that will be available Jan. 21 at http://www.focusthenation.org. Vote results will be presented nationally in mid February. All students who vote on the “Choose Your Future” ballot will be eligible to win a $10,000 leadership scholarship for a project to be completed by end of August.
For more information and a full schedule of the Focus the Nation events organized by SU and SUNY-ESF, visit http://focusthenation.syr.edu. For information on the nationwide Focus the Nation program, visit http://focusthenation.org.