Category Archives: News & Events

Interdisciplinary Climate Change Research Symposium

DISCCRS VIII Interdisciplinary Climate Change Research Symposium
http://disccrs.org/disccrsposter.pdf
October 12-19, 2013
La Foret Conference and Retreat Center (Colorado)

Application Deadline: February 28, 2013
Participation limited to 30 early-career Ph.D. scholars
Airfare and on-site expenses are supported through grants from NSF and NASA
http://disccrs.org

The DISsertations initiative for the advancement of Climate Change ReSearch (DISCCRS, pronounced discourse) hosts symposia for early-career climate change researchers. Our goal is to catalyze international, interdisciplinary collegial networks and foster collaborative interdisciplinary research and dynamic interactions between science and society to enable us to better understand and respond to the myriad challenges posed by climate change.

During the weeklong symposium, 30 competitively selected recent Ph.D. graduates will share their research, engage in discussions with peers, mentors, and funding agency representatives, and hone their teambuilding and communication skills. Most importantly, scholars will depart from the symposium with a collegial peer network that extends across the full range of climate science.

2012 Symposium Report: http://disccrs.org/files/DISCCRS_VII_Symposium_Report.pdf
2012 Symposium Scholars: http://disccrs.org/files/DISCCRS_VII_Symposium_Scholars.pdf

Symposium Eligibility: Ph.D. requirements completed between September 1, 2010 – February 28, 2013 in any field. Applicants should be conducting research relevant to the study of climate change, its impacts, or its societal implications. We encourage applicants from the biological, physical, and social sciences, mathematics, engineering, and other fields. While U.S. citizens and residents have preference, some funds are available for non-U.S. participants.

Symposium Application Instructions: http://disccrs.org/application_instructions

DISCCRS Website: http://disccrs.org

USSEE Board election results

USSEE Board election Results

The 2012 USSEE Board has now been elected, and the results are as follows:

President | Valerie A. Luzadis, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry

Secretary/Treasurer | Robert Richardson, Michigan State University

Member at Large | Ken Bagstad, U.S. Geological Survey
Member at Large | Lisi Krall, SUNY Cortland
Member at Large | Laura Schmitt-Olabisi, Michigan State University
Member at Large | Rumi Shammin, Oberlin College

Student | Mairi-Jane Fox, Colorado State University

Jon Erickson, University of Vermont, also serves on the board as Past President.

Thanks to all USSEE members who voted and participated in the election. And Congratulations to the newly-elected board of USSEE!

Juliet Schor narrates “Visualizing a Plentitude Economy”

Dr. Juliet Schor, Professor of Sociology at Boston College, and recipient of the USSEE 2011 Herman Daly Award narrates “Visualizing a Plentitude Economy“, a fun animation that provides a vision of what a post-consumer society could look like, with people working fewer hours and pursuing re-skilling, homesteading, and small-scale enterprises that can help reduce the overall size and impact of the consumer economy. Produced by the Center for a New American Dream. Narrated by economist and best-selling author Juliet Schor.

Happiness should have greater role in development policy – UN Member States

[Cross-posted from UN News Centre]

On July 19th, the General Assembly called on United Nations Member States to undertake steps that give more importance to happiness and well-being in determining how to achieve and measure social and economic development.

In a resolution adopted without a vote, the Assembly invited countries “to pursue the elaboration of additional measures that better capture the importance of the pursuit of happiness and well-being in development with a view to guiding their public policies.”

The resolution said “the pursuit of happiness is a fundamental human goal” and embodies the spirit of the globally agreed targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Member States also welcomed the offer of Bhutan, which for many years has used gross national happiness rather than gross domestic product (GDP) as a marker of success, to convene a panel discussion on the theme of happiness and well-being during the Assembly’s next session, which begins in September.

The resolution notes that the GDP indicator “was not designed to and does not adequately reflect the happiness and well-being of people in a country,” and “unsustainable patterns of production and consumption can impede sustainable development.”

C2C National Climate Seminar

From Eban Goodstein, Bard Center for Environmental Policy

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

Is it time for the American Clean Energy Party? Join us Wednesday (1/19) at noon eastern, where I will be making the case, as we launch the 2011 National Climate Seminar. I’ll talk about my Grist article on the topic, and then we’ll open up for discussion.

Call-in number: 1-712-432-3100; Conference Code: 253385.

The complete Spring 2011 NCS Lineup (* indicates speaker has been invited):

  • Jan. 19 – Eban Goodstein, Bard CEP
    Time for the American Clean Energy Party?
  • Feb. 2 – Dr. Donald Brown, Penn State
    Climate Ethics: Do the Right Thing
  • Feb. 16 – Andrew Stevenson, Resources for the Future
    A Global Warming Primer on China
  • Mar. 2 – Sheila Watt-Cloutier, Inuit Leader
    Arctic Meltdown
  • Mar. 16 – Bob Langert, McDonald’s Corps
    McDonald’s and Climate
  • Mar. 30 – Team 350, 350.org
    Global Organizing
  • Apr. 13 – Majora Carter*, Consultant
    Green Jobs – Headed Where?
  • Apr. 20 – Sarah Severn (Nike), Bill McKibben (Writer), Wahleah Jones* (Navajo Activist)
    Earthweek Webinar: “Why We Fight”

I’ll also introduce our plans for C2C/EARTHweek, a unique chance to engage your students in high-level dialogue with US senators and members of Congress.

With your help, during Earthweek 2011 C2C will host over a hundred video-dialogues between Campus and Congress on clean energy, climate and jobs. If you want to invite your representative or senator to talk with your campus—virtually— we will move heaven and earth to get him or her engaged for a skype dialogue.

That’s it! Once the call is scheduled, next April you gather your students or friends in a room, and be ready for some serious, web-enabled conversation about global warming solutions, EPA action, incentives for clean energy, and the potential for green jobs. And know that a hundred other schools are doing the same. We need your help making C2C/EARTHweek the thing to do on campus: once we get 100 schools sending invitations, we’ll get 1000.

If you want to help us lead the way and invite your member of Congress for a skype, sign up at http://www.bard.edu/cep/c2c/earthweek/.

Thanks for the work you are doing.

Eban Goodstein
Director, Bard Center for Environmental Policy

Call for Proposals – Assoc. for Environmental Studies and Sciences

AESS’s 2011 Annual Meeting and Conference
“Confronting Complexity”

Hosted by the University of Vermont
June 23-26, 2011
Burlington, Vermont

AESS recognizes and embraces complexity as the hallmark of our field. Social, physical, biological and ideological factors in environmental problems are intricately linked, and environmental problems are so tightly interconnected that addressing one invariably affects others, limiting our predictive capacity, and challenging the assumptions embedded in our models of natural and social phenomena. Engaging in dialogues about complexity presents challenges in both classroom and public sphere. Confronting complexity is critical to our ability to develop effective responses, which is why we have chosen this them for our upcoming meeting.

Click here to submit a session proposal.  Call for individual presentation abstracts opens on Jan. 31, 2011.

Plenary addresses by Climatologist Heidi Cullen and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (invited).

New Year, New Idea for Climate: The American Clean Energy Party

By Eban Goodstein
[Cross-posted from The Grist]

Last year was a bad year for the future of humans and other creatures of the earth. The US failed to act on climate, and the victory of dozens of Tea Party Republicans in November eliminated any prospect for serious action for at least the next three years.

This is tragic. Barring future technological or political miracles, we have now blown by the chance we had to stabilize the carbon blanket surrounding the planet at 450 ppm of C02. Yet it is not “too late” for action. Ambitious politics this decade, culminating in carbon legislation in 2013 or 15 or 17, can still stabilize CO2 at 500 ppm.

And make no mistake: 500 ppm is worth fighting for, each and every day of our lives. Every tenth of a degree matters, and a planet with a carbon blanket that stabilizes at 500 ppm will preserve a dramatically more livable world than will a blanket of 650, or 850 or 1000 ppm. Above all, 500 ppm will give our kids time and a fighting chance to figure out how to roll back concentrations to 450 ppm, and their kids back to 350.

So what’s the plan? How can we build a powerful clean energy majority in Washington, a stronger majority than the one that didn’t get the job done in 2010?

ACE: The American Clean Energy Party

Only a mobilized public has the power to break through the deadly gridlock in Washington. Leading up to 2010, a number of groups tried to build this people power. Grassroots coalitions and organizations including 350.org, Energy Action, 1-Sky, The National Teach-in, and faith-based organizers worked to inspire and mobilize large numbers of Americans. Al Gore’s Alliance pursued media campaigns, signing up over 2 million people on to their list-serv. The Green Groups pursued their own efforts to engage their memberships.

These initiatives, successful in staging one-day educational events, did build a wave of momentum. Coupled with the EDF/USCAP inside game, the movement crested in the summer of 2009, with the passage of the Waxman-Markey bill. However, the national grassroots effort ultimately had little real political traction. Since 2009, the collapsing economy and the rise of the Tea Party moved the debate backwards, with the Republican Party completely abandoning what had been a tentative openness to climate policy.

The national climate movement faced many challenges, but in large measure, it failed at mobilizing Americans behind clean energy politics because it didn’t do politics—it did education. By contrast, what can excite Americans and create sustained grassroots energy is participation in political campaigns. Obama demonstrated this in 2008, building an unprecedented grassroots tidal wave. Obama has since been criticized for squandering the people power he unleashed: Imagine if, in 2009, he had mobilized his army with a call for clean energy legislation?

A Clean Energy Party can move beyond the Obama phenomenon, and broadly tap this grassroots energy. There are millions of Americans—so-called Climate Hawks— who understand the seriousness and depth of the climate crisis. Climate Hawks want to work for political leaders with a commitment to changing the future. They want to do more than participate in C-3 educational campaigns, and e-mail their congressperson. They are looking for a vehicle that can make a real difference. They are ready to give time and money to spreading the gospel of clean energy through participation in dozens of Congressional and Senate campaigns in 2012, 2014 and beyond.

How would ACE work? Simply. Run ACE-endorsed candidates in Democratic and Republican congressional and US Senate primary elections. Most ACE races would be in swing districts—challenging especially dirty energy Democrats in primaries, but also creating space for a clean energy Republican voice.

ACE would be a “Single Focus” party, endorsing only candidates who pledged to run and govern as “moderate” D’s or R’s (as defined by their district or state) in all areas excepting one. For economic revitalization, jobs, national security, rural development, energy independence, clean air for our kids, climate stabilization, we need a revolution: Clean Energy!

Why moderate elsewhere? Because clean energy is the defining issue of our time. On all other issues there is time to debate, and room to compromise. But on energy, time has out. Addiction to fossil fuels is strangling our economy, and impoverishing the planet, and we have only a few short years to act before the window for action will close, forever.

Single Focus does not mean Single Issue. As the battle over Prop 23 showed last fall, clean energy is a winning political formula across the political spectrum, with an extraordinarily positive message and economic vision of the future. By running single focus candidates—otherwise pledging to govern as “moderates” for their state or district—we can prove the power of the clean energy message. We can force Democrats to become leaders, and Republicans to become, once again, open to clean energy policy.

What ACE Stands For

The ACE Platform would have three planks:

  1. The American Permanent Fund. Every year, each American Family receives a check for $1,000, and rising. The source? A fee on big polluters.
  2. Clean Energy Leadership. Thirty billion a year to capture global leadership in the clean energy technologies that will rewire the world.
  3. Green Collar Jobs, Today. A large-scale loan guarantee program to finance energy efficiency retrofits of state, city and federal buildings—putting millions of Americans to work.

ACE would run a mix of “celebrities”, charismatic local candidates, and lots and lots of young people: why not Leo DiCaprio, Bill McKibben, Van Jones, Jessy Tolkan, Woody Harrelson, Hunter Lovins, Mike Tidwell, Heidi Cullen, Billy Parish, James Woolsey, Sally Bingham, Tom Friedman, Betsy Taylor, Richard Czizik, Tom “Smitty” Smith, Wahleah Johns, and students leaders in congressional districts across the country? Remember, you only have to be 25 years old to run for Congress. Movement leaders with flexibility in their day jobs would have time to move to a red or purple state or district to which they are connected, establish residency and run.

The original model for ACE is the Progressive Party at the turn of the twentieth century. The party was founded on a set of policy ideas—confronting the power of monopolies; consumer regulation; women’s suffrage. Running successful candidates as both Democrats and Republicans, Progressives forced the national debate in their direction. While the Progressives never controlled Washington, they achieved many of their policy goals.

Today of course, ACE’s evil-twin would be the Tea Party. The Tea Party depends on money from the Koch brothers and other large funders, but it has undeniably tapped real grassroots energy. In existence for just two years, and in (partial) opposition to the Republican Party establishment, the Tea Party successfully ran candidates in key US Senate, House and gubernatorial races across the country.

More significantly, the Tea Party phenomenon has completely changed the debate on climate—driving former Republican supporters of climate action either out of office (Castle and Inglis) or into retreat (McCain and Graham). Incredibly of the 37 Republican Senate candidates this past year, not one acknowledged the scientific fact of human-induced climate change. As has been the pattern since the 1970’s–from direct mail, to talk radio, to Fox News, to the Tea Party– the right has been the innovator in American grassroots politics.

Climate Hawks need to build their own political base, one powerful enough to demand that politicians pay attention to the physics of the planet. ACE, however, would be much more than a clean energy Tea Party. Above all, ACE has a practical, powerful, real-world platform for progress. The ACE we are holding is a relentlessly positive vision of economic revitalization and American energy independence.

So Why not ACE?

Third Parties always fail. Won’t ACE just push spoilers, like Ralph Nader?
No. ACE will run candidates only in primaries. There will be no effort to create a third party, and thus no spoilers.

Won’t ACE could be taken over by left wing activists, becoming a marginalized umbrella party for progressive causes?
No. The central principal of ACE is that, outside of clean energy issues, candidates must run and govern as moderates. ACE would establish a party constitution with this principal that can only be changed with a super-majority. The part would elect a committee that vets candidates at the national level, and either allows or disallows them to run as ACE candidates.

What about Right-wing media? Won’t ACE candidates be branded ecosocialists?
These days, any Democrat faces this kind of charge. The response is to stay the course and win at the grassroots. The Tea Partiers, when labeled right-wing crazies, have been very successful at this.

Where will the money come from?
ACE will never be funded like the tea party, by right-wing billionaires and fossil fuel corporations, but wouldn’t need to be. Once up and running, ACE will unleash a wave of grassroots energy, and would follow a grassroots membership based funding model. Local candidates would raise their own money, while ACE leverages the national brand and pursues media effort to create interest in local candidates.

Fighting for the Future

At the end of the day, ACE would be a winner because clean energy is powerful politics. Yet today, in our current political system, no one is making the case. Progressive Democrats don’t have to, and moderate Republicans are scared to. ACE can prove that if you tell the clean energy story, and you tell it well, you will win elections.

The symbol for ACE is the Ace of Hearts: not green or blue, but blood red. We have the solutions. We love our country.

I have talked to a dozen national climate leaders about ACE. Several think it has a potential as a game changer. If you’d like to join the conversation, sign up here. We will be having a national conference call to discuss ACE on January 19th at noon eastern. Details here. Please pass this opportunity along to anyone you know who would be interested.

Who knows? Maybe ACE will hold a founding convention in Chicago in the summer of 2011. Maybe we’ll see you, and tens of thousands of Americans, there.

Eban Goodstein is Director of the Bard Center for Environmental Policy. Affiliation listed for identification purposes only. This article does not reflect the views of The Bard Center for Environmental Policy or of Bard College.

A muted cheer for the Cancún agreement

Too many issues were left unresolved for the talks to be deemed an unqualified success. But progress was undoubtedly made

  • Observer editorial
  • The Observer, Sunday 12 December 2010
  • It would be rash to hail the conclusion of this month’s climate talks in Cancún as an unqualified success. Too many issues that affect the fate of our overheating world were left unresolved at the end of negotiations. In particular, the prospects that an emissions deal to tie both developing and developed nations to binding targets – replacing the present Kyoto agreement which runs out in 2012 – remain worryingly remote. Many months of hard negotiation lie ahead.

    Nevertheless, enough was agreed by delegates in Mexico to raise hopes that climatic disaster can be avoided in the long term. The failure of the Copenhagen climate summit last year dealt a worrying blow to the idea that humanity could control its output of greenhouse gases and if delegates had also left Cancún without any kind of progress, the whole multilateral process for dealing with climate change would have been at risk. The fact that delegates this time had found the will to compromise suggests lessons have been learned over the past 12 months and that hopes for successful outcomes, at future talks, are not misplaced.

    In fact, the Cancún negotiations achieved more than this. First, they outlined a mechanism that could play a critical role in helping to prevent the deforestation of developing nations, a major ecological issue. Second, the talks established a fund that will raise and disburse $100bn (£64bn) a year by 2020 to protect poor nations against climate impacts and assist them with low-carbon development. Third, they set up a mechanism to transfer low-carbon technologies to developing countries. As chief US negotiator Todd Stern put it, we have “a text that, while not perfect, is certainly a good basis for moving forward”.

    Negotiators’ concerns for the future of the world’s forests should be viewed as being particularly encouraging. According to the WWF, the equivalent of 36 football pitches of trees have been cleared from the surface of our planet every minute for the past decade. Now a scheme – Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation – has been proposed to try to halt this destruction and provide developing countries with funds that will help them protect their forests. The scale of the scheme, outlined on Friday, is somewhat confused, however, and requires further work.

    Similar concerns affect the proposed Green Climate Fund. As it stands, this scheme will initially use the World Bank as a trustee – as the US, EU and Japan had demanded – while giving oversight to a new body balanced between developed and developing countries. But many developing nations are deeply suspicious of the World Bank. They perceive it as a tool of western foreign policy. Great care will be needed in setting up this fund if it is to avoid being similarly tainted.

    Meanwhile, it has been agreed that developing countries will have their emission-curbing measures subjected to international verification – but only when they have received the funds they have been promised by the west. This formulation has satisfied both China, which had originally voiced concerns about verification procedures, and the US, which had demanded them.

    Much more work will be required in preparation for the next round of climate talks in South Africa. But progress and compromise in Cancún keep hope alive.

Call for Abstracts for USSEE 2011: Building a green economy

CALL FOR ABSTRACTS

USSEE 2011: Building a Green Economy
June 26-29, 2011, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, USA

Dear colleague:

The Board of the United States Society for Ecological Economics (USSEE) cordially invites you to submit an abstract for an individual poster, paper presentation, or complete session proposal to our 6th biennial conference, entitled “Building a Green Economy.” The conference will be held at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan, June 26-29, 2011 (see https://www.msu.edu/~ussee).

Abstracts (200 words maximum) for sessions, individual papers, workshops, or other contributions should be submitted online via the Abstract Submission Form, between December 1, 2010 and the deadline date of January 31, 2011.

For details, please see the Call for Abstracts and the list of Conference Themes, or visit the conference website. We extend a particular welcome to submissions of papers, posters, and session proposals related to the conference theme, “Building a Green Economy.”

Please share this information widely with colleagues and other interested parties. We look forward to seeing you in East Lansing in 2011!

With kind regards, on behalf of the conference committee,

Robert Richardson, USSEE 2011 Conference chairperson
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824-1222
e-mail: ussee@msu.edu
tel: (517)-355-9533

2011 Conference: Building a Green Economy
Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan
June 26-29, 2011
https://www.msu.edu/~ussee
http://www.ussee.org
ussee@msu.edu

USSEE President Jon Erickson discusses ecological economics with Michigan State University’s Dr. Kirk Heinze on WJR Radio’s Greening of the Great Lakes

Ecological economists seek quality of life over quantity

by Russ White for Greening the Great Lakes

Jon Erickson is a professor and managing director of the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics at the University of Vermont.  And he’s president of the U.S. Society for Ecological Economics.

“Ecological economics has a different vision of the economy than traditional economics,” Erickson says.  “We fundamentally feel like the economy is supported, sustained and contained by ecosystems.

“We see a healthy economy and a healthy ecosystem going hand in hand; you can’t have one without the other.”

Erickson says there’s a real lack of a connection between the health and wealth of the economy and the maintenance of the ecosystem in traditional economics.

“Economics as it’s taught in many places is really devoid of a sense that there’s an environment that we extract resources and inputs and energy from and there’s an environment that we put waste back in to.

“It really is taught in most programs that economics is a system in and of itself, and if the environment is anywhere it’s simply a sector of the economy.  We really try to turn that on its head,” says Erickson.

The traditional approach to the economics of the environment is really focused on efficiency – how do we efficiently manage the resource that we’re extracting and using in the economy, according to Erickson.

“Ecological economics certainly pays attention to efficiency, but it’s really a third-tier goal,” says Erickson.  “We first and foremost want to look at the sustainable scale and size of the economy relative to the sustaining and containing ecosystem.”

A second goal of ecological economics is the equity question:  who shares in the benefits and burdens of economic cooperation, says Erickson.

Ecological economics embraces a trans-disciplinary approach to problem solving.

“It’s a blurring of the lines between disciplines,” says Erickson.  “We feel like that at universities there are disciplines, but in the world there are problems.  And the problems don’t fit neatly in these boxes we’ve created on campuses.

“We’re really trying to, more than anything else, engage in a conversation about the problems and to let the problems define the disciplinary perspective that we need to solve them, not the other way around.”

The USSEE’s biennial conference highlighting the latest research and education initiatives in ecological economics will bring together an interdisciplinary group of academics and practitioners to analyze society’s most pressing social and environmental problems and design solutions for a sustainable future.

The conference will be held at MSU June 26 – 29, 2011.

Click here to hear Erickson’s October 22 Greening of the Great Lakes conversation with Kirk Heinze.  Greening of the Great Lakes airs every Friday evening at 7 on News/Talk 760 WJR.