Climate Change Heats Up
The University will sponsor a panel discussion on climate change on April 13, President Drew Faust announced in an e-mail to the community yesterday. Given the roster of participants, the event appears to have been assembled over a considerable period of time—but it is scheduled to take place during Harvard Heat Week, April 12-17, an alumni-organized event highlighting demands that the University divest its endowment investments in companies that produce fossil fuels. Faust and the Corporation have repeatedly expressed their opposition to divestment, and instead have focused on academic institutions’ role in supporting research and education—themes the president spelled out in the greatest detail during her recent trip to China. Further amplifying focus on the issues, the University’s center for the environment is sponsoring a series of “Climate Week” events April 6-10.
The April 13 event—to be held in Sanders Theatre, with ticketed admission—involves the following expert panelists (links are provided to past Harvard Magazine coverage of their work):
- Joseph Aldy, assistant professor of public policy, Harvard Kennedy School (where he has studied tax subsidies to the fossil-fuel industry), and former special assistant to the president for energy and environment, the White House;
- Christopher Field ’75, co-chair, Working Group II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; founding director, Department of Global Ecology, Carnegie Institution for Science; Lane professor for interdisciplinary environmental studies, Stanford; and member of Harvard’s Board of Overseers;
- Rebecca Henderson. McArthur University Professor (introduced in a Harvard Portrait, her research on innovation in companies was covered here), and co-director, Business and Environment Initiative, Harvard Business School (HBS);
- John Holdren, assistant to the president for science and technology, the White House; co-chair, President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology; former Heinz professor of environmental policy, Harvard Kennedy School; former professor of environmental science and public policy (whose views on energy policy a decade ago were featured here);
- Richard Newell Jr., Ph.D. ’97, Gendell professor of energy and environmental economics, Duke; director, Duke University Energy Initiative; former administrator, U.S. Energy Information Administration; former senior economist for energy and environment, President’s Council of Economic Advisers;
- Naomi Oreskes, professor of the history of science (introduced in this Harvard Portrait) and coauthor of Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming (recently made into a movie, reviewed here by The New York Times; see also her recent opinion article on scientists’ assessments of climate change); and
- Daniel Schrag, Hooper professor of geology, professor of environmental science and engineering, and director of the Harvard University Center for the Environment (whose work is covered here).
Oreskes is among the professors who have signed Harvard Faculty for Divestment’s letter advocating that action. Henderson, whose research has focused on carbon pricing and other policy changes, appeared on a Business School panel that touched on divestment, among many other issues, last November, the Harvard Gazette reported.
President Faust will introduce the April 13 event; according to the announcement, the panel is to be moderated by Charlie Rose, who has been a past interlocutor of Faust—her website lists this program, for instance—and other leaders such as HBS dean Nitin Nohria. Rose has also moderated campus events, including a panel at HBS’s 2008 centennial celebration.
Note: At the time this dispatch was published, it could not be determined whether the panelists would receive questions from the audience, and if so, in what form. If further information becomes available (in response to queries about this point), it will be posted in an update here.