Tag Archive for yohe

Yohe: Pope’s Encyclical on Climate Change ‘Quite Likely a Game-Changer’

Gary Yohe, the Huffington Foundation Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies, wrote in The Hartford Courant about Pope Francis’ encyclical on climate change–“a very valuable and much needed injection of morality into the scientific and economic discussions on climate change — it is quite likely a game-changer.”

While scientists, economists and other professionals have long made a case for taking action to reduce emissions and mitigate the effects of climate change, Yohe writes, “The pope’s encyclical adds a moral dimension to this case with nearly 200 pages of inspiring text about man’s pollution and the immorality of emissions. He notes that the Bible tells humans, as early as the first chapter of Genesis, that they have a stewardship obligation to the planet. The Bible also commands us to protect the least among us — the poorest who lack the means to provide for themselves. These are the people, the world over, who will be most heavily impacted by climate change — the poor, the very young, the elderly and infirm — especially if they live near a coastline. Working from there, as the leader of a billion Catholics, the pope provides theological justification that we are behaving immorally by continuing to avoid reducing emissions.”

Yohe concludes:

I must admit, at this point, that declaring something a sin is way above my pay grade. What I can say from my scientific and faith perspective is this: Putting human beings, their societies and communities, and aspects of nature unnecessarily at risk by ignoring science on the basis of ideology, business interest, or ill-informed and unyielding denial is morally irresponsible — especially for elected officials.

I believe that the pope’s encyclical confirms this perspective not only for more than 1 billion Catholics around the world and across this country, but also for the billions of others from multiple faiths who take seriously their stewardship obligations to the planet and its inhabitants.

Yohe is also professor and chair of economics, professor of environmental studies.

Yohe Seeks Input from Wesleyan Community on Third National Climate Assessment

Gary Yohe

“Climate Change, once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present.” This is the message in the draft version of the Third National Climate Assessment, which was released on Jan. 11.

Gary Yohe, the Huffington Foundation Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies, is vice chair of the National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee (NCADAC), a 60-member committee that includes representatives from academia, state and local governments, non-governmental organizations, business and industry, and others, and the committee that issued this draft.

Since this is a “review draft,” Yohe encouraged the Wesleyan community and their friends (along with their enemies) to read the draft report, or any sections of the 1,000 page long document that are of interest. The draft is available online, and anyone can submit review comments at review.globalchange.gov by April 12.

Yohe said the committee is seeking comments from individuals, non-governmental organizations, and those working in government at all levels. He said author teams would respond publically, if not personally, to every comment received. The final draft of the National Climate Assessment is due to be released in 2014; the revision process will occupy most of the summer and fall of next year.

“It is a complicated process,” Yohe said. The draft report is written by 240 different authors, and was based on the best available climate science as of the end of the summer of 2012, gathered from experts around the country in the public and private sectors, from stakeholders in all sectors of the economy, and from federal agencies.

The draft concludes “that the evidence for a changing climate has strengthened considerably since the last National Climate Assessment report, written in 2009.”

According to the draft report, the average temperature in the U.S. has risen by about 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit since 1895, with more than 80 percent of this warming occurring since 1980. Moreover, this past decade was the hottest on record in the U.S., and 2012 was the warmest year on record by about one degree Fahrenheit. This warming trend is expected to continue, with average temperatures projected to rise between 2 and 4 degrees Fahrenheit in most areas over the next few decades.

An introductory Letter to the American People, signed by Yohe as a co-chair and his colleagues on the committee, states that, “Americans are noticing changes all around them. Summers are longer and hotter, and periods of extreme heat last longer than any living American has ever experienced. Winters are generally shorter and warmer. Rains come in heavier downpours, though in many regions there are longer dry spells in between.” These climatic changes have resulted in more frequent flooding in coastal cities and inland cities near large rivers; more wildfires that last longer, threaten more homes, and burn more acreage; and erosion of sea ice in Alaska, threatening to make relocation a necessity for some communities.

“The draft shows how observed climatic changes are already having wide-ranging impacts in every region of our country and most sectors of our economy. Some of these changes can be beneficial over the near term, but most have already proven to be detrimental,” Yohe remarked.

 

Yohe, Melillo ’65 to Create National Climate Assessment

Gary Yohe

Gary Yohe, the Huffington Foundation Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies, and a faculty fellow in the College of the Environment, and was named a vice chair of the National Climate Assessment Development and Advisory Committee by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Jerry Melillo ’65 was named chair of the committee. Melillo is a distinguished scientist at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass

As a vice chair, Yohe will lead the advisory committee that will produce the next National Climate Assessment.

The Global Change Research Act of 1990 requires a National Climate Assessment at least every four years. The committee will function as an advisory body to the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), acting through the Department of Commerce’s NOAA.

The committee will produce a report that builds on previous findings and analyzes the regional and national effects of current and projected climate change upon a range of sectors, including agriculture, energy, water resources, human health and transportation. Opportunities for public review and comment throughout the development of the assessment will be available, including a public comment period on the draft report.

The committee also will suggest ways to improve and standardize the nation’s capacity to assess climate change impacts, including through ongoing engagement around the nation and across diverse economic sectors such as agriculture, energy and transportation.

For more information go to http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2011/20110511_climateassessment.html.

Tenure and Faculty Promotions Announced

Wesleyan is pleased to announce that during its most recent review, the Board awarded tenure to four faculty effective July 1, 2011.

Ulrich Plass

Ulrich Plass, associate professor of German studies, joined the Wesleyan faculty in 2004 as assistant professor. Plass is a specialist in German literature, literary criticism, and critical theory, with a particular focus on the works of the German philosopher Theodor Adorno. He conducted his undergraduate studies at the University of Hamburg, Germany; his M.A. is from the University of Michigan,

Huffington Family, Foundation Give $5M to COE, Financial Aid

Terry Huffington P'11, P'14, her family, and the Huffington Foundation have given Wesleyan $5 million to support a College of the Environment endowed chair and endowed scholarships.

Wesleyan has received gifts totaling $5 million from Terry Huffington, her family and the Huffington Foundation to fund an endowed faculty chair in the College of the Environment and endowed scholarships.

The Huffington Foundation Endowed Chair in the College of the Environment, created with a $3 million gift from the Foundation, will benefit the nascent College, devoted to the development of environmental knowledge and the exploration of innovative approaches to environmental problems.

A separate $2 million gift establishes endowed scholarships that will support Wesleyan’s need-blind financial aid program.

“Through these very generous gifts, Terry Huffington, her family and the Huffington Foundation have contributed to our highest priorities—curricular innovation and access to a Wesleyan education,” says Wesleyan President Michael S. Roth. “Their support helps Wesleyan maintain its leadership position in liberal arts education and secure its future with a stronger endowment. I am deeply grateful.”

Ms. Huffington P’11, P’14, of Houston, Texas, says that access to education has always been a family priority.

“I was brought up with the mantra that the most important thing you could do for people is to give them an opportunity to get an education. We welcome the opportunity to support Wesleyan’s efforts to enroll students regardless of their economic circumstances,” she says.

The first holder of the Huffington Foundation Endowed Chair will be Gary Yohe, a Wesleyan professor of economics renowned for his work on global climate issues. He is a senior member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that was awarded a share of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. He is also a member of the standing Committee on the Human Dimensions of Global Change of the National Academy of Sciences.

Gary Yohe will hold the first Huffington Foundation Endowed Chair in the College of the Environment.

“We are delighted that Dr. Yohe is to be named to the Huffington Foundation Endowed Chair in the College of the Environment,” says Ms. Huffington. “It is a privilege to support a researcher and educator of his caliber in an area of study that is of such vital importance to our global community.”

The College of the Environment is an interdisciplinary initiative that draws faculty from 18 departments or programs at Wesleyan. Among its innovative features is a think tank, which brings together faculty, prominent scholars from other institutions, and students to produce scholarly works intended to influence thinking and action on environmental issues.

Ms. Huffington, a former geologist, has a long-standing interest in stewardship of energy supplies and achieving a decreased reliance on hydrocarbon fuels. Her interest led her to develop Elkstone Farm in Steamboat Springs, Colo., which features a permaculture greenhouse designed to grow organic produce year-round in a sustainable, energy-efficient manner.

Faculty Examine Issues Surrounding “Climategate” Report

A presentation titled, “After Climategate: Rethinking Climate Science and Climate Policy” was held March 25 in the Public Affairs Center. Faculty panelists examined a variety of issues surrounding the recent news media accounts known as “Climategate” which impugned some of the findings of the IPPC’s 4th Assessment Report.

A presentation titled, “After Climategate: Rethinking Climate Science and Climate Policy” was held March 25 in the Public Affairs Center. Faculty panelists examined a variety of issues surrounding the recent news media accounts known as “Climategate” which impugned some of the findings of the IPPC’s 4th Assessment Report.

Wesleyan Faculty Host “After Climategate” Presentation March 25

Faculty panelists will examine a variety of issues surrounding the recent reporting known as "Climategate," which impugned some of the findings of the IPPC's 4th Assessment Report.

Faculty panelists will examine a variety of issues surrounding the recent reporting known as "Climategate," which impugned some of the findings of the IPPC's 4th Assessment Report.

A presentation titled, “After Climategate: Rethinking Climate Science and Climate Policy” will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 25 in PAC 001. Admission is free and open to the public.

The panel discussion will feature Gary Yohe, Woodhouse/Sysco Professor of Economics and senior member of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC); Joe Rouse, chair of the Science in Society Program, Hedding Professor of Moral Science, professor of philosophy; Suzanne O’Connell, associate professor of earth and environmental science, director of the Service Learning Center; and Paul Erickson, assistant professor of history, member of the Science in Society Program.

With Rouse moderating, the faculty panelists will examine a variety of issues surrounding the recent news media accounts known as “Climategate” which impugned some of the findings of the IPPC’s 4th Assessment Report.

Yohe’s presentation will include his first-hand experience with the Climategate story, from the initial leaking of private emails of key IPCC members on the Web a month before the U.N.’s Copenhagen conference, to the present. He will also offer quick glimpses

Yohe Discusses Copenhagen Climate Change Conference

Gary Yohe, Woodhouse/Sysco Professor of Economics, and senior member of the United Nations’ International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), discusses in a Dec. 6 issue of  The Los Angeles Times the possibilities at the U.N.’s Climate Change Conference In Copenhagen, Denmark.

In the article, Yohe says that “many nations would like to see a definitive agreement come out of the Copenhagen conference. But in the absence of climate legislation passed by the U.S. Congress, it is unlikely we will see anything like a binding treaty. Still, significant progress is possible.

Copenhagen offers the prospect of agreement on a number of structural issues. First would be establishing ways to facilitate technology transfer while preserving intellectual property rights. Another possibility is agreement on ways of integrating nationally specific climate policies into future global programs. The conference could also put in place funding mechanisms for developed countries to aid developing countries in finding methods of mitigating and adapting to the consequences of climate change.

These more technical areas offer many opportunities through which the United States can begin to be seen as part of the solution.”

Yohe Quoted in The New York Times

Gary Yohe, the Woodhouse/Sysco Professor of Economics, was quoted in a Nov. 3 New York Times article titled “Obama Administration Weighs Costs of Doing Nothing.”

The article examined the Obama Administration’s inaction on significant climate change measures and how it is “struggling to reach its own conclusion,” a stark difference from the President’s campaign rhetoric of speedy action on climate change issues. The sticking point appears to be the cost versus benefit calculations or “social costs” of deciding whether to enact specific measures.

Yohe says, in part, that the difficulty lies in objectively quantifying these costs.

“You can’t really quantify the social costs of carbon with any degree of confidence. You can get just about any number you want to, depending on the assumptions you use. That’s why EPA struggles so much,” said Yohe.

Yohe Cited In USA Today Article on Global Warming

Gary Yohe, the Woodhouse/Sysco Professor of Economics, is quoted in an Aug. 21 USA Today article titled “Poor communities hit hardest by global warming.”

The article focuses on a study produced by the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report about its economic forecasts. Yohe is an author on the IPCC report.

“IPCC identified the poor, the elderly, and the very young as the most vulnerable categories of people on the planet … regardless of location, as Katrina and the European (2003) heat wave taught us,” Yohe says in the article. “Nonetheless, the most vulnerable are more likely to live in developing countries where they face multiple stresses. For many, climate change itself is a source of multiple stress because it is manifest in so many different ways.”