Climate and the Environment: Can we make a change?

April 25th 330 – 5PM

This week’s debate will focus on Climate Change and whether or not we are too late to combat its drastic consequences.  There will not be two sides in this debate, but a panel of both students and professors sharing their different views.


Many activists still believe that it is possible for us to shape the outcome of climate change, if we actively engage in environmental policies.  Currently, the European Union Emission Trading Scheme serves as a viable carbon trading market that will reduce emissions over time.  At this immediate trajectory the ETS emissions will be 21% lower than 2005.  Furthermore, these activists question the models that predict the increasing carbon emissions, stating that the climate science is a far more complicated and different models sometimes produce vastly different results.  The earth’s climate is continuously changing, with or without anthropogenic effects, and life has always found a way to continue.

Moreover, proponents of environmental policy state the significance that new technology will have in curbing carbon emissions.  Humanity has revolutionized the world repeatedly through such monumental inventions as agriculture, steel, anti-biotics, and microchips. And as technology has improved, so too has the rate at which technology improves.  In the midst of this, many great minds will be focussed on emissions abatement and climate control technologies. So, even if the most severe climate predictions do come to pass, it is unimaginable that humanity will not find a way to intervene.

Many critics of climate change policies already feel that the damage has been done and that ultimately, we are too late as a race to undo the effects of our own progress.  The reasons for this encompass the rate at which developing countries are unable to control their carbon emissions in order to prevent a gradual increase of atmospheric pressure and temperature.  Developing countries such as China and India are growing rapidly and causing massive increases in global greenhouse gas emissions through fossil fuel use and deforestation.  According to Joseph Romm, former US assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy, “China’s growth in emissions could erode all other countries’ efforts to stabilize world temperature.”  As a result, atmospheric greenhouse gasses will continue to increase, causing greater climate change.

Furthermore, the failure of the Kyoto Protocol, a treaty that was meant to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, has amplified the growing impression that efforts to control climate change are futile. There is no meaningful global emissions reduction treaty ready for ratification and no reason to be optimistic that one is forthcoming. The developing world believes it has a legitimate right to expand economically without emissions caps because the rich world is responsible for the vast majority of emissions over the last 200 years and per capita emissions in developing countries are still far lower than in the developed world. As such, developing countries will only agree to a global accord that pays for their emissions reductions.

Ultimately, such an important topic begs serious questions of the human race, such as, what are the major ways that we can combat climate change? Do we believe climate change is largely because of human action or is it due to climate oscillation? How do we address the disproportionate affects that developing countries have on climate change?


Tim Storer ’15 CMC

Tim Storer is a junior at CMC who is in the  Environment, Economics, and Politics major. From a young age, Tim has fostered a passion for the environment by traveling, scuba diving, backpacking, and exploring the wilderness around his New England home. On campus, Tim is a member of the CMS swim team, a two-time WOA leader, and a writer at the Forum. Tim Is working this summer with a conservation outreach group in South Africa, and hopes to work with environmental education after graduating

Katherine Krey ’17 CMC

Katherine Krey is a freshman at CMC, majoring in Economics and International Relations with a focus in International Environmental Policy.  Her passion for the environment stems from a lifelong love of camping and being in nature, whether that be cross-country skiing, dogsledding, backpacking or SCUBA diving.  At CMC, Katherine works at the Roberts Environmental Center with Professor Ascher, researching the effects of water pricing structures on residential water consumption in California.  

Professor Paul Steinberg HMC

Paul Steinberg is Professor of Political Science and Environmental Policy at Harvey Mudd College, where he directs The Social Rules Project.  He is the author of three books: Who Rules the Earth? (Oxford University Press), Comparative Environmental Politics (MIT Press) and Environmental Leadership in Developing Countries (MIT Press), which won the International Studies Association’s Harold and Margaret Sprout Award for the best book in international environmental affairs.  He has held academic posts at the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University and at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins.  He has also worked in applied positions with the Natural Resources Defense Council, Conservation International, The World Bank, RARE, Pesticide Action Network, and the US Peace Corps.  He serves on the editorial board for the journal Global Environmental Politics.

Professor Bill Ascher CMC

Professor Bowman Cutter Pomona

Professor Hal Nelson CGU




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