The situation in Ukraine, and Europe’s desire to diversify its energy supplies and decrease Russia’s influence, might facilitate LNG and oil export talks in the U.S., according to experts.
The fact that higher education, especially business education, is in need of reform is not news. But the role of the humanities in such reform has been gaining momentum in the U.S., mostly in reaction to a recently published report by the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, a sort of “humanities rescue plan.” As we see in our coverage of the Carnegie Roundtables, this is a conversation that has materialized as a movement in both the U.S. and Europe, with a gathering of key departments, faculty and major universities.
The Clinton Global Initiative’s 2012 Annual Meeting kicked off at noon on Sunday. The event, which follows the highly publicized Rio+20 Conference held in Brazil two months earlier, holds an easy claim to the heavy weight champion title for all conferences focused on social and environmental challenges. Taking place over three days, CGI 2012 includes plenary sessions complimented by smaller, issue-based breakout sessions with Heads of State, business leaders and nonprofit directors from around the world. The roster of participants reads like a who’s who of world leaders and global change-makers and speaks volumes to former President Clinton’s continued influence. Both Pres. Barak Obama and challenger, Mitt Romney are slated to speak. The newly elected presidents of Libya and Egypt are in attendance as are media heavyweights Piers Morgan and Fareed Zakaria. The ever-ebullient former New York governor-turned cable news anchor, Elliot Spitzer hustled through the pressroom early Sunday morning, shortly after the doors opened. Lloyd Blankfein, chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs is scheduled for a Monday panel. UN Sec. General, Ban Key Moon, World Bank president, Jim Yong Kim, Walmart CEO, Michael Duke, and Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan accompanied Clinton on an opening panel, which centered on the this year’s theme: “designing for impact.” Topics related to health, scaling up good ideas to achieve meaningful impact, education and youth employment dominated the conversation. Clinton famously started CGI in 2005 “to help turn good intentions into real action and results.” The Initiative’s aim is to convene global leaders for the purpose of implementing innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. According to CGI, their meetings have brought together more than 150 heads of state, 20 Nobel Prize laureates, and hundreds of leading CEOs, heads of foundations and NGOs, major philanthropists, and members of the media.
Although China dominates in the race to be the leading global manufacturer of clean renewable energy, they are not necessarily doing the most for the environment. China, consistently pushing the clean energy market towards an economic future, was expected to be a leading developing country in negotiations at Rio+20. As they lap the United States and world economies in this race by training a skilled clean energy workforce and providing steep subsidies more and more manufacturing companies are heading overseas. The US simply cannot compete. If the US does not demonstrate a greater sense of urgency to contrive alternative clean energy policies coupled with investment initiatives, it will fall further behind economically.
On June 15th 2012, two students from the University of Pennsylvania presented a Rio+20 pre-conference session at the United States Department Pavilion. Their presentation “Sustainability Knows No Boundaries” gave insight into higher education’s role in sustainability, both in curriculum and facilities. They discussed the many interdisciplinary initiatives that Penn incorporates to its curriculum, such as the Master of Environmental Studies program and the Architecture school’s concentrations in land use management and urban sustainable development. Additionally, many Penn faculties are incorporating sustainability as part of the overall institution’s commitment. As part of Penn’s Climate Action Plan and internal commitments to sustainability, David Schreiber outlined Penn’s refurbishing many of its historical buildings with more efficient, energy saving lighting.
We are now in the Sixth round of the World Water Forums. This was the first time, however, that the United States took a substantial part in the Forum: yesterday marked the first time that a panel was devoted purely to American water practices. The session was titled “Water in the American West: 150 Years of Adaptive Strategies.” The panel consisted of:
John Tubbs – Deputy Assistant Secretary for Water and Science (United States Department of the Interior)
Jo Ellen Darcy – Assistant Secretary (Army for Civil World)
Karen Fraser – Washington State Senator
Clayton Matt – Chief Executive Officer (Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes)
Brian McPeek – Chief Operating Officer (The Nature Conservancy)
Edward Drusina – Commissioner (International Boundary and Water Commission, United States and Mexico — United States Section
Jim Peterson – President (Montana State Senate)
This panel focused on the American West because of geographical differences that yield strikingly different water distribution in this area than other parts of the US. The “American West” is defined as that area west of the 100th meridian as noted on the map. The panelists focused on this area because they hope that other countries who are facing water shortages can learn from the lessons that Americans have learned in the last 150 years. John Tubbs started the discussion by stating, “The lack of moisture defines this story.” The Rocky Mountains stop rain clouds from passing over into the plains on the east of the Rockies. As a result, these areas are defined by desserts and canyons. Regardless of these dry conditions, there are now approximately 105 million people living in this area. The panelists discussed how Americans have historically entered into negotiations to use the rivers for irrigation, navigation, and hydropower. In the past, there was little discussion about Native American tribes’ water rights and even less about environmental issues.
I was one of only a handful of Americans at the World Resources Forum 2011. A few times I was asked was how I felt about America’s besieged environmental policies, or the lack of America’s participation in global climate talks, or other questions along those lines that acknowledged some international frustration with America in the environmental sphere. How do I feel? Pretty discouraged. The current US political landscape and debate is alarming for a conservationist.