DATE: Thursday, June 11, 2009
TIME: 8:00 PM-9:30 PM
VENUE: Greenberg Lounge, NYU Law
MODERATOR: Bill Ritter
PARTICIPANTS: Bill McKibben, David Battisti, James Hansen, Julienne Stroeve, Robert Corell, Sylvia Earle, Thomas Lovejoy

In December, world leaders will gather in Copenhagen to negotiate the atmospheric level of CO2 beyond which we believe earth will fail to support life as we know it. Bill Ritter hosts a powerhouse panel including James Hansen,Thomas Lovejoy, Bill McKibben, Sylvia Earle, David Battisti and Robert Corell to probe the science and policy behind one of the most urgent debates of our times.

In anticipation of the Copenhagen summit, Robert Corell will hold a mock negotiation with the panelists showcasing C-ROADS, the real-time carbon emissions simulator designed to help audiences—and policy makers—better understand the implications of their decisions on environmental issues.

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Bill Ritter
Journalist, TV Anchor, News Correspondent

Bill Ritter is a television news anchor and journalist. He began his journalism career as a newspaper reporter, for the Los Angeles Times and others, before moving into television. His work in local and national television has taken him to political conventions for almost 20 years. He has also anchored all election coverage for New York’s WABC and moderated candidate debates for New York Governor and Senator and New York City Mayor. For over 15 years, Ritter has co-anchored WABC-TV’s 11 p.m. newscast, in addition to working as a correspondent for ABC News’ 20/20. He added anchor duties for the 6 p.m. newscast in 2001. Before joining the local ABC station, Ritter worked at ABC News as co-anchor of the Sunday edition of Good Morning America. As a correspondent for 20/20, he covered the Columbine High shootings and he investigated the phenomenon of patients waking up during surgery, among other stories.


Portrait of Bill McKibben, author and activist. photo ©Nancie Battaglia
Environmentalist, Author

Bill McKibben is the author of a dozen books about the environment, including The End of Nature (1989), the first book for a general audience about global warming. A scholar in residence at Middlebury College, he is also the founder of the first global scale grassroots campaign to fight climate change, McKibbon has been awarded Guggenheim and Lyndhurst Fellowships and won the Lannan Prize for nonfiction writing in 2000.

David Battisti

David Battisti is The Tamaki Chair of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington. His research is focused on understanding the natural variability in climate that stems from the interaction between the ocean, atmosphere, land and sea ice. He is also studying the impacts of natural climate variability and climate change on global food security. His previous research includes coastal oceanography, the physics of the El Nino phenomenon, and climate variability in the Arctic. He has also studied several phenomena in past climates, including the remarkable “abrupt” global climate changes seen throughout the last glacial period.

Battisti is presently working to understand the causes for drought cycles in the Sahel and variability in the Asian Monsoon, the impact of increasing carbon dioxide on El Nino, and the consequences of geoengineering solutions to global warming. Battisti has served on numerous national and international science panels, including five years as co-chair of the Science Steering Committee for the U.S. Program on Climate. He has published over 70 peer-reviewed papers in atmospheric sciences and oceanography. He has twice been awarded distinguished teaching awards and is a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society.

James Hansen

Dr. James Hansen is director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Adjunct Professor at Columbia University’s Earth Institute. An active researcher in planetary atmospheres and climate science for nearly 40 years, Hansen is best known for his Congressional testimonies on climate change that widely elevated the awareness of global warming.

Hansen’s work has evolved from space science to climate science. His early research on Venus’ clouds led to their identification as sulfuric acid. Since the late 1970s, he has worked on computer simulations of Earth’s atmosphere to gauge the human impact on global climate.

Elected to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences in 1995, Hansen has received numerous awards, including the WWF Conservation Medal from the Duke of Edinburgh, the American Geophysical Union’s Roger Revelle Medal, and the Heinz Environment Award. In 2007 Dr. Hansen received the Leo Szilard Award of the American Physical Society for outstanding promotion and use of physics for the benefit of society, the Haagen-Smit Clean Air Award, and he was a Laureate of the Dan David Prize in the field ‘Quest for Energy’. In addition to numerous testimonies given to Congress, Hansen has also twice made presentations to President George W. Bush Administration’s cabinet level Climate and Energy Task Force, chaired by Vice President Richard Cheney. Time Magazine designated Dr. Hansen as one of the world’s 100 most influential people in 2006, a tribute to his continuing efforts to serve the public through his scientific work.

Hansen was trained in physics and astronomy in Dr. James Van Allen’s space science program at the University of Iowa.

Geographer, Glaciologist

Julienne Stroeve studies the decline of the Arctic Sea ice cover with the goal of understanding how a seasonally ice-free Arctic will impact climate in the Northern Hemisphere. She is a research scientist with the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Colorado and specializes in reading data gathered by satellite and other remote measuring tools.

She has participated in several field campaigns in Greenland and the Arctic to validate various geophysical parameters retrieved from spacecraft such as sea ice concentration, surface temperature and surface reflectivity. Dr. Stroeve holds a PhD in Geography from the University of Colorado where she focused on surface energy balance studies of the Greenland ice sheet using satellite imagery.

Climate Policy Specialist

Dr. Robert W. Corell, Vice President of Programs & Policy for The H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics, and the Environment is also a Council Member for the Global Energy Assessment and a Senior Policy Fellow at the Policy Program of the American Meteorological Society. Dr. Corell was one of those noted in the Nobel Peace Prize Award in 2007 for his extensive work with the IPCC assessments. In 2005, he completed an appointment as a Senior Research Fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs of the Kennedy School for Government at Harvard University. Dr. Corell is actively engaged in research concerned with both the sciences of global change and with the interface between science and public policy, particularly research activities that are focused on global and regional climate change and related environmental issues. He currently chairs an international initiative, the overall goal of which is to strengthening the negotiating framework intended to prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system, central to which is the use of policy exercises that employs real-time climate simulations. Corell is the chair of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment and he chairs an 18-country international planning effort to outline the major Arctic-region research challenges for the decade or so ahead. He lead an international strategic planning group that developed the strategy for and the programs and activities designed to harness science, technology and innovation for sustainable development.

Prior to January 2000, he was Assistant Director for Geosciences at the National Science Foundation where he had oversight for the Atmospheric, Earth, and Ocean Sciences, the NSF’s Polar Programs, and the NSF Global Change Program. While at NSF, Dr. Corell also served as the Chair of the President’s National Science and Technology Council’s committee that has oversight of the U.S. Global Change Research Program and he was chair of the international committee of government agencies funding global change research. Further, he served as chair and principal U.S. delegate to many international bodies with interest in and responsibilities for climate and global change research programs. Dr. Corell is an oceanographer and engineer by background and training, having received Ph.D., M.S. and B.S. degrees at Case Western Reserve University and MIT.

Sylvia Earle
Oceanographer, Marine Biologist, Author

National Geographic Society Explorer-in-Residence Dr. Sylvia A. Earle is an oceanographer, explorer, author, and lecturer who has been called a “Living Legend” by the Library of Congress and “Hero for the Planet” by TIME magazine. Formerly chief scientist of NOAA, Earle is the founder of Deep Ocean Exploration and Research, Inc., founder of Mission Blue and SEAlliance, and chair of the Advisory Councils of the Harte Research Institute and the Ocean in Google Earth. She has a B.S. degree from Florida State University, M.S. and Ph.D. from Duke University, and 22 honorary degrees. She has authored more than 190 scientific, technical, and popular publications; lectured in more than 80 countries; and appeared in hundreds of radio and television productions. Earle has led more than a hundred expeditions and logged more than 7,000 hours underwater, including leading the first team of women aquanauts during the Tektite Project in 1970; participating in ten saturation dives, most recently in July 2012; and setting a record for solo diving in 1,000-meter depth. Her research concerns marine ecosystems with special reference to exploration, conservation, and the development and use of new technologies for access and effective operations in the deep sea and other remote environments. Earle’s more than one hundred national and international honors include the 2011 Royal Geographical Society Gold Medal, 2011 Medal of Honor from the Dominican Republic, 2009 TED Prize, Netherlands Order of the Golden Ark, Australia’s International Banksia Award, Italy’s Artiglio Award, the International Seakeepers Award, the International Women’s Forum, the National Women’s Hall of Fame, Academy of Achievement, Los Angeles Times Woman of the Year, and medals from the Explorers Club, the Philadelphia Academy of Sciences, Lindbergh Foundation, National Wildlife Federation, Sigma Xi, Barnard College, and the Society of Women Geographers.

Conservation Biologist

Thomas Lovejoy holds the Biodiversity Chair at the Heinz Center for Science, Economics, and the Environment based in Washington, DC, and is a recipient of the prestigious Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement and the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award.

In the 1980s, he brought international attention to the world’s tropical rainforests, and in particular, the Brazilian Amazon, where he has worked since 1965. Lovejoy also developed the now ubiquitous “debt-for-nature” swap programs and led the Minimum Critical Size of Ecosystems project. He also founded the series Nature, the popular long-term series on public television.

Lovejoy was the World Bank’s Chief Biodiversity Advisor and Lead Specialist for Environment for Latin America and the Caribbean as well as Senior Advisor to the President of the United Nations Foundation. Spanning the political spectrum, Lovejoy has served on science and environmental councils under the Reagan, Bush, and Clinton administrations.

In 2001, Lovejoy was awarded the prestigious Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement. In 2009 he was the winner of BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the Ecology and Conservation Biology Category. Lovejoy holds B.S. and Ph.D (biology) degrees from Yale University.