As part of its commitment to make important environmental issues more accessible for widespread public discussion, the Center inaugurated the Open Forum series in 1999. This series continues today as the Bard CEP Eco Forum, which hosts dialogues between the public and experts who can convey complete issues understandably to a lay audience, argue competing theories, and engage audience members as participants in debates. This past year the Eco Forum hosted three documentary film screenings with the filmmakers and traditional three panel discussions with experts from diverse stakeholder groups.
Bard CEP and C2C Fellows hosed a coordinated nationwide screening of the filmThe Island President, followed by an interactive expert panel discussion comprised of 350.org executive director and cofounder May Boeve; former UN deputy permanent representative to the Maldives and Voice of Women cofounder Thilmeeza Hussain; and the film’s director Jon Shenk. More than 3,000 people from 115 institutions participated in this national day of action organized at Bard and available virtually to organizations across the country.
Pandora’s Promise, a new film by Director Robert Stone, argues that nuclear energy, as a non-GHG emitting energy source, will play a crucial role in combating the looming climate change catastrophe, in addition to wind, solar, and other forms of alternative energy. Bard CEP hosted filmmaker/director Robert Stone roundtable on nuclear energy following the film with Professor Monique Segarra and Director Eban Goodstein.
Bard CEP hosted students, faculty, staff, and community members for a special screening of Deborah Koons Garcia’s documentary Symphony of the Soil. The feature length film highlights the essential role soil plays in the makeup of our planet and our lives. It goes through the fundamentals of soil science, how soils are made, why they are important to us all, through agriculture. A panel following the film featured the filmmaker, Deborah Koons Garcia, and advisory scientist to the film, microbial ecologist Dr. Ignacio Chapela.
In coordination with Clean Cities, this panel discussion was held during parents weekend at Bard and featured a green car expo leading up to the event. The panelists discussed the challenges and opportunities of moving towards more sustainable modes of travel from their respective positions as professors, members of industry, government and research and development authorities. Panelists included: John Maserjian, Director of Media Relations, Central Hudson; Mark Lytle, Lyford and Mary Grey Edwards Professor of History and member of the Environmental and Urban Studies faculty at Bard College; Andrew Bata, Principal Chief, Strategic Improvements and Best Practices, Office of Strategic Innovation and Technology, MTA New York City Transit; Adam Ruder, Associate Project Manager, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA); and Keith Kerman, Deputy Commissioner for the New York City Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) and Chief Fleet Officer.
Agricultural practices in the United States remain a significant source of environmental impacts, such as degradation of soil and water quality, and emissions of greenhouse gases. Embracing local agriculture promises to address these problems while building stronger communities. Benefits might include regional cycling of nutrients, preservation of local landscapes, and a more vital economy.
Yet, while the "locavore" movement offers the potential for greater control over our food producing systems, with this comes a responsibility to ensure environmental and economic sustainability. Communities promoting local food systems could lessen the negative impacts of agriculture through increasing the use of perennials (permaculture), shifting toward increased reliance on ecosystem services for crop and soil health, and supporting both planned and associated on-farm biodiversity, all of which will increase agroecosystem resilience in the face of climate change.
The panel discussion looked to uncover the benefits and challenges of local sustainable agriculture from the perspective of climate change, the economy, and our natural resources. Panelists included: Melissa Adams Massachusetts Representative, Keep Farming Program, Glynwood; Dr. Peter M. Groffman Microbial Ecologist, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies; Dr. Jennifer G. Phillips Assistant Professor, Bard Center for Environmental Policy; Dr. Timothy Randhir Associate Professor, University of Massachusetts, Amherst; and Steffen Schneider Director of Farm Operations, Hawthorne Valley Farm.
Superstorm Sandy clean-up, rising food prices, increased heating and cooling costs: we can no longer ignore the direct economic impact of climate change on our day to day lives. Estimating costs of climate change damages informs rule-makers of the benefits of implementing climate change policy. How do policy-makers calculate the costs and benefits associated with carbon emissions reductions?
In collaboration with the Pace Energy and Climate Center, the Bard Center for Environmental Policy hosted an expert panel on the Social Cost of Carbon, an estimate of the economic damages associated with small increases in carbon emissions. Panelists discussed the stark reality of climate change impacts facing the U.S. economy, how the SCC measures the benefits of proposed climate change regulations, and the implications of using the SCC in U.S. climate policy.
Panelists included: Dr. Laurie Johnson, Chief Economist, Climate & Clean Air Program Natural Resources Defense Council; Dr. Robert E. Kopp, Associate Director, Rutgers Energy Institute and Assistant Professor, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Rutgers University; Michael A. Livermore, Executive Director, Institute for Policy Integrity and Adjunct Professor, NYU School of Law.