As part of the Hamilton Lugar School’s nonpartisan conference on America’s Role in the World®, journalist Emily Atkin will moderate a discussion on climate change and the American public on Thursday, March 5 from 9:45 to 11am in the Shreve Auditorium. Atkin founded and authors a website and daily newsletter, HEATED, where she discusses the politics and science of the climate crisis, as well as the strategies of the fossil fuel industry to shape the debate and the way the issue is discussed by the press. Recent posts have analyzed the potential of educating children about climate change, marketing strategies of the oil industry, and a recent Washington Post op-ed about taxing carbon. Her reporting on climate change has appeared in The New Republic, Slate, and The Hill. She has discussed her climate work on MSNBC, CSPN, and NPR.
Joining her will be Isabella Fallahi, an Iranian Latina high school student and activist from Carmel, Indiana, who is the former director of communications for Zero Hour, an organization dedicated to creating an intersectional movement of young people to combat the climate crisis. She recently co-founded an international climate justice coalition called Polluters Out, which focuses on removing the fossil fuel industry from all spheres of influence. Last summer Zero Hour organized the Youth Climate Summit in Miami, which included workshops, seminars, art exhibits, and a speech by international activist and Fridays for Future founder Greta Thunberg. At the UN Climate Change Conference last December in Madrid, Fallahi joined other youth to protest the participation of fossil fuel companies in shaping policy.
Adding to the debate will be Vice Admiral Lee Gun, who served for thirty-five years in the US Navy, where his last active duty assignment was Inspector General of the Department of the Navy, where he was responsible for the Department’s overall inspection program and its assessments of readiness, training, and quality of service. His international career will prove invaluable in weighing climate change’s effects on the US and the world.
Janet McCabe, Professor of Practice at the Indiana University McKinney School of Law and Director of the IU Environmental Resilience Institute, will also share her perspective as someone focused on the health and economic impacts of climate change and pollution. From 2013 through 2017, McCabe was the Acting Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation at the United States Environmental Protection Agency and was nominated by President Barack Obama to be Assistant Administrator of that office. McCabe recently testified on a public briefing on lead exposure in Indiana and has advocated for a proactive rather than reactive approach to protecting children from environmental pollutants like lead. In outlets like the The Hill, The New York Times, NPR, The Indianapolis Star and Indianapolis Business Journal, she has argued for the use of science to protect citizens and the environment from unnecessary illnesses and deaths stemming from pollution. As director of the IU Environmental Resilience Institute, she is working to better prepare Indiana for the environmental changes—such as higher precipitation and lower crop yields—caused by climate change.
Finally, Jessica O’Reilly of the Hamilton Lugar School will contribute in her role as an environmental anthropologist who understands the role of scientists in shaping the policy debate surrounding climate change. Through participant observation and ethnographic interviews, she examines how people and ideas in science and policy interact, how experts make decisions about matters of concern, and how relationships with the environment inform knowledge production. O’Reilly’s 2017 book, The Technocratic Antarctic: an Ethnography of Scientific Expertise and Environmental Governance, was an ethnographic account of the scientists and policy makers living on Antarctica. These scientists are not just producers of knowledge but a community of people who, she says, “exert authority in environmental management and governance structures.” Her current project investigates how members of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change—the gold standard of scientific consensus that won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007—make decisions in their widely influential reports.
This panel is sponsored by the Hamilton Lugar School’s Randall L. and Deborah F. Tobias Center for Innovation in International Development, which works to determine how best to assist countries in need, while fostering their self sufficiency.