TEDxEvergreen Event, ‘Hello Climate Change: Rethinking the Unthinkable,’ Captures Climate Change

April 20, 2012

Yoram Bauman has a plan to solve global warming. But if you want to hear it, you’d better be prepared to laugh first. Bauman, the self-titled “Stand-Up Economist” and ten other speakers from the Northwest were featured at the April16th event “Hello Climate Change” on The Evergreen State College campus. Each gave a talk on a climate change-related theme that was recorded and will be available soon as a TEDx talk online on the TEDx YouTube channel. TEDxEvergeen is an independently organized event, licensed by TED. The aim of the event was to educate the community about the topic of climate change and encourage faculty at the college to include climate change in their teaching.

Bauman, an economist at the University of Washington, is an advocate of a revenue-neutral carbon tax similar to that levied in British Columbia and also a stand-up comic. His presentation pokes fun at the "Ten Principles of Economics" made famous by Harvard professor Greg Mankiw. “It takes a Ph.D. in economics to understand these,” Bauman begins. “Fortunately I have one.”

The 300 attending the event -- including faculty, staff, students, and community members -- heard talks on topics ranging from a stripped-down description of climate change by David Roberts of Grist.com, to a summary of the effects of climate change on the Northwest by Jeremy Littell of the University of Washington Climate Resource Group. Roberts’ talk, “Climate Change is Simple,” emphasized that scientists have understood the mechanism behind global warming for over a century. Recent data suggest that global greenhouse gas emissions worldwide need to peak and then fall within 5 to 10 years to minimize the risk of uncontrolled planetary warming. But global action has been difficult to accomplish. “Climate change is simple, not easy,” said Roberts.

Littell summarized the data on climate change in the region, including temperature increases of 1.6 degrees F since 1910 and about 1.0 F since 1960. Continued warming is likely to have a series of effects on the region including wetter winters and drier summers. Among the many impacts of these changes will be a reduction in the size of favorable habitat for salmon, and drier forests more susceptible to fires and insects.

Other speakers included Evergreen faculty members Anne de Marcken, Larry Geri, Zoltan Grossman, Carolyn Prouty, Steve Verhey, and Bret Weinstein, Julia Field, founder of the nonprofit Undriving, which advocates for alternatives to driving, and Evergreen alumna and storyteller Elizabeth Lord.

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