May 14, 2009

Climate Change a Contentious Topic at UCLA Anderson Panel Discussion

Global warming skeptics cite a lack of evidence

By Susanna Park

LOS ANGELES - As legislators move to push the American Clean Energy and Security Act through Congress, the issue of global warming continues to be debated among scientific and political circles, and has become a matter of growing concern in American society. This timely and controversial topic produced debate at a UCLA Anderson panel discussion held on May 7, 2009 titled, "Climate Change: What can we expect? What can and should we do?"

The session was presented by the UCLA Anderson Board of Visitors and was moderated by Cinny Kennard, a senior fellow at the USC Annenberg School for Communication's Center on Communication Leadership and Policy. The panel featured Myron Ebell, Director, Energy and Global Warming Policy and Chair, Cooler Heads Coalition; William Happer, Ph.D., Cyrus Fogg Professor of Physics, Princeton University; Michael J. Prather, Ph.D., Fred Kavli Chair and Professor of Earth System Science and Director, UC Irvine Environment Institute: Global Change, Energy, and Sustainable Resources; and Joao Teixeira, Ph.D., Global Change and Energy Program, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Each of the panelists began by presenting four-minute summaries of his views on climate change. The validity of climate change proved to be a contentious topic as panelists were asked to address each other's opinions and research. NASA researcher Joao Teixeira claimed that drastic climate change has been occurring at a rapid rate, arguing that there has been a 50% decrease in Arctic sea ice. In response, physicist William Happer stated that the Arctic sea ice has largely recovered from any warming, noting that findings are biased due to the short amount of observation time by satellites and other forms of measure.

Myron Ebell echoed Dr. Happer's stance, saying it is difficult to get accurate predictions about global warming and that "looking at a little piece of data can be very misleading." He warned audience members not to buy into alarmist claims, to which UC Irvine Professor Michael Prather responded that, "it's not a matter of belief, but a matter of testability." Prather went on to say that the earth has experienced unusual climate change over the past 20 to 30 years, and that a pattern of warming matches claims that global warming is indeed occurring.

Moderator Cindy Kennard opened up the discussion to audience members, who addressed the tension between panelists and raised questions about the practical ways people can cultivate sustainability in their everyday lives.

About UCLA Anderson School of Management
UCLA Anderson School of Management, established in 1935, is regarded among the leading business schools in the world. UCLA Anderson faculty members are renowned for their teaching excellence and research in advancing management thinking. Each year, UCLA Anderson provides management education to more than 1,700 students enrolled in MBA, Executive MBA, Fully-Employed MBA and doctoral programs, and to more than 2,000 professional managers through executive education programs. Combining highly selective admissions, varied and innovative learning programs, and a world-wide network of 36,000 alumni, UCLA Anderson develops and prepares global leaders.

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