Past Events

Economics of Climate Change, Post-Hurricane Sandy

August 27, 2012

Wind, Water, and Sunlight: How to Address Global Warming, Air Pollution, and Energy Security.

As our region recovered from the destruction of Hurricane Sandy, conversations about climate change hit even closer to home. On November, 15, 2012, Mark Z. Jacobson, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University, presented the inaugural lecture of SCEPA's new Economics of Climate Change Speaker Series. 

This event was generously supported by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation, the Consulate General of Germany in New York, and the Macroeconomic Policy Institute (IMK).

Global warming, air pollution, and energy insecurity are three of the most significant problems facing the world today. This talk proposed a plan: power 100% of the world's energy uses with wind, water, and sunlight - within 20-40 years.

The plan considered the renewable energy resources available and needed, land and ocean areas required, the number of devices and plants needed, the materials required, reliability, health and climate benefits, costs, changes in the number of jobs, revenue streams, tax consequences, and policies needed for such a conversion.

Due primarily to the efficiency of electricity versus combustion, such a conversion will reduce New York State end-use power demand by ~37%. Because the fuel cost of WWS resources is effectively zero, the conversion will stabilize energy prices indefinitely compared with certain rising fuel costs as fossil fuel supplies diminish. Because nearly all New York State energy will be produced in state, the plan will create net jobs for the state. It will also reduce ~4000 air pollution deaths per year, saving the state 3% of its annual GDP. For more information, please refer to Jacobson's relevant papers.

Jacobson's research looked at the causes and effects of vastly complex processes -- the physics and chemistry of our atmosphere. He and his team at Stanford have pioneered new atmospheric research and analysis techniques that give a picture of the current state of our atmosphere, show what pollution from aerosols, ethanol, agriculture, and ultraviolet radiation are doing to it, and predict how these might affect the climate.

Watch Jacobson in a 2010 TED debate, Does the World Need Nuclear Energy?

Mark Z. Jacobson is Director of the Atmosphere/Energy Program and Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University. He is also a Senior Fellow of the Woods Institute for the Environment and Senior Fellow of the Precourt Institute for Energy. He received a B.S. in Civil Engineering with distinction, an A.B. in Economics with distinction, and an M.S. in Environmental Engineering from Stanford University, in 1988. He received an M.S. in Atmospheric Sciences in 1991 and a PhD in Atmospheric Sciences in 1994 from UCLA. He has been on the faculty at Stanford since 1994. His work relates to the development and application of numerical models to understand better the effects of energy systems and vehicles on climate and air pollution and the analysis of renewable energy resources. He has published two textbooks of two editions each and ~130 peer-reviewed scientific journal articles. He received the 2005 American Meteorological Society Henry G. Houghton Award for "significant contributions to modeling aerosol chemistry and to understanding the role of soot and other carbon particles on climate." He co-authored a 2009 cover article in Scientific American with Dr. Mark DeLucchi of U.C. Davis on how to power the world with renewable energy. He has also served on the Energy Efficiency and Renewables Advisory Committee to the U.S. Secretary of Energy.

SCEPA's Economics of Climate Change Project
Led by SCEPA Faculty Fellow Willi Semmler, SCEPA is investigating the economics of climate change. Initiated in 2010 with a comprehensive international conference, SCEPA is questioning how to enact effective climate change policy in light of fragile domestic and global economies and the possibilities and practicalities of renewable energy. The project hosted a second conference at The New School on September 23 and 24th, 2011, which addressed how to transition from high carbon-intensive technologies to low carbon-intensive technologies.