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UCI hosts symposium to ‘Focus the Nation’ on global warming solutions



Focus the Nation is an unprecedented educational initiative on global warming solutions for America occurring at more than 1,000 universities and colleges and in all 50 states. As the largest teach-in in U.S. history, Focus the Nation is preparing millions of youth to become leaders in what organizers call the largest challenge to civilization any generation has faced. Students, faculty and staff at UC Irvine have planned exhibits, lectures, discussions and other activities that explore the many dimensions of climate change and environmental sustainability. A sustainable lunch will be provided for registered guests. Attendees will be able to offset their carbon emissions by contributing to habitat restoration through the OC Chapter of the Society for Conservation Biology.
DATE: Wednesday, January 30, 2008
TIME: Wednesday, Jan. 30: 7-9:30 p.m.; Thursday, Jan. 31: 8:30 a.m.-9 p.m.
LOCATION: Various locations within and around the UCI Student Center.


Focus the Nation’s teach-in centers on three essential pillars for embracing solutions to global warming: education, civic engagement and leadership. “Today’s college students are truly the greatest generation,” says Lewis & Clark College professor of economics Eban Goodstein, author and project director for Focus the Nation. “No other generation has ever had to face this kind of challenge. And we as educators would be failing if we did not prepare them with the tools to meet this challenge.”

Organizing the UCI event has been a collaborative effort of the Focus the Nation steering committee, Students for Sustainability and the OC Chapter of the Society for Conservation Biology. Steering committee members Montgomery Norton and Gabriela Brockhoff, graduate students in planning, policy & design, and Jessica Pratt, lecturer in developmental & cell biology, began their work more than one year ago.

Norton says the trio did not know what they were getting into when they volunteered. “Dr. Goodstein gave a presentation at UCI last winter, and when he asked if there was anyone who wanted to plan and host the event, we were the only ones who raised our hands. Since then we’ve taught ourselves Event Planning 101, 102 and 103. I think we have brought about an unprecedented level of campus collaboration. We are bridging the gap between UCI, the City of Irvine and the surrounding community to effectively engage in this critical issue and work to solve the greatest challenge to civilization.”

Their dedication mirrors UCI’s commitment to sustainability and its long history of providing international leadership in climate change research. “Our students are the creative and driving force behind many campus sustainability initiatives,” says Wendell Brase, vice chancellor of administrative & business services. “Their hard work and enthusiasm continues to alter campus culture, policy and operations in a ‘green’ way. Without them, we would not be able to achieve our campus sustainability goals.”

Among the highlights at UCI:

Wednesday, Jan. 30

7-9 p.m. Lucille Kuehn Auditorium (Humanities Instructional Building, Room 100): “The 2% Solution” will be webcast by the National Wildlife Federation and aired by the Earth Day Network. Panelists include Steve Schneider, Stanford University climate scientist; Hunter Lovins, CEO, Natural Capitalism, and environmental justice leader; and Van Jones, executive director, Ella Baker Center in Oakland. The webcast will be followed by an audience discussion on strategies to stabilize U.S. carbon dioxide emissions. Jones will appear at UCI the next day to give a plenary session on green-collar jobs.

Thursday, Jan. 31
(All events in UCI Student Center unless otherwise noted)

8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.: Sustainability Showcase highlights efforts at UCI to address sustainability and climate change. Awards based on visitor votes will be presented by UCI Chancellor Michael V. Drake at the end of the day.
8:30 a.m.-5 p.m., Ring Mall: Environmental Expo of local businesses and organizations including Ease E-Waste, which will exchange used cell phones for REI coupons.
9-9:50 a.m., Plenary I: Opening remarks by Chancellor Drake and keynote address by Michael Prather, professor of Earth system science and member of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
10-10:45 a.m.: Discussion of political climate by mayors Beth Krom of Irvine, Debbie Cook of Huntington Beach and Miguel Pulido of Santa Ana.
10-10:45 a.m.: “Regional Solutions – Transportation, Land Use and Housing in Southern California,” moderated by Scott Bollens, professor of planning, policy & design, and featuring Sara Catz, senior counselor, MWW Group; and Lindell L. Marsh, land use and environmental facilitator and attorney.
11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m.: “In Case of Abrupt Climate Shift, Break Glass,” by Gregory Benford, professor emeritus of physics & astronomy.
12:30-1:25 p.m., Anteater Staircase and Pacific Terrace: Sustainable foods lunch, free for registered attendees.
1-1:25 p.m., Location to be arranged: Coastal Live Oak planting sponsored by the OC Society for Conservation Biology Restoration Committee.
1:30-2:15 p.m., Plenary II: “Green for All,” by Van Jones, green jobs pioneer and executive director, Ella Baker Center in Oakland.
2:30-3:10 p.m.: “UC Solutions,” featuring Wendell Brase, vice chancellor of administrative & business services; and Andy Coghlan, LEED AP sustainability specialist, UC Office of the President.
2:30-3:10 p.m.: “Climate Change and Public Health,” moderated by Aaron Hipp, UCI graduate student and featuring Oladele Ogunseitan, professor of public health.
2:30-3:10 p.m.: “Ghosts of the Anasazi: Climate Change and Inequality in the Borderlands,” featuring Mike Davis, professor of history.
3:15-4:30 p.m.: Panel/roundtable discussion on political solutions to issues raised during the day.
7-9 p.m.: “Revolution Green: A True Story of Biodiesel in America,” documentary produced by Irvine resident Jessica Kelly and narrated by Woody Harrelson. The film follows the lives of Bob and Kelly King, who created America’s first sustainable biodiesel refinery for the island of Maui and partnered with Willie Nelson to replicate their success across the nation. A question and answer session with the producer and director will follow the screening.

Topics of other sessions include water, energy, green building and sustainable foods. For a complete agenda of events, go to


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