The NY Salon , Discover and Reason present:
The Human Footprint – has civilization gone too far?
Tuesday, February 13, 7 to 8:30pm
Theresa Lang Center, The New School,
55 West 13th Street, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10011
Increasingly we are being warned about doomsday scenarios. Whether it is the depletion of fossil fuels or the rising water levels due to melting of the polar caps, the tenor of the discussion is alarmist. James Lovelock, author of Revenge of Gaia warns us of approaching Armageddon-like destruction if we continue to live the way we do and there are a host of commentators who deplore the idea of progress and development, suggesting that if China and India continue on the path that America and Europe pursued the end will be nigh.
From Hurricane Katrina to the 2004 Tsunami we are continually told by serious commentators that we are experiencing ‘nature’s revenge.’ Human hubris is sited as reason for what were once seen as natural disasters that happened from time to time. We are told to switch off our lights, recycle our garbage and try not to have too damaging an impact and ‘footprint’ on the world.
Are we really facing such a calamity? What is the role of rational enquiry and science in the debate about the environment? Why does it seem like the debate is often infused with panic and urgency? Should we demand a more sober reflection or are we up against the clock? How is it that we have come to perceive ourselves as the biggest threat to our existence, rather than a solution provider and innovator?
Corey Powell, is executive editor of Discover magazine, where he oversees the magazine’s design and editorial content. Previously he held positions as a features editor at Discover, as the magazine’s news editor, and as the director of Discover.com. Before joining Discover he spent eight years on the Board of Editors at Scientific American, where he coordinated the magazine’s physics and astronomy coverage. He has also worked at Physics Today and at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, where he assisted in testing and fabrication of high-energy astrophysics experiments. His first book, God in the Equation, an exploration of the spiritual impulse in modern cosmology, was published in 2002 by the Free Press. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, Newsday, the Los Angeles Times, World Art, and The Forward.
Corey is an adjunct professor of science writing in NYU¹s Science and Environmental Reporting Program (currently on sabbatical). Major media appearances include guest spots on CNN, MSNBC, ABC News, Fox News, CBS News, WABC, WB11, the Sci Fi Channel, Science Friday, BBC Radio, 1010 WINS, and the Leonard Lopate show, along with consultant work for Chedd-Angier and Big Rock Productions.
Ronald Bailey is an award winning science correspondent for Reason magazine, where he regularly writes on issues such as biotechnology, climate change, environmental policy, globalization, and stem cell research.
Bailey has testified before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources and is author of the book Liberation Biology: The Moral and Scientific Defense of the Biotech Revolution (Prometheus Books, 2005) and his work is featured in The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2004.
He is also author of the book The False Prophets of Ecological Apocalypse (St. Martins Press, 1993) and editor of several other books, including: Global Warming and Other Eco Myths: How the Environmental Movement Uses False Science to Scare Us to Death (Competitive Enterprise Institute, 2002), Earth Report 2000: Revisiting The True State of the Planet (McGraw Hill, 1999) and The True State of the Planet (The Free Press, 1995). Bailey’s articles and reviews have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The New York Times Book Review, The Public Interest, Smithsonian magazine, National Review, Forbes, The Washington Times, Newsday, Reader’s Digest, and many others. Prior to joining Reason in 1997, Bailey produced several weekly national public television series including Think Tank and TechnoPolitics, as well as several documentaries for PBS television and ABC News.
Austin Williams is the director of the Future Cities Project; director of the Transport Research Group and editor of Shortcuts: essential guides for building designers . An architect by profession, he is also a regular columnist in the Daily Telegraph Motoring section and a Visiting Tutor at the Vehicle Design department of the Royal College of Art. He was previously the technical editor of the Architects’ Journal.
He has written widely on urbanism, architecture and transport and convened the ‘ Future Vision: Future Cities ‘ conference at the LSE; ‘ The Future of London festival ‘ at the Museum of London and recently organized the ‘ Future of Community festival ‘ at Central St Martins College of Art and Design.
He edited “Transport in the New Millennium”; co-authored “The Macro World of MicroCars” and is currently writing “The Dangers of Sustainability”.
He has written for, amongst others: Top Gear, Politico, The Times Literary Supplement, New Humanist, The Times Higher Educational Supplement, MJ, Blueprint and Building Design. www.futurecities.org.uk
Martin I. Hoffert is Professor Emeritus of Physics and former Chair of the Department of Applied Science at New York University. He has been on the research staff of the Curtiss-Wright Corporation, General Applied Science Laboratories, Advanced Technology Laboratories, Riverside Research Institute and National Academy of Sciences Senior Resident Research Associate at the NASA/Goddard Institute for Space Studies. Prof. Hoffert has published broadly in fluid mechanics, plasma physics, atmospheric science, oceanography, planetary atmospheres, environmental science, solar and winds energy conversion and space solar power. His work in geophysics aimed at development of theoretical models of atmospheres and oceans to address environmental issues, including the ocean/climate model first employed by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to assess global warming from different scenarios of fossil fuel use. His early model of the evolving CO2 greenhouse in Mars’ atmosphere is also of interest today — providing both an explanation of Mars’ riverbed-like channels formed in the distant past and a motivation for terra forming its atmosphere for human habitability in the future.His research in alternate energy conversion includes wind tunnel and full-scale experiments on innovative wind turbines, photovoltaic generation of hydrogen and wireless power transmission (WPT) applied to solar power satellites. His present efforts focus on energy technologies that could stabilize climate change from the fossil fuel greenhouse – including (but not limited to) space solar power. He is a Member of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) was elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). He is presently a consultant to Versatility Software, Inc.
Moderated by: Alan Miller - Director The NY Salon
Alan is a co-founder of The Truman Brewery, a 10 acre site in London’s East End. The Truman Brewery now has over 200 companies, ranging from recording studios to art galleries, entertainment spaces, restaurants, bars, cafes, fashion and retail. It has been largely responsible for regenerating a significant area of London and creating a new cultural quarter. Alan has a production company where he is a tv and film director. He has had his work broadcast internationally, with a specialization in music videos and live events. He is currently producing a theatrical show which launches in London this summer. He writes on various cultural issues for several publications and is a published author. www.alandmiller.net