Environmental Policy in Historical Perspective

Panel Discussion with Bill McKibben, Robert Pollin, Thea Riofrancos and Eve Vogel, moderated by Ashwin Ravikumar, November 12, 6pm

Listen to the Audio Here

We have only a few years left to make deep cuts to greenhouse gas emissions. This event will reflect on the implications of the U.S. election results for meeting this imperative. What are the prospects for a Green New Deal and other urgently needed measures, in the United States and beyond? How can the destructive power of the fossil fuel industries be neutralized? The panelists will analyze the current moment while also offering a historical perspective on environmental policy and movements.

This event was recorded live on Zoom and is available on Facebook, YouTube andSoundcloud. Closed captioning available.

The Presenters

Bill McKibben is a co-founder of the grassroots climate campaign 350.org and the Schumann Distinguished Professor in Residence at Middlebury College in Vermont. He was a 2014 recipient of the Right Livelihood Prize, sometimes called the ‘alternative Nobel,’ and the Gandhi Peace Award. He has written over a dozen books about the environment, including his first, The End of Nature, published 30 years ago, and his most recent, Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?

Robert Pollin is Distinguished University Professor of Economics and Co-Director of the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) at UMass Amherst. His books include The Living Wage: Building a Fair Economy (co-authored 1998); Contours of Descent: U.S. Economic Fractures and the Landscape of Global Austerity (2003); An Employment-Targeted Economic Program for South Africa (co-authored 2007); A Measure of Fairness: The Economics of Living Wages and Minimum Wages in the United States (co-authored 2008), Back to Full Employment (2012), Green Growth (2014), Global Green Growth (2015) and Greening the Global Economy (2015). He has worked as a consultant for the U.S. Department of Energy, the International Labour Organization, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, and numerous non-governmental organizations in several countries and in U.S. states and municipalities on various aspects of building high-employment green economies. He has also directed projects on employment creation and poverty reduction in sub-Saharan Africa for the United Nations Development Program.

Ashwin Ravikumar (moderator) is a political ecologist and climate justice advocate. He carries out action research in solidarity with indigenous communities in the Peruvian Amazon to support organizing against extractivism and to ensure that Amazonian people both drive and benefit from environmental conservation. He sits on the town of Amherst’s Energy and Climate Action Committee, and teaches courses on environmental justice and politics at Amherst College.

Thea Riofrancos is Assistant Professor of political science at Providence College, an Andrew Carnegie Fellow (2020-2022), and a Radcliffe Institute Fellow (2020-2021). Her research focuses on resource extraction, renewable energy, climate change, green technology, social movements, and the left in Latin America. These themes are explored in her book, Resource Radicals: From Petro-Nationalism to Post-Extractivism in Ecuador (Duke University Press, 2020) and her co-authored book, A Planet to Win: Why We Need a Green New Deal (Verso Books, 2019). She is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America and serves on the steering committee of the organization’s Ecosocialist Working Group.

Eve Vogel is Associate Professor of Geosciences at UMass Amherst. Her research investigates the human-environmental dynamics and histories of rivers, particularly the Columbia River system. She is currently writing a book that tells a seventy-year history of regional Columbia River basin management. She is also in the early stages of projects on the Connecticut River and on comparative river governance.

Recommended Readings

The Feinberg Family Distinguished Lecture Series is made possible thanks to the generosity of UMass Amherst history department alumnus Kenneth R. Feinberg ’67 and associates. The series is co-sponsored by more than 3 dozen university and community organizations.