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October 29, 1998

Experts in environmental policy, development to lecture

Two of the world's foremost scientists in environmental policy and development will discuss what Europe and America can do to better manage resources and control further degradation of the environment at a lecture here Nov. 2.

Sponsored by the University Center for International Studies (UCIS) and the World Federalist Association of Pittsburgh, the second annual Global Integration Lecture will be held at 3 p.m. in the William Pitt Union Assembly Room.

"This year's lecture deals with one of the crucial issues of significance to literally all countries around the globe: physical changes in the global environment, their natural dynamics and policy responses to them," said Burkart Holzner, director of UCIS. Featured speakers are professors John Holdren and Ernst Ulrich von Weizsacker.

Holdren is the Teresa and John Heinz Professor of Environmental Policy and director of the program on science, technology and public policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, and professor of environmental science and public policy in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard University. Holdren will outline the state of scientific knowledge on global physical change attributable to human activity and the scope of the challenges presented by it. "We understand the basics of climate change," Holdren said. "There are uncertainties about the details, the timing and the intensity, and the geographic distribution of the effects. But there is really no serious doubt that continuing to mess with the composition of the atmosphere as we have will have exceedingly disruptive consequences." Weizsacker is president of the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy in the North Rhine/Wesphalian Science Center in Germany. He also is a member-elect of the German Parliament. Weizsacker will present a specific framework for a policy response to this global challenge with a focus on technology, resource productivity and increases in wealth. He has co-authored a book, "Factor Four — Doubling Wealth, Halving Resource Use," on innovative techniques to increase productivity. Weizsacker said, "We can quadruple resource productivity using existing technological knowledge. That would allow the world to double well-being while at the same time halving resource consumption.

"The key words are re-use of chemicals in process engineering, leading to reduced waste flows; longevity and repairability of products, re-manufacturing, recycling and reduced transportation needs," he said.

A biologist by discipline, Weizsacker is the former president of Kassel University, as well as former director of the United Nations Center for Science and Technology for Development in New York and director of the Institute for European Environmental Politics in Bonn. In 1996, he became the first recipient of the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Medal of World Wildlife Fund International.

Holdren also chairs the committee on international security and arms control of the National Academy of Sciences, is director of the MacArthur Foundation and serves as an adviser to President Clinton on science and technology.

In June 1997, Holdren joined with other prominent scientists to release the Scientists' Statement on Global Climatic Disruptions. The document warns of the threat of climate change and advocates a strong and swift policy response.

"It is absolutely essential that we get on with the job, starting now, to try to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, even in the absence of complete certainty about what the consequences of not doing that would be," Holdren said.

"We really need to understand this as disruptive. Even the term 'global climate change,' which better describes the variety of things going on, does not adequately express that we are messing up this system on which our well-being depends." Inaugurated in 1997 by Nobel Peace Laureate Oscar Arias, former president of Costa Rica, the Global Integration Lecture series reflects the growing importance of global concerns. It annually highlights innovative approaches from different world regions that address issues of global significance and enhance integration, cooperation and the rule of law.

The lecture is free and open to the public, but tickets must be reserved. For tickets, call the World Federalist Association at 471-4852.

Filed under: Feature,Volume 31 Issue 5

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