YCEI Workshops and Forums For 2014-2015

July 8, 2014

The Yale Climate and Energy Institute announced $50,000 in funding last week for Yale faculty to organize workshops and forums for the coming year.  The range of successful proposals – from the humanities and social sciences to biology, atmospheric science, nuclear energy and green chemistry – reflects YCEI’s role as Yale’s hub for interdisciplinary research on climate change.  Sponsored events in 2014-15 will include:

Green Chemistry: Mitigating Climate & Energy Impacts Through Design of Chemical Products and Processes.

Co-PI’s Julie Zimmerman and Paul Anastas of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies will organize a one-day workshop that includes a morning forum to share case studies of new products and processes that reduce energy use in high-energy applications such as separation technologies, catalyst design, non-fossil energy sources, and lubrication.  The target audience for the morning session includes the Yale environmental community and possibly a broader range of local and regional stakeholders through advance registration.  An afternoon session will see stakeholders from the chemical industry, academia, regulatory and NGO worlds engaging in a roundtable discussion of issues relevant to the challenges of adopting new advances.

Tropical extremes:
 High-impact weather and climate events in monsoon regions

The processes that govern the variability of monsoons are poorly understood but profoundly important. These seasonal storms deliver water to billions of people in Africa, Asia, and the Americas, and variations in monsoon strength can have devastating impacts on the inhabitants of these regions.  The fragmented state of the international community that studies the phenomena compounds the challenge of understanding and therefore predicting them. 

Assistant Professor Bill Boos of the Yale Geology and Geophysics Department is the organizer of the workshop.  He anticipates participation from Africa, South Asia, Australia and the tropical Americas.  Projected outcomes include an improved dialogue between the research, forecast and social impacts communities representing those regions, and development of new research integrated with the capacity for forecasting and outreach.

Future Earth: Fast Track Initiatives and Cluster Monitoring

Future Earth is sponsored by members of the Science and Technology Alliance for Global Sustainability, which includes UN and non-UN related organizations seeking to increase sustainability and responsiveness to environmental risk and change. Walter Jetz, Associate Professor with the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, is the lead scientist on an international team that was recently awarded NSF funding for a new Future Earth cluster activity on Global Biodiversity Monitoring, Prediction & Reporting. His YCEI workshop grant brings together a group of approximately 40 colleagues worldwide to identify data gaps and shared standards for data collection and storage preliminary to his proposed overarching Future Earth effort.

“Despite its fundamental relevance to almost all Future Earth projects, information on biodiversity and function in space and time remains surprisingly non-integrated and underused,” he says.

Nuclear Forum

Nuclear power satisfies nearly 20% of the nation’s energy needs, and as much as half for states including New Jersey, South Carolina, Illinois and Connecticut.  Its carbon-free nature, and safety record compared with coal – which kills millions of people each year – has earned nuclear power a long second look.  Leading climate scientists including James Hanson, Kerry Emanuel and Michael Mann have taken strong public stands on its behalf.

Adjunct Professor of Chemical and Environmental Engineering Professor Yehiah Khalil, who helped write new safety protocols following Three Mile Island, and Yale College student Jared Milfred, the nation’s youngest licensed nuclear plant operator, are organizing a forum to inform the non-expert Yale public of new technological and policy developments that could lead to increased utilization of nuclear power in efforts to reduce greenhouse emissions.

Climate, Ecology, Culture and History

Scientists who study the history of climate, and those who study the history of man see increasing utility in each other’s work.  Only in the post-Ice Age Holocene is there a human record to complement other proxies that atmospheric scientists use to understand climate; advances in climate science offer insight on events of concern to historians and anthropologists.

This grant leverages funding from the McMillan Center.  It allows Joseph Manning, the William K. and Marilyn M. Simpson Professor of Classics and History at Yale University, and Rod McIntosh, Professor of Anthropology, to organize two weekend workshops over the course of the year to explore “the relationship between climate, ecology and the historical evolution of societies, institutions and economies.”

Anticipating around thirty participants at each workshop, they imagine leveraging Yale’s historic strength in the humanities to attract distinguish peers and forge a new and important center for the ongoing study of climate and human history at Yale.