DiPerna: Climate Crisis Requires Liberal Arts Solution

November 17, 2009

The 6th Annual Leslie G. Rude Memorial Lecture took place at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, November 12, 2009, in Anderson Center for the Arts Theatre on the Hartwick College campus. Paula DiPerna, executive vice president of the Chicago Climate Exchange and president of Chicago Climate Exchange International, delivered a lecture titled "A Network of Early Adaptors: The Chicago Climate Exchange Experience as the World's First Cap-and-Trade to Address Climate Change."

Before the lecture, Hartwick College President Dr. Margaret L. Drugovich announced that Professor Emerita Norma Hutman made an additional gift of $50,000 to continue the lecture series in memory of the late Rude, an outstanding Hartwick College faculty member and administrator. Hutman said that "Les would be pleased by the way students care about society."

"No life is all good. Memory is selective," Hutman continued. "If you do not choose to remember the good and forget the bad, you're a fool. And I'm no fool."

During her talk, DiPerna outlined the finer points of emissions reduction and trading in relation to climate change. Her presentation incorporated visual aids designed with the layperson in mind. DiPerna explained that climate change is a cross-disciplinary problem. Science, anthropology, sociology, law, art, and economics were some of the fields mentioned.

"You've got to have a liberal arts approach to this problem," DiPerna said. "Your challenge is to choose one of these things to devote your life to and leave the rest to somebody else."

DiPerna discussed her experiences at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. She explained that the Chicago Climate Exchange began with a grant from the Joyce Foundation, a philanthropic organization, in 2000. The Chicago Climate Exchange began trading in 2003 and today "operates a voluntary, but legally binding cap-and-trade system." Entities compete for the right to use the carbon credits, which creates scarcity and adds value to those credits.

"Our goal is to put a price on something that would otherwise be an externality," DiPerna said.

"The only thing that is going to reconcile economics and the environment is job creation. The only jobs being created in manufacturing are in the environmental sector. The future of your world is in a clean industrial revolution."

"It's much better to get started than to wait," DiPerna added.

DiPerna concluded the lecture with some final advice for students. "If I leave the students with one thing, it's this: Choose a passion. Take a risk. You have an excellent faculty and tremendous resources here."

By Alicia Walstad '10

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Hartwick College is a private liberal arts and sciences college of 1,480 students, located in Oneonta, NY in the northern foothills of the Catskill Mountains. Hartwick's expansive Liberal Arts in Practice curriculum merges traditional liberal arts study, personalized teaching, and experiential learning approaches to emphasize Connecting the Classroom to the World. Add to that a wide range of off-campus internships, collaborative research, study-abroad opportunities, and a unique January Term, and Hartwick prepares students for the world ahead. Strong financial aid and scholarship programs keep a Hartwick education affordable.

Contact: Christopher Lott
Phone: 607-431-4030