Plenary and Featured Speakers
James R. Lyons
Robert K. Musil
Rajendra K. Pachauri
J. Drake Hamilton
R. Max Holmes
Polaris Project Team Members
Thomas Van Wylen
The Listening Project
Richard Alley, Evan Pugh Professor of Geosciences and associate of the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute at Pennsylvania State University, is a contributing scientist with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations network of scientists that shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former Vice President Al Gore. As a member of the IPCC's Working Group I, he helped author a comprehensive assessment of the physical science of climate change titled "Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis." Alley teaches and conducts research on the climatic records, flow behavior, and sedimentary deposits of large ice sheets to aid in prediction of future changes in climate and sea level. As part of that research, he has conducted fieldwork in Antarctica, Greenland and Alaska. Alley chaired the National Research Council Committee on Abrupt Climate Change and was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. He has been involved with advisory groups to improve national and international research and has been active in translating research findings to a broad audience through television, radio, and print outlets. Alley’s popular account of climate change and ice cores, The Two-Mile Time Machine, was chosen as the Science Book of the Year by Phi Beta Kappa in 2001.
Majora Carter simultaneously addresses public health, poverty alleviation, and climate change as one of the nation’s pioneers in successful green-collar job training and placement systems. She founded Sustainable South Bronx in 2001 to achieve environmental justice through economically sustainable projects informed by community needs. Her work has been noted in numerous books and celebrated with awards from the National Audubon Society, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Resources Defense Council, among others. She is a MacArthur “Genius” Fellow, one of Essence Magazine’s 25 Most Influential African-Americans in 2007, and one of the NY Post’s Most Influential NYC Women for the past two years. She has been recording a special National Public Radio series, “The Promised Land,” for 2009 release. As President of the Majora Carter Group, LLC, her work now includes advising cities, foundations, universities, businesses, and communities around the world on unlocking their green-collar economic potential to benefit everyone.
Paul Eger '96 has been with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) since February of 2002 and was named commissioner in January 2009 by Governor Tim Pawlenty. He began his career at the agency as a legislative liaison, where he represented the agency on legislative and statewide environmental policy matters. In September 2006, Eger accepted a position as manager of the MPCA’s Clean Water Legacy Act efforts. He was promoted to Assistant Commissioner of Water Policy in July 2007 and assumed the position of Deputy Commissioner in August 2008. Prior to joining the MPCA, Eger served as a committee administrator and legislative assistant for the Minnesota State Senate. Eger received a masters degree in public administration from Hamline University in 2005 and his undergraduate degree in political science from Saint Olaf College in 1996.
John Francis, known the world over as the Planetwalker, witnessed an oil spill in San Francisco Bay in 1971. The effects of the spill compelled him to stop using motorized vehicles. Several months later, to stop the arguments about the power of one person’s actions, he took a vow of silence. His non‐motorized lifestyle lasted 22 years, and his silence lasted 17 years. During that time Francis walked across the United States, earned a B.A at Southern Oregon State College, an M.S. in Environmental Studies at the University of Montana, and a Ph.D. in land resources at the University of Wisconsin. He later sailed and walked through the Caribbean and then walked the length of South America. Francis will speak on his journey, his unique perspective on environment, and how we can each make a difference in our world. He is the author of:Planetwalker. 22 Years of Walking. 17 Years of Silence.
In 2006, Amy Klobuchar became the first woman elected to represent the State of Minnesota in the United States Senate. She previously served for eight years as the Hennepin County prosecutor. Senator Klobuchar serves on five Senate committees, including the Environment and Public Works Committee and the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. The portfolios of these committees include water quality, oceans, the atmosphere, and public sector solutions to global warming.
James R. Lyons is the vice president for policy and communications at Oxfam America. Before joining Oxfam America, Lyons was Executive Director of the Casey Tree Endowment Fund, one of the nation's largest urban conservation and ecological restoration NGOs. Earlier, Lyons served in the Clinton Administration as Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment in the Department of Agriculture. Highlights of his time in that position include drafting the conservation and forestry titles of the 1990 Farm Bill, co-chairing an interagency effort to develop the Clean Water Action Plan, assisting in the restructuring of the Department of Agriculture, promoting national conservation and environmental leadership at the USDA, and facilitating major land acquisitions for the national forest system. Lyons has been teaching at Yale's School of Forestry and Environmental Studies since 2001.
Robert K. Musil is a scholar in residence at the American University School of International Service where he teaches in the program on global environmental politics and the Nuclear Studies Institute. He is the chairman of the board at 20/20 Vision: Environment, Energy and Security Solution. Musil was the longest-serving executive director and CEO of Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR), winner of the 1985 Nobel Prize for Peace and helped launch PSR’s environmental program in the early 1990’s leading campaigns for safe and affordable drinking water, clean air, the prevention of toxic pollution, and global climate change. He is the author of the forthcoming book, Hope for a Heated Planet: How Americans are Fighting Global Warming and Building a Better Future. Musil is a graduate of Yale and Northwestern Universities and the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and has been a Visiting Honorary Fellow at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and of Pembroke College, Cambridge University and is a Woodrow Wilson Foundation Visiting Fellow.
Rajendra K. Pachauri, Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Director-General of The Energy and Resources Institute has served as chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations network of scientists that shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former Vice President Al Gore, since 2002. He is also the director-general of The Energy and Resources Institute and chancellor of TERI University. The Energy and Resources Institute conducts research and provides professional support in the areas of energy, environment, forestry, biotechnology and the conservation of natural resources. Pachauri has been active in several international forums dealing with the subject of climate change and its policy dimensions, including the International Solar Energy Society, the World Resources Institute Council, the International Association for Energy Economics, and the Asian Energy Institute. In January 2008 the president of India awarded Pachauri the “Padma Vibhushan,” the second highest civilian award in India, for his services in the fields of science and engineering.
Helene York is director of the Bon Appétit Management Company Foundation, whose mission is to educate consumers and chefs about how their food choices affect the global environment and to catalyze supply chain changes. She is a national expert on the food system's contribution to climate change and the architect of Bon Appétit's Low Carbon Diet program, which seeks to reduce emissions associated with food service operations by 25% over five years.
In the first year, the company beat its own targets of reducing purchases of the most 'high-carbon foods' by more than 10%. The foundation developed an online calculator at www.eatlowcarbon.org that allows users to calculate the global warming potential of different food choices, the only publicly available tool that offers consumers the ability to compare options based on lifecycle assessment of environmental impacts from food production, transportation and processing. Ms. York is also a longtime sustainable seafood champion and a strong proponent of adding transportation mode to considering whether a seafood species should be considered sustainable.