I just listened to my brother, Jens Lund Snee, interview Stanford Professor Michael Wara, a climate scientist-turned-legal scholar, for Standford’s Generation Anthropocene podcast. See below for Michael’s and Jens’ backgrounds, and for notable quotes from the interview.
Click the link below to listen to the full interview.
An expert on energy and environmental law, Michael Wara’s research focuses on climate and electricity policy. Professor Wara’s current scholarship lies at the intersection between environmental law, energy law, international relations, atmospheric science, and technology policy. Professor Wara was formerly a geochemist and climate scientist and has published work on the history of the El Niño/La Niña system and its response to changing climates, especially those warmer than today. The results of his scientific research have been published in premier scientific journals, including Science and Nature.
Jens-Erik Lund Snee
Jens-Erik Lund Snee is a Masters student at Stanford University studying Geology and Environmental Sciences. He is interested in ways that scientific knowledge can better inform policy, particularly with regard to international natural resources issues. He spent 2011 on a Fulbright Fellowship studying geology and politics in New Zealand.
“The industries that were gonna be regulated played what I think is a disproportionately important roll in driving the design of the law”
“I try to come at the problem from a sort-of fact-based, data-driven… approach, and that isn’t really how things play out in Washington.”
“You don’t see to many ideas that really die in the policy arena, unfortunately, even if there’s a lot of evidence to suggest that they aren’t terribly effective.”
“That person ends up sitting – giving expert testimony to lawmakers – pretending as if – pretending that – this was their idea; that this has nothing to do with a financial arrangement that has been made behind the scenes and I find that – I think that, in particular, gives you some clue as to why ideas, good or bad, don’t die in the policy arena.” (apx 16:00)
“If there was one thing I wish we would try more of, it’s smaller-scale agreements, where we actually do things. Where we experiment with reducing emissions of a particular gas, from a particular industry, and then we learn about how well we can implement those kinds of programs; how much they actually cost, not how much industry and environmental groups say they’re going to cost. And we also learn about our partners in the international negotiation, how much we can trust them, how well they can actually implement agreements that they sign on to.” (18:00)
“I think that, if we could have more sort-of small-scale steps, we could actually get a lot further than we have been by trying to craft this giant kind of global, once-and-for-all agreement.” (20:00)
“We see environmental problems being resolved by regulatory approaches that change behavior, change incentives, and we also see environmental problems being resolved by innovation; but sometimes the innovation is stimulated by the regulation.” (21:00)
“Energy research and development investment in this country is pathetic… We need some basic innovation if we’re going to really change the picture on climate.” (22:00)