Weston Roundtable Series

collage of photos

Thursdays, 4:15-5:15 PM
1163 Mechanical Engineering, 1513 University Avenue

*unless noted otherwise in the list


The Weston Roundtable is made possible by a generous donation from Mr. Roy F. Weston, a highly accomplished UW-Madison alumnus. Designed to promote a robust understanding of sustainability science, engineering, and policy, these interactive lectures are co-sponsored by the Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment (SAGE), and the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and the Office of Sustainability. These lectures build on the tremendous success in past years of the Weston Distinguished Lecture Series and the SAGE Seminar Series.

***Please note room change to 1163 Mechanical Engineering this semester***

Fall 2016 Schedule

photo of Noelle Eckley Selin

Thursday, September 8
Noelle Eckley Selin
Associate Professor, Associate Director, Technology & Policy Program, Institute for Data, Systems & Society Dept of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Science MIT

Modeling and Evaluating the Impacts of Air Pollution and Climate Policies
Air pollution and climate change are fundamentally linked, and policies to mitigate air pollution and climate can result in synergies or conflicts. Effective regulation of air pollution and climate thus requires a systems approach with better understanding of environmental transport, impacts and feedbacks. To address this need, Prof. Selin uses policy evaluation, atmospheric chemistry, and human health and economic impacts analysis via coupled modeling approaches. She will illustrate with examples based on recent and proposed policy actions in the U.S. and China.

photo of James P. Kossin

Thursday, September 15
James P. Kossin
Ph.D, NOAA Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Hurricanes and Climate: What We Know and How Well We Know It
Tropical cyclones (or hurricanes, or typhoons, depending on the region) are part of the global climate system and are understood to react to climate variability. Exactly how they are affected is a topic of considerable interest, particularly how they respond to anthropogenic climate change. A great deal of progress toward better understanding of the relationships between tropical cyclones and climate change has been made in the past decade or so, but there is still substantial uncertainty in both past and projected manifestations of these relationships. Our speaker will discuss the current state of knowledge and introduce recent findings on this topic.

photo of William Powers

Thursday, September 22
William Powers
Senior Fellow, World Policy Institute

The Bolivian Eco-Municipality: A New Sustainability Framework?
The Latin American concept buen vivir or "living well,” represents a paradigm of sustainability steeped in historical practice and currently under revival. Bolivia recently crafted policies around this concept that include the Framework Law of Mother Earth, which grants to ecosystems the equivalent of human rights. Our speaker’s World Policy Institute field study examines how such new biocentric policies play out in one of Bolivia’s twenty-four nationally-designated "ecological municipalities,” the 4,500-person town of Samaipata at the cusp of the Amazon and Andes. Results show the critical link between sustainability and well-being: Samaipata’s happiness levels are above U.S. levels, yet at a tiny fraction of U.S. per capita GDP.

photo of Gabriel Senay

Thursday, September 29
Gabriel Senay
Ph.D., P. E., Research Physical Scientist, U. S. Geological Survey Earth Resources Observation and Science Center (EROS)

Satellite-Based Evapotranspiration for Landscape Response Mapping and Drought Monitoring
Evapotranspiration (ET) maps help to characterize the hydrologic response of the landscape. Modeling approaches that integrate remotely sensed and weather datasets have been successful in estimating ET at multiple spatio-temporal scales for various applications. These range from field-scale crop consumptive use to basin-scale water budget studies, and include drought monitoring and early warning. Our speaker will discuss the formulation and implementation of the Operational Simplified Surface Energy Balance (SSEBop) ET model. He will present application examples using satellite data streams from Landsat and MODIS (MODerate resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) sensors for both the U.S. and the world.

photo of Felix Creutzig

Thursday, October 6
Felix Creutzig
Head of the Land Use, Infrastructure and Transport Working Group, Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC)

Urbanization and Global Environmental Change
Urbanization emerges as a megatrend of the 21st century that is closely entangled with anthropogenic climate change and global land use transitions. In this talk, our speaker will assess the scope of urbanization as a force of global environmental change in different world regions, specifically the loss of the world’s most fertile croplands due to urban land expansion, and the rapid rise of GHG emissions originating in urban or urbanizing areas. Several types of interventions would enable a more sustainable urbanization trajectory. But while solutions, in principle, are feasible, institutional capacity and political will is too often missing. In addition, to steer dynamics into less disruptive geo-biophysical regimes, sustainable urbanization must also be accompanied by a dramatic increase in overall resource efficiency.

photo of Michael Notaro

Thursday, October 13
Michael Notaro
Associate Director, Center for Climatic Research, University of Wisconsin – Madison

Climate Change Projections and Implications for the Great Lakes Region
The Laurentian Great Lakes Basin has been a regional hotspot of climate change, with rising air and lake temperatures, frequent heavy precipitation events, declining lake ice cover, enhanced lake-effect snowfall, and reduced cloud cover. To protect natural resources of the Basin, and to guide vulnerability assessments and adaptation efforts, reliable estimates of the range of future regional climate projections are needed; these must include the significant moderating effect of the Great Lakes on regional climate. Here, results are presented on application of dynamic downscaling from the global to the regional level through a high-resolution climate model, interactively coupled to a lake model, with focus on projected changes in lake temperature and ice cover, lake-effect snow, winter severity, and regional hydrology.

photo of Carlos Velazquez

Thursday, October 20
Carlos Velazquez
Board of Directors, Center for Human-Earth Restoration

Phenology's Effects on the High Arctic Inuit
Nunavut is the largest, northernmost and least populous territory of Canada, and comprises a major portion of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Harbingers of climate change facing Nunavut's residents, the Inuit, have now become realities. The ramifications of global warming (2015 was the hottest year in recorded world history) have accelerated changes to the High Arctic including changes in phenology, the timing of events in natural annual cycles. Our speaker will discuss these phenological changes and their effects on the landscape, its animals, and ultimately the Inuit.

photo of Tisha Schuller ****SPECIAL EVENT**** Time: 5:30 PM, Room: 1106 Mechanical Engineering, NOT RECORDED

Wednesday, October 26
Tisha Schuller ****SPECIAL EVENT**** Time: 5:30 PM, Room: 1106 Mechanical Engineering, NOT RECORDED

Deescalating the Energy Wars
Intensifying political battles have moved environmental conflicts to dinner tables and backyard barbeques. The scope of energy-environmental tensions range from global energy access to neighborhood drilling. In this talk, Tisha tells her story of moving from environmental activist to energy champion. Along the way, she served as the face of the oil and gas industry during five contentious years of Colorado community conflicts. Through personal experience and soul searching, she provides novel views on climate change, reducing energy poverty, and domestic energy conflicts. She will offer a pragmatic view of the energy wars and practical advice on deescalating these increasingly common conflicts.

collage of environmental photos

Thursday, October 27

photo of Alexa Delwiche

Thursday, November 3
Alexa Delwiche
Executive Director, Center for Good Food Purchasing

Beyond Local: Using Public Food Procurement to Support a More Equitable and Sustainable Food System
Across the country, school districts and city governments are using a new procurement policy — the Good Food Purchasing Policy — to align public food purchases with the core values of local economies, environmental sustainability, valued workforce, animal welfare and human nutrition. There are active efforts to expand the Policy nationally; Austin, Chicago, Cincinnati, Madison, New York, the Twin Cities and others are launching campaigns. This talk will provide an overview of the Policy, discuss implementation successes and challenges to date, and highlight efforts from cities across the country to use the Policy to support local priorities, while plugging into a coordinated national strategy.

photo of Regan Zane

Thursday, November 10
Regan Zane
USTAR Endowed Professor and Director, Center for Sustainable Electrified Transportation (SELECT), Utah State University

Technology Aimed at Aggressively Pursuing Accelerated Electric Vehicle Adoption
Today in the U.S., transportation accounts for more than 28 percent of energy use and half of all air pollution, and costs more than $1.5 trillion each year. The transportation sector is the final frontier where the economic and environmental benefits of electrification can be achieved. Our speaker will discuss the technical challenges that limit market adoption of electric vehicles, particularly those related to range anxiety. He will highlight promising technologies in development at the Center for Sustainable Electrified Transportation (SELECT) – including advanced battery systems and electric roadways – which may overcome these challenges and transform the future of transportation.

photo of Kristen Malecki

Thursday, November 17
Kristen Malecki
Assistant Professor, Population Health Sciences, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health

The Social and Environmental Ecology of Health: Findings from The Survey of the Health of Wisconsin
The social ecology of our environmental landscape has both direct and indirect influences on health. Over half the world’s population lives in urban areas and this proportion is expected to increase; these changing landscapes will influence how we respond to environmental stressors. Furthermore, the interaction of social and environmental factors are important drivers of health disparities. Data from the Survey of the Health of Wisconsin (SHOW) will illustrate these multi-level factors that influence health and health disparities. Findings reveal the influence of neighborhood perceptions on health and health behaviors. Conclusions will identify future research strategies to support equitable social and environmental policies that protect our most vulnerable populations.

photo of

Thursday, November 24

photo of Tommy Jasmin

Thursday, December 1
Tommy Jasmin
Space Science and Engineering Center, UW-Madison

Satellite Observed Nighttime Lights — More Than A Pretty Picture
The success of future national and international agreements to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and human health-related air pollution will depend on methods to monitor economic development, energy use, and emission trends remotely and without bias. Satellite-observed nighttime lights provide one mechanism to estimate and track these parameters worldwide. The launch of the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite in November 2011 brought vastly improved nighttime light observation capability. Our speaker will explore potential novel applications for the resulting data, which will help to enable stewardship of Earth's environment and resources.

photo of Sumudu Atapattu

Thursday, December 8
Sumudu Atapattu
Director of Research Centers, University of Wisconsin Law School

Climate Change and Human Rights: Lessons from the Paris Agreement
Despite the potential for climate change to undermine all human rights, it was not recognized as a human rights issue until recently. The international community linked human rights to climate change in documents for the first time in 2010, and 2016 saw the first binding document: the Paris Agreement of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. This agreement includes reference to both human rights and climate justice, but the language left many dissatisfied. Our speaker will evaluate the human rights language in the Paris Agreement and what it means for future victims of climate change.