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2019 Lecture - Bruce E. Cain

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2019 Julian J. Rothbaum Distinguished Lecture in Representative Government

Distinguished Lecturer: Bruce E. Cain, Stanford University

Bruce E. Cain is an award-winning professor of political science at Stanford University and an expert in U.S. politics, particularly the politics of California and the American West. His expertise includes political regulation, applied democratic theory, representation and state politics. He is currently working on state regulatory processes and stakeholder involvement in the areas of water, energy and the environment.

Cain is the Charles Louis Ducommun Professor in Humanities and Sciences and the Spence and Cleone Eccles Family Director of the Bill Lane Center for the American West at Stanford University. He is also a Senior Fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research and the Precourt Institute for Energy.

Topic: The Politics of Adapting to Climate Change in the American West

In this series of lectures, Professor Cain will examine the challenges of adapting to climate change in the American West. While this issue has been politically divisive to date, are there signs that Westerners can unite to adapt to the common challenges they face?

Lecture Series

Tuesday, October 22: Climate Politics in the West: Is Red the New Green? (YouTube link)

Polls indicate that Democrats and Republicans disagree about the causes and policies for dealing with climate change, but the reality is more nuanced. There is a growing consensus throughout the West that droughts and wildfires are more severe.  Surprisingly, Texas, Iowa and Oklahoma lead the country in installing wind energy while California struggles with its permitting woes. Voters in blue states refuse to adopt carbon taxes that have been endorsed by prominent Republicans. Is there hope that Americans can get on the same page with respect to dealing with climate change?

Watch Oct. 22, 2019 Lecture (YouTube link)

View Oct. 22, 2019 Slides (PDF)

Wednesday, October 23: The Potential Opportunities of Climate Catastrophe (YouTube link)

Fires in California and Oklahoma like hurricanes in the East threaten lives and property in highly visible ways. Politicians get more credit for providing aid after the fact than spending money to prevent some not yet realized threat. In theory, catastrophe opens up short windows of opportunity that allow for adaptation steps that otherwise would fail. Can the West take advantage of these opportunities to protect against climate change?

Watch Oct. 23, 2019 Lecture (YouTube link)

View Oct. 23, 2019 Slides (PDF)

Thursday, October 24: Climate Change Creep and Political Inertia (YouTube link)

Some aspects of climate change evolve more slowly and in less dramatic fashion: for example, nuisance flooding on the coasts, droughts and shifting temperature patterns. Without the drama and publicity that comes with catastrophic events, it is even harder to mobilize Western communities to take the steps necessary to handle these kinds of slowly evolving threats. What practices have worked and what lessons have been learned?

Watch Oct. 24, 2019 Lecture (YouTube link)

View Oct. 24, 2019 Slides (PDF)