Steamboat Institute promotes debate at climate, energy conference
Best-selling authors, industry leaders and high-ranking former government officials appeared together in a series of panels, public debates and presentations focused on climate change and U.S. energy policy on Saturday, March 12, in Steamboat Springs.
Inside the Steamboat Grand hotel, the conference put on by the Steamboat Institute featured individuals such as Alex Epstein, a conservative firebrand and author of “A moral Case for Fossil Fuels,” alongside Steven E. Koonin, who served as the undersecretary for science in the U.S. Department of Energy under President Barack Obama.
The Steamboat Institute is a nonprofit that promotes itself as a nonpartisan, educational organization. While Saturday’s lineup featured a plethora of conservative speakers, Jennifer Schubert-Akin, chairman of the Steamboat Institute, emphasized that everyone was welcome at the conference.
“This was an event to educate and inform,” she said. “So many programs never include a debate. We welcome everyone to our events no matter what their personal opinions or ideologies are … We believe there is room for debate on every issue.”
Just before lunch, one of the sessions featured Drew Bond, co-founder and president of C3 Solutions, moderating a two-person panel with Aurelia Skipwith Giacometto, who served as the director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under President Donald Trump, and Chris Wright, the chief executive officer and chairman of the board of Liberty Oilfield Services.
The panelists blasted the environmental sustainability movement and the Biden administration’s policies. Neither disputed that climate change is real, but both suggested that many of the policies designed to combat it have done little good and a lot of harm.
“We are concerned that some of the solutions to address climate change that are out there don’t adequately take into account how it’s going to affect the average person,“ Schubert-Akin said. ”There are some proposals that will make energy dramatically more expensive and much less reliable, and we’re concerned about that.“
According to NASA, climate change has already had observable effects on the environment, and taken as a whole, the vast majority of evidence indicates that the damage and costs are likely to be significant and increase over time.
Shortly after the panel, though, Bjorn Lomborg, an economist, founder of the Copenhagen Consensus Center and the author of “False Alarm: How Climate Change Panic Costs Us Trillions, Hurts the Poor, and Fails to Fix the Planet,” offered his take on climate change, paired with his own graphs and statistics.
During the lunchtime presentation, Lomborg said climate change won’t be as costly or devastating as many of the leading experts believe, but the cost of green policies has been detrimental.
“It’s a problem, but it’s not the end of the world,” Lomborg said of climate change while adding that innovation and adaptation will all but mitigate the worst effects.
For many of the speakers and conference attendees, including at least two college students in the audience, the presentations were a great educational opportunity.
Ethan Warrick and Luke Rohweder are both juniors majoring in energy and land management at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction, and they attended the conference on a scholarship provided by the institute. Both of them said that the summit offered a wealth of information.
“We are actual getting a closer and more in-depth look at all things climate change,” Warrick said. “Everybody has very specific views on it and how it really affects us and the world around us, but I’ve never been in a place that has gone so in depth about climate change, and it’s just really interesting to hear everybody’s positions on it.”
Recordings of the presentations from Saturday’s conference are available on the Steamboat Institute’s YouTube channel at YouTube.com/c/SteamboatInstitute.
For more about climate change from some of the world’s leading experts, go to Climate.NASA.gov/.
Eli Pace is the editor of the Steamboat Pilot & Today. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 970-871-4221.
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