The Ithaca College School of Business invited Dan Miller, a clean technology entrepreneur and managing director of The Roda Group in Berkeley, California, to give his presentation, “How to Fix Climate Change for Free,” to over a hundred students on Oct. 7.
His presentation focused on the threat of global warming and the immediate attention climate change requires in order to prevent further destruction of the planet.
Since co-founding The Roda Group in 1997, Miller has been investing in companies that produce energy at low costs and with minimal carbon footprints.
Miller’s presentation consisted of two main parts: the reality of global warming and a method to slow it down by a system called Fee and Dividend.
Miller said scientists agree that global warming is a real phenomenon, and the public must be aware of the damage to the environment.
“Climate change is not a scientific controversy,” Miller said. “Every major scientific academy in the world says that global warming is real, mostly caused by humans and requires urgent action.”
Miller explained that a collection of temperatures from several parts of the northern hemisphere from 1951–2011 showed that the frequency of abnormally hot summers has increased by 5,000 percent, now happening about every 10 years.
One of the reasons global warming is happening is because too many people see it as an environmental issue that is not just for environmentally conscious people, Miller said. He said people overlook the fact that climate change will affect every person on the planet.
“Climate change will affect all of your lives going forward, not some time in the distant future,” Miller said. “It’s already happening, affecting people everyday and it will become more obvious every decade.”
Miller’s proposed solution to climate change was an energy credit system called Fee and Dividend. Under this system, companies that extract fossil fuels will have to pay a fee in proportion to how much carbon dioxide will be produced as a byproduct.
Miller said carbon dioxide is the worst pollutant to the earth’s atmosphere because the particles remain for hundreds to thousands of years.
Miller said the fee for fossil fuel companies would begin at $10 per 1 ton of carbon dioxide. He said this fee would gradually increase every year, giving incentives for companies like Exxon Mobil Corp. and BP to extract less fossil fuel and opt for alternative energies.
Furthermore, Miller said all the fees collected would be equally distributed to every legal resident in the U.S. in the form of dividends. This would lead to people wanting fossil fuel companies to be charged more so the dividends they would receive are higher, thus further incentivizing a shift to renewable energy, Miller said.
Graduate student Andrew Ebertsaid he has always been interested in the issue of climate change and feels that more people should know about what Miller is saying in order to change the method of energy production.
“As an informed person on [climate change], these are the things I know, but I want more people to know, and Miller’s call to action is really important,” Ebert said.
Ebert said he thinks the biggest challenge for changing people’s source of energy is moving from an economy dominated by the use of fossil fuels to an economy dependent on renewable energy sources.
Senior Jaclyn Meshako said the issue of climate change should be widely discussed at the college because not all students seem to grasp the threat of global warming.
“I studied abroad in Brazil last year, and I was shocked at how much they didn’t know about the fact that we’re living on a finite planet and acting like we have infinite resources,” Meshako said. “Coming back to Ithaca, I assumed that everyone knew of all the problems, but a lot of students still don’t, and that scares me.”
Miller said students can begin to address the issue of global warming by simply talking about it with others because public interest in climate change is crucial in bringing about changes necessary to stop global warming.
“You need to learn more about climate change and global warming, and then, more importantly, you need to talk to your family, friends and colleagues,” Miller said. “You need to talk to your elected leaders and let them know that it is real, and we have to do something about it right now.”