Climate change and consumption conference to be held at Vanderbilt

How many lifestyle changes will people, communities and cities have to make — and how drastic will they need to be — to help save the planet?

Will policymakers need to push people, for the first time, to limit what and how much they consume?

These are some of the big issues leading experts in environmental law, the humanities and natural, social and behavioral sciences will discuss at the Climate Change and Consumption Conference at Vanderbilt University Law School April 18-19.

During the conference, experts from across the country will examine the ways in which laws, policies, values, social factors and information effect changes in individual and community greenhouse gas emissions. They will also discuss voter pressure for policy changes and political action. Nashville Mayor Karl Dean will give the closing address at the conference at 12:15 p.m. on Saturday, April 19.

Michael Maniates, professor of political science and environmental science at Allegheny College, will deliver the keynote address at 1:30 p.m. Friday, April 18. According to Maniates, suggestions that small sacrifices by average citizens alone are enough to cure global warming and other environmental crises underestimate the problem. He argues that essential sacrifices like using paper instead of plastic at the grocery store are needed, but won’t be enough on their own.

“We need to be looking at fundamental change in our energy, transportation and agricultural systems rather than technological tweaking on the margins," he says, "and this means changes and costs that our current and would-be leaders seem afraid to discuss – which is a pity, since Americans are at their best when they’re struggling together, and sometimes with one another, toward difficult goals.”

The Climate Change and Consumption conference was organized by the Ecology and Spirituality in America study group at Vanderbilt’s Center for the Study of Religion and Culture. The CSRC was established in 2003 by Vanderbilt to develop, promote and increase faculty research at the intersections of religion and culture.

Conference sponsors include the CSRC; the Regulatory Program at Vanderbilt Law School; the Climate Change Research Network at Vanderbilt; the Environmental Law Institute in Washington, D.C.; and the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

Explore Story Topics