earth now: earth 2050



UCLA College Luskin Endowment Inaugural Symposium

A better world is possible. Each and every day, people in diverse fields are doing inspiring, cutting edge work in the environmental arena. Join us as we celebrate the full spectrum of the latest research and action with a fun and informative three-day symposium.

From public policy to installation art, this event explores all facets of modern environmental challenges and highlights efforts to make lives and businesses more sustainable. The program includes talks from top experts, workshops, local and national nonprofit organizations, art, a student film contest—and much more. We will highlight UCLA campus-wide sustainability while showcasing the new Luskin Conference Center and honoring the generosity of Meyer and Renee Luskin.

October 18 – Keynote Address

Kathryn D. Sullivan will deliver the symposium’s keynote address at 6:15 p.m. Sullivan is Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans & Atmosphere, the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)—and the first American woman to walk in space. Prior to her current appointment, Sullivan played a central role in directing Administration and NOAA priority work in the areas of weather and water services, climate science and services, integrated mapping services and Earth-observing capabilities. She also provided agency-wide direction with regard to satellites, space weather, water, and ocean observations and forecasts to best serve American communities and businesses.

Luskin with Kathryn Sullivan after Earth NOW:Earth 2050 keynote
Renee Luskin, Kathryn Sullivan and Meyer Luskin.

October 19 – Next Generation Policies for a Sustainable Future

Visions for a Sustainable Los Angeles in 2050: The Sustainable LA Grand Challenge has goals of 100% renewables, 100% local water, and enhanced ecosystem and human health by 2050.  Esteemed architect and faculty member, Thom Mayne, Professor Eui-Sung Yi and The Now Institute have mapped out potential scenarios for Los Angeles County in 2050. A round table of city and county leaders will join Mayne in a discussion on potential visions for a sustainable future for Los Angeles. Panelists will discuss how a decarbonized transportation and energy network will enable a projected 11.5 million people to thrive in a hotter Los Angeles.

U.S. Climate Regulation—Beyond First Steps: The U.S. will need to make aggressive reductions in its emissions to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement and limit global warming. But while deep decarbonization is technically feasible, no one yet knows what mix of laws and policies it will take to achieve the required, long-term emission cuts. The Emmett Institute will host a discussion of the laws and policy tools needed to make progress on this issue, both in the mid- and long-term. Do existing tools like the Clean Air Act get us far enough? How do the trade-offs between market-based and regulatory policies change as the environmental goals grow more demanding and look further ahead? Can the states do much more, or is stronger federal action required? What role will international negotiations play in stimulating innovation? The discussion will feature:

  • Congressman Ted Lieu
  • David Roberts, energy and climate change writer, Vox Media, Inc.
  • Dr. Jim Williams, Director, Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project
  • Ann E. Carlson, Shirley Shapiro Professor of Environmental Law, Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, UCLA School of Law
  • Edward A. Parson, Dan and Rae Emmett Professor of Environmental Law, Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, UCLA School of Law
  • Philip S. Barnett, Managing Director, Schiliro Barnett LLC

The Future of Environmental Policy in California: California has long been at the forefront of environmental policy in the U.S. and globally. This includes pioneering leadership on climate action, sustainable energy, clean transportation, and land conservation. We are now at a turning point and have opportunities to set new goals and innovative strategies for the coming decades. This session, organized by the Luskin Center for Innovation, will feature prominent leaders who will provide their visions for a sustainable future, and discuss what specific policies and innovative strategies are needed to achieve these inspiring visions. This session will cut across agencies and domains to discuss common goals, visions, and actions that the public can be a part of to advance environmental health and sustainability in California for the long term.   Speakers include:

  • Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de León
  • Senator Fran Pavley, co-author of the landmark Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006
  • Mary Nichols, Chair of the California Air Resources Board
  • Mary Luevano, Commissioner, California Coastal Commission
  • Robert Oglesby, Executive Director, California Energy Commission
  • Randall Winston, Executive Director, Strategic Growth Council
  • J.R. DeShazo, Director of the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation (Moderator)

October 20 – Environmental Science, Narratives, Art and Education

Eight Scientific Visions for a Sustainable Planet: Forget the old scary stories of planetary collapse—environmentalism today is about optimism and action. Join eight faculty from UCLA’s Institute for the Environment and Sustainability  to explore their science-based visions for what a sustainable Earth could look like in 2050 and how to get there. We’re talking zero-carbon city-states, supercharged African scientific networks to fight climate change, and the Uber-ized transportation systems of the future. Maybe even a jetpack or two. Speakers include:

Stories for a Changing Planet: LENS—the Laboratory for Environmental Narrative Strategies—will have its public launch at the Earth Now: Earth 2050 symposium. The program will include talks by novelist and biodiversity expert Lydia Millet, environmental photographer and writer Subhankar Banerjee, and Outdoor Afro founder and CEO Rue Mapp. The session will also feature panel discussions with journalists and artists along with a dynamic showcase of UCLA faculty and student projects that reflect LENS’s mission to conduct innovative research on environmental narrative in diverse contexts; to train the next generation of environmental thinkers, scientists, and leaders in multimedia storytelling and strategic communications; and to collaborate with others to enhance real-world environmental communications.

LENS is also curating public installations of immersive art projects at the conference site that address timely environmental and ecological topics around campus, including Marina Zurkow’s hand-drawn, software-driven animation Mesocosm (image below), a collaboration between photographer Adam Nadel and UCLA anthropology professor Jessica Cattelino on the cultural politics of water in the Everglades, and Tree Lines, an exhibit on ancient bristlecones by artist Valerie Cohen and writer Michael Cohen. LENS is also installing artworks around campus during the conference in collaboration with the Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA (CAP UCLA). Inspiring projections of images of LA as an “Animal Land” by artists Kendra Sollars and Lauren Strohacker will occupy the outdoor walls of student residences on The Hill, while the artists engage students in creating their own art. And an original video artwork, Holoscenes/Anthropocene 1 , conceived by performance artist Lars Jans about climate change, sea-level rise, and our everyday lives will be unveiled at an after-party co-sponsored by LENS and CAP UCLA at the Fowler Museum at the end of the symposium.

GreenShorts film contest: Students from area high schools will be invited to join in the fun by participating in a short film contest. Winning films will be screened during the day, with a special awards presentation held in the evening. Counseling and mentoring sessions will also be offered to help inform their schooling and career decisions.

Green shorts, Ecotopia First Runners Up
Ciara Page and Amel Adrian Gibson.

Nonprofit organizations: The following nonprofit organizations and individuals will be on hand to present, exchange information and engage audiences with the work they do.

  • Heal the Bay
  • Tree People
  • LA Waterkeeper
  • UCLA Sustainability
  • Rajit Gadh Smart Grid Energy Center
  • LA Cleantech Incubator
  • UCLA Extension Sustainability Certificate


Tuesday, October 18

6:00pm Symposium Opening Remarks: Miguel Garcia-Garibay, UCLA College Dean of Physical Sciences  (Centennial Hall)
6:10pm Introduction to Keynote Speaker – Peter Kareiva, IoES Director
6:15pm Keynote address by Dr. Kathryn D. Sullivan, Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans & Atmosphere, NOAA Administrator

Wednesday, October 19

8:30am – 10:00am Sustainable L.A. Grand Challenge: “Visions for a Sustainable L.A. in 2050” (Centennial Hall)
10:00am – 6:30pm Poster Session (Legacy A&B)
10:00am – 10:30am Break
10:30am – 12:30pm Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment: “U.S. Climate Regulation – Beyond First Steps” (Centennial Hall)
12:30pm – 1:00pm Break
1:00pm – 1:30pm Can Environmental Narratives Do Better Than “Noble Rehash”? (Randy Olson, Centennial Hall)
2:00pm – 2:30pm Break
2:00pm – 5:00pm Story Circles Narrative Training Demo Day (Randy Olson) for pre-registered graduate students and faculty
2:00pm – 5:00pm Luskin Center for Innovation: “The Future of Environmental Policy in California” (Centennial Hall)
5:00pm – 6:30pm Poster Session Reception (Legacy A&B)

Thursday, October 20

9:00am – 5:00pm Screening of winning high-school student environmental short-films; LENS artist’s videos (Laureate Room)
9:00am – 5:00pm High-school student mentoring (Legacy A&B, Exploration, and UCLA Campus Sustainability tour)
10:30am – 12:30pm Institute of the Environment and Sustainability (IoES): “Eight Scientific Visons for A Sustainable Planet” (Centennial Hall)
12:30pm – 2:00pm Break
2:00pm – 5:15pm Laboratory for Environmental Narrative Strategies (LENS):  “Stories for a Changing Planet” (Centennial Hall)
5:30pm – 6:30pm GreenShorts: screening of winning Los Angeles area high-school student environmental short-films and Awards Presentation (Centennial Hall)
6:30pm – 7:30pm Closing reception (Centennial Terrace)
 7:30pm – 10:00pm After-party and art exhibit at the Fowler Museum sponsored by LENS and CAP UCLA with music, dancing, food, and drink.