On Shifting Ground

The meaning of North American energy independence and how to achieve it has been a hot topic of debate for years.  The oil crisis of 1973 brought into focus the stark reality that the US was reliant on other nations for access to oil. Determined to prevent similar incidents, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve was created in 1975 and today the US has the capacity to hold up to 727 million barrels of emergency fuel. Though it sounds like an immense amount of oil, it equates only to an estimated 36 days of use. So the search for an alternative, safe, clean and affordable domestic source of energy has continued. Scientists had known for years about natural gas trapped in a dense layer of sedimentary rock—known as shale—buried a mile or more underground all over the country. The problem with shale gas was it was too difficult to access; a problem solved by 'hydrofracking', commonly referred to as, 'fracking'.  A little over a decade ago scientists created a process to inject water under high pressure into shale, breaking it and releasing trapped gas and oil. This simple idea of injecting water into the ground effectively lit the fuse that has caused an American energy explosion. Shale gas is cleaner than coal and oil. Fracking has created jobs, lowered emissions, kick-started industry and for the first time in decades created an energy surplus in the US.  However, fracking comes with its own environmental costs.

Inspired by his previous book, "The Ripple Effect: the Fate of Freshwater in the Twenty-First Century", author and journalist Alex Prud'homme began researching the impact fracking has on the quantity and quality of fresh drinking water. The result is a guide that weighs the evidence both for and against fracking. Prud'homme will give an unbiased presentation of the present state of hydrofracking to bring clarity to a debate that, in his words, "has been exacerbated by an absence of hard data and an excess of hyperbole on both sides".

Speaker Alex Prud'homme is a journalist and he is the author of "Hydrofracking: What Everyone Needs to Know".

For more information about this event, visit: http://www.worldaffairs.org/events/2013/hydrofracking.html

Direct download: 10_29_13_Hydrofracking-1.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 8:00pm PST

The World Affairs Council and Bloomberg present "mInnovation: What's on the Horizon?"

Tomorrow's smartphones will be equipped with capabilities almost unimaginable today. Engineers are working on ways to make portable devices faster, smarter, wearable and more secure. These powerful mini-computers will boast bendable screens, liquid-cooling systems and sensors that follow touch-free commands. We'll use wireless phones to project holograms, combat disease, chart climate change, track migration patterns, and enable an array of innovative and contextual products and services.

At the same time, outfitting handheld machines for an ever widening range of tasks and ensuring that these benefits are enjoyed equitably remains a challenge.

This engaging discussion about disruptive innovations in mobile technology features Mike Abbott, Guy Bar-Nahum, and Timothy Morey. Pui-Wing Tam moderates the discussion.

For more information about this event, visit: http://www.worldaffairs.org/audio-video/minnovation-whats-on-the.html

Direct download: 10_29_13_mInnovation_Bloomberg.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 7:00pm PST

Six years beyond the world financial crisis, the European Union may be recovering from its struggles with fiscal policy. However, judging from recent cases such as Greece, Portugal and Spain, the political divide between northern and southern Europe persists, creating potential road blocks for the continent's expected turn around.

Olli Rehn, European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs and the Euro, will discuss the difficulties the EU has faced over the past few years and how it can forge a path to a strong recovery.

Speaker Olli Rehn is the Vice President of the European Commission.

For more information about this event, visit: http://www.worldaffairs.org/events/2013/european-recovery-and-revival.html

Direct download: 10_28_13_European_Recovery-1.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 8:00pm PST

The nature of warfare is changing. Over the past decade we have seen a dramatic increase in the use of Special Operations Forces (SOF) not just in short targeted missions, but in long-term missions meant to train and build local security forces around the world. These forces are highly skilled small teams that are more cost-effective, are able to keep a lower profile and can be deployed more strategically than traditional forces. The importance of military Special Operations was highlighted in President Obama's 2008 campaign when he promised to increase funding and further build these forces. This promise has largely been kept. According to Politifact via the Pentagon, from fiscal year 2009 to fiscal year 2012 the SOF personnel increased from 55,890 to 63,779 and the SOF budget increased from $8.9 billion to $10.5 billion over the same period.

Drawing on her experience on multiple tours in Afghanistan, RAND senior international policy analyst, Linda Robinson will share her experiences on the ground with America's 'new' military; a small group of strategically thinking forces who rely more on persuasion, bonding and negotiation instead of firepower to gain local trust and ensure the population's security.  

Speaker Linda Robinson is a Senior International Policy Analyst at the RAND Corporation.

For more information about this event, visit: http://www.worldaffairs.org/events/2013/special-operations-forces.html

Direct download: 10_24_13_Special_Ops.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 7:30pm PST

Five years ago, the world's urban population surpassed the rural population for the first time in history, and the number of city dwellers is expected to double in the next century. This dramatic change has created new challenges in urban living that require innovative new solutions. Cities have long made use of information technology to streamline city planning and daily life, from power grids to phone lines to wireless networks. As cities continue to grow, new technologies will arise to manage energy use, crime, traffic patterns and other urban issues and turn cities into finely tuned machines.

Anthony Townsend, an urbanist and technology expert, will explore the conflict between top-down and bottom-up approaches to implementing new technologies, as well as the promises and risks of building tomorrow's smart cities.

Speaker Anthony Townsend is the Research Director at the Institute for the Future.

For more information about this event, visit: http://www.worldaffairs.org/events/2013/building-smart-cities.html

Direct download: 10_22_13_Smart_Cities.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 8:00pm PST

Agreed on as the most authoritative survey available on the question of energy security, "Energy and Security: Strategies for a World in Transition" assesses how the United States can integrate its energy and national security interests.  On the 40th anniversary of the Arab oil embargo, we revisit the perennial question of energy security with a panel of distinguished experts in the energy field,  including co-editors Jan Kalicki and David Goldwyn and contributing author Amy Jaffe, to discuss the North American energy renaissance, new energy frontiers, energy poverty and climate security in the current political environment.

The panel will be moderated by Peter Robertson, Chairman of the World Affairs Council Board of Trustees. The speakers include David Goldwyn, President and Founder of Goldwyn Global Strategies, Amy Myers Jaffe, Executive Director of Energy and Sustainability at the Graduate School of Management and the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis, and Jan Kalicki, Senior Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

For more information about this event, visit: http://www.worldaffairs.org/events/2013/40-years-after-the-arab-oil-embargo.html

Direct download: 10_16_13_Oil_Embargo.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 7:30pm PST

Research demonstrates that investing in girls is key to increasing economic growth, improving health outcomes and promoting global development. In honor of International Day of the Girl, this dynamic panel will feature renowned leaders working to advance girls' health, education and well-being around the world. Panelists will draw from examples of successful strategies to demonstrate the power and promise of investing in girls, from increasing girls' access to education through girl-led advocacy in Guatemala, to ending child marriage by engaging village chiefs in southern Malawi, to combating violence against girls through national policy advocacy in Liberia.

The panelists will also present a new interactive media platform launched at the Social Good Summit showcasing how girls are leading change for their communities, countries and the world.

Claire Brindis is the Director of the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies at the University of California, San Francisco. Denise Dunning is the Executive Director of the Adolescent Girls' Advocacy & Leadership Initiative at the Public Health Institute. Elizabeth Gore is Resident Entrepreneur at the United Nations Foundation. Riya Singh is the Co-Chair of the Teen Advisory Board at Girl Up.

For more information about this event, visit: http://www.worldaffairs.org/events/2013/let-girls-lead.html

Direct download: 10_9_13_Girls_Lead.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 8:00pm PST

There was a time when civility and compromise lay at the heart of politics in Washington; when political and ideological rivals could serve together to forge compromises for the benefit of the country. Today it's hard to believe that this was ever the case, and it begs the question: will civility and compromise ever return to American politics? Having served as the Chief of Staff for Tip O'Neill, Chris Matthews offers a unique perspective on a time when the Speaker of the House and the President, Ronald Reagan, were able to "temper their philosophical divide with a public, and sometimes personal, cordiality." Chris Matthews sits down with the World Affairs Council to discuss a political heroism that once was and the lessons it offers for today's political climate.

Speaker Chris Matthews is Host of Hardball on MSNBC.

For more information about this event, visit: http://www.worldaffairs.org/events/2013/will-politics-in-washington.html

Direct download: 10_8_13_Chris_Matthews-new.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 8:00pm PST

Is it possible to manipulate our environment or are we victims of forces beyond our control? Lawrence Freedman, a professor of war studies at King's College London and former foreign policy advisor to Tony Blair, will discuss how strategy has come to pervade every aspect of our lives. He provides examples ranging from Achilles and Odysseus to the military innovations of Carl von Clausewitz to today’s corporate strategy, in order to create a picture of strategy which is fluid and requires continual reappraisal.

This event is presented in partnership with the King's College Alumni Association and the Marines' Memorial Association.

For more information about this event, please visit: http://www.worldaffairs.org/events/2013/strategy.html

Direct download: 10_3_13_Freedman_Strategy.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 8:00pm PST

Sixty-eight years after the Holocaust, governments continue to struggle with preventing genocide and mass atrocities. In 2005, United Nations member states agreed that nations share a responsibility to protect their citizens from genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and ethnic cleansing. Join Mike Abramowitz, Director of the Center for the Prevention of Genocide at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, and Richard S. Williamson, former presidential special envoy to Sudan, for a discussion about how the responsibility to protect has been applied in recent crises such as Libya and Syria.

This event is co-presented by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, with promotional partner Lehrhaus Judaica.

Mike Abramowitz is the Director for the Center for the Prevention of Genocide of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Richard S. Williamson is the Former Presidential Special Envoy to Sudan.

For more information about this event, visit: http://www.worldaffairs.org/events/2013/preventing-genocide.html

Direct download: 9_30_13_Genocide_Prevention.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 8:00pm PST