Campus Liberty Tour – Cornell University

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“Climate science compels us to make large and rapid reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.”

The Steamboat Institute, in collaboration with the Cornell Free Speech Alliance at Cornell University, is proud to present a compelling debate on this resolution: “Climate science compels us to make large and rapid reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.” Robert H. Socolow, Ph.D., will argue the affirmative. Steven Koonin, Ph.D., will argue the negative. Moderator will be Sarah Westwood, Investigative reporter at the Washington Examiner.

Date: Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Event Time: 5:45pm – 7:15pm ET

Location: CALS- Call Auditorium

Address: 215 Garden St Ithaca NY 14850




Dr. Steven E. Koonin is a leader in science policy in the United States. He served as Undersecretary for Science in the US Department of Energy under President Obama, where he was the lead author of the Department’s Strategic Plan and the inaugural Quadrennial Technology Review (2011). With more than 200 peer-reviewed papers in the fields of physics and astrophysics, scientific computation, energy technology and policy, and climate science, Dr. Koonin was a professor of theoretical physics at Caltech, also serving as Caltech’s Vice President and Provost for almost a decade. He is currently a University Professor at New York University, with appointments in the Stern School of Business, the Tandon School of Engineering, and the Department of Physics. Dr. Koonin’s memberships include US National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the JASON group of scientists who solve technical problems for the US government. Since 2014, he has been a trustee of the Institute for Defense Analyses and chaired the National Academies’ Divisional Committee for Engineering and Physical Sciences from 2014-2019. He is currently an independent governor of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and has served in similar roles for the Los Alamos, Sandia, Brookhaven, and Argonne National Laboratories.


Robert Socolow is professor emeritus, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Princeton University. Rob earned his Ph.D. from Harvard University in theoretical high-energy physics in 1964, was an assistant professor of physics at Yale University from l966 to l97l, and joined the Princeton University faculty in 1971 with the assignment of inventing interdisciplinary environmental research.

Rob is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, an associate of the National Research Council of the National Academies, a fellow of the American Physical Society, and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. His awards include the 2009 Frank Kreith Energy Award from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the 2005 Axelson Johnson Commemorative Lecture award from the Royal Academy of Engineering Sciences of Sweden (IVA). In 2003 he received the Leo Szilard Lectureship Award from the American Physical Society (“for leadership in establishing energy and environmental problems as legitimate research fields for physicists, and for demonstrating that these broadly defined problems can be addressed with the highest scientific standards”).

From 2000 to 2019, Rob and Steve Pacala were the co-principal investigator of Princeton’s Carbon Mitigation Initiative, a twenty-five-year (2001-2025) project supported by BP. His best-known paper, with Pacala, was in Science (2004): “Stabilization Wedges: Solving the Climate Problem for the Next 50 Years with Current Technologies.” Rob has also introduced “one billion high emitters,” “committed emissions,” and “destiny studies,” as further conceptual decade-scale frameworks useful for climate change policy. Earlier work focused on energy efficiency in buildings and CO2 capture and storage. His interests include technological “leapfrogging” by developing countries and the dangers of climate-change “solutions”— notably nuclear weapons proliferation and misuse of the land.

Rob was a member of the Grand Challenges for Engineering Committee of the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academies Committees on America’s Climate Choices and on America’s Energy Future. He was the editor of Annual Review of Energy and the Environment, 1992-2002. He was on the Board of the National Audubon Society, the Deutsche Bank Climate Change Advisory Board, and the Advisory Board of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) and he was the chair of the Panel on Public Affairs of the American Physical Society.

From 2013 to 2019 Rob led the “distillate” project at Princeton University’s Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, which has produced monographs on wind power, solar power, nuclear fusion, small modular nuclear fission reactors, and grid-scale storage of electricity. Rob also co-chaired the 2011 American Physical Society technology assessment, “Direct Air Capture of CO2 with Chemicals.”


Sarah Westwood is a political and investigative reporter for the Washington Examiner. Previously, Sarah was a White House reporter for CNN. She was a Robert Novak journalism fellow at The Fund for American Studies and is a graduate of the National Journalism Center fellowship program. Sarah attended George Washington University. She is the 2022-23 recipient of Steamboat Institute’s Tony Blankley Fellowship for Public Policy and American Exceptionalism.


Call Alumni Auditorium
215 Garden
Ithaca, NY 14850 United States
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