Archive for April, 2008

Tribute to Alex

Friday, April 18th, 2008


Alex Farrell
Credit: Jeffery Kahn/UC Berkeley

On a rather sad note, I received a message in mid-April noting the passing of one of my former students and colleagues, Alex Farrell.  Alex was certainly one of the most outstanding students I ever had the privilege to teach at Penn — as well as being one of the nicest. He took one of my courses in the early 1990s, and a few years later we worked together on a Wharton School project studying regional ozone control (along with Robert Carter).  Alex was the lead author of the “oft-cited” paper I mentioned on my emissions trading webpage, and that article (about the NOx Budget) was subsequently included in one of Tietenberg’s ET anthologies.

We co-taught a course addressing the urban environment at Penn, and it was at this time that I came to realize the wide range of his intellectual interests, as well as the wonderful rapport he had with students.  It was immensely satisfying to work on a day-to-day basis with such a caring — and environmentally dedicated — individual.  We kept in touch over the years as he progressed from an AAAS fellowship in Washington (working with US EPA); through a post-doc at Harvard’s Kennedy School (including a stint at IIASA in Austria); to professorships at Carnegie Mellon University and Berkeley.  He always had time for his former teacher, inviting me to Harvard to give a presentation, and then using my Pollution Markets book in his own courses at Berkeley…..  all the while publishing a steady stream of outstanding articles and publications in a variety of top-notch journals and books.  (For example, he had an interesting article — about air pollution in Spain, no less — in the Smoke & Mirrors book cited two postings below.)

His recent work on biofuels and transportation energy systems was particularly exciting. Less than a week before hearing the news, one of my current students brought some of that work to my attention, and so I set about explaining — well, okay, bragging about — the fact that I knew Alex, and had worked with him earlier in his career.  Alex was the kind of brilliant yet personable scholar that every teacher dreams about…. and I was both honored and privileged to have worked with him.  All of us — and the environment — will miss him very, very much.

IGEL at Wharton

Friday, April 18th, 2008

In mid-April I made a presentation about Asian carbon markets at the Wharton School‘s First Annual Conference on Business and the Environment.  The meeting was part of the School’s new Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership (IGEL).  You might recall a posting from last year mentioning a newly-formed International Environmental Management Institute at Penn.  Well, the painstaking efforts of Professor Eric Orts, Stan Laskowski and others to secure corporate sponsorship for the program were successful, and that institute has now morphed into IGEL at the Wharton School.  I was extremely pleased to be invited to participate in the new program as a Senior Faculty Fellow, and I’m looking forward to continued collaboration with Eric, Stan and others at IGEL over the coming years.

Classroom sessions

Friday, April 18th, 2008


Dr. Jim Smith


Janosch Ondraczek

Spring semester brought another course offering of ‘Global Energy Systems & Policy’ in the Environmental Studies program again this year at U. Penn. The first half of the course was very similar to last year’s (noted in the Jan. ’07 posting), but we’ve changed things around quite a bit in the second half. Instead of sustainable development indicators, this year we’ve been addressing the Kyoto Protocol and potential post-2012 GHG mitigation efforts. I also sought the help of a couple of former colleagues this semester. In March, Janosch Ondraczek from Price Waterhouse Coopers in Hamburg, Germany came and gave a presentation about renewable energy policy in the EU. Janosch and I were colleagues at the U.N., and I had followed his work on the implementation of EU Directive 2001/77/EC (about electricity from renewable energy sources in Europe quite closely during his studies at University College London. Dr. Jim Smith of US EPA talked to the class later in the month, offering some new ideas about potential U.S. GHG mitigation strategies. Jim and I had worked together quite a while ago (1980!!) on price-based mechanisms for urban sulfur dioxide control, and his pioneering work in that area is described in my Pollution Markets book.

I did a comparable guest lecture that same month for my good friend and colleague Prof. Nancy Watterson, who teaches at Cabrini College, a small liberal arts college outside Philadelphia. Nancy teaches a course in Arts & Social Change, which focuses on “integrative knowledge” and interdisciplinary thinking to accomplish progressive social change. She uses one of my more daring (foolhardy??) interdisciplinary efforts — a chapter entitled “Air Pollution Engineering as Cultural Experience” (which appeared in Melanie DuPuis’ book Smoke & Mirrors, NYU Press, 2004) — in her reading assignments. Students get to critique the paper in their technical writing sessions — and then me when I show up for the lecture! I’ve done this before for Nancy’s courses (at Princeton), and even though her students are usually younger and a bit less technically-oriented than my own, they are no less idealistic & passionate about environmental matters.I always enjoy the experience very much — and this year was no exception.