Sep 24, 2022
This syllabus is preliminary. It will have to change based on the schedules of our external speakers.
UCLA Anderson 22F-MGMT-298D-LEC-6
Climate Change, Economics, Energy, and Technology
Instructor: Ivo Welch
Room: C301. Wednesday 19:10 - 22:00.
(Optional Dinners, Wednesday 17:45-19:00.)
Room Change: D310
First Class: Sep 28.
Midterm: Oct 26.
TBD: Nov 23
(if cancelled, then other sessions can go to 22:15pm)
Last Class: Nov 29.
What This Course Is
This course is a conceptual business-school economics course, with only sprinkles of business attached to it. It teaches the basics of climate-science, economics, and technology. The first half of the course will be primarily lectures, part reading, part in-class seminar-like discussions. The second half will be primarily external speakers.
Anyone who will work in the wider area of the climate change (and the energy transition) should have a solid understanding of the material in this course in order to be able to describe the whole purpose of the climate-change enterprise. The course teaches the climate-change background that allows one to have a smart, intelligent, and informed conversation about the causes and consequences of climate change — instead of echo-chamber conversations that repeat half-truths and platitudes.
If you already do understand the causes and consequences on more than a headline “news-alarmist” level (say, you understand the IPCC forecasts, damage estimates, Integrated Assessment Models, and energy-cost tradeoffs), then you may not want to take this course.
You could also learn much of the content on your own by reading all the course material. In fact, this course is structured based on two books, one being our own book Global Climate Change: The Pragmatist Guide to Moving The Needle and the other being Robert Pindyck’s Climate Future. We wrote our book for this class, so you should not be surprised that the class covers the same material in very much the same way. Of course, by just reading the book, you would miss the discussion and interactivity with your peers and the instructor(s).
Slides are on the same website.
You are greatly encouraged to voice informed dissent, informed opinions, etc. They make the in-class sessions more interesting. However, arguments have to be based on logic rather than than emotion. It makes perfect sense to rationally discuss psychology, including emotions, but it makes no sense, e.g., to argue hysterically that the world is coming to an end based on the evidence at hand.
What This Course Is Not
This course is not a career-oriented business course. Anderson already offers more applied and practical courses on subjects like ESG investing, ESG marketing, entrepreneurial economics and finance, — which are all important and interesting, too — but 298D is not this. If you want to enroll in our course, please be aware of what you are getting yourself into — a more conceptual course.
This course is neither an environmental activism course, nor a climate denialist or an Ayn-Rand type defense of the virtues of free-market capitalism. Our goal is to pursue the truth without an agenda. Chances are that the content of this course will offend both activists and deniers about equally. The goal is not to make or dissuade you from either position. The goal is to open your eyes. There are a lot of good options to stem climate change in the interest of the world and in the self-interest of entrepreneurs — and our course will be covering them — but these options are generally not what activists (and even earth scientists) are commonly proposing.
As far as I know, no other university teaches a class like this. There are classes on climate change (often in atmospheric-sciences departments), but I have not found classes in economics departments or business schools which are about the even bigger picture on climate-change, economics, and technology. We are on novel grounds here. The choice of taking this course should be viewed as a good reason for attending UCLA Anderson.
I am a (financial) economist by training, but this class requires more than just economics. I have spent the last two years researching the relevant areas beyond my own expertise of economics. Although many academics know more about any one of the subject matters of this course, few know more about the collective set — at least as of 2022. However, it is not impossible that I may still have gotten some aspects wrong. If I have, please correct me. Think of this class as both my and our best attempt to get to the truth.
I prefer interactivity to lectures. Feel free to poke good-natured fun at me (and I will sometimes do the same to you). Be prepared to be called on. Also, please ask questions. (If I do not know the answer, I will tell you. You are not embarrassing me. Moreover, if you have expertise that you would like to contribute, great. Yet please do not ask questions with the only purpose being to show off your own background — you don’t need it. If you have good questions for which I do not have the answer, I may ask you to research the answer and tell us in the next session.)
Welch, Ivo, and Bradford Cornell, 2022, Global Climate Change: The Pragmatist Guide to Moving the Needle.
Pindyck, Robert S., 2022, Climate Future: Averting and Adapting to Climate Change.
We are still a somewhat experimental class. We now have a good and free textbook (grin), but the best format has not yet been determined. Here is what I want to try this year.
- [Week 1]
- introductions, questions, basics.
- [Weeks 1-4]
- Mostly lectures (with questions welcome). You can instead read the textbook. See, the book was written for the course, and in the end it can make much of the lectures redundant — except for the interactivity. Some students wondered why they had to attend class given that they could just read the same material. We also have a podcast version, and we do have lectures videotaped from last year.
Do not be surprised if I ask you questions. I prefer an inverted classroom. Ideally, it should be you asking questions, not me telling you or lecturing. Make sure to come to class prepared to argue intelligently. (Participation increases your grade.)
If you skip one in-person class, then in lieu of your attendance, I want to see 1 page with 5 points of summary for each chapter of our book. This gives you an incentive to read the text carefully and ensures that we are on the same page the following week. Summaries should be no more than 1 page per chapter (12pt, reasonable margins; not 5pt, 0-margins; not microfiche). Please submit via Bruinlearn.
You cannot skip more than 2 sessions.
- [Week 5]
- will include a midterm, followed possibly by a first speaker.
- [Week 6-10]
- will be speakers in area related to the subject: investing, technology, recycling, economics, etc.
You cannot miss more than two weeks’ sessions. (I have waived this for extraordinary health reasons in the past.)
We do not offer real-time Zoom. If you want to ask questions, you have to show up in person. We may (or may not) record my lectures. (Tech can go wrong, too, so do not rely on this.) Our external speakers can choose whether they want to be recorded or not, and then choose whether they want to allow posting their sessions. Don’t count on it.
Past A/V Recordings
We have some recordings from a previous year. They are lectures that are based on the chapters from the book.
I have a version of the book read to video. This is slow compared to reading yourself, but some people may prefer it. The audio-track is available for use as a podcast type experience, which works well for commuting.
The grading is based on:
- a midterm exam (30 points);
- class participation (arguing convincingly with the class and me where others are wrong, 20-30 points);
- a final (50 points);
- optional: my discretion (0-10 points), based on attendance, participation, attitude, etc.;
- optional: my paper or video, see next (0-30 points).
The midterm is primarily about the book, the final is primarily about the speakers (1/3 book; 2/3 speakers). I like to ask short questions — such as “how much more is the world expected to warm up?” or “what is the LCOE of NatGas?”
The grading will follow the standard UCLA Anderson curve.
Let’s see if you can follow the instructions on the syllabus. 😀
I have posted a first assignment that asks you to introduce yourself to me. Please upload in response a 60-second (< 120-seconds) mp4 video in which you introduce yourself, your relevant or basic background, and why you are taking this course. Do not expect this video to remain private. I may share it, e.g., with speakers in this class.
Office Hours: Please email a request for an appointment at least 24 hours in advance. I will try my best to make myself available.
I will try to answer emails of students enrolled in this course within 24 hours. I expect students to extend the same courtesy to me. Always include the course number in the email title, or your email may be deleted or die in my spam filter.
Please also check Bruinlearn at least every other day. I post occasional announcements thereon and will collect some assignments from it.
There is no TA for this course.
Bad Humor Warning
If you need trigger warnings or are particularly sensitive (especially to non-PC statements), then this class is not for you. You are dealing with a sometimes offensive Boomer as an instructor. Please indulge us old folks. I have a very immature and inappropriate sense of humor. (On the plus side, this means that I am hard to offend, too. And I do not have a mean streak, unlike Professor Fletcher.)
I am currently working on making a series of more provocative though hopefully also entertaining and funny short clips. I may offer up a brief selection.
I hope that parts of our class will be a little like a seminar or an old-fashioned intellectual salon discussion. If, for a particular week, you know someone who is an expert in the area that we will be discussing and who wants to attend and participate the session, please ask me the week before for permission of this person to attend the course. Generally, we welcome a small number of such external attendees, especially if they can bring a well-thought-out valid, but different perspective to our sessions.
I usually have dinner around 5:45pm at Plateia before class. I can take up to 5 students (or 4 students plus the speaker) with me to such dinners. For students not having already attended a dinner with me earlier, it’s first-come, first-serve. Students that have attended a dinner already can get open seats for a second dinner.
The speakers are not fully under my control. It will depend partly on their availability and willingness. And it can always happen that the market crashes and that they will have to cancel. My current plan is as follows (only in topical order, not in presentation order):
|Meyer Luskin and Shonda Warner
|Food / Recycling
|Brad Cornell and JB Sobieski
|ESG and Texas
|Alicia Knapp, Berkshire
|Jason Lee and Anil Tammineedi
|Startup / Fund Investing
PE / Investments: Jason Lee + Anil Tammineedi. Jason was previously a managing director and co-portfolio manager of the Power Opportunities Group at Oaktree Capital Management. Anil is a principal at the Angeleno group, which is an early-stage investor in next-gen clean anergy ops.
ESG Investing (Brad Cornell). Brad is a former professor at Anderson (the building in which you are sitting may have his family name on it). He is a frequent speaker on ESG and my coauthor on the course text book.
Ideally someone from Berkshire’s energy investments.
Agricultural challenges and opportunities (Shonda Warner). Shonda invests in agricultural land and operations.
Recycling (Meyer Luskin). Meyer was an early pioneer in recycling food waste. This has allowed him to name about half of all the building on campus. (OK, this is an overstatement.)
Startup clean-energy farms in Texas (Jamie Sobieski)
Sustainability and Environmentalism
I am trying for Yvon Chouinard, who has donated his fortune to fighting climate change.
Climate-change psychology (Adam Aron, UCSD). Aaron spearheads much of the faculty’s green initiatives at UC, and runs the ARONLAB, Researching, Teaching & Organizing on The Climate Crisis.
I am still fishing for a good engineering speaker who can give a overview of technologies, especially grid storage.
Technology: UC Engineering: grid storage technologies (Bruce Dunn, Rajit Gadh?)
California Electricity (maybe, Frank Wolak, Stanford)
Developing country / India challenges and opportunities
It is very important that we maintain politeness and a friendly atmosphere with speakers even when we disagree and argue with them. Remember: Our visitors are not just smart people, but they are also doing us all a great favor by coming here and exposing us to their points of view. And I believe that every single one is sincere in their desires to make the world a better place.
OPTIONAL: Course Paper
Alternatives / Extra for Grading
No student is expected to do any of the following. It is only available as a graded option if this tickles one’s fancy.
- [Paper Critique]
- Students who want to write a paper and give a presentation on a subject of relevance to this course should arrange this with me by week 3.
- [Business Plan]
- The paper could also be a good business plan for a startup, including detailed market analyses, critical product analysis and risk assessments, founded financials, and financing plan. (Who exactly will fund it?) What it must not be is unresearched ideas about pie-in-the-sky, or ad-hoc business plans. The latter actually work occasionally for real businesses, but they are difficult to assess in terms of quality from my assessment. For example “we will open a consultancy on ESG investing, we have three experienced individuals, and savings of $2 million” may actually work in real life — but who am I to judge this?
- [Humourous Video]
- In https://teaching-humor.eu/, I saw that Austrian students have produced some short videos (2-3 minutes) that tried to convey serious topics with humor. We have a lot of Hollywood talent in our own school, so I think own students could do better. Ergo, I decided to offer this as an alternative. The video must be relevant and scientifically correct, although it can be opinionated. Grading is based both on script (substance and humor) and production quality (which usually means you need at least one member with A/V experience); and at least 1/3 of the class must approve of your end-product (in an anonymous vote) based on these criteria.
The resulting video must be placed in the public domain, and of course the students should give themselves credit. If I like it enough, I may also post it on the course or even my book website — with the students’ permissions, of course.
Any of these can be completed by a team of up to 5 students, but ideally 3 students.
A group (with ideally 3 students but up to 5 students) can write a class paper that argues that what you learned in this class and what is in Welch-Cornell is wrong or missing an important element. The more convincing the argument (and the “wrong-er” Cornell-Welch), the higher the grade. To avoid my own bias, I may ask colleagues of your’s (i.e., other students) to help me grade your paper, presentation, and argument.
If you want to write a critique paper, then you need to talk to me by week 3 of your plans. By week 5 it must be firm and approved by me. I need this to plan the class. Your presentation would likely have to occur in the final class session.
Note that your argument should explain how other approaches will plausibly be widely enough adopted to slow down the atmospheric GHG concentration and thereby global warming. Your arguments need not (or even should not) be original, but they have to give academic attribution. One good approach would be to base the arguments on prominent books on climate change by activists. A small selection of such climate-change-related books is below. In alphabetical order (click on link for author and other information), here are some possible alternative views.
- A Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions
- All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis
- As Long as Grass Grows: The Indigenous Fight for Environmental Justice, from Colonization to Standing Rock
- Biodiversity and Climate Change: Transforming the Biosphere
- Climate Action Challenge: A Proven Plan for Launching Your Eco-Initiative in 90 Days
- Climate Change and the road to Net-Zero
- Climate and Society
- Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming
- Environmental Politics and Policy
- How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint: Practical Ways to Make a Real Difference
- Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home
- Learning to Die in the Anthropocene: Reflections on the End of a Civilization
- Less is More: How Degrowth Will Save the World
- Losing Earth: A Recent History
- Losing Earth: The Decade We Could Have Stopped Climate Change
- No One Is Too Small to Make A Difference
- Nomad Century: How Climate Migration Will Reshape Our World
- On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal
- Our House is On Fire: Greta Thunberg’s Call to Save the Planet
- Regeneration: Ending the climate crisis in one generation
- Revolutionary Power: An Activist’s Guide to the Energy Transition
- Saving Us: A Climate Scientist’s Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World
- The Ethics of Climate Change: Right and Wrong in a Warming World
- The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable
- The Science and Politics of Global Climate Change: A Guide to the Debate
- The Story of More: How We Got to Climate Change and Where to Go from Here
- The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming
- This Changes Everything: Capitalism Vs The Climate
- Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future
- Windfall: The Booming Business of Global Warming
Paper Writing Advice
Important Writing Advice (in general): avoid adjectives and adverbs (thorough, massive, tremedous, huge, and incredible ones, in particular). Write sober. If you advocate a different remedy, please explain why it will work in the future when it has not worked in the past. Always start a report with a title, the name of the authors, and a date. Make sure you have page numbers (for reference). Give page numbers with external (href) references (It needs to be quick and easy for me to confirm your claim). be specific — for example, “how much do you think it will cost in dollars per MWH in what year? $80.”
The maximum length is 5,000 words. 3,000 words is preferred. If it is only 1,000 words, it better be brillant. However, if it is, it will get you an A+.