Dean Gus Speth Looks Back on His Career

Question: How did you get involved in the environmental movement? 

Gus Speth: Well, a group of us got together at the Yale Law School in the late 1960s and decided to create a group modeled on the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, but for the environment, as sort of an environmental defense organization. And through a lot of twists and turns, that became the Natural Resources Defense Council, which is going great guns today in our country and doing wonderful work. And after that, I went into the Carter White House and became Jimmy Carter's White House Environmental Advisor for four years. Should have been eight, but it turned out to be four. And during that time, I had the opportunity to supervise the development of what we call the Global 2000 Report. So here was a report written in 1980 that looked forward to the year 2000 and asked the question, what happens if we just keep doing what we're doing today, this scenario, this base case of future? What would the world look like in the year 2000? And it came to some very scary conclusions in 1980. So after the Carter Administration, I decided that I would try to start another group to deal with these global scale issues that we looked at in the Global 2000 Report. And that eventually became the World Resources Institute and I spent over a decade there. And then I was in charge of the transition for an Environment and Energy and Natural Resources for Clinton Administration when it was coming in. That was short and brutal, but a lot of fun in a way. And after that I went to the United Nations and was the head of the U.N. Development Program, which is the largest U.N. arm for development assistance abroad. Basically, we had a major anti-poverty program focused around the world. And after that, I got an invitation to come be the Dean at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies where I've now been for nine years. So it's been a varied career, I guess. Almost 40 years of working on environmental issues.

Recorded: 3/23/08

 

 

 

 

 

Forty years of environmental advocacy.

Compelling speakers do these 4 things every single time

The ability to speak clearly, succinctly, and powerfully is easier than you think

Former U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee rally at the Anaheim Convention Center on September 8, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Barbara Davidson/Getty Images)
Personal Growth

The ability to communicate effectively can make or break a person's assessment of your intelligence, competence, and authenticity.

Keep reading Show less

Antimicrobial resistance is a growing threat to good health and well-being

Antimicrobial resistance is growing worldwide, rendering many "work horse" medicines ineffective. Without intervention, drug-resistant pathogens could lead to millions of deaths by 2050. Thankfully, companies like Pfizer are taking action.

Image courtesy of Pfizer.
Sponsored
  • Antimicrobial-resistant pathogens are one of the largest threats to global health today.
  • As we get older, our immune systems age, increasing our risk of life threatening infections. Without reliable antibiotics, life expectancy could decline for the first time in modern history.
  • If antibiotics become ineffective, common infections could result in hospitalization or even death. Life-saving interventions like cancer treatments and organ transplantation would become more difficult, more often resulting in death. Routine procedures would become hard to perform.
  • Without intervention, resistant pathogens could result in 10 million annual deaths by 2050.
  • By taking a multi-faceted approach—inclusive of adherence to good stewardship, surveillance and responsible manufacturing practices, as well as an emphasis on prevention and treatment—companies like Pfizer are fighting to help curb the spread.
Keep reading Show less

Preserving truth: How to confront and correct fake news

Journalism got a big wake up call in 2016. Can we be optimistic about the future of media?

Videos
  • "[T]o have a democracy that thrives and actually that manages to stay alive at all, you need regular citizens being able to get good, solid information," says Craig Newmark.
  • The only constructive way to deal with fake news? Support trustworthy media. In 2018, Newmark was announced as a major donor of two new media organizations, The City, which will report on New York City-area stories which may have otherwise gone unreported, and The Markup, which will report on technology.
  • Greater transparency of fact-checking within media organizations could help confront and correct fake news. Organizations already exist to make media more trustworthy — are we using them? There's The Trust Project, International Fact-Checkers Network, and Tech & Check.
Keep reading Show less