For Immediate Release
April 25, 2006
Contacts: Ellen Ternes, 301-405-4621 or email@example.com
UM Grad Student Takes on Oil and Environment Crisis
The University of Maryland-sponsored Sustainable Energy Forum 2006 on Peak Oil and the Environment, to be held in Washington, DC, May 7-9, is loaded with national and world experts on the impact of oil dependence on people and the environment. But the moving force behind the summit is a 34-year-old graduate student who lived life before Maryland in his native Montana, in a cabin in the mountains, fly fishing and building "green" homes outside Fishtail, where, he says, "I still have a considerable tab at the Cowboy Bar."
Even after a year of coming up with the idea for, then co-organizing the forum, Max Christian, a graduate student in Maryland's Sustainable Development and Conservation Biology Program (CONS), is still a bit awed that so many leaders in sustainability and environmental issues have signed on to speak at the summit. Peak oil refers to the point at which we can no longer match demand with the amount of oil that can be extracted from the Earth, a prospect, says Christian, "that has become even more realistic in the face of increasing demand from China and India and geopolitical instability in producing nations."
Christian became interested in peak oil when he was researching a paper on the implications of global oil constraints for biodiveristy conservation and development in Latin America. After attending a meeting on peak oil in Lisbon last May, he says "I decided we needed to have a meeting on the implications of peak oil in the U.S. since we're poised to be the most affected."
Two things pulled the fifth generation Montanan out of the Beartooth Mountains to do something more for the world and its environment. One was his drive in a Landcruiser from Seattle to Ecuador, right into hurricane Mitch. "I realized that the global poor were going to be hit hardest by climate change," Christian says.
The other was reading a book by University of Maryland public policy professor Herman Daly, which, he says, "clarified for me the connection between the economy and the environment, and how we should be focusing on increasing human well-being instead of just making and consuming more 'stuff.' "
Christian, still sporting some Montana ruggedness, even with a pair of fashionable European-style glasses, came to Maryland in 2003, to study with Daly. Daly is on the faculty of the CONS program and will speak at the Sustainable Energy Forum.
Christian's start in College Park almost didn't get off the ground. "When I came to Maryland in the fall of 2003, there were some funding issues and they didn't have a teaching assistantship for me. So I told David (Inouye, CONS program co-director) I was 'going fishing' and went king crab fishing in the Bering Sea for a month. I came back with a decent chunk of change and finished the semester fine, but David found me a job with the College so I wouldn't get killed trying to earn my tuition."
When he gets his master's degree in May, Christian plans to "work to build access to renewable energy in the developing world, especially Latin America."
Sustainable Energy Forum 2006 is being hosted by the University of Maryland CONS. Former CEO Jack Santa Barbara and a former Wall Street trader Nate Hagens are co-organizers of the Forum. For a list of speakers, agenda and more information on the meeting, http://www.beyondpeak.org/Speakers.html .
Information provided by the Office of University Communications
Email University Communications at firstname.lastname@example.org