Exploring the links between the fires in California and climate change, with Lily Jamali and Steve Weissman


Exploring the links between the California fires and climate change

Professor Steve Weissman

JD Boston College ’73, BA UMasse ’70

Lecturer Emeritus, Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley

In conversation with:

Lily jamali


California Report co-host, KQED

Over the past half-decade, Californians have faced the new reality of fire seasons that start earlier and end later each year. California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection calls climate change “”a key driverOf this trend. These longer fire seasons have become deadlier and more destructive than ever. While climate change can exacerbate conditions, it does not provide the spark. Many of the fires that have destroyed entire communities in California and the West have been started by downed power lines belonging to major utilities, including PG&E, which have sparked a series of catastrophic fires since 2015. These fires have changed the way we live, forcing citizens to rethink where they live, how they harden neighborhoods and what to do to protect themselves from the unhealthy smoke of forest fires.

In this conversation, we’ll explore the roots of this grim new reality, approaches to adaptation, and potential solutions.

Time will be allocated for questions and answers.

Co-sponsored by:
  • Washington DC MIT Club

Steve weissman created and led the Energy Law program at Berkeley Law, where he also taught numerous courses in energy law and policy. He came to UC Berkeley from the California Public Utilities Commission where he was an administrative judge. He has also served as political and legal advisor to three different commissioners of the PUC. He is an energy and environment lawyer and environmental mediator. Prior to his appointment as an administrative judge in 1988, he was an attorney at the PUC, working on renewable energy and energy efficiency proceedings, as well as cases involving the implementation of the California Environmental Quality Act. He has taught energy law and policy at Berkeley Law since 2006.

He is a former senior consultant to the California State Assembly Natural Resources Committee, where he drafted and revised legislation relating to energy, air quality, and solid waste management. He is a member of the United States District Court Mediation Committee, Northern District of California, and creator of the California PUC Alternative Dispute Resolution Program. In addition, he was Legal Director of the Commission on Local Governments, an environmental and social policy think tank providing assistance to local governments. At the Local Government Commission, he wrote policy guides on toxic air pollutants, recycling and land use. He wrote the Ahwahnee Principles, a description of the important elements of transit and pedestrian-oriented development, prepared in collaboration with some of today’s most influential architects and planners.

In the city of Berkeley, Steve Weissman chaired the Parks and Recreation Commission and the Solid Waste Commission. Additionally, he was a member of the Downtown Plan Advisory Committee, which worked with the university to create a new development plan for downtown Berkeley. He is vice chairman of the American Bar Association’s publishing committee for the Environment, Energy and Resources section. He also teaches energy courses at Vermont Law School and Lewis and Clark. He received a Fulbright scholarship which enabled him to teach in the fall of 2013 at the Universitat Rovira i Virgili near Barcelona. He was recently named to the Fulbright Specialist List.

Lily jamali is co-host of KQED’s The California Report, which airs on NPR stations statewide. She is also a correspondent for the show. The program covers a wide range of topics that matter to Californians, including economics, education, and immigration. She has closely followed the history of the bankruptcy of PG&E. Her work is shaped by her reporting on the 2018 camp fire while still burning in Butte County, an area she first covered as a local television reporter from 2004 to 2006.

Prior to joining The California Report, Lily was the presenter of Bloomberg Markets: Canada, where she led editorial coverage of its daily hour-long news program covering financial markets, economics and politics. She has also reported for the Bloomberg Terminal, coordinating with the editorial staff to air stories and write corporate articles focused on the impacts of the Trump administration’s immigration policy on the Canadian economy.

Lily holds an MBA in Finance from the Stern School of Business at New York University, an MA from the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University, and a BA in English from UCLA. .


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