Jul 5, 2022

Syllabus

UCLA Anderson TBD, TBD 2022-3
Energy, Climate Change, Economics, and Technology

Instructor: Ivo Welch

Meeting Times: Wednesday 19:10 - 22:00. (Dinners, Wednesday 17:45-19:00)

Basic Purpose

What it is: MNGMT 298D is a conceptual business-school economics course, with only sprinkles of business attached to it. It teaches the basics of climate-science.

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. One way to describe the intent is that it teaches a climate-change background that allows one to have a smart, intelligent, and informed conversation about the causes and consequences of climate change — instead of a conversation that repeats half-truths and platitudes.

If you already do understand the causes and consequences on more than a headline “news-alarmist” level (say, 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 my own and being Robert Pindyck’s. Of course, you would miss the discussion and interactivity.

I more than welcome dissent, opinions, etc. They make the sessions more interesting. However, they have to be based on logic rather than than emotion. (It makes perfect sense to rationally discuss psychology, including emotions.)

What it is not: This course is not a more job-oriented business course. Anderson does offer more applied and practical courses on subjects like ESG investing, ESG marketing, entrepreneurial economics and finance, — which are all important and interesting, too — but my course is not this. If you want to enroll in my course, please be aware of what you are getting yourself into.

 

Ideology

This course is neither an environmental activism course, nor a denialist or an Ayn-Rand type defense of the virtues of free-market capitalism.

In this class, we want to pursue the truth without an agenda. Chances are that the content of this course offends 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 they are 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 teach about the even bigger picture on climate-change, economics, and technology. We are on novel grounds here. This course should be viewed as a very 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. 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 at the truth.

Nevertheless, 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.

Parts of this course are primarily lecture-based, although I prefer interactivity. 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.)

Sessions

I am currently exploring shifting about 4-5 of the sessions (especially from the first half) into hybrid (video course) format with interspersed in-person sessions. The second half will have to be in person.

The first 4 sessions largely follow my (free) textbook, with Brad Cornell, Moving the Needle. We have spent years thinking hard about how to organize our knowledge, so it should not come as a surprise that we believe this order is best.

I expect these class sessions to blend into one another and mostly follow the organization of our book (4-S= 3 hour session):

  1. Session S1a-b: Poll. Earth Sciences (Energy, Emissions, Climate History, Climate Future)

  2. S2a-b: Economics (Public Goods, Economics of Costs, Integrated Assessment Models)

  3. S3a-b: Poll results. Non-Viable and Viable Solutions, Start of fossil-fuels.

  4. S4a-b: Technology (Fossil Fuels, Electricity, Beyond-Electricity, Geoengineering)

The next two sessions are primarily about adaptation, based on Robert Pindyck’s book.

  1. S5a-b: Adaptation responses — not in book.

  2. S6a-b: Adaptation responses — not in book.

The final four sessions will be collaborations with experts and industry speakers and are to be more interactive, too. The specifics are yet to be determined, and partly determined by speaker availability. Possibilities:

  • ESG Investing (Brad Cornell)

  • Energy Investing in Texas and clean energy (Jamie Sobieski)

  • Agricultural challenges and opportunities (Shonda Warner)

  • Recycling business (Meyer Luskin)

  • Climate-change anxiety (Adam Aron, UCSD)

  • California Electricity (Wolak, Stanford)

  • Hedge-Fund Energy/ESG Investing

  • UC new technologies

  • Developing country / India challenges and opportunities

Readings

Please skim the chapters to be covered before the class session (so you can ask questions) and read in more detail after the class session.

I may give short quizzes at the start of each class to check that you have done the readings. These will be only mildly graded to allow me to assess your spiritual rather than just your physical attendance. As such, I may use them in my grading discretion.

Grading

The grading is based on short quizzes (10%), a short midterm (20%), a final (60%), and my discretion (10%) based on attendance, participation, attitude, etc.. The quizzes and midterm exists primarily to reduce anxiety about the final. The final may be held on the final day of class.

Alternatives

No student is expected to do either of the following. It is only available as a graded option if this tickles one’s fancy.

[Paper]
Students who want to write a paper and give a presentation on a subject of relevance to this course (which could also be a good business plan for a startup, including detailed founded financials; or it could be a repudiation of arguments in this class/my book/Pindyck’s book) should contact me by week 3.
[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 it (in an anonymous vote) based on these criteria.

The result must be placed in the public domain, and of course the students should give themselves credit. If I like it enough, I may post it on the course or even my book website — with the students’ permission.

Either of these can count for up to 1/3 of the course grade and can be completed by a team of up to 5 students.

Writing Advice (Project)

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. Add page numbers for reference. GIVE NUMBERS WITH (HREF) REFERENCES — “how much do you think it will cost in dollars per MWH in what year?”

Maximum length is 5,000 words. 3,000 words is preferred. If it is only 1,000 words, it better be brillant.

Follow Instructions

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.

NOTE: Use https://handbrake.fr/ to compress your video to a reasonable file size, like 480p30. Then upload it to Bruinlearn.

Outside-of-Class Communication

Office Hours: Email request for appointment 24 hours in advance.

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 TBD” in the title, or your email may be deleted or lost in my spam filter.

Please refer to Bruinlearn. I post occasional announcements thereon.

There is no TA for this course.

Dinner

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.

Past Recording

We have some recordings from a previous year. Obviously, I would rather have you come to class than watch them. They should be viewed as for last resort only. NOTE: This may change if this course is offered as hybrid, in which case we will have recorded sessions.

And remember: you are dealing with a Boomer as an instructor, who also happens to have a very immature and inappropriate sense of humor. (On the plus side, this means that I am hard to offend, too.) Please indulge us old folks.

/teaching/climate-change/syllabus-climatechange-2023.html Last modified: