<strong>Catrina Rorke</strong> image

Catrina Rorke is senior fellow for energy policy with the R Street Institute, where she founded R Street’s energy program and works to clarify a well-defined and limited role for government in shaping decisions about infrastructure, wholesale and retail electricity, research and development, fuel choice and diversity, and climate adaptation and mitigation.

Featured Writings and Talks

Policy studies, R Street Institute; Opinion pieces, R Street Institute; "Growth Is Green," The American Conservative; "Making Paris Happen: Carbon Markets, Taxes, and Other Policy Solutions for Climate Action" (panel discussion at Center for Global Development); Center for Global Development: Making Paris Happen: Carbon Markets, Taxes, and Other Policy Solutions for Climate Action Center for Global Development

Catrina Rorke on...

Environmental decision-making:

"I think that policies are best designed by people closest to problems. ... In individual communities we can identify problems that we find to be more pressing much more immediately and with better data and narratives than a federal government could."

The role of government:

"It's important to note that the government is not the root of cures for every public policy problem. Often we find cures in innovations in individual communities, and the creativity of humans is what leads to solutions, not the ingenuity of a bureaucrat."

Regulations preventing business from innovating

"There are very many states that don't allow people to produce electric power on their roofs and then sell it to market, or won't allow a company, like let's say a big box store like a Walmart or a Target, to cover their roofs in solar panels and profit that way. That's a government policy problem."

The role of culture and art:

"It helps us approach complicated problems in a way that's relatable. And helps us, I hope, make individual choices, and collective choices so that we can gain a better perspective on what happens outside our own backyards."

The role of innovation:

“I'm a huge believer in technology… we're already solving these problems today, sure energy might be a small example, but you can see this footprint of innovation allowing us to leapfrog a lot of the obstacles that we faced in the developed world to just skip over a lot of the problems we've generated for ourselves. And so I'm optimistic, because I think we're gonna keep inventing really cool things.”

Communicating climate change across partisan divides:

"One of our obstacles, is that we talk about the problem in a way that makes it seem that solutions are expensive, and will require us to assume some deprived lifestyle to see the future, when what we want to do is communicate the sense of optimism. ... We don't want to get stuck on that problem and that individual action if it's what's stopping us from reaching a more complete solution."

The developing world:

"Right now we're giving people access to reliable forms of energy by sending out technologies that are getting cheaper every day. Wind power, solar power, small hydroelectric power, even, in a lot of parts of the developing world, and batteries that are getting astoundingly cheaper, largely because we want them for our cell phones."

Optimism:

"We're already solving these problems today. Sure, energy might be a small example, but you can see this footprint of innovation allowing us to leapfrog a lot of the obstacles that we faced in the developed world to just skip over a lot of the problems we've generated for ourselves. And so I'm optimistic, because I think we're going to keep inventing really cool things."

Moderator

David J. Skorton image

Dr. David J. Skorton is the 13th Secretary of the Smithsonian. Skorton, 67, a board-certified cardiologist, previously was the president of Cornell University, a position he held from July 2006. He was also a professor in the Departments of Medicine and Pediatrics at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City and in Cornell’s Department of Biomedical Engineering at the College of Engineering. An ardent and nationally recognized supporter of the arts and humanities, Skorton has called for a national dialogue to emphasize the importance of funding for these disciplines.

Panelists

Jedediah Purdy image
Jedediah Purdy

professor of law Duke University and the author of After Nature: A Politics for the Anthropocene

Catrina Rorke image
Catrina Rorke

senior fellow for energy policy, R Street Institute

Mary Evelyn Tucker image
Mary Evelyn Tucker

co-founder and co-director of the Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale University