Wege Family Welcomes Wildlife Filmmaker to Aquinas

Two generations of Peter Wege’s family turned out in April for the 15th annual Wege Lecture at Aquinas College given by Chris Palmer, the renowned wildlife film producer. Pictured above being recognized in Aquinas’s Performing Arts Center from left to right are: Patrick Goodwillie, Mary Nelson, Jim Nelson, Jonathan Wege, Peter Wege II, Caitlin Wiener, Jessica McLear, Christopher Carter, and Rachel Wege-Lack, Peter Wege II’s daughter, who is shown introducing Chris Palmer to the full auditorium.

Chris Palmer, whose wildlife documentaries have appeared on IMAX, Disney Channel, and Animal Planet, among others, showed clips from his films, including up-close encounters with Southern Right Whales and a wolf pack making a den. In his elegant British accent, Chris Palmer captivated the audience with his animated style and passionate commitment to protecting wildlife.

“I want the world to be preserved,” he told the crowd, “and wildlife films are one way to tackle the problems of the environment. All the films I make are part of a conservation campaign.”

Chris Palmer is a full-time faculty member at American University where he started the Center for Environmental Filmmaking in the School of Communication. In 2009 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award for Media at the International Wildlife Film Festival.

After his talk, Palmer greeted audience members and signed copies of his new book: Shooting in the Wild: An Insider’s Account of Making Movies in the Animal Kingdom. The accompanying slide-show photographs feature guests at the Wege Lecture and the reception and dinner afterwards.

Mr. Wege's granddaughter, Rachel Wege-Lack, is shown introducing Chris Palmer to a full auditorium.
Mr. Wege’s granddaughter, Rachel Wege-Lack, is shown introducing Chris Palmer to a full auditorium.

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10th Wege Lecture at U of M – A Brilliant talk by Dr. Larry Brilliant

University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman described Dr. Larry Brilliant as a 60s Hippie idealist, a 1990s entrepreneur, and 21st Century high-techer. And Brilliant proved to be all those things March 16 when he delivered the 2011 Peter M. Wege Lecture for the U of M’s School of Natural Resources and the Environment.

Larry Brilliant got his start as an activist for good causes while an undergrad at Michigan when he was one of a few students to hear an unknown black pastor named Martin Luther King speak. “None of us were ever the same again,” Dr. Brilliant told his audience at Rackham Auditorium.

This year’s Wege lecturer went on to earn his M.D from Wayne State followed by an M.A. in Public Health at Michigan where he served on the faculty from 1977-86 teaching international health and epidemiology. Dr. Brilliant is a physician board-certified in preventive medicine.

In 1985 he founded a non-profit called Seva that ultimately restored eyesight to 3 million people by eliminating preventable and curable blindness. He also co-founded The Well, one of the early digital communities, as well as inventing and patenting an upgrade for online transactions.

The public-health epidemiologist moved to India where he helped mobilize 15,000 health workers to visit homes looking for smallpox. While over half a billion people died of smallpox in the 20th Century, when Dr. Brillant’s campaign was done, smallpox was officially declared “eradicated” – the first time in history that a united effort had wiped out a contagious disease.

As Michigan president Mary Sue Coleman put it, Dr. Brilliant “does not do small.”

Saline High School students attending the Lecture sponsored by the U of M’s School of Natural Resources & Environment: Sarah Marshall, Aviva Shwayder, and Caroline Devries. Peter Wege would have loved their answers when these girls said why they came to the Wege Lecture. Aviva summarized for the three: “To change the world, you first have to educate yourself.”
Saline High School students attending the Lecture sponsored by the U of M’s School of Natural Resources & Environment: Sarah Marshall, Aviva Shwayder, and Caroline Devries. Peter Wege would have loved their answers when these girls said why they came to the Wege Lecture. Aviva summarized for the three: “To change the world, you first have to educate yourself.”
U of M Professors and chairmen of the Center for Sustainable Systems Dr. Greg Keolian, on the left, and Dr. Jonathan Bulkley, 3rd from left. On the right, Dr. Rosina Bierbaum, Dean of Michigan's SNR & E School, and Martin Philbert, Dean of the School of Public Health.
U of M Professors and chairmen of the Center for Sustainable Systems Dr. Greg Keolian, on the left, and Dr. Jonathan Bulkley, 3rd from left. On the right, Dr. Rosina Bierbaum, Dean of Michigan’s SNR & E School, and Martin Philbert, Dean of the School of Public Health.

15TH ANNUAL WEGE SPEAKER SERIES

The Wege Foundation & Aquinas College are pleased to present Chris Palmer as this year’s speaker.

He has confronted sharks, stared down Kodiak bears, and camped with wolf packs to make wildlife films and teach others about the natural world.

And in his latest book, “Shooting in the Wild, An Insider’s Account to Making Movies in the Animal Kingdom,” filmmaker Chris Palmer uncovers a more pervasive and troubling trend toward sensationalism, extreme risk-taking, and even abuse in wildlife films. Jane Goodall called it “a very important and much-needed book.”

Over the past 25 years, Palmer has led the production of more than 300 hours of original programming for prime time television and the giant screen (IMAX) film industry. He has worked with renowned environmental names including Robert Redford, Ted Turner and Jane Fonda, and his expertise on the subject exposes the dangers of, and tricks to, filming wild animals. Chris has witnessed life threatening, abusive and manipulating filming techniques, all for the sake of ratings and getting the “perfect” shot.

With shocking insight, Chris uses true stories to unveil the reality behind the scenes of America’s favorite wildlife shows.

Palmer joined the full-time faculty at American University in August 2004 and founded the Center for Environmental Filmmaking at the School of Communication. In 2009 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award for Media at the International Wildlife Film Festival. He is president of the Mac Gillivray Freeman Films Education Foundation and serves as chief executive officer of VideoTakes, Inc.

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10th ANNUAL WEGE LECTURE ON SUSTAINABILITY

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Dr. Brilliant was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People and top 20 Scientists and Thinkers (2008); UN Global Leadership Award (2008); TED Prize (2006); Peacemaker Award (2005); International Public Health Hero (2004); and two honorary doctorates. In 2009, The Final Inch, the documentary about polio eradication which Dr. Brilliant inspired and was funded by Google.org, was nominated for an Oscar.

The University of Michigan’s Center for Sustainable Systems in the School of Natural Resources and Environment will present the 10th annual Peter M. Wege Lecture on Sustainability March 16 at 3:30 p.m. in Rackham Auditorium on U of M’s campus. This annual free Lecture Series focuses on critical issues of sustainability and honors Peter M. Wege for his many outstanding contributions to the University of Michigan’s Center for Sustainable Systems and to the environmental field.

Previous internationally recognized speakers have addressed vital sustainability challenges facing society in the 21st century, including global climate change, freshwater scarcity, and the loss of biodiversity.

Dr. Larry Brilliant, MPH, MD, a University of Michigan alumnus and president of the Skoll Global Threats Fund, will deliver this year’s Peter M. Wege Lecture. The 3:30 speech will be followed by a public reception in Rackham’s lobby. After serving three years as a Google VP and the first executive director of Google.org, the company’s philanthropic arm, Dr. Brilliant joined Skoll Global Threats Fund.

He is a medical doctor and MPH, board-certified in preventive medicine. For ten years Dr. Brilliant lived and worked in India and was one of a four-person United Nations’ team that led the successful World Health Organization smallpox-eradication program in India and South Asia. He later founded the Seva Foundation that has given sight back to nearly 3 million people worldwide through its work in eliminating preventable and curable blindness.

Dr. Brilliant has been a professor of international policy and epidemiology at the University of Michigan and written two books plus dozens of scientific articles on infectious diseases, blindness, and international health policy. He’s volunteered as a physician during disasters, including the Asian Tsunami in Sri Lanka and Indonesia and the Bihar Floods. After the anthrax attacks in the United States in 2001, he volunteered as a first responder for the Centers for Disease Control’s bio-terrorism effort.

Wege Lecture Speaker Captivates her Audience

sylviaearleDr. Sylvia Earle, a global authority on the ocean and Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society, both entertained and warned a packed audience at Aquinas College during the week of Earth Day April 2010. Dr. Earle delivered the 14th annual Wege Foundation Lecture titled, “Without Blue There Is No Green.” In other words, if we don’t start protecting the ocean and its sea life, we face losing the ‘green’ Earth” as well.

The title of Dr. Earle’s latest book title summarizes her global message: The World Is Blue: How Our Fate And The Ocean’s are One. Since all life is interconnected, living things require a healthy ocean. And she did not fudge the need for immediate action: “The next ten years are the most important in the next 10,000. What we do or don’t do to bring the ocean back to life will determine our future.”

Dr. Earle never eats fish. “How could I when I have seen their faces and no two of them look alike!” Since 90% of the world’s tuna are gone and tuna can’t be farm raised, she asked her audience to stop eating tuna in any form now. Instead she asked them to eat three fish that can be replenished by farming: tilapia, carp, and catfish.

Tuna are being fished out of existence by commercial fishermen with their 30-mile long nets. Every year they are taking 100 million tons of fish from the ocean. And 20% of those fish, or 20 million tons of fish, are thrown away as “bycatch.” Three-hundred thousand mammals a year are killed as bycatch.

As the winner of the competitive Ted Prize, Dr. Earle could choose a mission. Hers is to create protected spots in the ocean—Hope Spots—where sea life can’t be removed.

When asked what will happen to commercial fishermen when their fishing beds are taken away, Dr. Earle did not soft-pedal her answer. “They’ll find new work. Learn a new skill.” She pointed out that many people in this economy have had to do the same thing.

Dr. Earle’s short video took her audience into the “deep” ocean with narrative including:

• Only 5% of the ocean has ever been seen

• Exploring the ocean’s “twilight” zone, 400-500 feet down, one scientist has discovered 14 new species every hour

• The first time humans ever saw a photograph of the Earth was July 1969 during the moon landing

Dr. Earle noted that technology has now allowed scientists to explore the ocean as never before. People didn’t used to know about the deep ocean or how humans have depleted marine life the world needs to survive. But now, Dr. Earle said emphatically, “We do know! And if we don’t protect marine life now, future generations will look back and ask, ‘Why didn’t you do something when you KNEW?’’

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(Above photo – Peter Wege and world-famous oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle exchange books before Dr. Earle delivered the 14th annual Wege Lecture at Aquinas College. Peter autographed a copy of his new book ECONOMICOLOGY II for her, and she signed a copy for him of The Ocean published by the National Geographic Society where she is the Explorer-in-Residence.)

University of Michigan Holds 9th Peter M. Wege Lecture

Monday, March 22, 2010, Dr. John P. Holdren (pictured left), Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy for President Obama, delivered the ninth annual lecture at the University of Michigan named for sponsor Peter M. Wege. Dr. Holdren spoke to a full house of faculty, students, and guests in the University’s Rackham Auditorium.

Holdren’s topic was “Science and Technology Policy Priorities and Opportunities in the Obama Administration.” President Obama’s personal advisor on Science and Technology outlined the administration’s plans and projected budgets for elevating the role of science in the federal government. Bringing more scientists into the White House’s decision-making process was a key platform in Obama’s 2008 Presidential campaign.

With Earth Day approaching, University President Mary Sue Coleman reminded the audience that Michigan played a key role in the original 1970 Earth Day. Having started the nation’s first Teach-In protesting the Viet Nam War in 1965, Michigan students decided to host a second one to support Earth Day.

But since national Earth Day was April 22 in the middle of Michigan’s final exams, the students put on their Teach-In during March 1970—effectively kicking off the first Earth Day. Founder of Earth Day, Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson later credited U-M with inspiring groups across the country to join the first Earth Day celebrations a month later.

Speaking on the need for better education on climate change, President Coleman noted that while the science community tracks the increasing environmental damage from carbon emissions, the public is moving the other way. Over the past two years, the number of Americans who think climate change is a hoax has actually gone up from seven to sixteen percent.

Dr. John P. Holdren   The March 15, 2010 issue of The University Record, a University of Michigan newspaper describes the annual Peter M. Wege Lecture: The Wege Lecture, one of U-M’s most visible annual events, is open to the public and the academic community. It addresses important sustainability challenges facing society such as energy security, global climate change, ecosystem degradation and sustainable development strategies – with a focus on improving the systems for meeting human needs in developed and developing countries.
Dr. John P. Holdren
The March 15, 2010 issue of The University Record, a University of Michigan newspaper describes the annual Peter M. Wege Lecture:
The Wege Lecture, one of U-M’s most visible annual events, is open to the public and the academic community. It addresses important sustainability challenges facing society such as energy security, global climate change, ecosystem degradation and sustainable development strategies – with a focus on improving the systems for meeting human needs in developed and developing countries.

Dr. Holdren summarized the thinking among scientists on dealing with climate change. Mitigate environmental harm by reducing greenhouse gases. Adapt to what be can’t mitigated by minimizing the harm. Or suffer irreversible harm to the planet if both mitigation and adaptation fail.

*Above – Dr. Jonathan Bulkley, University of Michigan, School of Natural Resources and the Environment, Dr. Rosina Bierbaum, Dean of SNR and E, Dr. Greg Keolian, SNR and E, pose with Dr. John Holdren, Assistant to President Obama for Science and Technology, following Holdren’s delivery of the Ninth Annual Peter M. Wege Lecture at the University of Michigan.

BILL FORD ANNOUNCES NATIONAL ENERGY COUNCIL AT WEGE LECTURE.

BILLFORDSIDEPHOTOWilliam Clay Ford, Jr., Executive Chairman of Ford Motor Company, delivered the Seventh Annual Peter M. Wege Lecture at the University of Michigan November 13, 2007. Henry Ford’s great-grandson, who goes by the name “Bill Ford,” called his speech, The Road to Sustainable Transportation.

Bill Clay Ford has been known for his environmentalism since he joined Ford Motor’s board in 1988. From the beginning, the graduate of Princeton with a masters degree from MIT pushed Ford to design more fuel-efficient vehicles. But with gas relatively cheap at the time, and with SUVs and trucks Ford Motor’s money makers, his green message didn’t resonate with the management. Twenty years later, with gas over $3.00 a gallon, Ford’s fellow executives are thinking green as well.

Bill Ford chose the occasion of a full house for the Wege Lecture in Rackham’s Auditorium to announce Ford Motor’s formation of a national energy panel to be called the Transformation Advisory Council (TAC). Council members will include senior executives from Ford who are the innovative thinkers, environmental scientists and engineers from major universities, representatives from national environmental organizations, members of the private sector, government officials, and people from non-profit world.

The Chairman of the Ford third of the Big Three sees the TAC as the first step to developing a national energy policy, something he says “has to happen.” Ford spoke to the environmental necessity of a national policy by citing statistics that emissions from this nation’s car and trucks are leading contributors to global warming. In terms of national security and the economy, Ford said, until we can produce American vehicles that consume less fuel, we will continue to be dependent on—and vulnerable to—foreign oil-producing countries.

With proposed alternative-energy solutions varying from ethanol to electricity to hydrogen, Bill Ford called for a federal policy that will help direct America’s auto industry to build the right engines. To solve the oil crisis, our current gas stations will ultimately need to be replaced by a new fuel infrastructure. For the auto makers, the sooner there’s a national energy policy directing the fuel of the future, the sooner the Big Three can tool up to provide the engines.

Two environmental leaders Bill Ford has invited to sit on the TAC are also two of the authors Peter Wege drew on in his 1998 book ECONOMICOLOGY: The Eleventh Commandment. One is Amory Lovins, chairman and chief scientist of the Rocky Mountain Institute; the other is Paul Hawken, a nationally recognized environmental pioneer.