The crowd at the UCLA Faculty Center tittered with laughter as the speaker showed a slideshow of various presidents pledging support for alternative fuels.
Laughter soon turned to murmurs of assent when the speaker added that green industries were not going to create more jobs, and that there should be more emphasis on domestic pursuits, like Atlantic oil drilling.
“We have to push back on what these politicians tell you and what those activists tell you,” Christopher Horner, an author and one of the speakers at the American Freedom Alliance conference on climate change, told the crowd.
The non-UCLA affiliated meeting was held at the Faculty Center from June 12-13. It addressed topics that were a far cry from the university’s emphasis on sustainability.
Titled “Big Footprint: Is Green the New Tyranny?” the conference included various panel and speaker discussions about the motivations of the Green Movement, which emphasizes sustainability and participatory democracy, and its possible consequences for freedom.
Though the meeting had few connections to UCLA, except for a few professors who presented on alternative energy sources, the alliance chose the university as its meeting location because of its greater public access, said Avi Davis, president of the American Freedom Alliance.
In the past, the international conference has been held at schools like USC and Pepperdine University.
However, Davis said UCLA faculty were concerned about the conference’s presence on campus.
He added that the conference has dealt with these issues before, especially at other venues with a more liberal orientation.
The university hosts a variety of events to facilitate debate and discussion, said Phil Hampton, university spokesman. He added that the goal is to encourage expression of different ideas.
Horner’s panel focused on energy sources and fossil fuels, and suggested that over time, there has been greater dependence on foreign nations for oil.
During his speech, he emphasized that the growing need for global energy would only be fueled by conventional energy sources.
He also spoke about the so-called hypocrisies of fuel, as he said coal burning saved forests and petroleum saved whales from being used for oil.
“We only discuss the horrors of what we use,” Horner said, adding that he is skeptical of finding a true alternative energy source, as people shy from nuclear, coal and gas power.
In addition to Horner’s panel, the international meeting also addressed the pros and cons of sustainability, global warming as possible alarmism, and the effects of the animal rights movement on human concerns.
About 350 people, many of whom were Los Angeles residents, attended the two-day annual conference, Davis said.
While the speakers ranged from professors and scientists to lawyers and authors, conference attendees were generally everyday citizens interested in the issues at hand, like 65-year-old Santa Monica resident Jim Spear.
Though Spear is not affiliated with the alliance, he said he learned of the event from friends and has attended other events by the group.
As a corporate financial consultant, he said he sees the hyper-regulation of industry and the destructive trade policies described by Horner.
“Environmental regulating is a severe obstruction,” Spear said. “I’m very interested in the health of the country and our economic competitiveness.”