Speaker Series: Responding to the New Normal
- By Joshua E. Brown
An incoming tide of scientific data (and newspaper headlines) makes clear that sea-level is rising -- and that droughts, heat waves and flooding will become more common in the next decades as a result of a warming climate.
“Extreme and record-breaking weather has become the new normal,” notes UVM’s Rachael Beddoe.
She’s one of the organizers of a new climate action seminar series, “Responding to the New Normal,” that will meet each Monday until Dec. 3, from 4:05 to 5:20 p.m., in 207 Lafayette on the UVM campus.
The seminars are free and open to the public. All are invited to attend one or more of the sessions.
The next seminar will be held on Monday, Sept. 10.
Students can earn one credit (ENVS 195 Z17) through UVM Continuing Education for regularly attending the series and completing assignments.
Supported by UVM’s Clean Energy Fund and the Environmental Program, the seminars will bring in experts from around the country who are “engaged in identifying best practices as we navigate our climate future,” says Beddoe.
Speakers will discuss how communities in California, New Hampshire and Vermont are developing plans to increase resiliency as climate change unfolds. Others will discuss strategies for reducing carbon dioxide emissions, “cap-and-trade” policy, and the use of so-called carbon offsets.
“Our changing climate is creating conditions that require adaptive responses at local, regional and global levels," Beddoe says. Additionally, the seminar will explore how to reduce UVM’s carbon emissions and continue to move toward the university’s goal of “carbon neutrality.”
“We expect to generate lively conversations with our invited speakers as we explore how to build a culture of response to climate change,” Beddoe says.
“Climate response is no longer just a concern for the future, but has become imperative in the here and now,” she says, pointing to this summer’s drought.
“July 2012 marks the thirty-sixth consecutive July and the three-hundred-twenty-ninth consecutive month with a global temperature above the twentieth-century average,” she notes. Other real-time problems connected to climate change include: increasing wildfires, expanding tropical diseases like the West Nile virus epidemic in Texas and the withering of Midwestern corn crops.
Prevention of human-caused climate change is long past, most scientists agree: even if carbon emissions were to stop today, centuries of climate change have already been unleashed by fossil-fuel burning and other sources. Which means mitigation of climate change's worst impacts--and adaptation to a changed planet--have become a global imperative, many climate experts now argue.
“We need deep response, not only reaction,” says Amy Seidl, a professor in the Environmental Program who, along with professor Cecilia Danks, is co-sponsoring the seminars.