Students discuss the severity of global warming
It’s a popular topic. People feel it is time for a change. Some say what’s being done is not working. No, it’s not the campaign for president; it’s global climate change.
On Aug. 22 and 23, CU hosted a symposium titled “Meeting the Global Energy and Climate Challenge,” where panelists and audience members alike tried to wrap their arms around the monster that is climate change.
Mark McCaffrey, a Science Communications Specialist from CU’s Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, kicked off the Symposium with “Climate 101: Learning the Essential Principles and Fundamental Concepts of Climate Literacy.” The session was about the basics of the climate in general as well as the complexity of climate change.
“Understanding climate change is essential to understanding climate change solutions,” McCaffrey said.
McCaffrey said the goal of the presentation was to “create a fundamental knowledge about Earth’s climate.”
McCaffrey did face some criticism, with some of the attendees accusing McCaffrey of cherry picking data to fit his thesis.
“The presentation is purely advocacy (for its sponsors) and not neutral science,” Keith Griffith, a Boulder citizen, said.
The best argument for the criticisms about whether or not global climate change was real didn’t come from McCaffrey but rather from Carol Knight, a representative of NOAA in attendance.
“(The evidence of) global warming is unequivocal and is almost certainly caused by burning fossil fuels,” Knight said.
McCaffrey spoke briefly about the positions of both presidential candidates with regards to global warming.
“McCain has done a lot of work around climate change issues.” McCaffrey said. However he added, “the democratic platform is more robust.”
The political aspects of climate change were discussed more thoroughly in the session on Saturday titled “Communicating Energy and Climate Change Challenges: Is Anybody Listening?”
Tom Yulsman, Co-Director of CU’s Center for Environmental Journalism and professor at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, started the event with some statistics about public understanding of the climate change issue. Later, the event focused on getting the public’s attention and retaining it on this issue.
“People don’t know what to make of what they’re hearing,” Keith Kloor, CU-Boulder Scripps Fellow said.
It became clear during the course of the Symposium that global climate change is not just an environmental issue, it is a political issue, a social issue and an economic issue.
Len Ackland, also a Co-director at the Center for Environmental Journalism, said that he has “a fear that we’re not well enough communicating the extent (of climate change).”
Ackland said he doesn’t think that the public has a fear in their gut when it comes to climate change and that they look at it like they look at violence on TV shows; they know it is there but they don’t think there is anything they can do about it.
“We’ve got to humanize the issue,” Peter Dykstra, a journalist for CNN, said. “Numbers can sometimes do the trick.”
Panelists also suggested multimedia would be a good way to “manifest a connection” on this issue. Dykstra suggested to another attendee to “put three pictures of the polar ice sheet on the same day three years in a row” to show how much the polar ice is receding.
“(We must) realize the magnitude of the problem,” Richard Brenne, an author who attended the session said.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Aaron Musick at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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