The Carsey-Wolf Center’s Environmental Media Initiative will present a public conference at Bren Hall today, discussing the ongoing rise of sea levels along coastal regions worldwide and their effects on an increasingly warmer planet.
The conference is an installment of the center’s Figuring Sea Level Rise series, as well as part of the Critical Issues in America series — presented by the College of Letters and Science. The event will kick off with a lecture by science writer Michael Lemonick, who works on the major environmental site Climate Central. Lemonick will discuss journalism’s role in educating the public about climate change and following his talk, there will be a presentation given by Doug Marcy, who is the coastal hazards specialist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The event will also include five other panelists and will take place from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. in 1414 Bren Hall.
CWC Associate Director LeeAnne French said the event seeks to unite different disciplinary perspectives on the issue of climate change and rising sea levels.
“We sort of chose two ends of the spectrum,” French said. “Michael Lemonick is a well-known journalist… [and] he’s coming from a science writing standpoint. Doug Marcy is with NOAA and he’s an engineer.”
According to James Frew, one of the panel speakers and an associate professor at the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, the lectures will clarify common misconceptions regarding climate change and advise students and other attendees on how to deal with those misconceptions in the future.
“I’m just speaking from the perspective of someone who has used tools to try to model what the effects of climate change are, and I’m very interested in how we communicate this with other people beyond ‘the ocean is a bathtub and the level of the tub is going to rise a bit,’ because that’s the sort of the model that people have in their heads,” Frew said. “So that’s sort of where you have to start, but we need to get beyond that.”
The event will follow a morning workshop for graduate students, which will be hosted by experts including Frew and Jeremy Weiss, a research specialist at the University of Arizona who developed some of the GIS tools that will be discussed.
Weiss said he looks forward to sharing his ideas with students and hearing feedback and opinions from a variety of perspectives.
“I can really only benefit as far as learning how other people think about the issue,” Weiss said. “I’m also looking forward to some of the other visualization approaches that are used. I believe [the workshop] is more geared toward students who are more familiar with GIS, so it’s good to interact with them as well — see how they’re using GIS and the ideas they have as far as how they want to use it.”
Although the event runs for a considerable length of time, the event will be informative and enjoyable since there will be such a range of experts participating, French said.
“It’s kind of hard, sometimes, for students to take an afternoon off to come to these, but boy, the learning experience is tremendous because of the variety of speakers,” French said. “And they’re not all professors, you know. They’re really talking about real world issues, what we do about them today, what the challenge has been [and] how we influence policy.”
A version of this article appeared on page 3 of February 1st, 2013′s print edition of the Nexus.