As many local organizations are putting the finishing touches on their own projects and Earth Day celebrations, a coalition of campus groups is making its own eco-conscious efforts to commemorate the holiday by launching a new interactive program designed to educate UCSB students about global warming.
The Office of the Vice Chancellor, UCSB Libraries, and the Santa Barbara Public Library have joined together to form the three-month long UCSB Reads for Earth Day campaign, which begins Jan. 25 with the on-campus distribution of 3,000 free copies of Elizabeth Kolbert’s Field Notes from a Catastrophe : Man, Nature, and Climate Change – a book about global warming.
Throughout this period, Santa Barbara locals can also attend presentations about the impact severe climate change could have on Santa Barbara. In addition, a UC-wide television broadcast will educate viewers about the future of the environment in a series of live discussions with leading researchers on the topic.
UCSB Reads will distribute free copies of Kolbert’s publication to students from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the front lobby of Davidson Library. Janet Martorana, a member of the UCSB Reads committee, said the book – which first appeared as an award-winning series of articles in The New Yorker – was chosen for the project because of its potential to facilitate a dialogue about global warming and humans’ role in climate change.
“There is plenty of science to back global warming up, and it provokes great interest and discussion,” Martorana said. “This book was picked because of its readability, and its science and social science approach to global warming.”
To curb the number of books printed, collection bins will be made available around campus for students on the go to easily return the books for redistribution to new readers.
The final day to return the books to the bins marks the project’s culmination on April 22, Earth Day.
Many other local organizers have planned a number of other pre-Earth Day events focused on global warming and climate change.
The Santa Barbara-based lightblueline project will draw a long cerulean-toned line of waves on the city’s public infrastructure at exactly seven meters above sea level in downtown Santa Barbara – indicating what the water level in Santa Barbara would rise to if Greenland’s glaciers melt. The impact on Goleta, illustrated on a map on www.lightblueline.org, shows Goleta Beach, Highway 217, the Santa Barbara Airport, and much of the downtown Goleta Hollister area under water. Most of Isla Vista and UCSB would survive, but would be cut off from the mainland by the increased water level and become an island.
Additionally, faculty of the Donald Bren School of Environmental Science & Management will appear on UCTV beginning in January in a four-part series on climate change.
The campaign also includes a variety of lectures in February, March and early April addressing environmental concerns. James Hansen, head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, will speak on Feb. 5 on what humans can do to avoid this impending climate change. Steve Koonin, chief scientist of British Petroleum in London, will speak on March 8 about new technologies in energy.
Kolbert will speak on campus April 19. All Global Warming – Science & Society lectures will be free and are sponsored by Arts & Lectures, the Donald Bren School of Environmental Science & Management, the Earth Science, Geography, Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology Depts., the Environmental Studies Program and the Marine Science Institute.
As a writer for The New Yorker, Kolbert has traveled to the Arctic, interviewed researchers and environmentalists, listened to the stories of persons losing their homes near the poles and explained the science and politics surrounding global warming in a series of articles.
Scientific American Magazine compared Kolbert’s book to Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, one of the works that inspired the environmental movement in the 1960s.
The UCSB Reads program has yet to be tested, but Martorana said she anticipates a positive outcome.
“The response so far has been wonderful,” Martorana said.