This Saturday, UCSB will host the first of a series of climate conferences addressing the impact of global warming on the local environment.

The event — Developing Adaptive Policy to Climate Disturbance in Santa Barbara County — is sponsored by UCSB’s Ocean and Coastal Policy Center and funded by the Associated Students Coastal Fund. According to Project Manager Dr. Michael V. McGinnis, the conference will target political and ecological issues posed to the county by climate change.

“The focus of this workshop is to bring together experts, policymakers, members of conservation organizations and community organizations, and diverse members of the public to discuss the pressures of climate change on coastal and marine biodiversity and the potential responses that are needed at the county-level to address these threats and expected impacts on biodiversity,” McGinnis said.

A variety of local experts on environmental issues are expected to attend the event, including chairs of the Surfrider Foundation, the founder of South Coast Watershed Alliance and representatives from UCSB’s Marine Science Institute and the Sierra Club.

McGinnis — who teaches in the environmental studies and political science departments — said the panel will outline the primary threats to the county and discuss the range of policy responses they warrant.

“We’ll likely discuss a range of policy tools to protect coastal marine biodiversity, including the need to set aside coastal areas as climate refugia to protect threatened species, soft and hard engineering strategies to address expected sea level rise, beach loss, coastal erosion, etc.,” McGinnis said. “It is important for students to realize that there are significant economic and ecological costs associated with the use of sea walls, groins and other hard engineering strategies that are often proposed to protect beaches and bluff areas from sea level rise, storms and flooding.”

Additionally, there will be a climate change workshop held in late May designed for students.

Students interested in attending the workshop — which will be held in the Flying A Room in the UCen from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. — are encouraged to visit or contact Dr. McGinnis at for more information on this invitation-only event.