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Climate Change Teach-In Features Author Goodell, Other Experts

Speakers to Talk on Global Warming’s Impacts to Society

Last year’s Climate Change Teach-In was attended by more than 230 UMass Lowell students, faculty and staff.

By Edwin L. Aguirre

Find out what the environmental effects are of global warming and the economic and health costs of action and inaction during UMass Lowell’s second annual Climate Change Teach-In, to be held Friday, Oct. 15, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Cumnock Hall Auditorium on the North Campus. Registration is free and open to the public.

Internationally renowned advocates of climate-change research and education will be among those speaking at this year’s event, including:

  • Jeff Goodell, contributing editor to Rolling Stone magazine and author of “How to Cool the Planet: Geoengineering and the Audacious Quest to Fix Earth’s Climate”;
  • Prof. Paul Kirshen of Tufts University, lead author for the U.N. Intergovernment Panel on Climate Change and an expert on flood-risk assessment in New England and beyond;
  • Dr. William Moomaw, a leading expert on international climate-change policy; and
  • Dr. Kerry Emanuel, a prominent climate scientist studying extreme events.

Chancellor Marty Meehan will give the welcoming remarks while U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas will address the participants to kick off the Teach-In.

The Teach-In is hosted by the Climate Change Initiative (CCI), a newly launched movement at UMass Lowell committed to addressing climate change through education and research, and developing solutions to transition to a more sustainable and resilient society.

“Climate change touches many disciplines and aspects of human society,” says biology Assoc. Prof. and CCI Director Juliette Rooney-Varga, who is an expert on the ecological consequences of climate change as well as Teach-In organizer. “Scientific research must be the foundation for informing society about ongoing climate change and its potential future impacts.”

Rooney-Varga says the group also recognizes that climate change is more than a scientific problem with a technical solution.

“The CCI is committed to examining the physical, ecological, environmental, social, economic and political facets of climate-change impact, mitigation and adaptation,” she says.

The group, together with Cambridge Educational Access Television and TERC, recently received a major grant from NASA for its project entitled “Climate Change Education: Science, Solutions and Education in an Age of Media.”

“This new grant is energizing and providing momentum for the Climate Change Initiative,” says Rooney-Varga.

“As a public institution, we are proud to be educating a student body drawn primarily from commonwealth cities and towns and feel that through our students, their families and friends, UMass Lowell provides a direct link between climate-change education and Massachusetts citizens,” says Meehan.

Rooney-Varga says this year’s Teach-In will be held in a non-conventional, highly interactive format known as a “world cafe.”

“In this model, more than half the total time is spent in small discussions and the speakers actually ask the audience questions,” she explains. “I want to emphasize that the audience members are active participants and that the speakers are not ‘speakers’ in the conventional sense. Our goal is to have a dynamic, interactive event that engages students, faculty and the public and changes the way participants view climate change impacts and solutions. We would like to use this event to not only deepen student understanding of climate change, but to also catalyze action in whatever way participants see fit.”
Rooney-Varga anticipates that this year’s event will draw more than the 230 attendees of last year’s Teach-In. The group plans to simulcast the Oct. 15th event to other UMass campuses and stream it beyond UMass.

The official deadline for registering for free lunch was Oct. 2; however, the organizers will do their best to offer refreshments to those who register by Oct. 10. To register and for more information, go to the CCI website.

Assoc. Prof. Juliette Rooney-Varga