Friday, 28 June 2013

Panel on Climate Change Tackles Solutions

chase lioA climate change teach-in attracted a crowd to St. Robert’s Auditorium at Loyola Marymount University, where a panel of faculty members discussed the effects of global warming and how individuals can become involved in solutions.

About 200 students, faculty and community environmental activists participated in the March 21 teach-in, which focused on sparking individual and collective action to lessen our role in the changing climate and the serious effects of that trend.

“We took for granted that today’s students are convinced of the reality of climate change, and focused instead on what can be done about it,” said Brian Treanor, associate professor of philosophy and director of the Environmental Studies Program at LMU. “The questions from the floor bore out this assumption: No one questioned the reality or the seriousness of climate change; people simply wanted to know what we can do to mitigate and adapt to this unprecedented challenge.”

Evan Gerstmann, professor of political science and law, said, “Many students stayed more than an hour after the event talking with the LMU faculty about climate change and what they can do about it, both in terms of their own personal lives and in terms of political and other action.” Gerstmann was the principal organizer of the event.

One of the primary messages of the day, according to Treanor, was that young people needed to become more politically and economically active about climate change. “It has to be an issue on which politicians win or lose elections … Officials need to feel pressure from the public.”

The forum was moderated by university President David W. Burcham, and the panel included: Treanor; Eric Strauss, President’s Professor of Biology and director of the Center for Urban Resilience; Sean D’Evelyn, assistant professor of economics; and Shelley Luce, lecturer in environmental science, who examined water resource policies.

D’Evelyn presented an economic framework to help guide students as they research and discuss climate change, including various policy options and a method to weigh the costs of the options against the effects on global warming. He also advised the audience to incorporate values in their thinking, not just prices.

Gerstmann said it is crucial that LMU continue efforts to educate about climate change. “Our students are part of the generation that is really going to have to deal with the consequences of climate change — it’s going to seriously impact their lives. Also, working to prevent and alleviate the suffering of people in countries with fewer resources to adapt to climate change is very much part of LMU’s mission.” He pointed to the many resources at LMU with environmental focuses, including: the Environmental Studies Program, the Center for Urban Resilience, the Department of Civil Engineering and Environmental Science, among them.

Already, the event has helped concerned students focus their energy in a productive way, by taking concrete steps toward developing solutions.

“Since the forum, I have met with various students to discuss actions we can take to make LMU more environmentally responsible,” said Andrea Fisher, a junior political science major and environmental studies minor. “The forum encouraged us to revamp the on-campus club ECO Students so that students will have the information and tools to move from fear to action in regards to climate change and various environmental injustices.”

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