University students, local officials and environmental advocacy organizations gathered at a town hall meeting in Palmer Commons Tuesday to discuss the recently released National Climate Assessment draft.
The National Climate Assessment is a report that compiles the most recent climate change research and the impact of climate change within the United States. The third edition of the NCA, released Jan. 11, discussed a wide array of topics from water and energy use to ecosystems and biodiversity.
The University was one of nine locations across the country chosen to host a town hall meeting to discuss the NCA, a quadrennial report sent to the president and Congress that details the impacts of climate change and the progress that scientists are making in understanding the global phenomenon. Several University professors were actively engaged in creating the report.
Frank Szollosi, Brad van Guilder, an organizing representative from the Sierra Club; and Virginia Shannon, state associate at Environment Michigan spoke at a press conference during the town hall meeting.
Shannon’s grassroots organization, Environment Michigan, campaigns for policies that address climate change. Shannon said organizations like Environment Michigan are continually working to implement climate change initiatives.
“Grassroots organizations like ours here today know that there is still more we can do to reduce the pollution that harms our health and the health of our residents that leads us further down the path of climate change,” Shannon said.
Julia Reudig, a Rackham student and a Business graduate student, spoke at the town hall. She said classes at the University have opened her eyes to the importance of Michigan’s natural resources.
“As a business student, I understand the role and the value of natural resources in Michigan’s economy,” Reudig said. “I’m concerned when I hear about climate change eroding those natural resources. It’s apparent that that will also erode our economic future.”
Van Guilder said the Sierra Club refers to climate change as “climate disruption” because of the increasingly fast rate at which it's occurring.
“The climate is actually shifting so fast that some species of trees in Michigan simply will not be able to migrate north fast enough and are just going to be lost,” van Guilder said. “That’s one example of why the Sierra Club refers to this as climate disruption.”
Van Guilder also called on professors at the University to take up the cause for climate change action.
“(I want to) say, ‘Don’t just be the data collectors of the demise of our species — take an active role,’ ” Van Guilder said. “There is no other thing that we have ever studied that has a greater impact (on) our lives and on our future than climate disruption.’”
Clarification: This article has been updated to clarify that the individuals spoke at a press conference for the town hall, not at the town hall itself.