'U' to address climate change

Daily News Editor
Published May 6, 2007

A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released Friday stresses that policymakers must act now to curb growing environmental threats before irreversible consequences ensue.

The University is taking steps to see that they do.

The University's School of Natural Resources and Environment is hosting a national summit in the Biomedical Science Research Building May 8 through May 10 for anybody from policymakers to environment experts to address methods of coping with climate change.

School of Natural Resources and Environment Dean Rosina Bierbaum said a reason for holding the summit is to "have the experts in the same room as the stakeholders."

Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje will discuss how Ann Arbor will adapt and leaders in environmental sciences will address improving mitigation efforts at the state and national levels.

"The topic has been ignored for about a decade," Bierbaum said. "If we don't think about natural resource planning and management with a lens of climate change impact, we will make inefficient and ineffective decisions."

She said the environment is changing at the fastest rate humankind has ever experienced.

The IPCC released a study Friday showing that pollution from industries all over the world has caused greenhouse gas emissions to grow at least 70 percent since 1970.

The study stresses that greenhouse gasses will continue to accumulate in the atmosphere if current environmental policies do not change.

State Rep. Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor) said Michigan is in the top 10 among states with rising emissions.

When asked what the State legislature is doing to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, Warren struggled to find an answer.

"That's a good question," she said. "Definitely not enough."

Bierbaum, who headed the U.S. delegations to the IPCC in 1999 and 2001, said the summit will raise some of the same issues as the IPCC report on mitigating climate change. The report provides policy-makers with information and courses of action that could lessen the damaging effects of climate change on the world's population.

The IPCC's most recent report is more affirmative in its assessments of environmental change than in previous years, reporting a higher level of agreement among contributors about the validity of evidence.

Warren said she wants to work during her term to improve the environment for the next generation, but that making change ultimately lies in the hands of college students.

"College campuses are the places where the dialogue about social change happens first," she said. "If students show (they're) willing to fight for protecting the environment, it will have a ripple effect."


Subjects and speakers at the summit

- Climate Update - Thomas Karl, director of the National Climate Data Center for the U.S. Department of Commerce

- Adapting to a Changing Climate: Energy - Susan Terry, Managing principal of the Analysis Group, former Assistant Secretary of Energy

- Adapting to a Changing Climate: Water Quality - Joel Scheraga, national director for the Global Change Research program and the Mercury Research Program, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

- Adapting to a Changing Climate: Public Health - Anthony McMichael, director of the National Center for Epidemiology and Population Health at the Australian National University

- Coping with Climate Change? A look at Fisheries - Edward Miles a Marine and Public Affairs professor at the University of Washington

- Adaption and Local Policy - Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje