Manomet Lecture: The Science and Policy of Climate Change

Climate change is happening now and communities must become more resilient to the impact.

 

That was the message on January 25 from two experts at the first installment of Manomet's Boston-based lecture series. The speakers, Maine State Climatologist George Jacobson and EPA New England Region Administrator Curt Spalding, spoke to more than 125 attendees about the science and policy of climate change in New England.

 

"It was an interesting and provocative event," said Manomet President John Hagan. "Climate science is crucial but the policy and social context is also incredibly important. We have to have diverse perspectives in order to truly solve complex problems like climate change."

 

The lecture series will run quarterly in Boston and will provide multiple perspectives on an environmental or natural resource challenge.

 

Jacobson opened the lecture by giving a history of the earth's climate, going back hundreds of millions of years. The planet has been through many temperature and carbon cycles, he said, but the amount of carbon currently in the atmosphere is far beyond historical trends. Carbon, and other greenhouse gases, trap heat in the atmosphere and increase global temperatures.

 

He said that given enough time, the earth would probably return to its historical patterns and even experience another ice age. Before that happens, however, the temperature could rise dramatically, Jacobson warned.

 

Spalding told the crowd that communities must learn how to be resilient in the face of climate change impacts like extreme weather events. Noting that half of New England's 14 million residents live near the coast, he warned that sea level rise will lead to hard decisions about relocation.

 

An audience member asked Spalding what individuals can do to prepare. Spalding said that individual actions are important, but he urged the audience to start or become involved with community level discussions about climate change.

 

The next installment of the series will focus on conservation and energy development issues in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. That talk will be held on April 12th in Boston.