Sunday, March 2, 2014

Experts at UCSC conference urge rethinking responses to climate change

Molly Sharlach in the Santa Cruz Sentinel: A diverse group of academics and policymakers gathered for a national climate conference on the UC Santa Cruz campus Saturday. In a series of panel discussions, they shared perspectives on addressing climate change with the campus community and members of the public.

A panel on mitigating the effects of climate change highlighted efforts to reduce carbon emissions at the state level.  Ken Alex, director of the California Governor's Office of Planning and Research, acknowledged that the rest of the world -- especially India and China with their combined population of 2.6 billion -- must also reduce their emissions.

But Alex said he believes California's leadership "is potentially world-changing, because the world's eighth-largest economy is not going to take a big economic hit for doing this. That is part of how we change the world here."

Steven Cohen, executive director of Columbia University's Earth Institute, expressed optimism that we can reduce our emissions on a more global scale by developing new technologies. "We will mitigate climate change, because we know we need to," he said. "Human ingenuity will triumph over greed and stupidity." The developing world will get its energy from somewhere, and Cohen thinks these nations will "leapfrog" a spike in carbon emissions by adopting renewable energy.

UCSC environmental scientist Erika Zavaleta introduced the panel on adapting to the future effects of climate change. "Adaptation got a bad rap early on," she said, because "it was just throwing up our hands and accepting the problem. But the train has already left the station."...

The South Tufa area at Mono Lake, California, shot by James J. Ludemann, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license 

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