Pop quiz: What does religion, geology, indigenous rights, and the Colleges Nine and Ten multipurpose room have in common?
The answer: The Climate Change Roundtable that was hosted by the College Nine and Ten CoCurricular Programs Office on Wednesday November 5th.
The roundtable was moderated by Flora Lu, College Nine provost and associate professor in environmental studies, and had three experts in extremely different fields that all related to climate change.
UC Santa Cruz’s own Professor Jeff Bury spoke on his research into glacier recession in the Andes Mountains in South America. It is accelerating extremely rapidly, causing glaciers to literally fall off the sides of mountains, and is affecting the people who live in the Andes and are dependent on the snow and ice. Bury stressed that he believes that there needs to be a new form of procedural justice surrounding carbon emissions that focuses on reparations for negligence and “carbon crimes.” He believes that punishing the people who misuse fossil fuels will lead to less usage.
Colleen Swan came all the way from Alaska to speak at this panel. She is an expert in climate justice and Inuit land rights, focusing on her home community of Kivalina, Alaska. It is estimated that Kivalina will be completely flooded by 2025 and will become the first community in the United States that will be forced to become climate refugees. Swan spoke about the direct and immediate impact climate change has had on Kivalina and their way of life.
Andy Szasz, environmental sociologist and chair of the UCSC environmental studies department, has done research into the role communities of faith have and can play in addressing climate change in the United States. Dr. Szasz explained that Christian institutions in America are extremely influential and have already begun speaking out about climate change. He also spoke about the role the insurance industry has played by investing in scientific studies on how to make buildings greener as well as how the industry has begun to prepare for climate change by trying to limit the amount of money they will have to spend in future climate disasters.
All three panelists presented refreshing and engaging perspectives that are not typically heard when people discuss climate change. Rather than focusing on what humans have done wrong in the past, they spoke about what is happening now and what can be done in the future.
The event also had groups from the community tabling, including 350 Santa Cruz, the Sustainability Office, the Student Environmental Center, Sierra Club, and Fossil Free UC, who gave a presentation about their group at the end of the panel.