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Taking Action on Climate Change

Experts to discuss global and local realities of climate change at public symposium March 8

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Richard B. Alley, one of the world’s leading climate researchers and host of PBS’s “Earth: The Operator’s Manual,” is bringing his uniquely engaging speaking style and hefty scientific credentials to Northwestern University. He will deliver the keynote address at an all-day public symposium on climate change to be held March 8.

The glaciologist made headlines in the 1990s when he and colleagues were studying ice cores and discovered the last ice age came to an abrupt end. Since recognizing both the potential of the Earth’s climate to change surprisingly quickly and the possibility of this happening in the future, Alley has been outspoken about human-caused climate change and its impacts. His famously energetic lectures fill rooms at scientific conferences and public venues alike.

At the 2012 Northwestern Climate Change Symposium, he and other international experts will discuss the latest climate change research and what individuals and communities in the Chicago area can do to make a difference. While Alley takes a global view, some of the other speakers will focus locally: How might climate change affect public health in the Chicago area? What creative steps can Chicago or Evanston take to reduce carbon dioxide emissions?

Free and open to the public, the symposium is directed toward a general audience. It will be held from 9:15 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. at the McCormick Tribune Center Forum, 1870 Campus Drive, on the Evanston campus. Attendees are welcome to attend all or part of the symposium and are encouraged to RSVP.

Alley will deliver the keynote address, “Get Rich and Save the World, or Else: Energy, Environmental Change, and Options,” at 3:30 p.m. His talk will combine background on the science of climate change with ideas about how we might transition to alternative energy sources. Alley is the Evan Pugh Professor of Geosciences from Pennsylvania State University and a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Earlier in the day, Aaron Bernstein, M.D., associate director of Harvard Medical School’s Center for Health and the Global Environment, will address the health impacts of climate change at 9:30 a.m., and Catherine Hurley, sustainable programs coordinator for the City of Evanston, will discuss climate change action in Evanston at 2 p.m.

Other speakers include award-winning Chicago architects Adrian Smith and Gordon Gill; Barry Rabe, a political scientist from the University of Michigan; John Smol, a highly decorated biologist from Queen’s University in Ontario; and Matthew Hurtgen, associate professor of Earth and planetary sciences in Northwestern’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences.

Q-and-A time will allow for audience interaction with the speakers.

Yarrow Axford, an assistant professor of Earth and planetary sciences at Northwestern, helped organize the symposium and will moderate.

“It can be hard to know where to find reliable facts about climate change,” she said. “This symposium will give the Northwestern community and others an opportunity to hear directly from top researchers and local practitioners who are at the cutting edge of their fields. It’s exciting to have such a great lineup of speakers.”

Sponsors of the symposium are the department of Earth and planetary sciences, the Initiative for Sustainability and Energy at Northwestern (ISEN) and the Program in Environmental Policy and Culture.

For more information, a schedule and to RSVP, visit the symposium's website.