Thursday forum just one of UK's efforts on climate change research, outreach

March 31, 2013 


    Climate Change: Values, National Security, and Free Enterprise

    Where: UK Student Center Ballroom

    When: 7 p.m., April 4

    Free and open to the public


Members of the University of Kentucky community believe that public dialogue on climate change must be broadened to include as many perspectives as possible.

Toward that end, UK will hold a free public forum entitled, "Climate Change: Values, National Security, and Free Enterprise."

The forum speakers and their topics are:

Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, an internationally respected climate scientist; climate change from the perspective of values anchored in faith.

Brigadier General (Ret.) Steven Anderson; climate change in relation to national security.

Bob Inglis, director of the Energy and Enterprise Initiative; approaches to climate change grounded in principles of free enterprise.

The forum, at 7 p.m. April 4 in the UK Student Center Ballroom, is but one expression of efforts by UK faculty and students to explore and promote science-based discussion on climate change. This effort is grounded in our recognition that climate change affects us all and challenges our shared values as Americans.

Many UK programs relate to scientific aspects of human-influenced climate change. For example, we offer courses on the science of climate change, on energy and biofuels. We also offer workshops for Kentucky science teachers, including NASA-funded workshops and a new, multi-college series of workshops initiated by the physics department. UK's Extension agents, our representatives in all Kentucky counties, also avail themselves of professional development on climate change.

UK has expanded its outreach on this topic with presentations to the general public and to specialized audiences, including agriculturists, environmental educators, and other interested groups. There will also be a series of public lectures this fall.

We have a growing number of online publications on climate change intended for the public. They describe possible impacts on Kentuckians and, importantly, ways to adapt to our changing climate and reduce our impact on climate change.

One of UK's great strengths is the breadth and depth of our research programs, including research on aspects of human-influenced climate change relevant to Kentucky and beyond. A few examples:

• Using algae to capture CO² emitted by power plants;

• Breeding crops for improved tolerance to environmental stresses associated with climate change;

• Understanding the impacts of projected changes in temperature and rainfall on forage production;

• Evaluating biofuel production from diverse ecosystems, including grain crops, native grasses and vegetation on marginal lands;

• Estimating greenhouse gas emission and sequestration in nursery-crop production;

• Studying changes in dynamics of outbreaks of plant diseases and pests.

The Kentucky Geological Survey, a UK research institute, is studying injecting captured CO² in safe reservoirs deep underground. This includes investigating the potential and pathways for the long-term migration of injected CO², as well as the possibility of enhanced oil and gas production using captured CO². UK's Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences documents climate change in ancient earth environments through detailed examination of earth materials such as stalagmites, coral, tree rings, sediments and ice cores.

New perspectives and programs are also emerging from numerous UK units. UK's School of Human Environmental Sciences is ensuring that climate-change initiatives address many aspects of the human dimension. For example, faculty members provide programming on family resource management to help families identify and understand the impacts of our actions on the environment, including climate.

Experts in the colleges of Education and Agriculture are exploring ways to enhance teachers' familiarity with — and capacity to teach — climate change.

New perspectives are emerging from the College of Fine Arts, with the theatre department planning to produce a compelling documentary drama focusing on issues raised by global warming.

Facilities management is continuously increasing its attention to energy efficiency, conservation and sustainability.

UK scholars understand well that scientific uncertainties remain in the study of climate change. However, we also understand that the fundamentals of human-influenced climate change are mainstream science, and that failure to bring our scholarship to bear on this issue would constitute a grave failure in our role as public servants.

We hope the forum will enhance public discourse on solutions to climate change that fit our shared values. Please join us.

Paul Vincelli is a UK extension professor and Provost's Distinguished Service Professor in plant pathology. This piece was co-authored by UK faculty members Joseph Straley, Provost's Distinguished Service Professor, physics; Tom Barnes, extension professor, forestry; Rebecca McCauley, associate professor, plant and soil science, and Carol Hanley, associate director, UK College of Agriculture's Environmental and Natural Resource Initiative.


Climate Change: Values, National Security, and Free Enterprise

Where: UK Student Center Ballroom

When: 7 p.m., April 4

Free and open to the public


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