Forecasting the Future: Geography and Planning Department Hosts Climate Change Speaker Series

With temperatures reaching into the 70s three weeks into October, it’s hard to ignore the effects of climate change. The Geography and Planning Department will address critical issues related to global warming with a semester-long speaker series on the topic.

“We all love warm temperatures and blue skies, but we need to be aware of why this is happening,” said organizer Stephen Vermette, professor of geography and planning. “More than any other issue, climate change will affect every aspect of one’s life. It is not going to just go away.”

Vermette initiated a campus discussion on global warming last spring, hosting a series of outside lecturers and film presentations, including a screening of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. This semester, he wants to showcase Buffalo State’s own expertise on the issue.

Vermette opened the lecture series on September 27 with the presentation “The Growing Evidence for a Changing Climate.” In his lecture, Vermette offered data that detailed a steady climb in temperatures over the last 20 years. “When presented with these telling numbers, even doubters begin to think ‘maybe this is real,’” Vermette said.

Camille Holmgren, assistant professor of geography and planning, continues the series on Wednesday at 3:00 p.m. in Bulger Communication Center North with the lecture “How Past Climates Are Reconstructed.” On November 7, lecturer Chesley McNeil will discuss “The Unusual and Severe Weather in Our Future” at 3:00 p.m. in Bulger North, and Gordon Fraser, professor and former director of the Great Lakes Center, will close out the series on November 29 with “Global and Local Effects of a Changing Climate” at 12:15 p.m. in Bulger West. Students, faculty, and staff are invited to these free events.

While the future may present huge challenges, Vermette feels that informational activities like these are the first steps toward inspiring change.

“It’s a beginning,” he said. “Whether it is being willing to pay a few extra dollars for access to wind power on your electric bill or voting for an elected official, the better informed you are, the wiser choices you will make.”