Thursday, December 2, 2021

Upcoming climate change conference

Sydney Hakes

The North Country Climate organization will be hosting their annual climate conference on Oct. 21 to discuss effective climate action in a polarized world. 

The conference is from 3 to 5 p.m. and will have two keynote speakers, Katharine Hayhoe and Bill McKibben. There will be an introduction by Dean Stephen Danna and a panel moderated by Bill Throop.

The conference will take place at the SUNY Plattsburgh Queensbury campus at the Northwest Bay Conference Center and have a virtual option over Zoom.

North Country Climate was founded by Danna and Michelle Howland after conversations about their shared interest in environmental activism. 

“We learned that we had a shared passion for the environment,” Howland said. “Born from one of our conversations was the need to take action and the desire to take action locally.”

North Country Climate holds annual conferences at the Queensbury campus, along with smaller meetings where community members share ideas and plans of action to combat climate issues.

The conference on Oct. 21, Bridging Differences on the Razor’s Edge, will be two hours long, with two keynote speakers followed by individual panels and a panel discussion. 

Hayhoe is climate and atmospheric scientist, and among dozens of other titles and accolades, joined the Nature Conservancy as Chief Scientist this past year. Her new book “Saving Us: A Climate Scientist’s Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World” launched in September 2021.  Hayhoe, an evangelical Christian, “approaches the divide between faith and science.” 

“Sometimes people think science and religion can’t live together in the same household, but they certainly do in hers. It gives her a unique perspective in order to make those difficult conversations possible,” Howland said.

McKibben is an author and environmentalist who has authored a dozen books. He founded the climate campaign group 350.org in 2008 with the goal of ending fossil fuels and transitioning to renewable energy. 

His book “The End of Nature,” is often considered the first book that’s intended for a casual audience about climate change, with simplified explanations of the issue and a call to action.

Dyllon Leather, an assistant project manager for Airtek Environmental, looks back at interactions with professionals during graduate school influencing his career path. He grew up in upstate New York, but wasn’t sure what avenue to pursue environmentalism until being able to ask questions to professionals who already worked in the field.

“It’s important for college students, who are traditionally younger, to hear from those who have been working in the field of climate solutions about the realities of the work they do,” Leather said.

Environmental Science major Hadar Pepperstone was already planning on attending the conference. Being involved in the department, she knew about the event, but considered the value of attending if you’re not an environmental science student.

 “It’s a unique opportunity to learn outside of your own research,” Pepperstone said. “Whether or not we have acknowledged it or internalized it, we all have a stake in the climate.”

As the student co-chair for the campus committee for environmental responsibility, member of Late Night for the Planet and environmental action committee, Pepperstone recognizes the value of local environmental events as a call to action.

“In a classroom setting you can learn so much, but it’s also a different type of learning, with the goal of a grade in mind,” Pepperstone said. “Being able to ask questions and engage with experts who aren’t just your professor is the benefit of this type of event over other forms of learning.”

The conference is free for all SUNY students. Register on northcountryclimate.org with a student email address.

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