AMHERST, Mass. – Despite a late spring snowstorm, it was standing room only for The University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries’ “A Climate for Change: Research, Reflection and Action around Climate Change,” on Saturday, April 1 at the W. E. B. Du Bois Library.
The event featured a Sustainability Showcase of campus-based initiatives, talks by UMass Amherst geosciences professors Julie Brigham-Grette and Robert DeConto, and the presentation of the libraries’ 2017 Sustainability Hero Award. Also awarded was first-place $1,000 scholarship for Undergraduate Sustainability Research. Guests participated in a reflective writing exercise, sharing their thoughts on climate change, which were added to the libraries’ archives.
The interactive Sustainability Showcase included a dozen student and campus groups such as Divest UMass, the UMass Climateers, Eco-Reps, Sustainable Food and Farming and Student Farm Enterprise, the Talking Truth project, the Wind Energy Center, and the Libraries’ Sustainability Fund, which underwrote the event through donor support.
Brigham-Grette, a professor of quaternary/glacial geology, arctic paleoenvironments, and chair of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences’ Polar Research Board, discussed the history of climate change over the past 3.5 million years as a context for understanding our current higher than ever recorded global warmth levels worldwide.
Robert DeConto, professor of climatology, department of geosciences, one of the world’s leading experts on polar climates, ice sheets and sea-level rise, discussed his model which reveals likely consequences for future sea level rise from ice sheet melt. The model was covered in Nature; his “Contribution of Antarctica to Past and Future Sea-level Rise” was named the most featured climate change paper in the media last year. DeConto shared how Antarctica has the potential to contribute more than a meter of sea-level rise by 2100 and more than 15 meters by 2500, if emissions continue unabated.
Massachusetts state Rep. Solomon Goldstein-Rose, Third Hampshire District, was presented with the libraries’ 2017 Sustainability Hero Award. Goldstein-Rose took over the seat vacated by retired state Rep. Ellen Story. One of the youngest state legislators in the country, he is an advocate for system change, particularly on education and clean energy, and a resource for constituent service, internship opportunities and political activism.