Experts to address climate change topics, questions in free webinar – P. Mayewski, I. Fernandez, S. Birkel, C. Isenhour, L. Rickard

What is Maine doing to address climate change? How does climate change impact geopolitical unrest? Are the wildfires in the western United States related to climate change?

People interested in learning more about these and other topics are invited to the “A Climate Change Forum — Your chance to ask questions about climate change” webinar 6–7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 28.

The forum kicks off Maine Impact Week, a virtual celebration of the University of Maine’s research and creativity, from Sept. 28 through Oct. 2.

Five UMaine faculty members will address various aspects of climate change — including why it matters and how we respond to it, and the importance of messaging. After all of the individual 5-minute presentations, panelists will answer questions submitted by webinar attendees.

Panelists and topics they’ll address are:

Dr. Paul Mayewski, director of the Climate Change Institute and Distinguished Maine Professor
Mayewski will discuss “Why Climate Matters!” We are in the midst of many serious issues today: Climate change, COVID-19, inequality, geopolitical unrest, and a damaged economy. Climate change, on its own and interacting with the other issues, is an immediate and long-term threat to our health, wealth and security.

Dr. Cindy Isenhour, associate professor of anthropology and climate change
Isenhour is particularly interested in cross-cultural analyses of climate risk perception and variable responses in public policy. The cultural anthropologist will highlight how many societies have responded to the dual crises of climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic to pair economic recovery and a transition to a low-carbon future.

Dr. Sean Birkel, Maine State Climatologist and research assistant professor with the Climate Change Institute, with a joint appointment to the School of Earth and Climate Sciences
Birkel will give an overview of the past century of climate change in Maine, recent extreme weather events, and note important linkages to the Arctic and elsewhere. He’ll also discuss how the changing climate impacts Maine’s economy and health, and what changes we’re likely to see in the future.

Dr. Ivan J. Fernandez, professor with the School of Forest Resources and Climate Change Institute, and Distinguished Maine Professor
Fernandez will focus on the Maine Climate Council’s ongoing work that addresses the urgent needs for a coordinated framework to address the unfolding climate crisis in Maine and on the planet. This work is timely and highly integrated into the simultaneous urgency for smart investments in economic recovery from the pandemic, and doing so with an unprecedented attention to social justice and sustainability.

Dr. Laura Rickard, associate professor with the Department of Communication and Journalism and Climate Change Institute
Public “engagement” in climate change can mean many things, but is often characterized by three general approaches: the cognitive (knowing facts about climate change); the affective (perceiving risk associated with climate change); and behavioral (supporting climate change policy). While much attention focuses on the importance of the cognitive and behavioral categories, Rickard will suggest how understanding affective reactions to the causes and impacts of climate change is likewise critical, and can help guide our creation of “effective” climate change communication messaging.

Registration is required for this free, public webinar. People can submit questions for panelists when they register.