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Climate change presentation Sept. 6

Aug. 22, 2017

“When people get sick and are running a fever, they typically trust the thermometer that measures their temperature. Yet some people don’t believe the thermometers that are taking the temperature of our atmosphere, our climate.”

That’s from Pam McVety, who will present The ABCs of Climate Change and Science: Facts You Can Count On at 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 6, at the Nicolet College Theatre.

birch trees She recently retired after a 30-year career with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection where she worked as a marine biologist and ultimately a deputy secretary at the agency.

“My goal is to make the science of climate change understandable for people,” said McVety, who has spent at least a portion of every summer in the Northwoods for the past 40 years.

“Climate change is the most serious issue facing humanity. We are in a very difficult, life threatening situation and the window of opportunity to change the direction our climate is heading is shrinking rapidly.”

The rub comes from all of the carbon already in our atmosphere. It’s enough to keep the pendulum swinging towards a warmer and warmer planet for the foreseeable future.

The kicker is humans continue to dump tons upon tons of more carbon into the atmosphere every year, largely in the form of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels.

“Humans have the ability to change the entire climate of the earth and the real question is how long will this planet be conducive to hosting human life,” she said.

The subsequent sea level rise caused by warming temperatures and ice melt is already having dramatic, life-changing impact in many areas.

Streets in affluent Miami Beach now flood during spring high tides. An elaborate and expensive pumping system does what it can to remove the water.

Nearby coastal Louisiana is also experiencing significant flooding, “but many of the people who are affected in this area do not have the options people in Miami Beach have.”

Other areas around the world are experiencing deadly heat and back-to-back droughts.

“There are millions of people, primarily the poor and impoverished, who can’t adapt to this new reality. They don’t have the means to move from areas of repeated flooding, severe drought, or extreme heat.”

So far the impact in the Northwoods hasn’t been nearly as dramatic. The decline of white birch trees in the region can be attributed to warming temperatures, she said.

Lake temperatures are also warming, creating conditions more beneficial to bass than walleye and other species in the pike family that prefer cooler temperatures.

During her presentation, McVety will also talk about actions people can take as individuals.

“Once people understand how harmful and irreversible climate change is my hope is that they will act,” she said.

Sponsored by the Oneida and Vilas County Chapter of the Citizen’s Climate Lobby and the Nicolet College Sustainability Professional Learning Community, the presentation is part of the Our Changing World Series at the college.

Other upcoming presentations include Adapting Forest Management to a Changing Climate Oct. 11 and a screening and discussion Nov. 7 of the film Chasing Coral, winner of best documentary at the Sundance Film Festival.

All presentations in the Our Changing World series are free and open to the public.