Michael Brune, executive director of the nation’s oldest environmental group, the Sierra Club, will discuss global environmental challenges at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 21, at UNC Asheville’s Humanities Lecture Hall. Joining Brune will be Tom Peterson, from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, who will give an introductory talk on the nature of climate change.
This will be Brune’s first appearance in Asheville since being named to his current post in January. Previously, he served as executive director of the Rainforest Action Network and earlier in his career served with Greenpeace. He is the author of “Coming Clean – Breaking America’s Addiction to Oil and Coal.”
Peterson is president of the United Nations’ World Meteorological Organization’s Commission for Climatology and a lead author on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fourth Assessment Report, released in 2007. He has organized dozens of workshops for leading scholars in climate science and is the author of numerous scientific papers on observed changes in climate extremes around the world.
During a recent interview with Xpress, Peterson responded to a notion offered by acclaimed environmental author Bill McKibben, who noted during his Oct. 6 talk at Warren Wilson College that some climate scientists feel it’s already too late for humans to turn the tide on carbon output and global warming.
“The trends of the next 20 years are somewhat locked in place, but the potential for different futures over the next century are not,” Peterson stated. He argued that the little things people do to reduce their carbon footprints, like using more efficient appliances and zero-emissions vehicles, can make a difference. “We have to adapt to the future climate,” he says — a climate that will be warmer and drier, with more extreme weather events. “We’ll need to take all that into consideration as we move forward” in building roads, bridges, dwellings, and all kinds of infrastructure, he says.
The event is co-sponsored by two UNCA student organizations, Active Students for a Healthy Environment and the student chapter of IEEE (formerly the Institute for Electrical and Electronic Engineers), and also by the Western North Carolina (WENOCA) Group of the Sierra Club.
The talk is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Dave Erb, WENOCA chair, at 258-7659.