Hurricanes dominate policy talk

Yelena Kibasova

Varsity Theater in Dinkytown was filled with science enthusiasts Tuesday evening.

The Bell Museum of Natural History hosted the Climate Change and Public Policy forum to discuss weather phenomena, recent hurricanes, the Gulf Coast wetlands and environmental policy.

The event is part of the monthly Café Scientifique series held by the Bell Museum. The series brings in University experts and hosts discussions on many science topics.

Tuesday’s Café was an addition to the monthly events because it was a benefit for the Mississippi Chapter of The Nature Conservancy.

“Our chapter in (Mississippi) has two preserves that were severely damaged by Katrina,” said Ron Nargang, Minnesota state director of the Nature Conservancy.

Nargang showed photos of their preserves pre-Katrina and post-Katrina.

“Our organization is working with federal government right now to get them to think about the restoration of those areas. I hope some of you will be moved to help out the Mississippi chapter,” he said.

University climatologist Mark Seeley and Ken Keller, the director of the University’s Center for Science, Technology and Public Policy, led an informal discussion of climate issues.

“(We) sort of have a shuffle of cards and sort of mix perspectives on factual information we know about climate and natural disasters mixed with politics and ethics and consideration on how to deal with public policy regarding those,” Seeley said.

One of the main topics covered was “how our government’s taking climate change into account when they’re making energy and environmental policy,” said Shanai Matteson, University student and Café program director.

Attendees then were able to ask specific questions regarding climate change and policy.

Geology graduate student Amy Myrbo attended the event.

“I’m interested in the whole climate change issue,” Myrbo said. “I do some research on it myself and I’m giving (a lecture) in January. So I wanted to see what it was like so I can prepare my own.”

Another reason for the forum was to increase awareness of the economical and environmental consequences of climate change, Seeley said. We need “the courage to not be timid about public discourse on these matters.”

Approximately 50 people attended the forum, from senior citizens to college students.

“We’ve been getting a really broad audience I think, in terms of ages and things Ö We do get a lot of young people, a lot of graduate students and University students, but also a lot of faculty and then people from the community,” Matteson said.