Barchi, professors to travel to discuss climate change


Traveling between New York City, Philadelphia and Washington D.C., three influential Rutgers professors and University president Robert L. Barchi will give panel discussions on climate change research and its effects on the planet.

The Rutgers University Alumni Association launched “Experience Rutgers: Climate Change,” an informative series on climate change in three cities from March 11 to April 21.

The three events will be held at JW Marriott Essex House in New York City on March 11, the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia on March 19 and the JW Marriott in Washington D.C. on April 21, all starting at 6 p.m.

Benjamin Horton, Jennifer Francis and Scott Glenn, professors in the Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences, will be the distinguished speakers during the discussions.

It is important to give people an opportunity to hear the true story behind climate change from actual climate scientists who are actively engaged in bona fide research, Francis, co-founder of the Rutgers Climate and Environmental Change Initiative, said.

The panel discussions will focus on clarifying notions of climate change, answering general questions by students and discussing the result of the professors' research, according to the press release. Each speaker will have their own individual focus in the discussions based on their specialties and studies of interest.

Francis, a teacher of satellite remote sensing and climate-change issues, hopes to focus on the Arctic warming events and how changing weather patterns correlate with the climate change.

“When sea levels rise rapidly as they have been doing, even a small increase can have devastating effects on coastal habitats,” Horton said. “In the panel discussion, hopefully I can emphasize that sea-level rise is the result of human actions and choices.”

Horton is a recognized professor who was referenced in a slide on the White House website during a live stream of President Obama’s State of Union. He specializes in the research of past sea level changes and how it can affect the future of the planet. 

Glenn, a distinguished professor with 35 years of experience in the ocean science and engineering research fields, aims to explain the development of new forecast methods and ocean observation technologies.

There is a clutter of false information circulating about climate change theory and opinions against its existence, Francis said. The speakers hope to provide factual causes, effects and answers to climate change.

“My goal is to offer this access and dispel any disinformation they may have heard, as well as make it clear that there is still much we don't yet understand about our very complex climate system,” Francis said.

The panel series also hopes to make students and the public aware of the potential threats of climate change, such as flooding and resulting disasters, Francis said.

“Hundreds of millions of people live in areas that will become increasingly vulnerable to flooding,” Horton said. “Higher sea levels would force them to abandon their homes and relocate. Low-lying islands could be submerged completely.”

The speakers will explain precautions to take during hazardous situations and give explanations to certain phenomena that the students may be unfamiliar with, Horton said.

“I will explain why the Arctic is warming so much faster than elsewhere and how that disproportionate warming is affecting the jet stream,” Francis said. “Our work suggests that Arctic warming is causing weather patterns to become more persistent, which increases the likelihood of certain extreme weather events.”

The panel hopes to emphasize the necessity of public participation to prevent dangerous natural events caused by climate change, Horton said. In order to prevent infrastructural, economic and social issues from occurring, “significant public engagement” is necessary.

Audience members will be given refreshments, opportunities for networking and an exclusive look at the cutting-edge research at Rutgers, according to the press release. The Rutgers University Alumni Association aims to engage students and alumni in the advancement of issues like climate change.

“I hope to sense the audience's excitement, especially Rutgers alums, about all the great work being done at our university on this critically important topic,” Francis said. “I hope it makes the audience members realize the incredibly bright future ahead for making progress that will help society adapt to and reduce climate change.”


Keshav Pandya

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