On April 16, the fourth annual Climate Change Symposium, “Talking About Climate Risk,” was hosted by the NOVA Green Committee in the Ernst Community Cultural Center Forum on the Annandale Campus. The annual event, organized by Assistant Professor of Geology Callan Bentley, who is also a longstanding member of the NOVA Green Committee, has traditionally included a variety of speakers from academia, nonprofit organizations and private industry to address the issue of climate change. This year’s symposium was no exception and featured presentations from Bentley; William Hooke, senior policy fellow at the American Meteorological Society; and Juliet Eilperin, author and environmental reporter for The Washington Post. Television personality, meteorologist and climate opinion pollster Joe Witte had to decline near to the event due to a bout of the flu.
The theme of this year’s symposium focused not only on the compelling research and data behind climate science, as presented by Bentley, but also on the cultural aspects of climate change within our society. Hooke, whose policy research interests include weather and climate science, presented on the perception of climate change in our society and how society evaluates risk. He emphasized the many ways that people relate to the planet Earth. For instance, we rely on Earth for resources and yet its myriad hazards kill many humans every year. Eilperin, who has reported on environmental science, policy and politics since 2004, presented on how that information is reported in the media. She shared her personal experiences covering both partisan politics and environmental issues for the Post.
At the conclusion of the presentations, an open question and answer session between the three speakers and the audience was held, followed by a signing of Eilperin’s recent book, Demon Fish: Travels Through the Hidden World of Sharks, published in 2011. The event, which was free and open to the public, intended to promote an understanding of climate change science, the role of the media and policymakers with regards to the science, and how these perceptions impact our society. It was attended by about 150 faculty, staff and students.