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Making the Global become Local: SU to host Water/Climate Change discussion


Stetson University will host a Water/Climate Change Panel on Feb. 16, regarding the recent Paris Climate Change Accords (COP21).

The public panel discussion will feature Stetson’s visiting Woodrow Wilson Fellow Joseph Treaster, a prize-winning reporter and University of Miami professor with a passionate expertise for protecting water sources. In addition to Treaster as moderator, several expert panelists will discuss the outcomes and expectations of the Paris Climate Change Accords, as well as the most recent science on sea level rise in Florida.

Joseph Treaster

Joseph Treaster

“Last fall, Volusia County residents witnessed the ‘king tides’ which established a new high water mark for most of the east coast of Florida,” explained Clay Henderson, executive director for Stetson’s new Institute for Water and Environmental Resilience. “It’s time to start a local discussion about the effects of sea level rise. It is not just a coastal issue; scientists project this will raise water levels in the St. Johns River as well.”

Henderson says he’s not aware of any public meeting in Volusia County that has addressed this issue before now. The goal of this event is to start a local conversation about the effects of climate change in the local community.

This discussion will frame issues of immediate concern for the local community and is expected to draw the attention of community leaders, civic leaders and local government officials.

“The mission of the Institute for Water and Environmental Resilience is to leverage our faculty expertise to shape policy options tackling complex issues in Central Florida,” said Henderson. “To that end we are trying to draw attention to the short term and long term consequences of climate change and why our policy makers need to address these issues. South Florida officials are already organizing to address the issues of sea level rise as they are already seeing the effect of flooding and drainage,” he noted.

Four expert panelists will join Treaster to discuss policy and political aspects of this “vitally important issue” on Tuesday.

Sister Pat Siemen serves as the director of the Center for Earth Jurisprudence at Barry University School of Law. She is very active in environmental rights issues and attended Paris COP21. She will give a firsthand report on the Paris Climate Change Accords.

Jason Evans, Ph.D., is a member of the environmental science department at Stetson University and is a public policy expert on climate change issues in Florida. On the cutting edge of sea level rise research in Florida, Evans is currently engaged with Monroe County on sea level rise issues there and was a speaker at the recent Florida Climate Change Summit.

Chad Truxall is executive director of the Marine Discovery Center in New Smyrna Beach and a Florida Master Naturalist instructor. He engages and educates the public on sea level rise issues.

Dinah Pulver is an award-winning environmental journalist with the Daytona Beach News-Journal. Her recent series on the Indian River Lagoon is well known throughout the state of Florida.

The event will be held Tuesday, Feb. 16, at 6:30 p.m., in Allen Hall, located at 508 N. Woodland Blvd., across from the main entrance to Stetson. The public is invited to attend at no charge. Cultural credit will be awarded Stetson students in attendance.

Treaster’s participation is made possible through the Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellows Program funded by Stetson University’s Brown Center for Faculty Innovation and Excellence.

By Trish Wieland