The effects of climate change and how global warming is impacting this part of the world will be just two of the key messages Memorial researchers and scientists will deliver on Sunday, April 22, during Earth Day 2007 celebrations.
Memorial is playing an active role in a public event being hosted at the Rooms in St. John’s.
Well-known researchers Dr. Bill Montevecchi, University Research Professor with the Departments of Psychology and Biology and the Ocean Sciences; Dr. Trevor Bell, a professor in the Department of Geography; and Dr. Brad DeYoung, professor and head of the Department of Physics and Physical Oceanography, will be participating in a panel discussion and question-and-answer discussion from 2-3:30 p.m., in the theatre on the second level of the Rooms.
Dr. DeYoung said getting Memorial involved in Earth Day celebrations is a great way for researchers to share their understanding of climate change and global warming with the general public, but to also help stimulate discussion around the important issues.
“Earth Day is an opportunity to take stock of our planet and for scientists to communicate some of what we have learned about how the planet works and the impact of humans,” he said.
“Scientists have an obligation to share their knowledge. Such sharing is important not only to advance science but also to ensure that the ideas and results of science are widely understood. Science is about understanding the world in which we live and as such is very relevant to all of us.”
According to Earth Day Canada (EDC), the national organization that helps co-ordinate events across this country, more than six million Canadians join 500 million people in more 180 countries in various events to address local environmental issues. Earth Day now is the largest and most celebrated environmental event around the world.
The first Earth Day was headed up by Wisconsin Governor Gaylord Nelson and Harvard University student Denis Hayes in 1970. In 1990, two million Canadians joined 200 million people in 141 nations in celebrating the first International Earth Day.
Organizers of the Earth Day celebrations at the Rooms are encouraging the public to take in events. In addition to the panel discussion, the Oscar-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth will also be shown at noon, followed by a discussion.
Dr. Bell said he and his colleagues will present some examples of climate change over various timescales for this province and the northwest Atlantic.
“We will consider how geologically recent climate change has modified landscapes, altered ecosystems and influenced early settlement and survival here in Newfoundland and Labrador,” said Dr. Bell.
“We will also look at how climate is affecting ecosystems around the island, both on land and in the ocean. We conclude by examining the role of humans in present and future climate change and reflect on the lessons that can be learned from past history and current science.”
He said setting aside an afternoon to talk about – and learn to appreciate – the Earth is vital to understanding what’s happening with our planet. “Brad, Bill and I will give the local community an opportunity to reflect on one aspect of Earth – its climate – how climate impacts ecosystems and societies and how humans may be impacting the climate.”
The panel discussion and question-and-answer session gets underway at 2 p.m. and runs until 3:30 p.m.