GLOBAL CHALLENGE; Kent State Magazine Spring/Summer 2022

Climate change is a complex problem with no easy answers—and everything at stake. As global temperatures continue to rise, Kent State faculty reflect on our potential to mitigate and adapt to a changing planet.

Kent State Magazine Spring/Summer 2022

By Kat Braz and Jan Senn

hen the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its latest report in April 2022, IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee described it as “powerful evidence that we have the potential to mitigate climate change. We are at a crossroads.  . . . Climate promises and plans must be turned into reality and action, now. It is time to stop burning our planet and start investing in the abundant renewable energy all around us.”

The Working Group III report, prepared by 278 scientists from 65 countries, is the third installment of the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report (AR6), which will be completed this year. “It’s now or never if we want to limit global warming to 1.5°C (2.7°F), says IPCC Working Group III Co-Chair Jim Skea. “Without immediate and deep emissions reductions across all sectors, it will be impossible.” But there are options in all sectors to at least halve emissions by 2030

The Working Group II report, released in February 2022, warned that global warming exceeding 1.5°C will lead to “additional severe impacts, some of which will be irreversible” and “would cause unavoidable increases in multiple climate hazards and present multiple risks to ecosystems and humans.” 

While mitigating actions would substantially reduce projected losses and damages, it’s impossible to eliminate them all. Even to slow climate change, the world is running out of time.

“Inclusive and green economies, prosperity, cleaner air and better health are possible for all, if we respond to this crisis with solidarity and courage.”—UN Secretary-General António Guterres

In the IPCC’s first AR6 installment, released in August 2021, UN Secretary-General António Guterres characterized the situation as “a code red for humanity. The alarm bells are deafening, and the evidence is irrefutable.” Human influence has warmed the climate at a rate unprecedented in at least the last 2,000 years. However, Guterres also noted that “Inclusive and green economies, prosperity, cleaner air and better health are possible for all, if we respond to this crisis with solidarity and courage.”

Despite the dire warnings and the daunting statistics, faculty at Kent State—designated an R1 research university in February—remain hopeful about opportunities to mitigate and adapt to our changing climate in the coming years. To better understand and address the climate crisis, we asked several faculty members, most of whom participate in Kent State’s Environmental Science and Design Research Institute, for their perspective on this existential challenge.

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  • ANOMALOUS WEATHER PATTERNS

    SCOTT SHERIDAN, PHD, DEPARTMENT OF GEOGRAPHY

     

    “We’re going to have to prepare for challenges to the way we live if it’s weather dependent.”

     

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  • WATER QUALITY

    JOSEPH D. ORTIZ, PHD, DEPARTMENT OF GEOLOGY

     

    “If climate change is going to make the environment wetter, we can expect that one of the potential consequences of climate change in our area will be worse harmful algae blooms.”

     

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  • SCIENCE EDUCATION

    BRIDGET MULVEY, PHD, SCHOOL OF TEACHING, LEARNING AND CURRICULUM STUDIES

     

    “Children’s voices can be powerful agents of change. They move people in a way that data often doesn’t.”

     

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  • ROOF GREENING

    REID COFFMAN, PHD, COLLEGE OF ARCHITECTURE AND ENVIRONMENTAL DESIGN

     

    “We can design buildings that cooperate with their environment and give life to other organisms besides people.”

     

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  • SUSTAINABLE ENERGY

    YANHAI DU, PHD, COLLEGE OF AERONAUTICS AND ENGINEERING

     

    “We demonstrated that UAVs integrated with our onboard hybrid fuel cell battery/capacitor could do much more than just carry and deliver a small camera or a pizza.”

     

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  • SOCIAL VULNERABILITY

    KATHRYN WILSON, PHD, DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMICS

     

    “Climate change happens to all of us, but that doesn’t mean it affects all of us equally. Climate change affects the most vulnerable much harder.”

     

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  • CLIMATE-POSITIVE AGRICULTURE

    SARAH E. EICHLER, BS ’00, PHD, DEPARTMENT OF BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES

     

    “We’re talking about a landscape that is managed to foster a healthy community, healthy local economy and a healthy environment.”

     

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  • SUSTAINABILITY IN FASHION

    NOËL PALOMO-LOVINSKI, MFA ’09, SCHOOL OF FASHION

     

    “We’ve put this [clothing] out into the world, we need to make sure we know what becomes of it.”

     

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  • ART OF ECOLOGY

    TARYN MCMAHON, MFA, SCHOOL OF ART

     

    “The human and nonhuman cannot be separated and are conflated and intertwined in the face of unprecedented ecological change.”

     

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  • MANAGING ANXIETY

    KARIN COIFMAN, PHD, DEPARTMENT OF PSYCHOLOGICAL SCIENCES

     

    “Worry on some level is appropriate when faced with a real threat. It’s better to actively manage that worry than try to deny it or suppress it.”

     

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  • ACT NOW

    ACT NOW

     

    Everyone can help limit climate change. From the way we travel, to the electricity we use and the food we eat, we can make a difference. Start with these ten actions to help tackle the climate crisis.

     

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  • CLIMATE CHANGE RESOURCES

    CLIMATE CHANGE RESOURCES

     

    If you’d like to learn more, here are some resources to explore.

     

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POSTED: Wednesday, May 11, 2022 12:00 AM
UPDATED: Sunday, June 23, 2024 02:41 PM