Choices & Challenges, an annual forum at Virginia Tech with a reputation for tackling controversial issues, will continue the trend with the literally heated and topical subject of global warming.
Entitled "Changing Climate, Uncertain Future: Facing Global Warming," this day-long series of panels and discussions will be held on Thursday, Nov. 2, at the Lyric Theater in downtown Blacksburg and at Virginia Tech's Graduate Life Center at Donaldson Brown. This forum is open to the public at no charge.
In the 1980s, scientists and environmental advocates began to call attention to the fact that human beings are changing the Earth's atmosphere, and, as a consequence, changing global climate with unknown but potentially dire consequences. Today, scientists anticipate that the world is going to become a hotter place. Weather is likely to be more severe and less predictable. Some regions will see increased precipitation and flooding, while others will experience more intense droughts. Glaciers and ice sheets will continue melting, and sea levels are expected to rise.
"It is impossible to predict the exact repercussions of anthropogenic climate change or when, where, and how these will be experienced," says Eileen Crist, associate professor in the Department of Science and Technology in Society (STS), and co-coordinator of the forum. "But predictions for human communities and nonhuman species are troublesome and call for shifting to clean energy sources and, even more importantly, for curbing overproduction and over-consumption."
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, record temperatures in 2005, and Al Gore's recent efforts, climate change is becoming more prominent in public awareness. The Choices and Challenges forum provides an occasion for public discussion of scientific, ethical, ecological, and policy issues surrounding this topic.