Matthew Druckenmiller: A Career-Long Collaborator

Matt Druckenmiller, right, and Hajo Eicken, a professor of Geophysics, on an ice floe near Barrow. Photo by Daniel Pringle.

by Alison Gilchrist, CSTPR Science Writing Intern

Matthew Druckenmiller, a current research affiliate with the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research (CSTPR), understands the value of community collaborations. Throughout his career, he’s made it a priority to connect with communities in the areas he’s worked in.

Originally from Pennsylvania, Druckenmiller moved to Alaska to get his PhD from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. A biophysicist interested in sea ice, he worked closely with the Alaskan North Slope borough—the largest county in the country. He was interested in combining sea ice research and marine biology, an interest that benefited from a close working relationship with native communities in the North Slope borough.

During his PhD, Druckenmiller designed coastal observatories around native communities. For example, Druckenmiller built up an observatory in the Alaskan city of Barrow designed to observe sea ice. The Barrow observatory helped him observe how arctic sea ice affects feeding success and body condition of bowhead whales.

“The Barrow sea ice observatory had a number of different components,” said Druckenmiller. “One might fit your definition of an observatory: the tallest building in the village (about three or four stories) had a coastal radar on it. That would be the same kind of radar that a ship would have, and we used it to observe sea ice moving in and out along the coast.”

In fact, Druckenmiller used several methods to study the changing arctic ice, including installing instruments directly into the ice as well as working with local hunters to keep diaries of ice conditions. He was even able to venture out onto the ice regularly by sled.

“In Barrow, during the Spring, they still maintain traditional Bowhead Whale hunts,” explained Druckenmiller. “They glide onto the shore-fast ice, the ice that freezes close to shore. I had an instrument that I installed in a long sled, that I would pull or drag by snow-machine across these trails to survey the ice along the trails that the communities were using.”

The instrument that Druckenmiller used collected trail data and measured the ice thickness distribution. The goal was to record areas of the ice that were very thin or very thick. This was useful data for Druckenmiller’s research but was also incredibly useful for the community in Barrow. Druckenmiller and his group were able to make maps of this ice for the people who directly benefit from that information in the short-term. For whaling communities in Barrow, for example, it’s important to know where ice is dangerously thin.

After Druckenmiller left Alaska, he spent two years in Boulder at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). He then worked for two years in Washington, D.C. as a AAAS Science Policy Fellow, with the United States Agency for International Development. Finally, he moved back to Boulder to take a research scientist position at NSIDC.

Currently, Druckenmiller is a coordinator of the Sea Ice Action Network within the Study of Environmental Arctic Change (SEARCH). This study is a collaboration between Arctic researchers, funding agencies, and stakeholders and aims to study the implications of a changing arctic.

“I’m working with a team of researchers focusing on arctic sea ice,” said Druckenmiller. “A lot of what I do is not basic research, but more synthesizing existing research into sources that are accessible to other researchers and accessible to the public.”

Druckenmiller explained that SEARCH will be a valuable tool for science communicators to use when studying and writing about climate change.

“We’re trying to position this organization to be an easy organization for journalists to go to when writing stories.”

As well as coordinating this initiative to make climate science more accessible, Druckenmiller continues to collaborate with the scientists working in Barrow. Throughout his career, he has focused on the types of research partnerships that scientists make with communities and formed long-lasting and effective collaborations. At the National Snow and Ice Data Center and in collaboration with CSTPR, he is well poised to continue these important initiatives.

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Learning to Expect Surprise: Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, and Beyond

by Lisa Dilling, Rebecca Morss, and Olga Wilhelmi

Journal of Extreme Events (2018)
Vol. 4, No. 3

Extreme events often bring unexpected situations and impacts, as the sequence of hurricanes and other natural disasters in summer and fall 2017 demonstrated. To reduce the risks associated with such events, many have focused on reducing uncertainty in prediction or reducing vulnerability. Although both are worthy goals, we suggest that the research community should also be focusing on the nature of surprise itself, to investigate the role of surprise in extreme events and its implications. Surprise arises when reality differs from people’s expectations. Multiple factors contribute to creating surprise, including the dynamic nature of natural and human systems, the limitations of scientific knowledge and prediction, and the ways that people interpret and manage risks, not to mention climate variability and change. We argue that surprise is an unavoidable component of weather and climate disasters — one that we must acknowledge, learn to anticipate, and incorporate into risk assessment and management efforts. In sum, although it may seem paradoxical, we should be learning how to expect surprise. Read more …

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RIO Seed Grant Awarded to Katie Chambers and Sherri Cook

CSTPR graduate student and Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre intern, Katie Chambers, and CU Environmental Engineering’s Sherri Cook were awarded the 2018 Research & Innovation (RIO) Seed Grant for their project “Resilient and Sustainable Sanitation Systems: Characteristics, Links, and Barriers”.

Resilient and Sustainable Sanitation Systems: Characteristics, Links, and Barriers
PI Sherri Cook, with these collaborators: CSTPR Director Max Boykoff, CSTPR Affiliate Amanda Carrico, Dr. Trisha Shrum

Globally, 2.3 billion people lack access to basic sanitation services, which results in serious negative impacts to human health, economic prosperity, and gender equality. Exacerbating this issue is that existing sanitation systems experience high failure rates, mostly due to (i) systems that are not sustainable, such as systems with single or integrated failures in the social, technical, economic, or institutional aspects; and (ii) systems that are not resilient, such as systems that are destroyed by natural disasters. While there is growing research linking together the various dimensions of sanitation system sustainability, literature has called for more research to better understand characteristics of system resilience to plan for and adapt to climate change. The seed grant will provide funding to evaluate the social, economic, and technical characteristics of resilient sanitation systems and to integrate this work with existing sustainability research to develop strategies and recommendations to increase access to and long-term performance of sanitation systems.

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Announcing CU’s inaugural Colorado Science and Engineering Policy Fellowship

University of Colorado College of Engineering & Applied Science
March 19, 2018

Science and engineering isn’t all equations and calculations.

Policy is increasingly playing a hand in what guides the technical world. That’s why CU Engineering in partnership with the CU Office of Government Relations and the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research have teamed up with Colorado state representatives Chris Hansen and Bob Rankin to bring to life the Colorado Science and Engineering Policy Fellowship.

This fellowship will enable STEM students to pull back the curtain on the public policy arena and help bridge the gap between STEM disciplines and the policy-making process at the state level.

CU Engineering’s own Michelle Lin and Sage Sherman (in above photos) are the first two fellows selected from CU Boulder. And there’s one more slot to fill (apply by April 2, learn more here).

Over the course of the fellowship, Michelle and Sage, along with students from institutions across the state, will learn about the policy-making process at the Capitol while splitting their time between outside activities. These add-ons include visiting institutions where technology and policy intersect, sitting in with committees aligned with the policy interests from their applications, and lastly, researching their own policy proposal.

As part of their fellowship they’ll take part in a legislative boot camp at the Capitol and visit NREL, Google’s Boulder campus, Panasonic, Xcel Energy, National Wind Technology Center and more. They’ll close their capstone research with a presentation day at the Capitol in July.

Michelle Lin has been highly involved with STEM education in her community since moving to Colorado from Taiwan at age 9, from founding a STEM club at her high school to bridge the socioeconomic gap among students interested in STEM to promoting equitable educational opportunities for under-resourced students through the Greenhouse Scholars program. Michelle is a freshman pursuing a double major in aerospace engineering and engineering physics, with a minor in applied math. She hopes to one day set foot on Mars.

“The nexus of STEM and policy gives rise to the opportunity to solve complex, multifaceted challenges,” Michelle said. “I’m incredibly honored and excited to be part of this inaugural class of fellows”

Sage Sherman is a BS/MS concurrent student in the Smead Aerospace Engineering Sciences Department. His master’s focus is in bioastronautics, and his research interests are in aerospace biomedicine, space habitat design and artificial gravity solutions. He is a native of Colorado and enjoys backpacking, hiking and reading.

“I am excited to learn how we can use STEM public policy to impact individual lives,” Sage said.

This is just the start of a growing focus on policy in STEM field here at CU Boulder. To learn more and get involved contact

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How Do You Talk To Pruitt About Climate Change?

March 19, 2018

by Niina Heikkinen

U.S. EPA boss Scott Pruitt is skilled at sticking to his talking points, particularly when it comes to climate change.

For journalists covering that issue, pushing Pruitt beyond his rhetoric has become more important as the EPA chief has become one of the Trump administration’s highest-profile officials casting doubt on mainstream climate science.

Over a year into his tenure at EPA, Pruitt has offered a rotating selection of statements on his views about climate change. Since his confirmation hearing, he has said the degree of human responsibility cannot be measured “with precision.” At least once, he has suggested climate change may even be a good thing for humans. His message has shifted somewhat depending on his audience, but his public statements regularly question the extent to which carbon dioxide emissions are affecting the planet.

Given his reliance on the same statements, researchers who track climate change communication think the media ought to change their approach when questioning the administrator.

For one thing, reporters could focus more on challenging Pruitt’s comments, rather than pressing him to articulate his beliefs on climate change, said John Cook, a research assistant professor at the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University who studies the spread of misinformation on climate change.

“What we’ve found is you can inoculate people against misinformation by explaining the techniques used to distort the facts,” Cook said.

As an example, he pointed to Pruitt’s press conference last year after President Trump announced the U.S. plan to eventually withdraw from the Paris climate agreement.

“In the press conference, [Pruitt] claims that global warming has stopped since the late 1990s. It’s very clear from the data that global warming has continued and the last few years have been the hottest on record. What he’s doing is cherry-picking, he’s not looking at the full body of evidence. He pre-selects specific data and ignores any data that contradicts that global warming isn’t happening,” he said.

Other researchers suggested different questions journalists and others could ask Pruitt to circumvent his prepared statements on climate change.

Reporters could instead focus on economics, shared values and principles of stewardship, said Max Boykoff, director of the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Recently, Pruitt has spoken publicly about his belief — inspired by his religious faith — that mankind should be stewards of the land.

“If you get confrontational, you get shut down and you don’t get to ask any more questions. So it is a very intricate dance, if you will. Part of the problem is it takes sustained engagement. It takes the opportunity to ask more than just one zinger,” he said.

This mirrors the approach recently adopted by the Franciscan Action Network’s executive director, Patrick Carolan, who sat down with Pruitt for well over an hour a couple of months ago to talk about the intersection of faith and environmentalism (Climatewire, March 15).

Rather than challenging the administrator on science, reporters could ask Pruitt about climate risk management, specifically about what a climate insurance policy might look like, Dana Nuccitelli said in an email.

Nuccitelli is an environmental scientist who writes a London Guardian column, “Climate consensus — the 97%,” and blogs for Skeptical Science, a website that challenges climate skeptics’ arguments. He noted that so far EPA has only reversed steps to create such climate insurance policies within the United States.

“Pruitt has suggested we don’t know Earth’s optimal temperature and that perhaps continuing global warming might be beneficial. These positions are contradicted by a vast body of climate impacts research, but the range of possible outcomes varies from bad to catastrophic,” Nuccitelli said in an email. “While Pruitt doesn’t believe the outcome will be terribly bad or catastrophic those outcomes are nevertheless in the range of possible scenarios, based on the body of research.”

Nuccitelli warned against trying to debate climate science, because individuals who question the widely accepted research behind its causes are basing their statements in ideology and tribalism.

“Rejection of science is just a red herring to avoid discussing policy solutions. As a scientist that is a bit frustrating, but sometimes I think we just need to look past science denial and find the root of opposition of climate policies,” he said.

Cook also described Pruitt’s statements on climate change as echoing those of “run-of-the-mill denialists” on the internet. He and his colleagues found statements questioning mainstream climate science tended to fall into five main themes: Climate change isn’t real, it isn’t us, it’s not bad, there’s no hope, and general attacks on science and climate. These categories mirror the main ways those who favor climate action discuss the issue. Pruitt’s comments on climate have focused on each of these five themes over the past year, according to Cook.

“You see this exact same pattern of behavior amongst anonymous bloggers or anonymous commenters. It’s kind of striking that you have the head of the EPA regurgitating talking points you find on the comment threads on blogs,” he said. Read more …

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Colorado Science and Engineering  Policy Fellowship: Call for Applications

Colorado Science and Engineering  Policy Fellowship
May 21 – July 18, 2018
More Information

The Colorado Science and Engineering Fellowship is designed to give policy making experience to undergraduate and graduate students with backgrounds in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Throughout the session, each fellow will conduct his/her own policy research project in addition to learning more about STEM policy through seminars and industry site visits. Fellows will work with Colorado State Representatives Chris Hansen and Bob Rankin.

The upcoming session will take place from May-July 2018, for which 12-15 fellows will be chosen. Fellows will be given a $4000 stipend to cover cost of living in the Denver Metro Area and travel.

Application Deadline: April 2 at 5:00 PM (MST)

Competition Details
Applicants must be a senior undergraduate or graduate student pursuing a degree in a STEM subject.

Only completed applications will be considered. A complete application includes the following:

  1. A completed application form (available here)
  2. Two short essays (see application for prompts)
  3. Current CV
  4. Unofficial University of Colorado Boulder transcript(s)
  5. Statement of availability between May and July 2018

Please email your application materials to Ami Nacu-Schmidt by 5 PM on April 2, 2018.

The selected applicant will be asked to submit a brief report about their fellowship experience to be posted on the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research website.

Syllabus Overview
May 21 – July 18, 2018

This fellowship will enable talented STEM students to gain exposure to the public policy arena. As our state increasingly faces complex challenges related to energy, public health, and transportation, technical expertise in government are essential to create effective, fact-based policy. This fellowship will allow scientists and engineers to contribute their expertise to the legislative process in Colorado, and give these students a greater appreciation for the important role that policy plays in solving technical problems. This should provide a broadening experience for the fellows, as well as create a conceptual bridge between the STEM disciplines in Colorado, the host institutions, and the policy-making process at the state level.

Format: The fellowship will open with an introductory boot camp, during which fellows will learn about the policy-making process at the Capitol and acquire the skills they will need to be part of it.

Fellows will then divide their time between three separate activities. First, there will be a number of visits to relevant external sites and stakeholders. These will span a wide variety of institutions where technology and policy intersect. Second, fellows will be attached to a particular committee that reflects the policy interests outlined in their proposal. There are a wide range of issues being discussed in depth in committee over the summer, from air quality to water security. Fellows will learn their issue and the relevant players first-hand. Finally, fellows will get the time, space, and resources to research their own particular policy proposal. During the last week of the fellowship, they will deliver their policy pitches at a Capitol open day to legislators, industry figures, university representatives, and each other.

Guest speakers from the Colorado General Assembly will also visit the cohort weekly for Q&A style sessions. Throughout, State Representatives Chris Hansen and Bob Rankin and their offices will manage the fellowship and be the fellows’ first point of contact. More Information.

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‘The International Encyclopedia of Geography’ Receives CHOICE Award for Outstanding Academic Title

Max Boykoff and Gesa Luedecke’s contributed a paper “Environment and the Media” to CHOICE Book Award Winner, The International Encyclopedia of Geography

The AAG-Wiley International Encyclopedia of Geography: People, the Earth, Environment, and Technology is the recipient of a prestigious CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title 2017 award from the Association of College and Research Libraries, a division of the American Library Association.

The new international AAG publication is the most comprehensive and authoritative reference work in geography today, and as it will be updated annually, will likely remain so for decades to come. Significantly, as the Encyclopedia’s Editor-in-Chief Douglas Richardson noted, “this six-year encyclopedia project also resulted in building a collaborative international community of leading geography scholars and researchers who served as editors and authors, and with the international geographical societies and associations with whom the AAG interacted throughout the creation of The International Encyclopedia of Geography.” This landmark work, published in 2017 in both hard copy (15 volumes) and online, is written for a graduate student audience, but also in a style to be accessible to undergraduates and the educated public.

Reviewed by CHOICE in October 2017, the Encyclopedia also received a “Summing Up” award of “Highly Recommended” for community college and undergraduate students through professionals/practitioners as well as for general readers. The published review referred to the work as “an initiative of the sort that yields high-quality, subject-specific information that librarians and faculty will want to direct students to, helping to counter the problem of novice researchers citing information that they readily encounter online but are ill-equipped to evaluate critically.”

The selective CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title awards are determined by criteria including the importance of the work within the field, the value of the work for undergraduate students and in building an undergraduate library, the originality of the work, and overall excellence in presentation and scholarship. Works granted the distinction of Outstanding Academic Title are regarded among the academic library community as the best of scholarly titles published each year. “This is fantastic news,” said Justin Vaughan, the Encyclopedia’s publisher at Wiley & Sons. “The CHOICE award for Outstanding Academic Title is a highly prestigious award that will further raise the profile of the work in the library market and the academic community.”

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MeCCO Monthly Summary: General Lull in Media Reporting of Climate Change

Media and Climate Change Observatory (MeCCO)
February 2018 Summary

February media attention to climate change and global warming was down 23% throughout the world from the previous month of January 2018. This was the case across most regions: Asia was down 30%, Central/South America dropped 9%, Europe decreased 26%, Oceania dropped 7%, and North America was down 34%. The exceptions were Africa and in the Middle East. Global numbers were about half those (58% less) from counts a year ago (February 2017). The high levels of coverage in February 2017 were attributed to coverage of movements of the newly anointed Donald J. Trump Administration in the United States (US).

Figure 1 above shows these ebbs and flows in media coverage at the global scale – organized into seven geographical regions around the world – from January 2004 through January 2018.

At the country level in February 2018, coverage also went down in most countries compared to the previous month: Germany (-5%), Canada (-13%), Australia (-13%), the United Kingdom (UK) (-17%), India (-25%), Spain (-34%), and the United States (-42%). It was just up slightly in New Zealand (+6%).

Recently, MeCCO has expanded to six world radio sources (Figure 2), with monitoring of coverage beginning in January 2000. Coverage in February 2018 compared to the previous month was also down (-62%), and coverage compared to a year ago (February 2017) was similarly reduced as well (-49%).

Moving to considerations of content within these searches, Figure 3 shows word frequency data at the country levels in global newspapers and radio, juxtaposed with US newspapers and US television in February 2018.

The five newspapers and six television sources in the US showed continuing yet diminishing signs in February of the ‘Trump Dump’ (where media attention that would have focused on other climate-related events and issues instead was placed on Trump-related actions (leaving many other stories untold)). However, analyses of content in media reporting outside the US context show that this pattern of news reporting continues to be limited to the US. To illustrate, in February, US news articles related to climate change or global warming, Trump was invoked 1439 times through the 272 stories this month (a ratio of 5.3 times per article on average) in The Washington PostThe Wall Street JournalThe New York TimesUSA Today, and the Los Angeles Times. In US television sources of ABCCBSCNNFox News NetworkMSNBC, and NBC, Trump was mentioned 722 times in 43 news segments (16.8 mentions per segment). In contrast, in the UK press, Trump was mentioned in the Daily Mail & Mail on SundayGuardian & the Observer, the Sun, the Daily Telegraph & Sunday Telegraph, the Daily Mirror & Sunday Mirror, the Scotsman & Scotland on Sunday, and the Times & Sunday Times 348 times in 448 February articles (approximately 0.8 mentions per article on average).

That said, diminishing signs are indicated by the ratio in the US, now down from 8.8 times per article and 43 times per television segment in January (drops in these ratios of 40% and 61% respectively). These diminished trends were evident across media publications outside the US as well in February 2018 (e.g. 0.9 times/article in Canada, 0.3 times/article in Australia, 0.2 times/article in New Zealand and 0.3 times/article in Germany). We will see if this declining Trump influence on media coverage of global warming or climate change in US sources and elsewhere continues to decline as 2018 unfolds. However, this current trend can quickly change if the Trump Administration focuses attention on the issues in March and beyond.

Many media accounts in February focused on primarily scientific dimensions of climate change and global warming. For example, early in February a new study in Science magazine by Anthony Pagano and colleagues – perhaps primed by wintry weather in the Northern Hemisphere – found that consumption of high-fat prey by polar bears is becoming scarcer in ice-free conditions, and they therefore are having to work harder to find their calories. Journalist Amina Khan in the Los Angeles Times reported that this research into free-ranging Arctic polar bear behavior and metabolism over a two year period confirmed suspicions that the loss of sea ice detrimentally impacts their health and survival, writing, “they burn calories at a faster rate than previously thought”. Later in February, a considerable amount of media attention focused in on a scientific article in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by Steve Nerem (from the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at CU Boulder (also where MeCCO is housed)) and colleagues. They found through examinations of twenty-five years of sea level data that the pace of sea level rise has increased. From the research, Associated Press journalist Seth Borenstein and many others wrote about how the researchers then projected that there would now be a global sea level rise higher than previously expected, of approximately two feet (0.6 meters) by 2100.

Attention paid to political content of coverage during the month was often tethered to decarbonization trends. As one example, a report on increasing wind capacity in Europe garnered widespread media attention. Among stories, journalist Adam Vaughan from The Guardian wrote, “Britain accounted for more than half of the new offshore wind power capacity built in Europe last year, as the sector broke installation records across the continent”. As a second example, the fate of coal generated a number of stories as well. While a study from the US Appalachian Regional Commission noted that coal production in that region has fallen precipitously, other stories covered how US Trump Administration policy action has reversed these trends in the short term. For instance, Journalist Kris Maher from The Wall Street Journal wrote, “Miners in Indiana and other states are getting a small lift from global markets: American companies are shipping more coal to Europe and Asia, helping to stop the years long drop in the number of U.S. mining jobs. The latest job increase runs counter to the long-term decline in coal used to generate electricity in the U.S., as coal-fired power plants are closed in favor of plants that burn cheap, abundant and cleaner natural gas…The stronger export market is translating into a bump in coal-mining jobs”.

Across the globe in February, stories also intersected with the cultural dimensions. For example, a New York Times piece by Maggie Astor entitled ‘No children because of climate change? Some people are considering it’ focused on how an uncertain climate future has played a role in childbearing decisions among interviewees ages 18 to 43 in the US..

Meanwhile in February, coverage relating primarily to ecological and meteorological issues continued to draw attention. To illustrate, continued impacts from hurricane damage – particularly hurricanes Irma and Maria – whipped up media attention. One representative story by writer Tim Craig and photojournalist Bonnie Jo Mount called ‘Shredded roofs, shattered lives’ in TheWashington Post was emblematic of coverage that touched on cultural and societal dimensions and reverberations as they related to ecological/meteorological facets of climate change. In addition, record temperatures in the Artic in late February generated further coverage. For example, in a piece entitled ‘North Pole surges above freezing in the dead of winter, stunning scientists’, Washington Post journalist Jason Samenow wrote, “The Arctic’s temperatures are soaring, with one analysis estimating the North Pole edged above freezing temperatures last weekend even as polar winter continues without sunlight. Although there are no direct temperature measurements at the North Pole, the U.S. Global Forecast System model pegged the temperature as high as 35 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) – more than 50 F (30 C) above normal”.

These cultural and ecological/meteorological infused stories wove back into political dimensions of disaster relief responses now five months since the tragedies struck in the Caribbean Basin. For instance, US National Public Radio’s Greg Allen reported on the weak state of health care services in the US Virgin Islands.

As a general lull in media reporting of climate change or global warming pervades in February 2018, there nonetheless remains an ongoing concern relating to the ‘fierce urgency of now’.

– report prepared by Max Boykoff, Jennifer Katzung and Ami Nacu-Schmidt

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Building Resilience in Colorado Communities: Lessons from the Colorado Communities Symposium

by Deserai Crow
Associate Professor, School of Public Affairs, CU Denver and CSTPR Faculty Affiliate

Photo: Plenary panel with Lieutenant Gov. Donna Lynne, Xcel Energy Colorado President David Eves, Denver Water CEO James Lochhead, City of Durango Mayor Dick White, and Western Resource Advocates President Jon Goldin-Dubois

As January turned to February in Colorado, and we all lamented the lack of snow and unseasonably warm winter, leaders from across the state gathered in Aurora to focus on climate preparedness. Governor John Hickenlooper talked to a crowded room of hundreds of people from government agencies, research institutes, academia, and non-governmental sectors. He told the crowd that when you love the place you live, you want to take care of that place. For the people who came to the Colorado Communities Symposium, this seemed to be central to their work.

After the first day of speeches by the Governor, Senator Bennet, Mayors Hogan and Hancock designed to praise the importance of the work and the people doing the work, we spent the following two days trying to determine how we could collectively work to move the state and our communities forward on issues such as resilience, clean energy, economic development, water and forest issues, and more.

My own research focuses on state and local environmental decision-making, particularly around issues such as risk mitigation, disaster recovery, and resilience, so I sat in Town Hall style meetings with people working to improve community-level resilience in Colorado. These folks came from the Colorado Office of Resiliency and Recovery, NREL, NOAA, universities, the private sector, and so many of our Colorado communities that see climate change, community development, and resilience as critical issues facing their communities in the coming decades.

As academics, we often struggle to find time or receptive audiences for our work to matter to practitioners who may need it. But this three-day symposium gave me some hope that here in Colorado there is the space, the desire, and the expertise to bridge these academic and non-academic worlds. From my seat, the stakeholders sitting around the tables both needed things and had things to offer others. These combined resources – when thoughtfully planned – might be ingredients to work towards meaningful positive changes across the state.

  • Local governments told stories of on-the-ground experiences trying to communicate risks and resilience with their residents. They talked about data on resilience and change, communication practices, partnerships, politics, and more. They talked about successes and frustrations. And they told us that they need frameworks and metrics that they could bring to their own communities and adapt to their local needs.
  • Federal agencies and labs pointed to the data that they gather and how much they desire for it to be used beyond the federal government.
  • Academics described their research and the data or expertise they can bring to questions about resilience, data needs, and translation of research into practice. They told the others how excited they would be to see that work used to improve local resilience.
  • The State of Colorado listened and asked about the next steps forward. State agency staff looked to the participants for needs, resources, and energy to move forward to turn the discussions into a process through which they might bring these needs and resources together to benefit communities across Colorado. The goal of a combined effort might be to learn from one another, draw on expertise and resources, and gain support needed for local planning and decision-making.

It’s not uncommon for academics working in my area to feel disheartened, frustrated, or unheard as environmental protections, climate progress, and long-term planning towards more resilient communities are all stymied at the federal-level. This conversation over three-days in Colorado gave me a glimmer of hope that local and state-level changes can do a great deal to overcome that stymied progress, can help us academics get out of our spaces and into the world to help where we are useful, and can get stakeholders to talk to one another and learn from one another.

Leaving the symposium, my primary hope is that we don’t stop with this exciting conversation in Aurora, but keep the conversation and the real work moving forward.

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More Than Scientists: For the People We Love, and Even More for the Less Fortunate Around the World

It’s very clear now that the world human society evolved in is changing. It’ll likely look very different for coming generations. I think about it a lot when I think about my family and the people I love. And this scares me.

Amanda Carrico, Asst. Prof of Environmental Studies, University of Colorado Boulder

[video] 1:58

In this Inside the Greenhouse project, Fall semester ‘Climate and Film’ (ATLS 3519/EBIO 4460) students and Spring semester ‘Creative Climate Communication’ (ENVS3173/THTR4173) students, along with the More than Scientists campaign, create and produce a short video based on an interview of a climate scientist in the local Boulder area, depicting human/personal dimensions of their work.

These scientists work at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), the Institute for Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR), Wester Water Assessment(WWA), the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) and various other units at CU-Boulder (e.g. Atmospheric Sciences Department, Environmental Studies Program, Geography Department, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department).

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