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May 16, 2019, Miami Shores, Florida – Cut greenhouse gas emissions, provide economic incentives for good environmental practices, and reduce consumption by reusing products.
Those and other suggestions emerged from Barry University’s recent forum on climate change and global warming. Forum participants recommended a combination of top-down and bottom-up approaches to addressing the twin issues. They pointed to the need for the United States to cut greenhouse gas emissions and for ordinary citizens to do their part by lowering their carbon footprints.
The forum, “Natural Disasters and Climate Change: Is Global Warming Causing More Hurricanes?” drew attention to the gradual increase in the average temperatures of Earth’s atmosphere and oceans, and to the sustained warming of the planet since the early 20th century. The forum was part of Barry University’s Deliberative Dialogue Series.
A panel of lead participants shared their experiences and perspectives on the issue of climate change and global warming. The panelists were Dr. William “Bill” Russell, Assistant Dean in the College of Arts and Sciences; Nadia B. Ahmad, Assistant Professor of Law; Denis Emilio Ordoñez Jr., a graduate student and member of the Barry Green Team; and Nancy Metayer, the Climate Justice Program Manager at the New Florida Majority. The panel was moderated by Margaret R. Stewart, Director of the Center for Earth Jurisprudence at Barry University’s School of Law.
Forum participants saw the need for the United States to adhere to the Paris Agreement, the global accord that charts a new course in addressing climate change. They said people should hold policymakers accountable for their response to global warming and the climate change imperative.
According to forum participants, progress in dealing with global warming also requires changes in consumer behavior. If people reduced their demand for certain products and reused what they have, participants said, there would be a curb on production.
Bill Russell, who spent eight years at NASA and Columbia University working with the lead scientists on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, shared research-based information on the effects of climate change. Nancy Metayer commented on the need for people to have a voice and a “seat at the table” so they will feel empowered to play a role in dealing with natural disasters and its consequences.
Sister Mary Fran Fleischaker, OP, Adjunct Professor of Theology, said that the community at large should consider religious and spiritual values in fulfilling its duty to protect Earth, “our common home.” She also referred to the evidence of the sea level rise in Miami’s South Beach.
Barry University’s Center for Community Service Initiatives (CCSI) adapted deliberative dialogue as a method of civic learning and engagement. The CCSI organizes the Deliberative Dialogue Series to bring together campus and community stakeholders to exchange ideas and weigh perspectives on social, environmental, and economic issues affecting the community.
Feature photo: Margaret R. Stewart, Director of the Center for Earth Jurisprudence at Barry University’s School of Law, shares her expertise as she moderates the forum. Photo Courtesy of the Center for Community Service Initiatives