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Panel presents on climate change debate

Emilie Kefalas | Thursday, October 3, 2013


A panel of experts discussed climate shift at Saint Mary’s on Tuesday evening in time for Friday’s Feast of St. Francis. 

Economics professor Richard Measell, chemistry and physics professor Chris Dunlap and director of the Center for Spirituality Elizabeth Groppe spoke about different aspects of climate change in the talk, sponsored by the Saint Mary’s Catholic Common Ground Initiative.

Groppe spoke briefly on the Catholic Church’s position on climate change, drawing on the prudence of the common good.

“Using this virtue of prudence, bishops say … climate modeling is very complex and there are uncertainties and some differences between some of the different models, but using this intelligence is applied to action and reason carefully.  Prudence calls us to take action, [to] be responding,” Groppe said.    

Dunlap presented scientific support of global warming with information from a working group report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

“We need to talk about what the heck global warming is about,” Dunlap said.  “We publish our data so others can challenge it. Skepticism is good and it improves our model of what’s going on [with climate change].”  

Measell said he is skeptical of global warming because he is not confident in scientific explanations.

“A reason why I’m a skeptic is wondering about how one measures the temperature of the earth.  Surface measures are gathered from all over the earth, and how to make that into one temperature particularly when you have missing data [is difficult],” he said.    

Measell said we should consider the economic impact of changing our lifestyles in response to climate change.

“There is a debate between those who call for radical changes in how we live to try to reduce greenhouse gases and those who argue that we would be better served by adapting to climate changes,” Measell said.  “My concern is that do we undertake policies that reduce our economic ability to respond to natural disasters, or do we focus on expanding our capacity to respond by increasing our wealth?”

Saint Mary’s Campus Ministry will sponsor community prayer during “a time of climate change” in the Great Hall of Le Mans Hall each day this week from 12:15-12:30 p.m

Groppe said she encourages Saint Mary’s students to take advantage of this week’s on-campus activities and opportunities devoted to the spirit and Feast of St. Francis because of Belles’ character and integrity.

“Saint Mary’s prepares young women to become leaders who will help make the love of God manifest in the world and today your leadership is more important than ever,” Groppe said.