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Vail Symposium presents strategies for tackling climate change

Special three-hour Zoom program on Thursday highlights potential solutions to mitigate climate change

The Vail Symposium’s free Zoom program runs from 5-7:45 p.m. Thursday and will be divided into various topics. Viewers can choose to watch the full program or tune in for individual topics that interest them.
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A big problem like climate change deserves a big program. In a special free Zoom webinar on Thursday, the Vail Symposium takes a look at some of the diverse solutions currently proposed to address climate change in this longer format, wide-ranging program. None of these options on their own is a silver bullet. However, taken together, these and other measures can begin to chip away at the problem that imperils the future.

“So much of the public discussion around climate change involves the large-scale mitigation efforts such as renewable power generation,” said Claire Noble, the Vail Symposium’s director of programming. “Important as that discussion is, it has a tendency to crowd out the fascinating contributions that other efforts can make to addressing the challenges of climate change. This program seeks to highlight some of the promising, under the radar efforts that taken together will have tremendous positive impact.”

The program will be presented in short, manageable chunks. Though the intent is for audience members to be able to engage during the entirety of the evening, Noble said that the format was also designed so that participants can tune in for the topics that are of interest if they’re unable to attend the entire program.



Program schedule

5-5:30 p.m. Seaweed

For many people, seaweed is either the slimy stuff wrapping around their ankles at the beach, or the edible wrapper sushi comes in, but due to its ability to absorb carbon dioxide, seaweed might be a climate change MVP. In addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, legacy carbon dioxide will need to be removed from the atmosphere. Seaweed absorbs carbon dioxide 20 times faster than trees. A hero whose time has come? Dr. Nichole Price examines the promise of aquaculture to absorb carbon dioxide.



5:30-5:40 p.m. Solar Schools

One of the complaints regarding solar power is the sun does not shine during peak demand periods. However, there are places that do need power during daylight hours – schools. Furthermore, most modern public schools are housed in flat, sprawling buildings. What if those flat roofs could be put to work harnessing the power of the sun? This video from Generation 180 profiles school districts that did just that.

5:40-6 p.m. Beavers

Beavers were once hunted nearly to extinction for their fur. To add insult to injury, they have been treated as unwelcome guests in their own habitat ever since. Have beavers been an overlooked factor when it comes to managing the West’s most precious resource: water? Peter Suneson, the education and outreach coordinator with the Eagle County Open Space Department, joins Dr. Sarah Marshall, ecohydrologist at the Colorado Natural Heritage Program, for a discussion of these furry allies.

6-6:40 p.m. Carbon Tax

Americans have a reflexive dislike for the word “tax” — it’s in our DNA. But what if a tax could be used as a policy tool to change or modify polluting behavior? Carbon tax expert Catrina Rorke is joined in conversation with Eagle County Commissioner Matt Scherr to explore the possibility for a carbon tax to significantly reduce carbon emissions in a relatively short time.

6:40-7 p.m Fermentation

An old technology is playing a significant role in the future of food. In this lighthearted segment, the Vail Symposium talks with journalist and Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef Katie Quinn about her recent book, “Cheese, Bread, and Wine,” about some of the world’s favorite, and oldest, fermented foods.

7-7:40 p.m. Saving Ourselves

She has been called “one of the nation’s most effective communicators on climate change” by The New York Times. Over the past 15 years, Dr. Katharine Hayhoe has found that the most important thing we can do to address climate change is talk about it — and she wants to teach you how. In the final segment of the program, climate scientist Dr. Hayhoe is joined in conversation by Dr. Mercedes Quesada-Embid to discuss how we move forward as individuals and a country to effect positive change.

About the speakers

Katharine Hayhoe, Ph.D., is an accomplished atmospheric scientist who studies climate change and why it matters to us here and now. Hayhoe serves as chief scientist for The Nature Conservancy and she is also a Paul W. Horn Distinguished Professor and the Political Science Endowed Professor in Public Policy and Public Law at Texas Tech University.

Sarah Marshall, Ph.D., is an ecohydrologist with the Colorado Natural Heritage Program and has more than 15 years of professional experience in hydrology and ecology with an emphasis on assessing, conserving and restoring wetlands and streams in Oregon and Colorado. Her doctoral work in water resources engineering focused on understanding the effects of land use on wetland hydrology, ecology and water quality across different spatial scales, and she has since applied her training to a diverse array of projects.

Nichole Price, Ph.D., is a benthic marine ecologist and is a senior research scientist at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences. She has an interest in how global change phenomena, like ocean acidification and warming, can alter bottom-dwelling species interactions, community dynamics, and ecosystem function in shallow coastal regimes. Her work focuses primarily on the eco-physiology of seaweeds and calcifying invertebrates and their current and future role in dissolved inorganic carbon and nutrient cycling.

Mercedes Quesada-Embid, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Environmental Policy and Advocacy in the Department of Environment and Sustainability at Catawba College. She is an interdisciplinary scholar with research and teaching interests spanning the social and natural sciences, as well as the humanities. Her interests gravitate toward and explore an array of eco-egalitarian concerns, in particular, the role of socio-ecological resilience as it relates to local and global sustainability efforts.

Catrina Rorke is vice president for policy at the Climate Leadership Council. In this role, she develops the details of the Baker Shultz Carbon Dividends proposal in consultation with 48 Founding Members including corporate leaders, environmental nonprofits and influential individuals. She also manages the Council’s research program and supports the Council’s advocacy and outreach activities.

Matt Scherr is currently an Eagle County Commissioner and previously served on Minturn, Colorado’s town council – some of that tenure was served as its mayor.

Peter Suneson is a certified interpretive guide and a Leave No Trace Master Educator and currently works for Eagle County’s Open Space program. Since arriving in the Eagle River Valley in 2014, Suneson has spent his time working with visitors to the mountain community and playing in the backcountry.

IF YOU GO …

What: All of the Above: Strategies for Tackling Climate Change

When: 5-7:45 p.m. Thursday

Where: Zoom Webinar

More information: Visit VailSymposium.org


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