Walking Mountains launches free Climate Speaker Series this month | VailDaily.com

Walking Mountains launches free Climate Speaker Series this month

Second annual speaker series will discuss food systems, indigenous perspectives on sustainability and state climate action plans

Lisa Palmer, the first guest in Walking Mountains' Climate Speaker Series, will discuss the impact of climate change on global food systems on Jan. 25.
Scott Warman/Courtesy photo

Walking Mountains Science Center is kicking off its second annual Climate Speaker Series this month, hosting the first of three speaker events on Wednesday, Jan. 25, from 6-7:30 p.m.

The series, which is sponsored by Don and Jennifer Holzworth and hosted by Colorado Mountain College in Edwards, brings in one speaker each of the next three months to share expertise on a different aspect of climate change. This year, the series will cover food systems, indigenous perspectives on climate change and greenhouse gas reduction plans being implemented by the state.

Scott Dunn, the community programs manager for Walking Mountains Science Center, is part of the team that selects the series speakers.

“The goal is to bring in variety,” Dunn said. “With the complexity of climate change, no idea is a bad idea. You have to look at that as not only a challenge, but that complexity provides a lot of opportunity for new ideas and solutions.”

The first topic of discussion is global food systems and how a changing climate will affect the way that we eat. Speaker Lisa Palmer is the National Geographic research professor of science communication at the School of Media and Public Affairs, an environmental journalist, and the author of ​​the book ”HOT, HUNGRY PLANET: The Fight to Stop a Global Food Crisis in the Face of Climate Change.”

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Palmer has written extensively about the relationship between climate change and global hunger, and spent years traveling the world documenting innovative approaches to food production and consumption.

“It’s the classic thinking big and acting small or the global to local kind of approach,” Dunn said. “We do a lot of great work here in the county with Climate Action Collaborative and this is another way to provide new ideas to the solutions that we’re bringing and acting on here in the valley.”

The following month, the former chairman of Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation, Darren Parry, will share indigenous perspectives on climate change and sustainability. Parry teaches Native American history at the University of Utah and lectures around the country discussing indigenous views on climate and environment.

The final speaker, on March 9, will be Will Toor, the executive director of the Colorado Energy Office. Toor was appointed to the position by Gov. Jared Polis in 2019 and is helping to develop and implement the state’s Greenhouse Gas Roadmap. 

The roadmap lays out the state’s strategy for reaching its stated goals of a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas pollution from 2005 levels by 2030 and a 90% reduction by 2050. Eagle County is pursuing a similar goal at the local level — 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 2014 levels by 2030 — and will benefit from state climate investments and initiatives.

Each lecture will be followed by a discussion period in which Dunn hopes that locals will find ways to apply the lessons in each lecture to action steps in the community.

“Such an important part of the program are the conversations we have following the main presentation,” Dunn said. “These experts have unique insight and we love to see those conversations take place with our locals here in the valley.”

The series is offered for free thanks to sponsorship from locals Don and Jennifer Holzworth. Those interested in attending in person at Colorado Mountain College must register ahead of time at WalkingMountains.org. The programs will also be streamed virtually to allow access to as many people as possible.

“Jennifer and I have a strong desire to educate as many people as possible about the threat of climate change as well as the promise of solutions to both mitigate and adapt to these threats,” Don Holzworth said. “Our hope is that our participants come away with a new or renewed understanding, a desire to share what they have learned, and a commitment to take action in their communities and with their congressional representatives.” 

For more information about the Climate Speaker Series or to register for the upcoming events, visit WalkingMountains.org.

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