As world leaders meet in Paris, UMass Dartmouth to host regional climate summit Dec. 3-4

Partnership with seven south-of-Boston daily newspapers, Island Foundation, New Bedford Whaling Museum, New Bedford Whaling National Historic Park, and regional planning agencies will raise awareness of emerging climate change impacts and importance of resiliency planning

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Go to climate.umassd.edu for more details on the Global Awareness Education and Action summit.

UMass Dartmouth will host a two-day Global Awareness Education and Action summit on the science and policy of climate change and climate-related resiliency planning on December 3-4, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on both days. The summit will occur as world leaders are meeting in Paris at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change, which begins November 30.

“We are already seeing the impacts of climate change beginning to emerge in the form of coastal erosion, shifting fishery habitats and flood insurance costs,” UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Divina Grossman said. “We are hopeful that this summit will be the beginning of a region-wide dialogue among citizens, policymakers and scientists that creates awareness and action aimed at preserving our quality of life for generations to come.”

As a follow-up to the summit, the seven daily newspapers south of Boston (Quincy Patriot Ledger, Brockton Enterprise, Taunton Daily Gazette, Cape Cod Times, New Bedford Standard-Times, Fall River Herald News and Providence Journal) will publish a special section on climate change on December 18.

“To address the regional implications of climate change, these daily newspapers are joining forces to educate the public about climate-related threats, showcase current research and planned policy actions, and highlight proposed solutions,” said Standard-Times editor Beth Perdue. “Collectively, we will reach 500,000 print readers throughout Southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island with this vital information.”

The lead sponsor of the conference is the Island Foundation. Other sponsors include the New Bedford Standard-Times, New Bedford Whaling Museum, New Bedford Whaling National Historic Park, and OffshoreWindMA. Partners include the Southeastern Regional Planning and Economic Development District, Old Colony Planning Council and Cape Cod Commission. The Martha’s Vineyard Commission and Buttonwood Park Zoo are also participating.

"The Island Foundation has a strong history supporting organizations addressing environmental concerns in the region," said Denise Porche, Executive Director of the Island Foundation. "This summit represents exactly the type of broad collaboration, long-term planning and clear public communication our region needs to successfully address the challenges posed by climate change. We are delighted to be a lead sponsor."

“Since 1903 the Whaling Museum has collected and interpreted the histories of the area,” museum CEO James Russell said. “These include changes to the physical landscape such as the construction of the Hurricane Barrier in 1962.  How might the Old Dartmouth region be impacted by climate change is a topic worthy of serious debate.”

On Thursday, December 3, the summit will focus on the science of climate change. The agenda will include presentations by Dr. Anthony Janetos, co-author of the White House Climate Report;  Amy Schatz, producer of HBO’s six-part climate change documentary Saving My Tomorrow;  and several “nano lectures” by UMass Dartmouth scientists.

“The featured presentations and posters will focus on our current state of knowledge of climate change and its impacts, as well as specific examples of these impacts in the New England region,” UMass Dartmouth School for Marine Science and Technology Dean Steven Lohrenz said.

The “nano lectures” – 10-minute presentations by UMass Dartmouth scientists – will cover on issues ranging from“Climate Change Effects on Marine Life” to “Coastal Adaptation and Mitigation Planning.”

On Friday, December 4, the four regional planning agencies will discuss resiliency work that is already underway across southeastern Massachusetts, the SouthCoast, and Cape Cod and the Islands. State and federal officials, including Massport’s Program Manager of Resiliency Robbin Peach, will offer perspective on measures that state agencies are now executing as well as those being considered for the future. Offshore Wind Massachusetts, which is proposing a major wind energy farm off the southeastern coast of Massachusetts, will also present.

In the week preceding the summit, the Whaling Museum, Buttonwood Park Zoo, the Standard-Times, and the UMass Dartmouth Sustainability Office are partnering with area schools on educational activities related to climate change.

Episodes of Saving My Tomorrow, which is described as “a call from kids to kids to help take care of the planet,” will be screened for an UMass Dartmouth class on Wednesday, December 2 at 7 p.m.

On Friday, December 4 at the Whaling Museum, students from the Alfred Gomes Elementary School and from the Renaissance Community School for the Arts will visit the museum and study whale diversity and resiliency. On Saturday, December 5, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Whaling Museum will host a “Free Family Fun” event with hands-on activities for young audiences focused at the new Casa Dos Botes Discovery Center and will also be running Saving My Tomorrow.

At the Buttonwood Park Zoo, seventh grade students from Dartmouth Middle School will participate in hands-on climate change lessons during the week leading up to the summit. The zoo will also host a viewing of Saving My Tomorrow for all students from Our Sister School with the final episode being screened for students and parents on the evening of Wednesday, December 2.

Go to climate.umassd.edu for more details on the Global Awareness Education and Action summit. Also follow all #GAEA4Change news on the summit via @GAEAClimate on Twitter and on Facebook at GAEA Climate Summit.


School for Marine Science and Technology