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College Takes a Closer Look at Climate Change

Imagine a world where the chilly climate of Pittsburgh feels more like the mild climate of Raleigh, N.C., and large swaths of coastal cities like New York were under water. Some projections suggest that it could happen by the end of the 21st century.

That’s why SUNY Cortland will lead an important discussion on climate change Wednesday, Oct. 3, featuring a panel of the College’s faculty members and local authorities on the topic.

“A Campus Conversation on Climate Change” will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. in Brockway Hall, Jacobus Lounge. The free event includes a local foods dinner at the end of the discussion.

Anyone wishing to attend must pre-register by Friday, Sept. 21. Attendees may sign up by emailing

The discussion’s panel members include:

• Dave Eichorn, an instructor at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry who worked as a meteorologist at WSYR-TV in Syracuse for 20 years.

• Gay Nicholson, the president and director of programs for Sustainable Tompkins, a citizen-led organization based in Ithaca.

• David Barclay, an associate professor of geology at SUNY Cortland.

• Larry Klotz, a SUNY distinguished teaching professor of biology at the College.

• Brice Smith, an associate professor of physics and a member of SUNY Cortland’s Climate Action Plan Committee.

Although the event is geared primarily toward students, College employees and members of the public will be allowed to register on a first-come, first-served basis. Students or classes interested in attending the event as a club or organizations can register as one unit but they will need to provide an email address for each group member.

Scientists and world leaders have long discussed the issue of global climate change: the idea is that weather patterns around the world will continue to change as greenhouse gasses caused by the burning of fossil fuels continue to build in the atmosphere.

The expected changes include rising global temperatures over the next century that could cause sea levels to rise, increase the number of extreme weather events such as floods and storms and hasten the spread of diseases.

SUNY Cortland is one of 21 colleges nationwide participating in Carnegie Mellon University’s Campus Conversations program by organizing events around the theme of “Climate Change and Campus.”

Richard Kendrick, a SUNY Cortland professor of sociology/anthropology and director of the College’s Institute for Civic Engagement, said he helped organize the discussion because climate change is an issue of dire importance to college students.

“For all my years of teaching, the discussion of environmental issues is something that has always intrigued students,” he said.

Kendrick said he believes that students will get a lot out of the event, even if their knowledge on the topic is limited. Climate change directly affects each and every person, he said.

“If no one takes this issue into consideration, these possible effects will only grow worse,” he said. “What will the population do, and where will everyone migrate? Such effects seem so far off in the future that a lot of times we neglect to pay attention to the overall cause, which is climate change.”

The event is meant to be interactive, he said. Participants will be surveyed on the issue in advance, and they will be given balanced background information. At the event, they will be divided into smaller groups for discussion and invited to participate in a question-and-answer session with the speaking panel.

A second survey will be conducted after the event to gather post-discussion thoughts about the issue. Both surveys are optional.

Questions about the event can be directed to Kendrick at (607) 753-2481.