March 13, 2014

Climate-change collaboration launched

PAUL SMITHS — Students in a new class at Paul Smith’s College will play a role in projecting how climate change will affect those who live and work in the Adirondacks.

Communicating Climate Science, a collaboration of professor Curt Stager of Paul Smith’s and Rob Carr of the Wild Center, is funded by a three-year $50,000 National Science Foundation grant awarded through the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement and its Science Education for New Civic Engagement and Responsibilities – Informal Science Education initiative.

The 16 students in the class met for the first time this semester. 

“After reviewing the effects of observed and expected climate change in the Adirondack Park, studying the principles of interpretive education and learning about recommended communication strategies, (they) will sit down with the different groups to get an on-the-ground feel for how each expects to be affected,” a press release from the college said.

The students will survey members of fish and game clubs, the medical profession, musicians and others to project what present and future changes in local climate may mean to their communities.

“By the end of the project, students in the class will use that input to suggest how climate change may be most relevant to each group — giving them the tools to make informed decisions about handling changes that some scientists consider inevitable,” the release said.


Stager, a natural-science professor who specializes in Adirondack climate and climate history, said change could be good, bad or neutral. 

“The point isn’t to indoctrinate people into a particular point of view or sow fear but to empower people to make their own informed decisions about how to deal with changes that are already underway in the North Country,” he said in the release. 

“Each group can ask, ‘What is really happening here? And what, if anything, does it mean for us?’”

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