Clarion University to Host Environmental Congress

CLARION – Dr. Robert McAfee, climatologist to the Arkansas Governor’s Commission on Global Warming and chair of the OMNI Center for Peace, Justice and Ecology’s Carbon Caps Task Force, will be the keynote speaker when Clarion University hosts the Fourth International Congress on Critical Perspectives on Energy, Environment, Technology and Water Development, and Protection Worldwide, April 1-2.

McAfee’s address, “Dividing Up Carbon Pie – Global Warming,” will begin on April 1 at 9:30 a.m. in Gemmell Student Complex Multi-Purpose Room. All of the presentations at the Environmental Congress are free and open to the public.

This is the second time Clarion University has hosted the Congress, brought to Clarion by Dr. Valentine James, provost and academic vice president, who originated the conference during his previous tenure as dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Fayetteville State University, Fayetteville, N.C.

“This conference is in line with the desire to keep the Clarion University community engaged in the debate on environmental impact of development,” said James. “Environmental impact of development is immediate. Our role as academicians is to raise the awareness of environmental impact of development locally, regionally, statewide, nationally, and internationally. The conference brings educators and practitioners together to share knowledge.”

McAfee’s keynote address and all of the other presentations of the Congress are free and open to the public. Clarion University President Joseph Grunenwald will give a welcome and James and Paul Bylaska, vice president for finance and administration at Clarion University, Congress co-chairs will make opening remarks prior to McAfee’s presentation. Breakout sessions will follow. The April 2 portion of the Congress begins at 9 a.m. and continues until 11:45 a.m.

McAfee has been engaged in environmental education with emphasis on climate change and variability studies his entire adult life. He received his bachelor of arts in history and political science from Arkansas Tech University in history, political science and geography in 1971; master’s of science in geographic studies from the University of Wisconsin in 1976; and Ph.D. in climatology from Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia, in 1982. He has served with the Peace Corps in Africa, taught at Macquarie University and University of East Anglia, United Kingdom.

 He was among approximately 100 scientists from around the world invited to attend the first International Conference on Climate & History at the University of East Anglia. He returned to Arkansas in 1991 and co-founded the Peaceable Kingdom, Inc. (PKI), a nonprofit education and environmental service agency. He founded the Arkansas Environmental Education Association (AEEA) in 1995. In 2006, he left AEEA and became executive director of the PKI’s Thinking Like A Mountain Institute of the Peaceable Kingdom, Inc. He also served as chair of the OMNI Center for Peace, Justice and Ecology’s (Fayetteville) Carbon Caps Task Force.

McAfee now focuses entirely on global warming and climate change. He was selected and trained by former Vice President Al Gore’s The Climate Project, to be one of 1,000 climate change messengers to carry Gore’s warning about global warming and climatic variation. In April 2007 he was invited back to serve as a mentor and trainer for the last group of Gore’s 1,000 Climate Change Messengers to be trained.

In September of 2007, McAfee was appointed by Gov. Mike Beebe as climatologist to the Arkansas Governor’s Commission on Global Warming. After the Commission presented its final report to the governor, he organized a multi-organization coalition, the Repower Arkansas campaign, to promote the policy recommendations of the commission.

Additional speakers range from Clarion to as far away as Alaska and include on Thursday, April 1:

10:15 a.m. – Carlos Velazquez, Garner, N.C., “The Environment’s First Injustice: Inuit.”

10:45 a.m. – Dr. Joshua Pearce, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada, “Distributing Technology for a Just Sustainable World: From Solar Photovoltaic Systems to Open Source Appropriate Technology.”

11:30 a.m. – Dr. Solomon Obotetukudo, assistant professor of communication at Clarion University, “Can the Leopard Shed Its Skin: The Rhetoric of China’s Development Initiative is Sub-Saharan Africa and the Political Realities of Sustainable Development.”

Noon – Carlos Velazquez, Garner, N.C., “Reality of the Vanishing Ice on the Inuit.”

1:30 p.m. – Patricia DeMarco, executive director, Rachel Carson Homestead Association, Springdale, “Empowering Sustainable Energy Practices.”

 2:30 p.m. – Dr. Laurie Occhipinti, professor of anthropology at Clarion University, “Sustaining a Culture, Sustaining an Ecosystem: The Wichi of the Western Chaco.”

4:15 p.m. – Dr. Frank Vento, professor of earth science, Clarion University.

The speakers for Friday, April 2, include:

9:15 a.m. – William Easterling, dean, The Penn State University College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, “Adapting to Climate Change in a World with 10 Billion People.”

10:15 a.m. – Dr. Andy Lau, Penn State University, “Digging Deep Into Sustainability for New Meaning in Engineering Design.”

11:15 a.m. – Reading of abstracts by James.

11:30 a.m. – Closing remarks, James and Bylaska.

 “Clarion University students and community members will benefit from hearing these presentations,” said James. “It will raise their consciousness of the environment, that the environment has constraints, which must be recognized and by following a natural system the environment can be used forever.”

The Congress was instituted to provide leadership and encourage partnership, a multi-disciplinary approach to addressing environmental problems, and a forum for discussion on innovative technologies concerned with the conservation policies and legalization, ecology, emerging technologies, alternative energy and total expenditure for the utilization of regenerative energies worldwide. Other matters of interest to the Congress are impact of molecular nanotechnology on energy and environment, industry, development strategies and the built environmental, protection, urbanization, waste water treatment, and technology-society interface, focusing on the technological gap between the developed and developing countries. The Congress places emphasis on the educational values in the pursuit of sustainable development and environmental management that nurture the environment and improve the quality of life without compromising that of future generations, and looks for providing foundations for future endeavors through the identification of new and innovative areas of environmental research, development and professional practices.

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