Overpeck to speak

Jonathan Overpeck

A planned forum on climate change by the Green Valley Council may have been scuttled for now, but those who still want to hear about the issue will get the chance next week.

Local activist group ChangeisHappening! is hosting a presentation with Jonathan Overpeck, director of the University of Arizona's Institute of the Environment, to talk about climate change and its local effects at 1:30 p.m. April 6 at the Desert Hills Social Center. The presentation is free and open to the public.

Overpeck was to appear as part of the GVC forum, to be held the same day, but backed out, saying he was unwilling to appear with another participant because he said the organization the man represented has a reputation of distorting climate science. As a result, the GVC canceled the forum for the time being.

Kathy Babcock, from ChangeisHappening!, said when she heard the GVC forum was canceled, she emailed Overpeck to see if he would be interested in still coming that day and presenting to her group. When he agreed, the group scrambled to publicize the event and secure a venue.

With such a prestigious speaker, the group has arranged to use the Desert Hills Social Center instead of its usually meeting space in the Joyner-Green Valley Library, Babcock said.

She said people who come will hear an engaging, accessible speaker who is passionate about explaining the topic.

“He's the Neil deGrasse Tyson of climate science,” she said, referencing the famous astrophysicist and science popularizer.

Overpeck, who does these type of public presentations between 10 and 20 times a year, said he will focus on the climate change science, recent events such as the droughts in California and the implications for the Southwest and especially Southern Arizona.

The hope is people who attend the presentation will leave with a better grasp of not only global change change, but also climate variability and how weather patterns such as El Niño can affect local conditions, he said.

“I want people to have an understanding of the science and what it means to them,” Overpeck said.

He said the presentation is informational only and he's not interested in telling people what to do or what policies to pursue. One of the reasons he agreed to present was because he was assured that it would not be a political event, he said.

Overpeck said he didn't know if the date of the presentation and the canceled forum was coincidence, but his impression from the invitation to speak was there were still people in the area who wanted to hear about the issue.

“I was eager to talk in the beginning and I'm eager to talk now about the science,” he said.

David Rookhuyzen | 547-9728

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