KHSU, Arcata Main Street Bring Climate Science to the Public

April, 2017


The weather voiced its opinion in rainy gusts as people gathered to hear about a topic for which the forecast is not so easily observed: the climate. On February 15, Humboldt State University College of Natural Resources & Sciences Dean Richard D. Boone delivered a lecture titled, “Climate Change: Facts, Fiction, and Forecasts” as part of KHSU’s My Favorite Lecture series.

The series is in collaboration with Arcata Main Street and is held in the Plaza Grill’s Plaza View Room. Arcata Main Street is a non-profit organization that facilitates outreach and events aligned with the interests of the people of Arcata as well as working to cultivate healthy relationships between local businesses and the community that they serve.

Mike Dronkers is KHSU’s Digital Communication specialist and also the host of My Favorite Lecture series. 

“An interdisciplinary nerd party. That’s our sort of unofficial mission statement,” said Dronkers of the lecture series. A portion of Humboldt State University’s official vision statement mentions partnering with surrounding communities; Dronkers sees KHSU’s My Favorite Lecture series as an attempt to make this happen.

My Favorite Lecture series provides a space for Humboldt State University (HSU) instructors and academics to speak about their most preferred and favorite topics. Premiering in Fall 2016, the series contains about three lectures per HSU semester, with each semester adding up to one season. The included content varies widely depending on the speaker, with topics as diverse as witchcraft and the looting of cultural art.

As the Arcata Plaza’s iconic trees whipped in the evening storm outside, Boone’s lecture sent My Favorite Lecture series into its second season. Nearly every seat in the lecture venue was filled with audience members awaiting Boone’s deliverance on the facts of climate change.

Arcata resident Alec Howard heard about the event through Arcata Main Street’s Facebook page.

“I think that a lot of us are long beyond the point of needing to be informed about the simple facts surrounding climate change,” Howard said. “Our conversations about climate change need to be more imaginative and inclusive dialogues that focus on solutions, as opposed to the facts about what will happen. I also think that we are really lucky to have someone join HSU who is well-informed and passionate about climate change.”

Boone’s lecture was set up in a way that any attendee could appreciate: 10 facts about climate change. One of Boone’s many specializations is in Arctic science and after having lived in Alaska for more than 20 years, climate change has been on his radar for a while. “For Alaskans, climate change is not a theory, it’s not a hoax; it’s a reality,” Boone said in his lecture.

The 10 facts in the lecture included concepts that were simple, such as number one: “The earth is warming.” It also included concepts that were a more difficult to grasp, such as number six: “Most of the warming and energy gain is not in the atmosphere.” The mix of concepts helped to solidfy climate change.

Maria Tonn, HSU graduate of the religious studies major and geography and political science minors, feels that there is always more to learn when it comes to the idea of climate change.

“Once I realized that climate change was real and that I wanted to do something about it, I didn’t keep researching it, which is why I think I came tonight,” Tonn said. “I’ve been to one or two of these, and thought this one would be great because I don’t get any new information about climate change. I just get, ‘Oh, it’s a hoax!’ or, ‘Oh, it’s not a hoax!’ I don’t get actual scientific debate that’s based in any sort of reality.”

One of the biggest takeaways Boone left his audience with after his presentation was the idea of hope and shared values in the face of the difficult discussions climate change tends to create in our world.

“I keep coming back to the shared values idea. If we have a shared value of, say, our children, even if I don’t agree with somebody on something we can understand that we both value our children and then we can go from there. Or maybe we both value clean air and we can go from there,” Tonn said after the event.

Subject categories: