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Monday, September 23, 2013
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Policy Expert to Speak on Arctic Climate Adaptation Strategies

By Guest Author, Verner Wilson, III, Yale F&ES '15

Many scientists note that the poles, including the Arctic, offer a preview of climate change’s expected global impacts. Studies indicate that temperature rises and climate change at the poles will be much faster and more dramatic compared with the rest of the world, giving us an ability to see the future.

Growing up in Alaska, I saw this first hand. My family and I have experienced hotter temperatures, watched as new invasive species infest our forests and deplete our salmon, and we know of entire villages eroding into the ocean because of lost sea-ice. We’ve already experienced the dramatic impacts of climate change.

When I was a high school student in 2002, I heard Fran Ulmer, then Alaska’s Lieutenant Governor, speak about climate change. While I did not fully understand many of the issues she raised during her speech, I was struck by the eloquence, deep passion, and care she had for Alaska and the Arctic.

Eleven years later, as a first-year Masters of Environmental Management candidate at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies – and someone who is also deeply concerned about the Arctic – I am pleased to introduce her as she comes to Yale to share her insight into US government research on Arctic climate change adaptation and mitigation.

Her speech, titled “What Happens in the Arctic Doesn’t Stay in the Arctic,” will take place Tuesday, September 24 from 6:00 – 7:00 PM in Kroon Hall’s Burke Auditorium.

Ms. Ulmer is now the chair of the US Arctic Research Commission, a body that Congress created to help government agencies direct research funding and management efforts to answer questions about the mysterious Arctic. Her impressive resume includes serving in numerous elected positions, as President Obama’s appointee to the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, and as chancellor of the University of Alaska.

Fran Ulmer’s talk launches the fall speaker series From Mitigation to Adaptation: Regional Responses to Climate Changeco-hosted by the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy and the Yale Climate and Energy Institute.Other speakers include Professor Maxine Burkett of the University of Hawaii, an expert in Pacific island adaptation and relocation (October 17), William Hohenstein, Director of the Climate Change Program Office for US Department of Agriculture (October 29), and Rohit Aggarwala, former director of long-term planning and sustainability for New York City and currently special advisor to Michael Bloomberg in his role as chair of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group.  To learn more about the series, please visit http://envirocenter.yale.edu/events.

Verner Wilson, III, is a first-year Master of Environmental Management candidate at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. He is originally from Bristol Bay, Alaska, and obtained a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies in 2008 from Brown University. He previously worked for the World Wildlife Fund, as well as a coalition of Alaska Native tribes, on issues related to sustainable wild salmon fisheries, environmental justice, mining, oil and gas, and climate change.

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