Hosted by professor Janet Hoffmann, Times Talk at GC is a weekly affair that’s seen over 13,000 participants take part in over 390 unique discussions and debates. Last week, Melanie Devore, professor of biological and environmental sciences at GC, spoke about climate change.
“If we want to talk about an issue right now that impacts everyone in one way, shape or form and can be connected with every single issue that would be covered in a Times Talk, it’s climate change,” Devore said.
Devore’s Times Talk concerned an report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which emphasized the urgency of global warming. Various regions around the world are experiencing a flurry of forest fires, droughts, floods and heat waves as a result of global warming.
According to the report, which examined more than 6,000 studies, the world is currently experiencing 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (1.0 degrees Celsius) of global warming. The report states the effects of climate change will intensify if warming rises to 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 degrees Celsius), a mark that could be reached in as few as 11 years.
Devore said countries around the world will have to purposefully pursue solutions if they want to prevent the Earth from warming further.
“It’s urgent because if we want to do this change and keep it below 1.5 [Celsius], you have to immediately start now,” Devore said. “You have to come up with innovations, and it’s going to take cooperation across geopolitical boundaries for these kinds of changes to occur. But I never bet against people.”
Doug Oetter, professor of geography, said he believes it’s only a matter time before the world begins to ensure the environmental safety of current and future generations.
“Just like your personal health, think about bad habits,” Oetter said. “How many heart attacks did it take for you to start exercising and eating right? So, that’s kind of where we’re comparable.”
As climate change has worsened, American coastlines have felt the force of global warming.
“We’re already seeing a sea-level rise,” Oetter said. “It’s not just because the ice in Antarctica and Greenland is melting; it’s also because the ocean is expanding thermally as it warms up. So we’re seeing flooding in Miami, we’re seeing flooding in Los Angeles.”
Hurricane Michael made a statement when it made landfall in Georgia in 2018, proving that even the Peach State isn’t immune from the effects of climate change.
“For our state, it was the size and intensity of hurricanes,” Devore said. “So basically, billions of dollars of damage was done to our state. The cotton crop got nailed, [and] pecans got nailed. It’s going to take about seven years for those trees to ever be replanted and produce crops again.”
Devore encouraged students to influence climate change with the power of the vote.
“Basically, build the consensus that if [someone] wants to be elected, you need to address this [climate change],” Devore said.
Originally held in the basement in Beeson Hall in Fall 2005, GC’s Times Talk program has been duplicated by colleges and universities across the country. With a new topic and a selection of free pizza each week, Hoffmann credits the success of the program to faculty, staff and students.
“Times Talk will thrive at GC as long as people like to gather for informed conversation about what matters locally and globally–and eat pizza,” Hoffmann said.
Photo by Alex Bradley | Staff Photographer