MAXWELL MARSHALL — How can we adapt to something we don’t want to admit is coming?
“Let me first start by apologizing for not knowing what I’m doing,” jokingly began Dr. Joe Reczek at his seminar on “Productive Changes for a Changing Climate” on February 4.
In his seminar, Dr. Joe — as his beloved students refer to him over in Ebaugh — offered an analysis of the ways in which society has (and hasn’t) come to accept climate change as a serious issue, while offering behavioral changes that we as students can implement to address our planet’s changing temperatures.
Dr. Joe’s model does not focus on preventing climate change. He argues that we are well beyond that being a possibility. Rather, he suggests we should anticipate and adapt to what’s coming, such as rising temperatures, loss of coastal land due to rising sea levels and changes in sustainable energy and technology. Being situated in central Ohio, he notes that we here at Denison won’t bear the brunt of these changes, but other areas of the world will not be as lucky.
During the seminar, Dr. Joe explored the nature of society’s changing views on climate change. Citing several statistical studies, he stated that more people in America now acknowledge that climate change is happening, which is reassuring if overdue. This does not strictly imply, however, that nearly as many consider it to be a serious issue that is in need of immediate action.
Additionally, Dr. Joe also shared how these issues have and will be addressed politically, noting that support for wide-reaching environmental policy has increased in recent years among Democrats, but not among Republicans. He posited that this can be explained due to some voters being less likely to trust and support the sources that push for environmental change: namely scientists and scientific institutions.
Regardless of political support, Dr. Joe argued that change must come soon so to prevent dire consequences later. He hopes to receive help from those in the social sciences to help push society to be proactive about preventing further harm to the environment. He spoke much of behavioral economics, which uses psychology to study how people make purchasing decisions.
Dr. Joe noted that it took roughly 100 years to bring recycling to the level of social expectation it holds now; changes to reduce our carbon dioxide emissions simply cannot take that long.
Dr. Joe ended his seminar with hopes of creating a Denison think tank on climate issues. This would be open for the Denison community to convene and discuss productive change to benefit the environment. Any and all students interested are encouraged to reach out to him at [email protected]