Polar bears in a greenhouse world

 Experts in diverse Arctic issues will be on the Grinnell College campus to weigh the impact of climate change on northern communities and environments.

 Grinnell College’s Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, International Relations, and Human Rights and the Environmental Studies Program will jointly sponsor the symposium on “Critical Issues for the Arctic,” Apr. 1-3 .  Symposium speakers will address the exacerbated effects of global warming and the adaptation of northern communities to conditions such as melting sea ice and the atmospheric transport of pollutants to the Arctic.  The symposium schedule includes:

  • Apr. 1, 4:15 p.m.: Nature writer Elizabeth Grossman, who traveled this winter through the Arctic on an ice breaker, will offer her observations of Arctic melting in “It’s All About the Ice: Climate Change and its Impact on Contaminants in the Arctic.”
  • Apr. 1, 8 p.m.: Scot Nickels, senior science adviser to the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (the national organization representing Inuit peoples across Canada), will describe the challenges that northern communities face in adapting to climate change.
  • Apr. 1, 9 p.m.: Ice Wall, an artistic work created by curator of academic and public outreach Tilly Woodward in collaboration with symposium participants (Rosenfield Courtyard)
  • Apr. 2, 4:15 p.m.:  Research scientist Donald Forbes will focus on coastal and marine issues in “Arctic Warming and Challenges for Northern Coastal Communities.” Forbes has been involved in research projects in the Canadian Arctic and Atlantic Provinces for more than a decade and was a lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
  • Apr. 2, 8 p.m.:  Nikita Ovsyanikov, senior research scientist at the Russian Academy of Sciences, will describe “The Future of Polar Bears in a Greenhouse World.”  Ovsyanikov has studied polar bears in the field since 1990 and consulted on several nature documentaries.
  • Apr. 3, 11 a.m.:  The Scholars’ Convocation will be presented by Justice Thomas Berger, formerly of the Supreme Court of British Columbia. Berger’s talk “The Arctic: Whose Country Is It?” will offer an historical perspective on the development of native rights and land claims based on his work in Alaska, the Northwest Territories, and most recently, Nunavut Territory. Berger is revered in Canada as a long-standing advocate of First Nation’s rights and for his role in the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline inquiry.
  • Apr. 3, 4:15 p.m.: William Shilts, chief of the Illinois State Geological Survey, will discuss the glacial history of northern Canada and implications for current and future ecosystems in “The Glacial and Periglacial Heritage of the Nunavut Landscape.”  Shilts was previously head of the environmental geochemistry section of the Geological Survey of Canada and is considered an expert on glacier deposits.
  • Apr. 3, 8 p.m.: Research scientist Jeff Chiarenzelli of St. Lawrence University will discuss environmental justice issues in “The Legacy of Formerly Used Defense Sites on St. Lawrence Island, Alaska.” His research in Alaska and Nunavut examines the atmospheric transport of pollutants to the Arctic.

All symposium events, which are free and open to the public, will be held in the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, Room 101, located at 1115 8th Ave. in Grinnell. 

The college adds: The greatest temperature increases resulting from global warming are recorded in the Arctic, so the Inuit people who have lived there for thousands of years will be the first forced to adapt to the changing environmental conditions with global implications.

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