2015 Current Issue
is the Massachusetts Envirothon Current Issue?
Mass Envirothon Current Issue:
It’s not an exaggeration: climate change is the greatest environmental challenge humankind has ever faced. An overall warming of the Earth’s atmosphere and oceans, set in motion by human activity, particularly our burning of fossil hydrocarbons, is causing a host of changes that threaten our communities and the ecosystems we depend upon.
We are beginning to rise to the challenge, but the task is enormous. While there will be no “solving” this problem in our lifetimes, there are many, many ways to take positive action. There is much we can do that will brighten the future for ourselves and generations to come.
While the problems require a global response, there is an important role for every community. Massachusetts state government, municipalities, and citizen groups are already providing some leadership regionally.
We need to implement strategies BOTH to prevent accelerating climate change AND to adapt to a changing world. Both kinds of action are necessary. Many strategies can accomplish both.
What are the best strategies for natural resource management in an era of climate change? What infrastructure will be needed to protect communities? Science is turning its attention to these questions and is shedding new light every day, but changes are accelerating, and everything affects everything else. Fortunately, many conservation practices for soil and water, forests and agriculture, and biodiversity, are relevant to these changing conditions. And many green infrastructure technologies that we have known about for years are proving themselves in this new era. It’s time to apply them more widely!
Many strategies involve radical rethinking of our energy use. New developments in renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies can make a difference. But many aspects of our way of life are simply not sustainable at the lower level of energy consumption required to slow climate change. We need to consider how to live well with less. Many communities are developing new and creative ways to make the transition by building stronger, more resilient communities.
“Resilience” is a term often used in describing positive responses to climate change on the individual, species, community, and ecosystem levels. The term applies to people as well as nature. It is worth pondering the meanings of this term before it becomes overused!
Within human communities, there is growing talk of “climate justice”: How can we ensure that the pain caused by climate change does not fall disproportionately, affecting some more than others? How can we ensure fairness?
The challenges will be different across Massachusetts. To prepare for the 2015 Envirothon, teams will need to get out and investigate what is actually happening in their communities: What are likely to be the most significant problems this community will encounter? What ecosystem changes are expected? What ecosystem services and infrastructure are vulnerable? What kinds of action are recommended? What choices are being made, and what actions are being taken, both helpful and unhelpful? Who is involved? What does resilience and climate justice mean for this community? What are the questions and controversies? In what ways is the community coming together in a positive response?
Envirothon encourages teams to take these questions and run with them.
Many teams take what they learn in their current issue research and
apply it in a community action project. Any team that demonstrates high
research standards in their current issue work, or applies their Envirothon
learning in a service project, is eligible for an Envirothon Community
Resources to be added in the near future!
2015 Mass Envirothon Current Issue Materials
and Resources for Community Research (2015) updated Feb15
Charney, WEB Du Bois Libary, UMass
O’Shea, Global Warming Solutions Manager, Executive Office of
Energy and Environmental Affairs
Rao, Asst. Director for Water Policy, Executive Office of Energy and
Sustainability Manager, UMass Amherst
T Nesbitt, Boston College Physics Department & Climate Justice @
Assistant Professor, Department of Geosciences; Manager, Climate System
Presentations/Handouts from workshops in 2014
Charney, WEB Du Bois Libary, UMass
Farm to Cafeteria
Other Useful Resources