world 2060  

Western Michigan University

Center for the Humanities

Climate Change Work Group

  Speakers Bureau  






About Us


Members of the WMU Climate Change Work Group are willing to give talks to educational, religious, and community groups about a wide variety of issues related to climate change.

Contact the scientists and scholars below to find out about availability and scheduling.

Global, National, and Regional Climate Change: Past Present and Future


This talk will summarize climate change over the past 100 years, how current change differs from historical climate cycles, provide consensus predictions are about regional, national, and global climate change during the rest of this century, and explain how future climate change depends on choices we're making today. Version of this talk.  

David Karowe
Professor of Biological Sciences
(269) 387-5630


Effects of Climate Change on Non-human Species


This talk would focus on the major global ecological consequences of future climate change, including effects on forests, lakes and rivers, mountain habitats, tundra, and oceans (including coral reefs). Effects on Michigan forests and birds could also be included.  



Effects of Climate Change on the Great Lakes Region


This talk would summarize effects of future climate change on the Great Lakes Region, including effects on Great Lakes ecosystems and regional human health. It could also include a section about solutions, especially solar and wind. PDF of slides.  



Effects of Climate Change on Human Health


This talk would summarize effects of future climate change on human health, including increased heat and reduced cold stress, increased malnutrition, altered incidence of diseases such as malaria, altered air quality, and increased probability of armed conflict. It could also include a section about solutions, especially solar and wind.  



Effects of Climate Change on Africa


This talk would summarize effects of future climate change on Africa, including effects on ecosystems and human health. It could also include a section about solutions, especially solar and wind.  



The Ethics and Politics of Climate Change


The presentation describes responses to climate change based on the two main traditions in Western ethical thought and how the politics of climate change is failing to promote even minimally adequate policies.  

Paul Clements
Professor of Political Science
(269) 387-5669

The Economics of Climate Change


What would it cost to reduce greenhouse gas emissions enough to keep the warming of our planet to two degrees Celsuis, the current consensus target, and to take the steps needed to address the greatest harms from and to adapt to climate change? How can these funds be raised, and what institutions are needed to allocate them appropriately?  


The Social Consequences of Climate Change


Global warming results in a wide range of social, economic and political harms to human communities. The rise in sea levels, extreme heat and chronic droughts will lead to drastic reductions in freshwater and the food supply, increasing famine and mass migrations. Movement of people seeking water, food and escape may fuel violent conflicts and generate political crises.  

Ron Kramer
Professor of Sociology
(269) 387-5284


The Social Organization of Climate Change Denial


Global warming denial efforts carried out by conservative think tanks, funded by the fossil fuel industry have corrupted science at the public’s expense. The global warming denial counter-movement has taken this effort to a new level in its attempt to influence the U.S. dialogue on climate science and policy. I will also analyze the effects that cultural cognition and everyday emotions also have on the denial of climate change.  



Climate Change and Emerging Infectious Disease


Water-borne infectious diseases, such as cholera, will increase with flooding; Vector-borne infectious diseases, such as malaria, will have altered ranges. This talk will explore some of the pathogenic shifts that are expected to occur and how they will influence human populations.  

Kathryn Docherty
Professor of Biology
(269) 387-5654


Current State of Climate Change Predictive Models


This talk will introduce the types of things included in climate models discussed in the IPCC 2007 report. I will point out several areas where microbial parameters are unknown, and could potentially exacerbate or mediate the prediction.  



Legal and Regulatory Climate Change Frameworks in the U.S.


Summarizes the public nuisance history of legal action leading up to the Supreme Court Case Massachusetts v Environmental Protection Agency (2007) and explains the current use of the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gases.  

Denise Keele
Professor of Political Science
(269) 387-5686


International Climate Change Policy Frameworks


Summarizes the international treaty negotiated at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janiero, the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, and other recent Conferences of the Parties progress in dealing with climate change.  



The Geological Record of Climate Change: Is Modern Climate Change Unique in Earth History?


The presentation first addresses the fundamental factors that control climate on Earth. Next is a review of methods used and results of studies establishing cause and effect of climate change through "deep" geological time (hundreds of MILLIONS of years). This much less precise record is then compared to the better constrained, recent geological record (still pre-human; hundreds of thousands of years and much more pertinent to modern climate systems). The recent geological record of pre-human climate change is then compared to the cause and effect of climate change in the last one hundred (or so) years and demonstrates the unique aspects of climate change that is now occurring.  

Dave Barnes
Professor of Geology
(269) 387-5493


The Dance of the 3 "E's": Energy Security, Environmental Stewardship
(CO2 Emissions Mitigation) and Economic Imperatives


A presentation on Current Energy Systems and the undeniable dependance on fossil fuels in our (College students, not an old geezer like me) life-time, the fundamental importance of Energy in Modern Societies and the interplay between Energy Security, Environmental Stewardship (CO2 emissions mitigation strategies), and the 800 pound gorilla, "the Economy".  



Energy for the Transportation Sector


This presentation will discuss the potential of different energy sources with particular focus on the demands for and sources of energy used for transportation.  

Steve Bertman
Professor of Chemistry
(269) 387-2866


Controlling Greenhouse Gas Emissions at Western Michigan University


In compliance with the requirements of the ACUPCC (American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment), WMU has developed its first Climate Action Plan. This plan is a methodology and timetable for achieving climate neutrality in campus operations by the year 2065. In this talk I will present the details of this plan at a level appropriate to the audience, potentially including the process used in developing it and getting it approved. (Can also add material on actions individual students can take.)  

Paul Pancella
Professor of Physics
(269) 387-4962


Electrification of Personal Transportation


For households in the US, the largest and most direct impact on climate change is fuel we purchase and burn in our cars and light trucks. Every gallon of gasoline burned produces 19.6 pounds of carbon dioxide, routinely dumped into the atmosphere. The internal combustion engine is a mature and well-refined technology, with vast supporting infrastructure built in to modern society, but we need viable alternatives. In this talk, I will present evidence that battery-electric vehicles may be the best alternative in the near term. We will examine currently available technology, its advantages and limitations. This talk could obviously be related to/coordinated with Steve Bertman's more general talk above.  



Converting an Old car to Electric Power


A talk on how I converted one old car to full battery-electric power in my garage. Other environmental benefits include the re-use of most of a machine that would otherwise be headed for a junk yard or metal re-processing. Subtopics may include: the history of EV conversions, the present state of the converter community, the specific choices to be made to balance performance, cost, and difficulty of the conversion, big-picture economic factors, the experience of driving and maintaining a converted EV, etc.  



Adding Nutrients to Landfill Cover Soils to Stimulate Methane Oxidizing Bacteria


Methane and nitrous oxide can be emitted from landfill cover soils due to lateral migration of these gases from the mass of solid waste even if the fill is capped properly. A two and one-half year field study of nutrient addition to cover soils at a landfill in Kalamazoo, MI has shown that it is feasible to use nutrient addition and a selective inhibitor to minimize methane emissions without increasing nitrous oxide emissions.  

Michael Barcelona
Professor of Chemistry
(269) 387-2837