Caring for Creation Conference
Friday I went down to Macon (a bit over an hour away) for a conference at Mercer University titled Caring for Creation. It was "a scientific and theological response" to the subject of climate change.
I was a bit surprised overall at the casual atmosphere of the whole conference - I guess I'm too used to industry type conferences, whereas this was clearly aimed at the Mercer students. Check-in was a student writing down my name and not really knowing if I'd already paid or not, parking was free on the street, and our lunch ticket was evidently the fact that we had the green bags from the conference and looked too old to be students (students were supposed to swipe their ID for the meal). The speakers were all quite interesting. I wish I'd been able to clone myself to go to more of the talks.
At the first group plenary session, I was quite pleased to meet Amy, whose blog I read and get lots of good info on when to plant and harvest my garden. We each knew the other would be there, but not how to find each other. Because there were mostly students in attendance, it was easier, but I was still surprised that we connected even before the session started.
Amy posted a very nice synopsis of the conference sessions. I won't repeat it all (also because my notes weren't nearly so detailed), but note that I also initially found out about the conference from Sharon's blog - and the fact that Sharon would be speaking is the main reason I went. I really enjoyed both Sharon's talks and chatting with her a bit afterwards. She was just as interesting and entertaining in person as she is on her blog. And she seemed quite pleased that Amy and I had each come from over an hour away to hear her speak.
During the final break-out session, while Amy went to hear Farmer D, I went back to hear Judith Curry, who had spoken in the morning. She was going to be talking more about what climate change will mean for the Southeast. I must admit that I was a little disappointed - I didn't think that she added all that much new information over what she had presented in the morning. She discussed how we will see more extremes in temperature and rainfall - more flooding as well as more drought and more of our rain in big rainfall events rather than slow, gentle rains. She pointed out that even a fairly modest average temperature rise of 2 degrees F might lead to a maximum temperature for a specific area of 7F more. Dr. Curry also said that climate scientists knew that there was a reasonable probability of a flood in the Atlanta area a month before our recent flood and that there was a high probability a week in advance - but nothing was done to prepare the area or the residents.
Based on her comments, Dr. Curry had heard Sharon's plenary talk, where she told us that a very high percentage of climate researchers thought that it was very likely that the earth would warm by 4 degrees C by 2100. Dr. Curry heard this and did not seem to disagree with it (though all the information she presented was of a lower level of warming), but said that she didn't think she could go so far as to stop watching her big TV or traveling by air. If scientists in the field of climate research aren't willing to change their behavior, I worry how other people can be convinced to conserve and change.