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Third Annual Global Climate Change Conference

This year’s climate change conference, hosted by Loyola’s Institute for Environmental Sustainability (IES), is said to be promising. Global Climate Change: Challenges and Economic Solutions is this year’s theme. The conference will have a new perspective on climate change that is more than just the usual combustion of fossil fuels and greenhouse gases. With an emphasis on the economy, there will be economists to talk about the challenges of climate change and the economy. There will also be faculty from diverse departments of the University speaking at the event to share unique ideas and solutions about climate change.

Naomi Klein, the event’s keynote speaker, is scheduled to speak at 7 p.m. on March 17. Klein is the bestselling author of two critically acclaimed books: The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism and This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate. Klein is expected to discuss the problems of capitalism and how free trade and globalization have accelerated climate change and the emission of greenhouse gases.

The plenary session at the conference is titled “Can We Switch to a Green Economy?” Klein will talk about the relation of the economy to the increasing rate of climate change and how our global world is expanding the production of greenhouse gases. These developments have increased the amount of waste of natural resources and greenhouse gases  in the world on a global scale.  

IES Director Nancy Tuchman said Klein brings a unique perspective of climate change to the conference, which combines the economy and its relation to carbon emissions.

“It’s a little frightening to people that really want to see the economy grow,” said Tuchman. “Her finding threatened that model of growth and so it brings up a lot of very interesting topics for discussion, especially among economists.”

The IES Communication Coordinator, Shanna Yetman, also thinks that Klein brings an important aspect to the conference.

“I think that Naomi Klein is the reason that we framed the conference to be more about economics this year,” said IES Communications Coordinator Shanna Yetman. “She has really put a call to action about how we need to change, and we need to change quickly and we need to change to a more sustainable economy. And really, that [is the] message we have taken throughout the entire conference.”

Klein’s call to action is to find a solution to have a more sustainable economy. In the plenary session there will be economists who will respond to Klein’s ideas of how to create a more sustainable economy and stop climate change as well.

Several students are also curious to hear what Klein has to say on the topic, such as Ellen Gutoske, a first-year international studies and sociology double major.

“I’m really looking forward to Naomi Klein’s talk about capitalism and climate change. I’m interested to see how that affects different groups of people based on their income. It is such an important topic, and I’m glad Loyola is doing this.”

Another student, Tessie McDermott, is also looking forward to hear Klein speak. Klein has gone and visited the Pope and talked with him about climate change. She has also provided the Vatican with advice on how they can support activities to lessen climate change.

“I’m interested in what Naomi has to say about how the Pope invited her to be on a climate change  committee. To be working with the Pope would be pretty cool, especially because Pope Francis is pretty cool,” said McDermott, a first-year environmental science major.  

Yetman also talked about the different organizations that are involved in the conference this year. This year they are adding more elements to the conference than previous years. The Department of Fine [and Performing] Arts is going to do a presentation on climate change. This year the Quinlan School of Business was also on the programming committee as this year’s focus is more on economics. Having more departments involved in the conference brings in a broader audience with more diverse perspectives on climate change.  

Another event at the conference is the biodiesel workshop on Saturday.

“This free workshop is paid for through an EPA grant and will focus on how high schools and colleges can develop biodiesel projects in various forms (student-run business like Loyola, class project, after school club). We will also have a panel of local industry folks (traders, grease hauler, RIN specialist) in the afternoon talking about the biodiesel industry beyond the educational setting,” said Zach Waickman the manger of IES’ biodiesel lab.

Emily Miller, a first-year criminal justice and psychology double major, who is performing at the event with the Loyola University Chorale said she hopes to help bring about a change with their performance, which is based around the environment. She said the choir has worked on emphasizing important words such as “scorched Earth cries out in vain” to convey the importance of the seriousness of climate change.

“This phrase will hopefully stand out to the spectators because I think it embodies what is happening to our planet while many of its inhabitants choose to ignore the obvious effects of global warming,” said Miller. “I hope that our performance will appeal to the emotions of those who attend.”

Students can register at http://www.luc.edu/sustainability/initiatives/climatechange/2016conference/. Tickets are $5 for Loyola students and registration is open until the time of the event.

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