Creating a Community -- UW Focuses on the Science of and Solutions to Global Warming

The activity inside the Husky Union Building on January 31, 2008 focused students and the broad UW community on climate science and solutions from the perspective of social movements, values, choices, basic science, technology, economics, policy, and more. Exhibitors showed what they are doing as organizations, what information they have to share, and how each person can help solve the climate problem. A highlight was the Undrivers’ License issued by Sustainable Ballard, complete with a photo (see Grist article “Undriving Miss Daisy”

Between 500 and 1000 students, including those whose classes were cancelled so they could attend, faculty, staff, community members, alumni, and more, came together to participate in the UW Focus the Nation daytime activities. A similar number attended the evening Town Hall discussion with local politicians. All traveled to UW, but not by plane; this was an important consideration, minimizing the carbon footprint of the days’ events, but also emphasizing the expertise in climate science and solutions that exist at UW, in the local government and in the community groups and businesses in the Seattle area. All brought their expertise and energy to bear on the event that created a community learning about or sharing their knowledge of climate change.

What some had to say about the event:
“I believe that the Focus on the Nation Global Warming Solutions for America presentations and panels at the University of Washington were an outstanding success. The presenters were extremely well-informed and the topical discussions were comprehensive and informative. The evening Town Hall discussion on Political Solutions to Climate Change with Steve Scher (NPR), King County Executive Ron Sims, Mayor Greg Nickels, and State Senator Phil Rockefeller provided valuable insights into future climate change challenges and real-life solutions at the city, county, and state level. I was greatly impressed with the level of forward-thinking planning, leadership and cooperation demonstrated by our local leaders. The questions from many of the students in the audience were thought provoking, insightful and hopeful. I look forward to more efforts in the future by the University of Washington to provide a public forum in which discussions of significant scientific and political issues of our time can be discussed and debated in an open constructive manner. My sincere thanks go to LuAnne Thompson and her colleagues for organizing this unique event at the University.”

-Richard A. Feely
Supervisory Oceanographer
Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

“I was pleased to talk to so many concerned citizens and bright future scientists. People who visited the exhibits wanted to be informed so they could take action.”

-Cecilia Bitz, Associate Professor of Atmospheric Sciences, Exhibitor

"The range of talks and discussion was truly impressive. I thought the morning sessions with Tom Ackerman and David Domke set the stage perfectly: finding solutions is about the science, yes, but just as much about effective communication. The Climate Action Cafe was a great touch. Hats off to the organizers for pulling the event -- and all of us -- together!"

- David Atcheson, Co-Chair Hazel Wolf Environmental Film Festival

“…many congratulations on a really successful day! I had a wonderful time being a small part of it; the energy was really great, a much-needed boost for me personally.”

-Linda Maxson
Director of Development & Community Relations, College of Ocean & Fishery Sciences

“You did a spectacular job of organizing a true day of learning yesterday. I partook of only a small fraction, but what I saw and heard was another Earth Day!”

-Phyllis Wise
Provost, University of Washington
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