Planet U conference brings human side to climate change

Despite the snowfall on Monday, students can expect the campus to feel greener the rest of the week.

The Environmental Council, the Office of Sustainability and the Environmental Change Institute are sponsoring “Planet U: The Human Story of Climate Change,” a three-day conference emphasizing the impact of climate change on humans and societies.

The event is being held at the Illini Union and Beckman Institute from Wednesday and Friday and will bring members from many different areas of academia to discuss their ongoing research on climate change.

Lisa Lucero and Gillen Wood, organizers for the event, said they hope that people will look at not only how climate change is affecting the world now, but at the consequences climate change has had on humans in the past.

“What type of lessons can we take from the past and apply them to new systems?” said Lucero said.

She said she hopes that people realize “we need long-term solutions instead of short-term ones; we need major cultural transformation to prevent a major collapse.”

Lucero said she will talk about how climate change has affected individuals living in cities instead of discussing facts and figures about the topic.

“Right now in the press we hear a lot about carbon dioxide emissions, but where’s the human side of the story?” she said.

Individuals who write on environmental issues will also be in attendance, including writers from The New York Times, Chicago Tribune and USA Today, to discuss how climate change information is disseminated by the media.

“How does the science requirement get translated into the public domain or not get translated?” Wood said.

He said he believes one of the major problems surrounding climate change is that the media predominantly covers the scientific data and public policy aspect of the issue.

Wood said one major goal of the conference is to “put a human shape, a human dimension to the threat of climate change.”

Tanvi Damani, junior in Engineering, said the conference is a good way to continue the dialogue on climate change.

“It is interesting in the sense that it is presenting environmental ideas from a different point of view,” she said.

Wood said he wants to encourage humanists and people who are not science-oriented to get involved in the area of climate change.

“I cannot contribute as a scientist, but I can bring historical perspective, on how people view their relationship with the natural world,” Wood said.