Students, faculty and community members packed Pugh Auditorium for Dr. Carl Safina’s February 23 lecture on the state of the world’s oceans. Safina is a leader in science and policy regarding oceans and was a central voice in the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. He leads the Blue Ocean Institute, testifies before the U.S. Congress on fisheries issues, and lectures extensively across the country.
His career grew out of a childhood obsession. “I am a guy who likes to go fishing and that’s more or less who I’ve been from a very young age.” During graduate school, the Long Island, NY native pursued studies of terns. “They (terns) gave me a lot….In pursuit of terns and fish, I started realizing that the ocean was changing.”
Audience members left the auditorium ready for action. “One of my colleagues walked out and said ‘we’ve got work to do,’” Miles Silman, co-founder of the Center for Energy Environment and Sustainability (CEES) and associate biology professor, said. “And that’s really the point of the whole series. You have to see that there is an issue before you devote your time to fixing it.”
Safina’s lecture was just one of several introductions to environmental issues that the first-ever CEES Series hopes to provide. Through lectures and other activities such as a Meadow Restoration roundtable, Silman and the more than 60 members of CEES are trying to lay the groundwork for future action.
“Lecturers like Bill McKibben (who will speak in Wait Chapel on April 26) explain it how it is. We have this planet as it exists, not as we want it to exist. We need to work with what we have,” Silman said.
The lessons from the CEES Series are by no means directed solely at the university community. Strategies are in place to promote attendance by as many members of the wider Winston-Salem community as possible, as well as members of other universities.
“In a way we are saying ‘come to the table, here’s the playing field,’” Silman said. “These are the ideas that are shaping the movements in environment, energy and sustainability. We’ve set it up so that you are pretty much guaranteed to disagree with something we present.”
By Caitlin Brooks, Communications and Outreach Intern
Become part of the CEES Series, lookout for these great opportunities:
Meadow Management and Prairie Restoration Working Group, April 1, 9:00 a.m., Reynolda Gardens Green House:
The public is invited to participate in an examination and discussion of issues related to constructing and maintaining a Piedmont prairie, using the conversion of the historic Golf Links at Reynolda to a managed meadow as a case study. Speakers include representatives from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Piedmont Land Conservancy, NCDENR, Forsyth County Environmental Affairs, and Forsyth County Audubon Society. Free; registration requested, contact (336) 758-5593.
Bill McKibben, April 26, 6:30 p.m., Wait Chapel:
Bill McKibben is one of America’s best known environmentalists. As a bestselling author, he has written books that have shaped public perception and public action on climate change, alternative energy, and the need for more localized economies. He will discuss his latest book, Earth, and the impact of local farmers, gardeners, and food vendors on human health, the economy, society, and the environment.
Christine Todd Whitman, September 19, 7:00 p.m., Welcome Center Auditorium:
Christine Todd Whitman is an author who served as the 50th Governor of New Jersey. Whitman also served as the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under President George W. Bush in the aftermath of 9/11. Much of Whitman’s work with the EPA was focused on global warming research, drinking water standards, and air quality in New York City in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr., October 6, 7:00 p.m., Wait Chapel:
Mr. Kennedy is the Chief Prosecuting Attorney for the Hudson Riverkeeper and President of Waterkeeper Alliance. He was named one of Time’s “Heroes for the Planet” for his success helping Riverkeeper lead the fight to restore the Hudson River. Mr. Kennedy is a graduate of Harvard University and has a law degree from the University of Virginia Law School and a Masters Degree in Environmental Law from Pace University School of Law.