The 24th Annual Rachel Carson Forum: Responding to Climate Change in the Pacific Northwest

By Kelly Beach, 1st Year Student and MESA Coordinator.

The 24th Annual Rachel Carson Forum came in the middle of a flurry of spring activity. Taking place during Earth Week, RCF was sandwiched in-between TedX, EarthFest, MES Admitted Students day, ArtsWalk, and the Procession of the Species. With so many things going on, RCF turned out to be the perfect mid-week event to tie the week together, and was a huge success. MES students, undergraduate Greeners, professors, alumni, prospective MES students, and community members were all in attendance to make this year’s Rachel Carson Forum one to remember for years to come!

Speakers for the Rachel Carson Forum with MESA members and MES director Martha Henderson before the event

Speakers for the Rachel Carson Forum with MESA members and MES director Martha Henderson before the event

The day started off a little crazily with rain and some high winds, but we, the MESA coordinators were not about to let that slow us down. Bethany Alender, Lauren Taylor, and I had been planning this event for what felt like decades but was actually seven months. We, along with a handful of dedicated volunteers, were trying all year to make the 2014 forum the best yet. With a line up of great speakers and an opening hour of live music, we were all really excited to see all of our hard work come together on April 24th.

The preparation for the big day started at 9am when we put out the giant green S and A board signs in front of the library, reminding people that this glorious event was taking place at 6pm that day. The real set up began at 3pm when a crew of MES volunteers arranged all of the chairs in Library 4300. Before we knew it local bluegrass group the Oly Mountain Boys were jamming and audience members started to arrive and browse the tabling by community groups such as the Sustainability in Prisons Project and the Center for Natural Lands Management.

By the time the speakers started to talk, there were 140 people seated in the room who had come to hear about how the Pacific Northwest is responding to climate change. Program director Martha Henderson kicked off the event by giving an introduction to MES’s historic event and reminding us of the impact of Rachel Carson’s legacy. She then introduced Rhys Roth of the Evergreen Center for Sustainable Infrastructure, who moderated the event and framed the importance of understanding climate change and sustainability. NOAA senior scientist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Richard Feely was the first speaker, and began by framing the problem of ocean acidification on both a global and local scale. Next, Mr. Andy Haub, a city planner for the city of Olympia demonstrated the threat of sea level rise to Olympia, and proposed actions that the city will take to deal with this issue. Ms. Thera Black of the Thurston County Regional Planning Council challenged the audience to think critically about transportation and housing choices in relation to reducing our carbon footprint. The forum wrapped up with a dynamic question and answer panel discussion, where important, challenging questions were asked by audience members to the speakers.

NOAA Senior Scientist Dr. Richard Feely explains ocean acidification's impact in the Puget Sound region

NOAA Senior Scientist Dr. Richard Feely explains ocean acidification’s impact in the Puget Sound region

Overall the 24th Rachel Carson Forum was a huge success. This is illustrated best by a report that a student who was seated on the bus, ready to go home, stood up and got off of the bus and headed to the forum because said he knew he would regret missing out on this amazing opportunity. Well anonymous bus-rider, we are sincerely glad you came to our event. Thank you to all of the volunteers who made this event possible, the speakers, and to all of the people who supported us, especially Martha Henderson, Kevin Francis, Erin Martin, and Gail Wootan, and finally to the Evergreen and Olympia community for making the 24th Rachel Carson another huge success!

MES Coordinators Bethany Alender, Lauren Taylor, and Kelly Beach

MES Coordinators Bethany Alender, Lauren Taylor, and Kelly Beach

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