September 9, 2015

After climate change report, roundtable talks continue conversation

A year after the release of “Understanding and Assessing Climate Change: Implications for Nebraska,” a report authored by four UNL climate scientists, the conversation on climate change and how it will affect the state is just getting started.

“It’s important for the public to get engaged in the discussion about climate change, because it’s an urgent issue for this and future generations,” said Don Wilhite, professor and climatologist in UNL’s School of Natural Resources and one of the report authors. “And, many of our political leaders are not taking the need for action seriously.”

In response to growing public interest in climate change following the report’s release, Wilhite and Kim Morrow, climate change resource specialist, have organized a series of one-day roundtable discussions throughout September and October.

“The goal of these roundtable events is to begin the engagement process with key sectors around the state,” Wilhite said. “Actions must begin at the local level where the impacts are felt. Thus, we must engage a wide range of stakeholders.”

Attendees can expect to confront the issue of climate change from many diverse perspectives, Morrow said.

“The eight roundtables we are hosting will engage, for example, questions like: Will we have more wildfires in Nebraska, and are we prepared to fight them? How will our hospitals respond to increasing public health needs like asthma, allergies and heat exhaustion? How can our colleges and universities lower their carbon footprint? How can our public utilities continue to reduce their CO2 emissions and add more renewable energy,” she said.

The series begins at 7 p.m. Sept. 17 at the Sheridan Lutheran Church in Lincoln. Members of the public, faculty, staff and students are welcome to attend the four public plenary sessions listed below. More detailed information on these lectures is forthcoming.

The one-day stakeholder roundtable events are by invitation only.

For more information, go to, or contact Wilhite at or Morrow at

Event dates:

  • “Climate Change in Nebraska: What Does it Mean for our Faith Communities” (Lead organizer: Interfaith Power and Light.) Public plenary talk: 7 p.m. Sept. 17, speaker Kim Morrow. Roundtable: 9:30 a.m. Sept. 18, Sheridan Lutheran Church.

  • “Implications of Climate Change on Nebraska’s Urban and Rural Communities” (Lead organizers: Mayor’s Office, City of Lincoln; Rural Futures Institute.) Roundtable: 1 p.m. Sept. 22, Marriott Cornhusker Hotel This event will be in conjunction with the annual meeting of the League of Municipalities.

  • “Institutional Responses to Climate Change: Implications for College Campuses in Nebraska” (Lead organizers: UNL facilities, Prabhakar Shrestha, UNL Sustainability Coordinator.) Roundtable: 9 a.m. Oct. 1, Nebraska Union.

  • “Addressing the Impacts of Climate Change on Wildlife and Ecosystems in Nebraska” (Lead organizer: Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.) Public plenary talk: 7 p.m. Oct. 5, speaker Jeffrey Morisette, director of the North Central Climate Science Center, Hardin Hall auditorium. Roundtable: 9 a.m. Oct. 6, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

  • “Implications of Climate Change on Human Health” (Lead organizer: College of Public Health/UNMC.) Public plenary talk: 4 p.m. Oct. 6, speaker Ali Khan, dean, College of Public Health. Roundtable: 9 a.m. Oct. 7, UNMC College of Public Health.

  • “Implications of Climate Change on Nebraska’s Forests and Fire” (Lead organizer: Nebraska Forest Service.) Public plenary talk: 7 p.m. Oct. 13, speaker Linda Joyce, research scientist, U.S. Forest Service, Hardin Hall auditorium. Roundtable: Oct. 14, venue TBA.

  • “Implications of Climate Change on Nebraska’s Agriculture, Food and Water” (Lead organizers: Agricultural Research Division, Nebraska Extension and the Daugherty Water for Food Institute.) Roundtable: 8:30 a.m. Oct. 20, Nebraska Innovation Campus.

  • “Implications of Climate Change on Energy Availability, Use and Management in Nebraska” (Lead organizer: Nebraska Center for Energy Sciences Research, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.) Roundtable: 9 a.m. Oct. 22, East Union.

“Our goal is bring key stakeholders together to engage in productive, non-partisan, non-political discussions on the implications of climate change for our state,” Morrow said. “It’s important for the public to get involved because the solutions to climate change will not lie just with the policymakers or scientists. We need people from every sector in Nebraska to understand how climate change will impact them and to start getting prepared.”