Todd Lecture Series: National Security Implications of Climate Change


Norwich University will be hosting Gen (RET) Gordon R. Sullivan, former chief of staff of the US Army, for an installment of the Todd Lecture Series entitled National Security Implications of Climate Change.

The lecture will take place on February 5, 2015, at 7:00 p.m. in Plumley Armory. The lecture will be hosted by the College of National Services.

I’m a big fan of this lecture series, and General Sullivan is an excellent speaker: this will be a really interesting talk.


Vermont Climate Change Assessment

A panel of experts recently released a report that examined the impact of climate change in Vermont. Their predictions? Longer summers, higher precipitation, and the potential for additional major disasters such as what happened with Tropical Storm Irene.

Climate change is no longer a thing of the future; it is affecting Vermont today. The Vermont Climate Assessment (VCA) presents information to help prepare for the impacts and opportunities from Vermont’s fast-changing climate—while noting the potential costs of inaction.
The Vermont Climate Assessment is the nation’s first state-level climate assessment providing data similar to the National Climate Assessment.

Who are the authors?

Dr. Gillian Galford, a climate scientist and professor at the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics within the Rubenstein School for Environment and Natural Resources, University of Vermont, is the lead author. Each chapter had one or two graduate students as writers, including: Sam Carlson, Sarah Ford, Ann Hoogenboom, Julie Nash, Elizabeth Palchak, Sarah Pears, Kristen Underwood and Daniel Baker. Bryne Hadnott, UVM research specialist, contributed to analysis of Vermont’s climate data. Dr. Alan Betts, from Atmospheric Research, contributed to climate data analysis and writing of the full report. Additional authors are noted in individual chapters.

Go take a look at the website that’s been set up here. You can also follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

Vermont Edition: What Climate Change Means To Vermont

Today’s Vermont Edition looks at the recent climate report issued by the White House:

Our region has seen more heavy rains and floods over the last five decades. Now, the new National Climate Assessment, released this week by the White House, warns of more dire weather patterns.

More flooding, more heat, more air pollution and more damage to aging transportation infrastructure are just a few of the bleak predictions about how climate change will affect the Northeast and New England.

Representatives of 350VTCitizens Climate Lobby-Burlington and Sierra Club Vermontprovide their assessment of the report.  And they’ll discuss what can be done in Vermont to positively affect climate change.

Listen today at Noon and at 7pm. Post comments here.


Flooding & Disaster

We’ve been pretty quiet the past couple of days here on the blog: it’s a busy time of the year for me, and what with the flooding, road closures and general upheaval in the state, we’ve dropped some of our usual features in the interests of road and traveller safety. If you’re interested in seeing what is going on in the meantime, check back on one of our earlier posts about where we look: colleges, game stores, and so forth are still holding events: just be careful out there, especially as we face a second round of rain storms.

The flooding has put into perspective a number of things that are both speculative and non-fictional. Over the past couple of days, I’ve seen a lot of talk about how this is a portent of things to come: that climate change is a certain factor in the flooding. I don’t think that this is the case. Statistically, we can expect floods of certain magnitudes to hit every century, half-century, decade and yearly. This flood certainly falls into that category, and even fits with what we saw back in 1927: a tropical storm that wandered up to the state and dumped quite a bit of rain on our fair state.

That being said, is global climate change a factor? Most likely, if anything, in the increased potential for stronger hurricane seasons as the planet’s oceans warm up: however, these are trends that are hard to predict, realtime, and like the determination of recession in the country, we can likely make that determination with more certainty. However, it does make for very good evidence of the damage that storms can bring as a result of warmer temperatures, and the entire range of consequences that that has on our lives.

If this is a signal for things to come, it’s a strong demonstration that our state, despite the longer winters, will be affected, and that the effects will have larger consequences: roads and towns wiped off the maps, our agriculture drowned under rapidly rising and shifting rivers, and a financial burden that will make life harder for everyone.

But, it also brought out the best in our state: the outpouring of relief aid from fellow Vermonters, the help and assistance that people provided for their neighbors and the strength that Vermont has shown brings me much hope for the future. The roads and towns of Vermont might be broken, but not the people.

Geek Things for June 22nd

  • Historic Tours, 9AM–5PM, Wilson Castle, Proctor. $10. (Castles)
  • Casting Call – Loyal’s House of Blood Production seeks actors and camera crews for two micro-budget movies, I Monster and Forest of Lost Souls. 5–6:30PM, VCAM Studio, Burlington. Free. (Acting)
  • RPG Game Club, 3–5PM, Fletcher Free Library, Burlington. Free. (Teens)
  • Summer Reading Club, 1PM, Rutland Free Library, Rutland. Free. (Teens)
  • Bob Belenky – “Paradise Lost: Memories of Jewish Agricultural Settlements and Collective Farms in Ukraine and Crimea, 1921-1945: An Interview Study,” 7PM, Jaquith Public Library, Marshfield. Free. (History)
  • Winooski River Sojourn Dinner – “Impacts of Climate Change on the Champlain Valley.” Dinner, 6 p.m.; talk, 7 p.m. Wesley United Methodist Church, Waterbury. $5 for talk; $12-22 for dinner and talk; free for kids under 10. (Climate Change)
  • Yestermorrow Summer Lecture Series – “Integrative Design: The Key to Cost-Effective Green Buildings.” 7–9PM, Yestermorrow Design/Build School, Waitsfield. Free. (Architecture)
  • Magic Booster Draft – $12, 6pm – 11pm, Quarterstaff Games, Burlington. (Gaming)
  • Learn About Our New NOOK Simple Touch, 5:00 PM, Barnes and Noble, South Burlington. (eReaders)
  • Author Appearance: Neil Gaiman, 7:30pm, Portsmouth, NH (Authors)
  • Dark Side Reading Group – The Devil’s Rooming House:The True Story of America’s Deadliest Female Serial Killer, by M. William Phelps, 1pm, Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center. (Books)
  • Community of Observers, 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm, Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium, St. Johnsbury. (Science)
  • Naruto, 4:30pm – 8:00pm, The Gamer’s Grotto, Bennington. (Gaming)
  • Wednesday Night Board gaming at Triple Play, 6:00pm – 10:30pm, Triple Play, Lebanon, New Hampshire. (Gaming)
  • D&D Encounter, 6:00pm – 8:30pm, The Gamers Grotto, Bennington. (Gaming)

Vermont in a Post-Oil World


Seven Days has an excellent read covering a local event at the Kellogg-Hubbard Library, put on by Transition Town Montpelier, a movement that’s looking to prepare the community for hard times ahead. It’s a very speculative ideal, a future that seems like it could be right out of a Paolo Bacigalupi novel. It’s one of a small number of groups that’s looking to what comes ahead, and trying to plan accordingly.

The idea underlying a Transition Town is that, currently, communities are not prepared to weather a major climate disaster or energy crisis. Much of what we consume is made with oil or requires oil to get to us. We rely heavily on imports, because local economies provide only a sliver of what we need to survive.

As crude oil prices climb and increasingly extreme weather events wreak havoc around the world, some communities are seeking ways to deal with what they consider inevitable changes. If oil becomes so scarce that it’s prohibitively expensive or disappears altogether, how will we carry on?

Transition Initiatives help people prepare for and adapt to a future beyond fossil fuels through the two pillars of transition philosophy: relocalizing and reskilling. The movement’s devotees reason that, by producing some or much of what we need in our own communities — food, clothing, medicine, building materials — we will be able to withstand severe climate, energy and economic shock while actually improving our quality of life.

It’s a very, very interesting read, and you can read the rest of it here. Want more information? Visit their website.

Geek Things for February 18th

  • ‘Name That Movie!’, 5–6PM, The CinéClub, Savoy Theater, Montpelier. $5. (Movies)
  • Comics Club, 3:30–5PM, Kellogg-Hubbard Library, Montpelier. Free. (Kids)
  • ‘Raptors Up Close’, 2PM, Vermont Institute of Natural Science, Quechee. Regular admission, $8.50-10.50; free for kids 2 and under. (Raptors)
  • Science & Stories – Snowflakes, 11AM, ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center, Burlington. Regular admission, $8.50-10.50; free for kids 2 and under. (Kids)
  • ‘Signs in the Snow’, 11AM, Vermont Institute of Natural Science, Quechee. Regular admission, $8.50-10.50; free for kids 2 and under. (Kids)
  • Book for Lunch, 12–1PM, Fletcher Free Library in Burlington. Donations accepted. (Talk)
  • ‘Eurydice’, 8PM, Moore Theater, Hopkins Center, Dartmouth College, Hanover. $5-16. (Theater)
  • FNM – Friday Night Magic – Draft – $15 Entry Fee, 6pm – 11pm, Quarterstaff Games, Burlington. (Gaming)
  • Friday Night Magic, Book Garden, Montpelier. (Gaming)

Monshire Museum of Science, Norwich:

  • 11:30 a.m. Optical Tops Experience how rotational motion can create some unusual optical illusions.
  • 3:00 p.m. Mirrors Use mirrors to investigate symmetry. You will turn simple shapes into complex and interesting patterns.
  • Climate change in South America, 12:10 p.m. Cabot 085, Norwich University, Northfield. (Climate Change)
  • Boskone 48, Feb 18 – 20 2011, Boston Westin Waterfront, Boston, MA. Details: (Convention)
  • NonCon 11, Feb 18 – 20 2011, Vassar College, New York. Details: (Convention)
  • Friday Night Magic — Constructed, 6pm – 10pm, The Gamer’s Grotto, Bennington. (Gaming)


Todd Lecture Series: Dr. David Carpenter

Last night, Dr. David Carpenter, Director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University of Albany spoke at Norwich University’s Plumley Armory with a talk titled “The Effects of Climate Change on Human Health: What We Must Do To Save Our World”. As the title suggests, the focus of the night was on the changing global climate and what the impact of such changes would be on human civilization. We’re in for a number of problems, should the problem continue unmitigated. The issue, however, comes in a number of forms, and helps to resist to any needed changes.

Simply put, the planet is slowly warming up, with average temperatures rising by a degree over the last decade. However, as Dr. Carpenter noted, the term Global Warming, while accurate in some places, is more of a misnomer that doesn’t describe the phenomenon properly: this isn’t a gradual, steady change that’s consistent: in some places around the world, it’s gotten colder. In the United States, other changes have been seen, with the Northeast and south seeing more precipitation, while the South West has seen far more dry weather than on record. Such changes happen all around the world.

The changes can be attributed to human behavior and carbon dioxide emissions. We primarily get our energy by burning and consuming fossil fuels, with significant amounts coming from energy production to agriculture to transportation, with very little of that offset by renewable energies, and with further offsets by the destruction of forests and other resources.

The warming has other affects on the planet’s ecosystems. Habitats change, and plant and animal life struggles to catch up and adapt. Carpenter cited estimates up upwards of 30% of known species going extinct as a result in the relatively near future. The story is a very familiar one, and most of the well known points were covered in a fair amount of detail.

I was disappointed by the presentation for a couple of reasons. While the information was good, it was a lot of stuff that has largely been seen before and discussed widely in the media, science publications and elsewhere, essentially acting as a primer for what the state of the planet is and where we might be going.

One of the main issues that I’ve often found with climate change science is how the results come up against the general public. The problems are far-reaching and cover many parts of the world and people’s lives, and as a result, there is a lot of complexity to how the problems can be approached. Furthermore, I’ve yet to see a convincing examination of climate change that links the science to practical human impact.

Personally, I don’t care all that much for the plight of the Polar Bears, or the ice caps: there’s very little direct impact to my day, and without ice caps melting in the first place, I wouldn’t be able to live in Vermont. However, the impact that global climate change has and will have on human lives is immense, and I think that there were some major opportunities here to plug that gap.

In 2003, Carpenter noted that a massive heat wave in Europe killed thousands of Parisians, something I didn’t believe at first, and looked up on the spot. It’s true: 40,000 people in Europe were killed as a direct result of the heat wave during that year, a major impact if I ever saw one. Further elements that he talked about was the impact of disease carried by mosquitoes migrating as a result of warmer temperatures in areas unaccustomed to them, and how plant life might shift as a result. The impact will be greater in third world countries, where there are closer links to the land (as opposed to first world countries which have more extensive infrastructure and resources available).

The talk was interesting, and through provoking, but it’s a message that’s been heard many times before, and one that’s not as convincing as it once was. Still, he presents a scary future, one that suggests radical changes, and notes a message that shouldn’t be too far from one’s mind: how will we solve the problem?

Geek Things for February 9th

  • Solar-Power Seminar, 7–8PM, Dorothy Alling Memorial Library, Williston. Free. (Solar Power)
  • High School Book Group, 5–6PM, Fletcher Free Library, Burlington. Free. (Teens)
  • Highgate Story Hour, 10–11AM, Highgate Public Library, Highgate Center. Free. (Kids)
  • Middle School Book Group, 4–5PM, Fletcher Free Library, Burlington. Free. (Teens)
  • George ‘Peskunck’ Larabee – The history, culture and language of the Abenaki Sokokiak Nation, 7PM, Jaquith Public Library, Marshfield. Free. (History)
  • Keith Morris – “Intro to Permaculture Design: Human Beings as Keystone Species,” 6–8PM, UVM Horticultural Research Center, South Burlington. $10-20. (Talk)
  • Lamoille County Osher Lecture Series – “American ‘En-Gulfed’: Why Every American President Gets Caught in the Persian Gulf.” 1:30PM, Town & Country Resort, Stowe. Free. (Politics)
  • Todd Lecture Series – “The Effects of Climate Change on Human Health: What We Must Do to Save Our World.” 7PM, Plumley Armory, Norwich University, Northfield. Free. (Climate Change)
  • ‘Why Fair Trade?’, 5pm, Farrell Room, St. Edmund’s Hall, St. Michael’s College, Colchester. Free. (Fair Trade)
  • Writers’ Group, 7–9PM, Johnson Public Library, Johnson. Free. (Writing)
  • Magic Booster Draft – $12, 6pm – 11pm, Quarterstaff Games, Burlington. (Gaming)
  • Pathfinder Society, 6:30pm – 11:00pm, Game Lounge, Quarterstaff Games, Burlington. (Gaming)
  • Science on Tap – Montshire After Hours, 5:30-8pm, Monshire Museum, Norwich. Tickets are $10/person (includes one complementary drink) (Science)
  • Exhibit: Raise the Roof, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, ECHO, Burlington. (Kids)
  • Getting to Know NOOKcolor, 6:00 PM, Barnes & Noble, South Burlington. (eReaders)

Geek Things for January 20th

  • Transition Town Montpelier – “Vermont Climate Change and the Great Transition.”, 6–8PM, Kellogg-Hubbard Library, Montpelier. Free. (Climate Change)
  • American Red Cross Blood Drive: Waterbury, 12–5:30PM, St. Leo’s Hall, Waterbury. Free. (Blood Drive)
  • American Red Cross Blood Drive: Groton, 12:30-5:30pm, Groton Community Building, Groton. (Vampires)
  • Chess Club, 7PM, Faith United Methodist Church, South Burlington. $2-3. (Chess)
  • Indoor Garden Workshop, 6–7PM, Hunger Mountain Co-op, Montpelier. $10-12, Preregister. (Gardening)
  • MountainTop Film Festival, 5–10PM, Big Picture Theater & Café, Waitsfield. $6-8. (Films)
  • ‘The Dragon Wall’, 7PM, River Arts Center, Morrisville. $5 suggested donation. (Dragons)
  • ‘Snug In the Snow’, 10–11AM, Green Mountain Audubon Center, Huntington. $8-10 per adult/child pair; $4 per additional child. (Kids)
  • Café Scientifique – Genetic engineering of our food supply and disease research, 6:30–8:30PM, ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center/Leahy Center for Lake Champlain in Burlington. Free; for ages 21 and up; cash bar. (Science)
  • Scott Borg, (The chief economist for the U.S. Cyber Consequences Unit on the value of cyber security), 7PM, Perry Hall, Champlain College, Burlington. Free. (Cyber Security)
  • ‘Sea Room’, 7:30PM, Off Center for the Dramatic Arts, Burlington. $7-20. (Theater)
  • ‘The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe’, 7:30PM, Briggs Opera House, White River Junction. $5-58. (Theater)
  • Booked for Lunch, the basics of reading and writing biographies, 12PM, Fletcher Free Library, Burlington. Free. (Reasearch)
  • Story Time, 11AM, Bud & Bella’s Bookshop, Randolph. Free. (Reading)
  • Open Miniatures Tables!, 5pm – 11pm, Quarterstaff Games Gamespace, Burlington. (Gaming)
  • Situating Sustainability in Curriculum, 12:30 – 2:30pm, Franklin Environmental Center 103, Middlebury College, Middlebury. (Sustainability)
  • Geography Recruiting Lecture, Geospatial Approaches to Water Resource Geography and Undergraduate Education, 4:15, McCardell Bicentennial Hall 104, Middlebury College, Middlebury. (Geography)
  • Panel Discussion, Athletics and Arts as Agents of Social Change, 7:00pm, Wright Theater, Middlebury College, Middlebury. (Social Change)
  • Family Game Night, 6:00pm, Borders, Burlington. (Gaming)
  • Family Game Night, 6:00pm, Borders, Lebanon, NH. (Gaming)