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UApresents, Environment Institute Collaborate on Climate Panel
“Vanishing Islands: Culture and Climate Change” will be an in-depth discussion about global awareness and the scientific, cultural and human impact of climate change.
UApresents, the University of Arizona's professional performing arts presenter, and the UA Institute of the Environment are partnering to present "Vanishing Islands: Culture and Climate Change," a panel event designed to foster awareness, discussion and action about the global impact of climate change.
The one-hour panel, which is free and open to the public, will be held on Oct. 21 at noon at the UA Center for Creative Photography. Registration is not required to attend.
The panel is prompted by the world premiere and national tour of "Water is Rising." Presented by UApresents, "Water is Rising" brings together 36 artists from the Pacific Island countries of Kiribati, Tokelau and Tuvalu.
Rising sea levels, the result of global warming and climate change, already threaten to engulf these vulnerable, low-lying islands and atolls; some of them could disappear by 2100 if seas rise just 3 feet at the current rate of global warming.
In addition, increased ocean acidification and rising temperatures threaten to destroy their coral reefs and marine habitats. In their 1,000-year history, nothing has prepared the islands to cope with the looming potential of relocating their entire populations.
After three years of research and consultation with village chiefs, island councils, government officials and climate scientists, artists from Kiribati, Tokelau and Tuvalu will present the most exciting music and dance traditions of the Pacific while at the same time illuminating the plight of Pacific Islanders.
As part of the panel discussion earlier in the day, a small group of "Water is Rising" artists will perform a song, illustrating some of the region's culture. The panel includes UA scientists and "Water is Rising" artists and organizers who will address the environmental, cultural and socio-economic effects of a changing climate and issues relating to climate change adaptation and planning.
"Climate change affects all of us, and small island nations in the Pacific are the proverbial canaries in the coal mine for coastal cities worldwide," said Jonathan Overpeck, co-director of the Institute of the Environment and one of the world's leading climate scientists.
"This panel will provide a great opportunity to learn what some people and places already are experiencing, and what that means scientifically as well as culturally."
Overpeck, a UA professor of geosciences and atmospheric sciences, will moderate the discussion. Panelists include: James Buizer, deputy director for climate adaptation and international development at the Institute of the Environment and an expert on adaptation and sustainable development; Julia Cole, UA professor of geosciences who specializes in global change, ocean studies and paleoclimatology; Judy Mitoma, director at the UCLA Center for Intercultural Performance and "Water is Rising" producer; and "Water is Rising" company members Andrew Semeli and Mikaele Maiava.
"We are thrilled to bring "Water is Rising" to the University, and it's an honor to be among a distinguished group of presenters in the nation," said Charles Tennes, interim executive director at UApresents. "This panel is the perfect platform for a rich, lively discussion and highlights the connection among science, art and culture."