EnviroThursday Spring 2008

Presentations take place at 12 noon, Olin-Rice Room 250

February 7, 2008

"Lawn Signs and Light Bulbs: Environmental Social Marketing in the Twin Cities"
Speaker: Neely Crane-Smith, Minnesota Energy Challenge Coordinator, Center for Energy and Environment

The vast majority of Americans are aware of the issue of global warming. How can we encourage people towards taking meaningful action to reduce their environmental impact? Join Neely Crane-Smith, the coordinator of the Minnesota Energy Challenge, for a presentation on social marketing, energy efficiency, and changing behaviors.

February 14, 2008

"Three (Other) Gorges: Hydropower Development in Southwestern China's Yunnan Province"
Speaker: Darrin Magee, Assistant Professor, Environmental Studies, Hobart and William Smith Colleges

China's recently passed Renewable Energy Law calls for increased investment in hydropower over the coming decades. Targets for hydropower aim to more than double the existing capacity by 2020 - the equivalent of building over ten new Three Gorges dams. This talk will discuss large-scale hydropower developments in a remote corner of southwestern China on three major rivers - the Lancang (upper Mekong), Nu (upper Mekong), and Jinsha (upper Yangtze) - which tumble out of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau through steep gorges and have long been eyed for their hydropower potential. After an examination of the projects themselves, the talk will focus how they fit within newly created geographies of regional energy dependence serve to naturalize massive hydropower hundreds of kilometers away from the urban and industrial load centers in southeastern China and Mainland Southeast Asia.

This presentation is cosponsored by the Environmental Studies and Geography Departments and is funded by the Freeman Grant.

February 21, 2008

"Defend the Earth - Work for Peace: The Environmental Consequences of War and Strategies for Change"
Speaker: Mike Klein, Bush Foundation Leadership Fellow

The devastating tally of dead and wounded in Iraq does not begin to account for the ecological consequences of the war and the human suffering to come. How do tree huggers and peaceniks find common cause? Join us as we explore strategies from peace studies as they apply to environmental work for justice and encourage solidarity for social change.

Mike Klein is an Bush Foundation Leadership Fellow completing his doctoral work on rituals for democratic change in community-based organizations. From 1998-2007 he taught in the Justice and Peace Studies program at the University of St. Thomas. His research interests include: social movements, peace education, and social change through the arts.

February 28, 2008

"Heinrich Events: Examples of Massive and Abrupt Collapses of Large Ice Sheets and the Impact on Global Climate"
Speaker: Greg Downing, Climate Scientist

Recent measurements of the Greenland Ice Sheet indicate a rapid acceleration of outlet glaciers, likely a result of warmer air and ocean temperatures in the region. In addition to the obvious effect on sea level, there are potential regional and global climate implications associated with the increased flux of ice to the North Atlantic. Marine sediment cores contain evidence of sudden and massive ice surges that occurred during the last glacial period, dubbed Heinrich events. These Heinrich events are correlated in time with climate changes as distant as the Asian monsoons. This talk will discuss the role of large discharges of ice in regional and global climate, as recorded in the marine sediment record, and the persistence of such events over the past 200,000 years.

Greg Downing grew up in Duluth and graduated from the University of Minnesota and then moved to New York, where he worked for a few years before pursuing his Ph.D. at Columbia University in isotope geochemistry and paleoclimate. He recently moved back to Minneapolis. He is interested in the climate system and how it operates, as well as potential ways of mitigating anthropogenic climate change.

March 6, 2008

"The Land Conservation Process"
Speakers: Karen Schik, Ecologist, and Tom Lewanski, Conservation Director, Friends of the Mississippi River

The Land Conservation Program at Friends of the Mississippi River is focused on protecting and restoring natural areas associated with the river in the Twin Cities area. Yet with ever-increasing development pressures, natural areas continue to shrink and become more fragmented and disconnected. What natural areas are left and what is important to protect? How can protection be accomplished when most land is privately owned? Karen and Tom will explore the process of land conservation, from protection to ecological restoration, and present a successful model that FMR has been using to achieve those goals.

March 13, 2008

"Clare's Well: Organic Spirituality Farming in Minnesota"
Speaker: Sister Carol Schmit, Founding Sister of Clare's Well

Sister Carol, middle daughter of Dotchie and Harry Schmit, surprised even her family when she launched her third career by beginning a retreat ministry at Clare's Well in rural Annandale MN. Carol grew up on a small farm in Medina, MN. Creating Clare's Well was like coming full circle, back home to the land. Sister Carol will be talking about the founding, principles, and goals of Clare's Well and the creation of its 40 acre organic farm

Sister Carol entered the Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls and taught high school for 15 years. Her work with a mission team led her to live in Venezuela for seven years and learn the language and culture of the Latin people. In 1988, with Sister Aggie Soenneker, Sister Carol made possible a dream of a Women Spiritual Farm which over the years has grown to include three hermitages, a chapel, a wellness center building for massage and sauna, 5.5 acres of prairie plantings and labyrinth walking path. Both women and men are welcome to spend time in reflection and rest at Clare's Well which Carol has called home for 20 years.

March 20, 2008 - No EnviroThursday Presentation - Spring Break

March 27, 2008

"Water Management Amongst Institutional Constraints and Climate Change: Perspectives of Communities in the Afram Plains, Ghana"
Speaker: Katie Dietrich '05, graduate student in geography, Penn State University

Climate variability and change alters the amount and timing of water resources available for rural communities in the Afram Plains district, Ghana. In addition, the district experiences a historical and multi-scalar neglect that places Afram Plains' communities in particular vulnerability for current and future water resources. Therefore, these communities must adapt their water management strategies to both future climate change and the socio-economic context. Using participatory methods and interviews, Katie explore the success of past and present water management strategies by three communities in order to establish potentially effective responses to future climate change. Currently few strategies are linked to climate variability and change; however, the methods and results assist in giving voice to the participant communities by recognizing, sharing, and validating their experiences of multiple climatic and non-climatic vulnerabilities and the past, current, and future strategies which may enhance their adaptive capacity.

April 3 , 2008

"Zebra Mussels in the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway"
Speaker: Byron Karns, St. Croix National Scenic Riverway, National Park Service

Zebra mussels have been a threat to the St. Croix watershed since the early 1990s. In 1992, the first mussels were discovered in the Mississippi above the confluence with the St. Croix River. The first boat discovered with attached zebra mussels was in 1994 and reproduction was pinpointed by 2000. Anecdotal accounts of periodic, but substantial zebra mussel die-offs in large river systems in the Midwestern U.S. have been noted in the last several years. The effects of large numbers of zebra mussels in freshwater systems in North America have been well documented. Particularly, native mussels have been severely impacted. There is a critical need to understand the implications of an ever expanding and increasing number of zebra mussels in the St. Croix River. This is a high priority for the National Park Service, Army Corps of Engineers, and other natural resource management agencies.

April 8, 2008 - EnviroTuesday

“The Wild was Never this Wild”™: Nature, Power, and Profit at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Speaker: Stephanie Rutherford, Visiting Professor Candidate

This talk explores how power works through the production of nature at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. On the surface, a place like Disney’s Animal Kingdom can be understood as an unproblematic playground for families – a site for the experience of a pre-existing nature. However, I argue that at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, nature is made rather than found. With the park’s catch phrase “The wild was never this wild,” Disney seeks to re-imagine and produce nature as a site of sanitized, ‘family-friendly’, adventure-filled fun. In doing so, the Animal Kingdom works to remake nature into a commodity. By examining key aspects of the theme park, as well as their “Environmentality Program,” I contend that Disney represents a corporation which successfully governs how nature can be experienced: as fantasy, spectacle, and product. In this way, Disney serves to narrow our conceptions of nature, so that once 'themed', nature becomes hard to imagine as otherwise.

April 10, 2008

"Macalester Geography Crow River Watershed Project"
Speakers: Advanced GIS Class

Come celebrate what three geography classes have put their hearts and souls into this semester! The Crow River Watershed in located west of the Twin Cities and has undergone environmental and social changes in recent decades. In collaboration with the Cities of the 21st Century and the Field Research Seminars, Advanced GIS is creating an atlas that examines current issue and areas of interest in the watershed. Talk highlights include two projects: a case study of greening of environmental policy, and current Latino migration patterns in the watershed.

April 15, 2008 - EnviroTuesday

"Managing Effective Participatory Development in Rajasthan, India"
Speaker: Anna Goldberg '08, senior project presentation

This presentation, based on field work and a senior project, will analyze the unique approach to participatory development used by a natural resource NGO in India. GVNML, based in arid Rajasthan, works to mitigate poverty in the region and create a sustainable society through programs in watershed management, health, child rights and development, and education. Their management style focuses on balancing villager needs and international funding agency goals. In this presentation, Anna argues that in order to be successful, other NGO's need to heed GVNML's lead and use a "middle path" approach to participatory development which combines a transparent management style with creating personal relationships with the local stakeholders in the villages where they work.

April 17, 2008 - No EnviroThursday

April 24, 2008

“The Mother of All Opportunities: Building a Green Economy”
Speaker: Lois Quam, Managing Director, Alternative Investments, at Piper Jaffray

The New York Times (March 26, 2008) stated, "With scientists voicing increased concern about climate change, some highly talented people have left other fields to help build the green economy. For instance, Lois Quam, who helped create and run a $30 billion division of UnitedHealth Group, a health insurer, has joined the renewable energy cause, becoming managing director for alternative investments at Piper Jaffray, an investment bank based in Minneapolis. She is setting up investment funds that focus on renewable energy and clean energy.

"The development of a green economy creates a broad new set of opportunities,” Ms. Quam said. “When I first started looking at this area, many people commented on how this will be as big as the Internet. But this is so much bigger than the Internet. The only comparable example we can find is the Industrial Revolution. It will affect every business and every industry.”

May 1 , 2008

"Campus Carbon Audit Results"
Speakers: Environmental Studies Senior Seminar Class

Acting as consultants to the Presidents Climate Commitment Committee, this year's Environmental Studies Senior Seminar conducted the campus's first full-fledged carbon inventory. Their report, which inventories the college's greenhouse gas emissions since 1990, will provide the baseline data needed for the college to proceed with its plans to reduce its overall carbon footprint. Come join us as the members of the seminar share their results, discuss the process of auditing the Macalester community's greenhouse gas emissions, and share their recommendations for reducing Macalester's impact on the climate.