Conference on climate change creates impact

Students attend international Nobel Conference


Samantha Klepfer

Dr. Richard Alley, the Evan Pugh Professor of Geosciences at Penn State University, gives a speech about proof of climate change at the 2019 Nobel Conference. The 55th annual Nobel Conference had a theme of “Climate Changed” and featured a panel of seven presenters on the subject of climate change.

By Samantha Klepfer, St. Louis Park High School

As the day wound to a close for the Park coalition at this year’s Nobel Conference: Climate Changed, science teacher Al Wachutka reflected on what he learned from the experience.

“Even though I think (I see climate change in) a broad sense, because I do see the social connections, the political connections, the economic connections, but today it was pointed out that I’m missing some of the cultural, artistic, journalistic, novelist type (connections),” Wachutka said.

Senior Kayla Ignatowicz said she felt the holistic way the conference approached climate change was very illuminating.

“I really enjoyed gathering different perspectives on the topic of climate change,” Ignatowicz said. “It’s always better to educate yourself on the subject than just blow it off and ignore it completely.”

According to Wachutka, though he has attended the Nobel Conference in the past, this year’s topic pushed him to bring students as well.

“Many years ago I used to attend the event, still when I was teaching, and I found it to be very valuable as far as finding out what’s on the cutting edge of any particular area,” Wachutka said. “Being that this one was on climate change, I thought it would be most appropriate if I offered this up for students.”

Wachutka said students should go to the conference and others like it, because the subjects will impact them most directly.

“All of this sometimes feels like they’re talking over our heads but there’s knowledge to be gained and it’s set in a good academic setting,” Wachutka said. “What I learned today is that over the next 30 years, it’s the students that have to figure out this mess.”

According to Ignatowicz, the diverse group of attendees was an important piece of her experience at the conference.

“People of all ages attended so I think it was a really good conversation starter for such an important topic,” Ignatowicz said.

Wachutka said the conference did a good job connecting all of the different aspects of climate change.

“I like that we’re looking at data that cannot be disputed and this really supported that once again (climate change is real),” Wachutka said. “Also the ties to the poverty of climate change, the social/structural pieces that fit in with climate was interesting.”

According to Ignatowicz, she gained a sense of urgency and purpose from the conference.

“It’s important to take part in these conversations because climate change is going to impact every single one of us eventually,” Ignatowicz said. “It’s important to address it now preemptively instead of waiting for it to hurt us.”

This story was originally published on The Echo on October 25, 2019.