Global Climate Change Symposium 24 and 25 April 2014


Having attended two of today’s Global Climate Change Symposium sessions, I’m sharing how valuable I found the event to be and I’m encouraging future participation.

From a personal standpoint, I appreciated Dr. Gunther’s talk on global warming’s effects on our world, our Bay Area, and our future. The talk on the Vasona Creek Restoration project will stay with me as I walk around campus.

Professionally, I was excited to watch a room full of our students seeing our disciplines impact their lives (apart from grades). Dr. Gunther’s talk included biology, chemistry, physics, and astronomy; but I was most attentive when he showed and discussed normal curves, standard deviation, and exponential graphs.

Our students’ cogent questions impressed me. And Michelle’s presentation did our division proud. She and Leticia also had glowing comments for the sessions they attended.

I often find going to a conference reinvigorating; this one came to me. I hope you’ll make the time to attend a session next year. And if, between now and then, you can suggest a speaker (as Leticia did this year), then please let me know.

Brad Chin, WVC Instructor of Mathematics

Wyoming farmer and activist against fracking, John Fenton, presenting at the second annual WVC Global Climate Change Symposium

Wyoming farmer and activist against fracking, John Fenton, presenting at the second annual WVC Global Climate Change Symposium

WVC’s second annual Global Climate Change Symposium was indeed invigorating for the many faculty, like Brad Chin, who attended, and for over 150 students and members of the community!

The event opened on Thursday night with a screening of filmmaker Josh Fox’s Emmy-winning Oscar-nominated feature documentary Gasland. This film (and the follow-up titled Gasland IIexamines the dangers of hydraulic fracturing–fracking–a controversial method of extracting natural gas and oil currently being used in 32 countries. After the film, there was an impacting conversation with John Fenton, a farmer and activist from Wyoming featured in both films. He argued that the gas and oil industry presents gas as a clean and safe alternative, but that in order to get that so-called clean energy, the United States and other countries are contaminating the earth’s water and air; the gas and oil industry is recklessly endangering the earth’s climate, hurting families, and diminishing democracy.

Artist Lauren DiCioccio presenting at the WVC Global Climate Change Symposium

Artist Lauren DiCioccio presenting at the WVC Global Climate Change Symposium

Artist Lauren DiCioccio opened the first session on Friday morning. DiCioccio explained that her work investigates the physical and tangible beauty of mass-produced objects that are readily discarded. She has been particularly interested in items such as newspapers, magazines, office writing pads, and plastic bags, because they are becoming obsolete. In many ways, their impending obsolescence is a good thing for reducing waste, but in other ways the disappearance of these everyday objects creates “a hole” in our lives. Much of her art explores questions such as “what will happen when we no longer touch information? When newsprint does not rub off onto our fingertips? When we no longer write longhand?” Her embroidered recreations of these objects return function to them, and remind us, the users, of our relationship with them and therefore with our environment.


DiCioccio’s recreation of plastic bottles finely embroidered on polyester organza

Later, Dr. Andrew J. Gunther, the Executive Coordinator of the Bay Area Ecosystems Climate Change Consortium (which is under contract to the California State Coastal Conservancy), and a staff member at the Center for Ecosystem Management and Restoration, talked about the history of global warming, the physics of the greenhouse effect, changes that our planet is experiencing right now, and problems that we should expect consequently.

Then, Dr. Daphne Miller, a family physician, writer, and Associate Professor in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of California San Francisco (where she teaches nutrition and integrative medicine), talked about her latest books, The Jungle Effect: The Healthiest Diets from Around the World, Why They Work and How to Make Them Work for You and Farmacology: Total Health from the Ground Up. Her lecture was followed by a book signing.

The day’s events ended with a presentation about the WVC Vasona Creek Restoration project. Vasona Creek traverses the WVC campus and is part of a watershed that flows from the Santa Cruz mountains to the San Francisco Bay. The creek has been deteriorating since the 1950s and 1960s when the area began to urbanize, but finally much attention, funds and effort are being paid and restoration is under way. The restoration includes stabilizing the channel and bank, enhancing the wetland, revegetating with native plants, incorporating a trail system that will connect to the Heritage Trail in Saratoga, creating an educational experience with interpretive signage (describing the riparian system and identifying historically significant items, creek geology, animals, birds, plants, trees and shrubs), and developing multi-use spaces for outdoor classrooms and laboratories.

The WVC Global Citizenship and Sustainability Committees are extremely proud to have organized and presented this productive symposium. Many thanks are due to all who participated, and all those who helped to make this day a success–particularly Heidi Brueckner and Brenda Rogers who led the project.


This entry was composed by Brad Chin and Dr. Dulce María Gray.

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