REACH week concludes with presentation from glaciologist

Johnathan Hudgins

REACH Week came to a close on Saturday afternoon with a presentation on sea level change and the science of forecasting future levels.

Glaciologist and professor of civil, environmental and architectural engineering at the University of Colorado at Boulder, Tad Pfeffer, spoke in the Gary Ransdell Hall Auditorium.

Hosted by the WKU chapter of Sigma Xi, the presentation focused on the variables of forecasting and estimating future sea level rise as well as some of the political aspects of the climate debate.

Speaking to an audience of about 200 people, Pfeffer explained that the study of sea level rise is important.

“Most of the world’s people live near sea level,” Pfeffer said.

Pfeffer explained that ideology and dishonesty cloud the science behind it.

Gordan Baylis, vice president for Research, introduced Pfeffer by explaining that the science of sea level change is complicated.

“Things are even more complicated than that,” Baylis said, speaking about ideologies that cloud the science of sea level change.

Pfeffer used several examples of how research, including his own with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, can be and is misrepresented by some in the media and distorted by some in the field of science.

He made it clear that dishonesty comes from both sides of the climate change discussion, but that it seems to be pointed out more when it comes from scientists that are convinced of it and less when it comes from deniers.

“It is much easier to create confusion than clarity,” Pfeffer said.

Pfeffer explained that sea level rise is expected to continue, but the rate is what is in question.

Owenton junior Clayton Cook said that he was not aware that the discussion about sea level rise was so distorted and that the presentation helped him to realize that.

“I thought it was very informative,” Cook said.

Speaking of REACH week, Pfeffer said he was impressed with WKU’s efforts and its student research.

“This is an amazing production,” Pfeffer said.

WKU Student Research Council Chairman, Farley Norman, said with two speakers this week, the other being keynote speaker Brian Fagan, that he was pleased with this year’s event.

“There was 60 percent more student participation than last year,” Norman said.