1990 Climate Change conference panel: 2021 Great Plains conference
Thirty-one years ago, in 1990, the Center hosted a conference called “Climate Change on the Great Plains,” which was described as “Looking Back from the Twenty-First Century at Impacts of Climate Change on the Great Plains.” We return to that topic three decades later with a panel of scholars who formed the backbone of that conference. What have they seen change in 31 years? With Ken Dewey (1990 conference co-chair, UNL), Peter Longo (Political Science, UNK), Fran Kaye (English, UNL), Clint Rowe (Earth & Atmos, UNL) and moderated by David Vail (History, UNK).
Part of the 2021 Great Plains conference: "Climate Change & Culture in the Great Plains" held April 1-2, 2021.
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[00:00:01.090](gentle guitar music)
[00:00:02.480]Thank you, Katie.
[00:00:03.870]First of all, I just wanna say how honored I
[00:00:05.670]am to be able to moderate this.
[00:00:07.460]And when I say moderate, I hope
[00:00:09.250]that this is gonna be a really vibrant conversation.
[00:00:14.070]All of you for me
[00:00:15.870]as a historian of environment, agriculture, science
[00:00:20.490]and medicine are all really important.
[00:00:23.580]You've done really important work.
[00:00:24.840]And so part of me is looking up to you
[00:00:27.440]all in your own capacities.
[00:00:29.270]So I'm really honored in that respect.
[00:00:32.010]I probably should say that I'm David Vail
[00:00:34.240]I'm an associate professor,
[00:00:35.370]got too excited to get into this.
[00:00:37.790]I'm an associate professor of history
[00:00:39.990]at the University of Nebraska at Kearney.
[00:00:41.840]And like I mentioned I do environmental history,
[00:00:44.440]agricultural history, science and medicine primarily
[00:00:47.500]but also I focused in on the Great Plains
[00:00:50.480]as sort of the main region of my work.
[00:00:52.740]And so I'm excited today to help moderate this conversation.
[00:00:57.350]And I really hope that it is a conversation
[00:01:00.310]because as the entire day has shown us
[00:01:04.060]it's really important to have these dialogues.
[00:01:07.650]And so I'm really thankful to be able to do this.
[00:01:09.463]So I thought what we could do is go around
[00:01:14.360]And if you have some opening sort of remarks
[00:01:17.080]that you kind of wanna share
[00:01:18.510]I think this is a good time to do that.
[00:01:20.770]I have some official questions but what I'm also
[00:01:25.150]really hoping in our conversation this afternoon
[00:01:28.530]is that all of us watching this conversation take place
[00:01:32.630]please ask questions.
[00:01:34.980]We have some really important
[00:01:37.730]I think conversations to be had this afternoon.
[00:01:40.090]So without further delay, let's start with Fran.
[00:01:44.620]How about you start introduce yourself and maybe
[00:01:48.170]if you have some opening statements you wanna make
[00:01:50.160]for the group, you could do that.
[00:01:53.230]Okay I'm Fran Kaye.
[00:01:55.110]I've been retired almost three years
[00:01:56.980]from the university now.
[00:02:00.790]I've been thinking a lot
[00:02:02.430]about what I could do that would sort of fit
[00:02:04.570]in with the theme of this.
[00:02:05.640]And I thought we have been living
[00:02:08.500]on the same 10 acre acreage just outside
[00:02:11.820]of Lincoln for the last 44 years.
[00:02:14.720]And it has changed a lot.
[00:02:16.590]And I wanted to sort of mention some of those changes
[00:02:20.100]and how the culture of the place
[00:02:23.610]around us seems to have related to those.
[00:02:26.620]So we're surrounded on three sides by working farms,
[00:02:30.470]farm fields the fourth side is the railway.
[00:02:34.820]We have a lawn narrow strip.
[00:02:36.600]We have a pond, we have a cat tail marsh.
[00:02:38.850]We have a grasslands
[00:02:40.020]and we have a red cedar degraded quote, unquote woodland.
[00:02:45.730]So it's got a lot of different micro environments.
[00:02:50.510]One of the things, I'll just go through real quickly birds
[00:02:55.700]we have tons of birds but the birds have changed.
[00:02:58.530]We used have the Northern Shrikes.
[00:03:00.600]I haven't seen a Northern Shrike for 30 years.
[00:03:03.210]We used to have flocks of Yellow-headed Blackbirds.
[00:03:06.110]I haven't seen a Yellow-headed Blackbird
[00:03:07.810]for more than 20 years.
[00:03:10.350]We used to have tons of dickcissels
[00:03:11.730]and then they all went away and then they came back.
[00:03:15.210]We used to have quail and pheasants
[00:03:16.950]and now we have wild turkeys, which is really interesting.
[00:03:21.232]So there's been a lot of change there.
[00:03:22.800]A lot of change in amphibians.
[00:03:24.690]We no longer have tiger salamanders.
[00:03:26.750]I haven't seen a tiger salamander for 30 years.
[00:03:29.490]We no longer have toads.
[00:03:31.190]I haven't seen a toad for 25 years.
[00:03:34.050]We have far fewer leopard frogs.
[00:03:36.270]We have, it used to be in the spring.
[00:03:40.250]The bullfrogs were so loud
[00:03:41.910]that if we had city friends visiting, they couldn't sleep.
[00:03:45.260]Now, it's just a occasional (mumbles) very politely.
[00:03:51.186]We used to have tons of snapping turtles in the pond
[00:03:53.850]fewer snapping turtles, fewer sliders,
[00:03:57.030]just the reptiles and amphibians have changed
[00:04:00.280]by far the most.
[00:04:02.410]The coyotes come near, the foxes have grown.
[00:04:07.320]We still have pretty much the same mammals as we had before.
[00:04:14.220]The deer really liked the degraded woodland
[00:04:16.670]which makes me wonder about whether it's degraded or not.
[00:04:20.420]Our front pasture was originally plowed somewhere
[00:04:23.620]in the 20s and 30s and planted to brome
[00:04:26.140]because it was supposed to be better for cows.
[00:04:28.750]It has grown back.
[00:04:30.260]It's now a degraded grassland
[00:04:32.510]but it also has it's own original long big blue stem,
[00:04:38.490]little blue stem, switchgrass, Indian grass
[00:04:42.810]not so many of this type is anymore some of the forbs.
[00:04:46.370]I find this fascinating
[00:04:47.920]because these are not from a stock farm.
[00:04:49.940]These are the ones that regrew here.
[00:04:51.780]This is a regenerated grassland that has not been tampered
[00:04:55.360]with but that does not seem to have very much value.
[00:04:58.930]The railway used to be wonderful.
[00:05:00.940]It used to be all slightly wooded with shrubs.
[00:05:05.700]We used to have tons of chokecherries.
[00:05:09.186]The chokecherries are completely gone.
[00:05:11.700]We think that that is not so much because of climate change
[00:05:14.630]but because of what was happening with spraying
[00:05:16.740]by the railway in order to make sure that there
[00:05:19.350]wasn't a fire okay, a fire would regenerate the grasslands.
[00:05:23.640]But we couldn't have a fire.
[00:05:26.520]Things like that
[00:05:27.450]then when they put a highline electricity pylons
[00:05:32.210]cut down all the plums, just absolutely massacred the plums.
[00:05:37.260]They're coming back down the route.
[00:05:39.350]But whether they'll come back, I don't know.
[00:05:42.230]So we've watched how little import this has
[00:05:45.812]even people who are conservationists
[00:05:48.140]don't like my degraded prairie.
[00:05:50.360]Doesn't seem to be important
[00:05:51.970]that it's regenerated the exact same seats that were here
[00:05:55.077]that they provide some diversity.
[00:05:58.220]The railway clearly does not care at all about diversity,
[00:06:02.030]the complete lack of interest from the electricity people
[00:06:06.630]when they put in their new pylons just about killed me.
[00:06:10.270]I'm saying but what about my plums?
[00:06:11.980]What about my tall grass prairie?
[00:06:14.110]I think they would have paid much more intention
[00:06:16.140]if I'd been talking about beanie babies
[00:06:18.460]it obviously had no value whatsoever
[00:06:21.450]and that kind of broke my heart
[00:06:23.180]and it's really disrupted the prairie.
[00:06:26.422]So those are just a few of the things
[00:06:27.990]that I wanted to talk about.
[00:06:30.410]And I wanna talk about finally and again
[00:06:33.180]maybe this is unfair, this whole idea of degraded prairie.
[00:06:37.120]I have worked a lot with native studies.
[00:06:40.640]Most of my friends are in the native community now.
[00:06:43.330]And it seems to me it's almost the same
[00:06:45.700]as talking about what is authentic
[00:06:47.540]what does it mean to be an authentic native person?
[00:06:53.940]maybe it means you're three times
[00:06:56.320]more likely to go to prison.
[00:06:58.180]That doesn't mean that part
[00:06:59.250]of native society and that's degraded
[00:07:01.180]but it's also real and it's also here
[00:07:03.700]and it needs to be observed and understood.
[00:07:08.560]And I kind of feel that way with my degraded prairie.
[00:07:11.000]So I'll shut up now.
[00:07:14.732]Thank you Fran.
[00:07:16.380]I mean, part of why we're here is to remember
[00:07:19.380]the 1990 conference looking back,
[00:07:21.927]the theme was looking back from the 21st century at impacts
[00:07:25.410]of climate change in the Great Plains and Fran
[00:07:27.280]I think you really helped get out some of the main sort
[00:07:30.440]of themes we could be talking about after introduction.
[00:07:33.180]So thank you for sharing.
[00:07:35.250]Clint why don't we go with you?
[00:07:41.670]Sure, well first of all so
[00:07:43.600]it's great to be here 31 years later
[00:07:46.080]I guess it was a year, two years ago
[00:07:48.730]really when Katie approached and asked if I would be part
[00:07:51.690]of a panel last year to do the 30th anniversary.
[00:07:55.940]And I told her sure I'd do that.
[00:07:58.130]And I said, I can probably even dig up because
[00:08:01.720]in addition to being a panelist at the conference
[00:08:04.340]then I also taught a class
[00:08:06.890]for the center of that spring semester
[00:08:09.880]on climate and climate variability on the Great Plains.
[00:08:12.730]And because I never throw it,
[00:08:14.793]well I hardly ever throw anything away
[00:08:16.750]especially if it's digital, I can keep it.
[00:08:18.840]I just buy bigger and bigger hard drives.
[00:08:21.160]And I was able to go back and dig up that syllabus.
[00:08:28.510]And so that was kind of interesting.
[00:08:29.510]So I am now a full professor.
[00:08:33.370]I wasn't back then.
[00:08:34.203]I am now full professor
[00:08:35.400]in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.
[00:08:37.480]And I'm actually the suffering is the chair right now
[00:08:41.610]but I've long studied climate and climate change
[00:08:46.880]mostly at regional scales.
[00:08:49.310]But if I can opt in and surf the screen for a second
[00:08:54.400]I've got a couple figures that I thought I could throw
[00:08:58.250]up real quickly
[00:09:01.280]to kind of illustrate what I wanted to mention
[00:09:05.000]in the last 30 years.
[00:09:06.720]So this is the global temperature anomaly graph
[00:09:09.700]that we've seen probably all seen
[00:09:13.750]in various forms over the last 30 years
[00:09:17.230]is just increasingly getting redder and redder
[00:09:20.460]temperatures that are above the global mean,
[00:09:24.570]and this is the global mean
[00:09:25.800]over the period of the entire 20th century in 1901 to 2000.
[00:09:31.780]And you can see that we've exceeded those mean temperatures
[00:09:34.680]since well before that conference, 30 years ago.
[00:09:38.510]I wanted to just
[00:09:41.040]zoom in and show what's happened.
[00:09:43.070]It doesn't look quite as extreme when you just focus
[00:09:45.360]on the last little bit but everything's still red, right?
[00:09:49.388]And I wanted to set a show that, you know
[00:09:50.730]over that time period temperatures have increased.
[00:09:53.370]This is the global average temperature that going
[00:09:55.840]up almost six tenths of a degree Celsius
[00:09:59.480]or over a degree Fahrenheit
[00:10:01.100]which is pretty impressive from a global temperature.
[00:10:03.390]Doesn't sound like much when we go from minus 34 to 80
[00:10:07.880]in the course of a month right, Fahrenheit.
[00:10:11.404]But I wanted to put this here
[00:10:12.330]and we need to expand the timeline a little bit
[00:10:16.302]to just focus on that last 30 years from 1990 to 2020.
[00:10:20.730]And to look at the various reports
[00:10:23.560]and modeling studies that have been done
[00:10:26.234]a huge amount of effort has been going into studying
[00:10:31.870]how climate has been changing in the recent past.
[00:10:35.910]So we had from
[00:10:37.070]the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change,
[00:10:39.280]we had the First Assessment Report
[00:10:42.130]and the second Assessment Report
[00:10:43.820]and the Third Assessment Report.
[00:10:45.920]And then I think they weren't thinking too far
[00:10:48.130]ahead when they started because they would have had far
[00:10:50.200]again if they went fourth assessment report
[00:10:52.070]but they switched over to now, they're calling
[00:10:54.200]AR4, AR5 and now we're in the midst of AR6
[00:10:58.280]the sixth report.
[00:10:59.990]And we also had the US Global Change Research Program.
[00:11:03.890]We had the National Climate Assessments
[00:11:06.040]starting at around year 2000, another one 2009,
[00:11:10.079]2014 and so forth.
[00:11:12.610]Another one will be coming out soon.
[00:11:14.870]And my modeling community has done these modeling
[00:11:17.500]inter-comparison studies, where we get a whole bunch
[00:11:19.840]of models on and see, you know, where they agree,
[00:11:23.570]where they don't agree and so forth.
[00:11:25.160]And we're now onto our CMIP6
[00:11:29.000]that a Coupled Model Intercomparison Project number six.
[00:11:33.840]And then I also wanted to throw in some of the agreements
[00:11:37.380]that have been made over that time period as well.
[00:11:40.190]United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
[00:11:42.900]which is still in force.
[00:11:44.450]It's been ratified by something close to 200 countries,
[00:11:49.900]I think 197 in total, including the US.
[00:11:53.860]And it's still enforced providing the underlying framework
[00:11:57.280]for a lot of these other studies.
[00:11:58.937]And then of course, we had Kyoto in '97
[00:12:03.760]US signed it, didn't ratify it.
[00:12:08.700]Then we had Paris in 2014/2015
[00:12:13.560]and we were there for awhile then we were out
[00:12:15.147]and now we're back that's how that works.
[00:12:18.200]But even though all these studies have been going on
[00:12:21.300]even though we've had these international agreements
[00:12:24.000]that a lot of countries have signed on to
[00:12:26.300]this is what's been happening, right?
[00:12:28.410]Since 1990 when we had the conference
[00:12:33.480]the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere
[00:12:35.700]was 354.45 parts per million on average that year.
[00:12:40.100]And it literally increased we're now,
[00:12:42.860]well over 400 parts per million now.
[00:12:46.040]So all those agreements, all those studies
[00:12:48.510]have really not led to any action
[00:12:50.600]or even really action that's had any results so far.
[00:12:54.170]So that's why I wanted share that, you know
[00:12:58.630]we keep studying and we keep getting
[00:13:00.722]our models are more sophisticated
[00:13:03.690]and we can get more detailed
[00:13:06.630]but we're not getting traction
[00:13:09.185]with the world to try to make headway on the problem.
[00:13:16.300]So let me stop the share now
[00:13:19.560]and I'll stop me.
[00:13:21.990]Thank you, Clint.
[00:13:23.290]I really appreciate sort of bringing in that context again
[00:13:26.440]from your perspective from 1990 and the 1990 conference
[00:13:30.100]some of those sort of big themes
[00:13:32.921]that you were negotiating then
[00:13:35.940]and then how it sort of tracked through.
[00:13:39.220]And that's really,
[00:13:42.030]I think we'll probably return
[00:13:43.270]to that a little later in our conversation
[00:13:45.230]'cause I think part of some of the questions I've had
[00:13:47.960]not just as our fun moderator this afternoon
[00:13:51.820]but also as a historian is kind of how do these
[00:13:55.250]relationships there change over time and a variety of ways?
[00:13:59.850]What kind of implications do we have today
[00:14:02.940]to be thinking about so?
[00:14:05.430]But Ken I'm excited for you to share too.
[00:14:09.860]Yes thank you so very, very much
[00:14:12.890]obviously I can't believe it's over 30 years.
[00:14:15.580]Let me put this away 'cause there's feedback.
[00:14:17.980]As co-organizer of the 1990 event
[00:14:22.320]it actually began before that.
[00:14:24.430]In June, 1988 James Hansen from NASA
[00:14:29.020]appeared before Congress and said he was extremely convinced
[00:14:34.120]that the warming has begun.
[00:14:37.490]A couple weeks after that hit the press
[00:14:39.690]my colleague, Mark Anderson and I were interviewed
[00:14:42.100]by the local newspaper.
[00:14:44.180]Being scientists we obviously said...
[00:14:47.630]I should point out too that I'm professor emeritus
[00:14:49.800]in the School of Global Integrative Studies
[00:14:51.730]and just like Fran
[00:14:52.820]I was just retired last year and not a couple of years ago
[00:14:55.370]but I should have pointed out who I am.
[00:14:57.050]And Mark Anderson and I sitting in his office, we're talking
[00:15:00.840]and we said we're scientists, we're normally skeptical.
[00:15:04.460]It's too variable.
[00:15:05.380]The climate is so variable.
[00:15:07.030]I'm sure this isn't really happening.
[00:15:09.250]And when the reporter asked us what do you think?
[00:15:13.120]This was before we had data
[00:15:14.630]and this is the problem today with social media
[00:15:16.770]people are expressing their opinions without the data.
[00:15:20.390]So we said well, we're not really sure it's happening
[00:15:22.620]time will tell.
[00:15:24.040]And then shortly after that we began to look
[00:15:25.950]at the data and the data began to clearly show it is warming
[00:15:30.480]and it's warming faster than we would expect.
[00:15:33.140]And then along the way I said, okay
[00:15:34.750]I'm now 100% convinced the climate is changing.
[00:15:38.480]But humans, I don't know.
[00:15:41.060]We can't be having a big role.
[00:15:43.110]And then I had an epiphany.
[00:15:45.560]I went to a talk that was presented
[00:15:47.780]by the man down at the bottom, Clint Rowe.
[00:15:51.330]And he showed the famous diagram that had two curves on it.
[00:15:55.890]This is where it would be if there was no human input.
[00:15:59.830]And then there was this pink curve as I always call it.
[00:16:02.000]And this we can show an isolate how humans actually
[00:16:05.940]their fingerprint is there.
[00:16:07.600]We can look with modeling
[00:16:08.800]and go back to earlier data and then project forward
[00:16:11.570]and we say it is humans.
[00:16:13.490]When that epiphany occurred, I then became a total convert
[00:16:17.410]100% climate is warming and humans are a big part of it.
[00:16:23.460]Over the years my role as an applied climate scientist
[00:16:26.370]has been to answer this question all the time.
[00:16:29.500]Do you believe in it?
[00:16:30.557]And I always tell people,
[00:16:31.720]no I don't believe at all in any of this.
[00:16:34.420]I accepted, it's facts.
[00:16:36.810]I don't believe in gravity, I know it exists.
[00:16:39.060]So my career and as it evolved
[00:16:41.440]into outreach and giving lots of talks to people
[00:16:44.550]it has been as Clint alluded
[00:16:46.350]to an uphill battle where we began with a little bit
[00:16:51.170]of evidence and now it's overwhelming evidence.
[00:16:53.700]And then something bad happened and that's my last comment,
[00:16:57.490]it became political
[00:16:59.660]something I had never really seen very much of.
[00:17:02.450]We talked about the Great Plains and how we wanted
[00:17:05.300]there was this whole idea of well
[00:17:06.930]let's just make it the buffalo comments.
[00:17:08.560]Well, that's pretty controversial.
[00:17:10.090]And that came up at the 1990 conference
[00:17:13.080]but this became political.
[00:17:14.850]And that's what I've heard over the last
[00:17:16.650]since last evening to get it away
[00:17:19.130]from the politics and find out how it's impacting
[00:17:22.410]and what Fran started with is, Fran just told a story
[00:17:26.270]of how she's seen the impact and I've seen it as well.
[00:17:31.220]So that's our mission is we look back from 1990.
[00:17:34.480]It's been an interesting trip to get to where we are today.
[00:17:38.950]I would have thought we would have gotten there
[00:17:40.240]a lot sooner.
[00:17:43.620]Thank you very much, Ken.
[00:17:44.700]And then finally, Peter.
[00:17:48.350]Well, so nice to be a part of this again.
[00:17:54.110]It doesn't seem like 1990 was that long ago.
[00:17:58.590]I'm gonna go back to my interests.
[00:18:00.080]I'ma trying to share a screen see if this works.
[00:18:04.830]There you go.
[00:18:06.540]I'm sure, perhaps you might remember Bob Meewald.
[00:18:12.150]He influenced, this was an article he wrote
[00:18:15.110]in 1978 and I also had...
[00:18:17.900]It was just wonderful just an excellent presentation
[00:18:21.430]by Dr. Ursula Kreitmair this morning.
[00:18:25.010]So the Political Science Department from Bob in 1978
[00:18:28.740]to Dr. Kreitmair present,
[00:18:32.730]clearly are looking at the politics of the situation.
[00:18:38.290]It was just a fascinating talk this morning.
[00:18:41.958]And I feel like an old guy but I was so impressed
[00:18:44.930]by the morning presentation by Ursula.
[00:18:47.840]So the first was listening, he did a great job.
[00:18:51.640]And so with that, I think I've been interested
[00:18:54.970]in climate change because I was one of Bob's students
[00:18:58.250]and we were dear friends.
[00:18:59.580]And I think of him every day
[00:19:02.830]his picture is behind me and my office
[00:19:05.550]but what I liked about Bob was so many things.
[00:19:12.180]so in tune to the shortcomings of our political process.
[00:19:19.040]And he been at a great humor
[00:19:21.890]but so he starts off and I'm gonna do the corner.
[00:19:25.850]I'm gonna do the corner that starts with there is something
[00:19:29.400]and I'm gonna do the climate change
[00:19:32.345]the other corner on the other side.
[00:19:34.190]So I'm just gonna read this
[00:19:36.130]because I think it really
[00:19:39.830]is pointing it.
[00:19:41.730]He says, there's something rather ludicrous
[00:19:44.710]about a learned paper on the political
[00:19:46.370]and social implications not the end of the world.
[00:19:50.210]Obviously mostly since we don't do not have
[00:19:52.450]much reliable historical information about the sort
[00:19:55.070]of event the author can only offer a speculation
[00:19:58.300]which however well informed are debatable quality.
[00:20:02.910]And the reason in so far as he or she actually believes
[00:20:06.770]in the impending disaster will doubtless be disappointed
[00:20:10.210]by the absence of any specific recommendations
[00:20:13.440]about how to survive.
[00:20:15.220]You do get there are some wonderful recommendations
[00:20:18.730]offered by Dr. Kreitmair this morning,
[00:20:21.600]yet while this exercise may seem foolish
[00:20:25.430]it was undertaken because of the conviction
[00:20:27.550]that it would be be even more foolish for our society
[00:20:31.570]to continue as if drastic climate change
[00:20:36.020]were an possibility.
[00:20:37.210]So he's writing this in 1978 influencing me
[00:20:41.680]few years later in my political science classes.
[00:20:47.130]And so somehow we have to change public perceptions
[00:20:52.610]because the science is quite clear
[00:20:55.060]that the failure is culturally driven.
[00:21:00.580]And unfortunately, as Ken pointed out
[00:21:05.060]if it's not science-based people still, they don't care.
[00:21:08.710]They make the argument.
[00:21:10.830]And as we all know that
[00:21:14.231]for some perceptions are their reality.
[00:21:17.260]So that's why this symposium is so very important.
[00:21:20.490]So I'll read one more last paragraph
[00:21:23.060]and then I'll turn it over to the conversation
[00:21:26.450]but climate change, I'm down on the corner on the right
[00:21:31.350]would also have the greatest impact on domestic politics.
[00:21:35.910]And you can think of transitioning from Trump to Biden.
[00:21:42.430]Domestic politics can be quite rough
[00:21:45.130]and it impacts people's public perception
[00:21:48.910]so that kind of strain of it.
[00:21:49.900]But even now what we consider to be normal conditions
[00:21:53.840]are clearly apparent defects in our political machinery.
[00:21:58.010]We have succeeded as a nation for 200 years
[00:22:01.290]but the strains in our system
[00:22:03.398]are so noticeable that the next hundred is problematic.
[00:22:09.110]Our natural resources have given us a comfortable cushion
[00:22:13.840]so that we have been able to practice a relatively
[00:22:16.830]peaceful style of politics.
[00:22:19.830]With or without climate change
[00:22:21.720]it's not fear-mongering to suggest
[00:22:24.920]that the good old days are gone forever.
[00:22:28.210]So it's really, again you underscore the importance
[00:22:32.360]of this symposium and the great work that Katie has done
[00:22:36.610]Katie Nealon to maintain us for, you know,
[00:22:41.150]two years she kept us all living
[00:22:43.370]so that we could finally present.
[00:22:44.700]So nice job, Katie and I appreciate that
[00:22:47.410]still being alive to participate years later.
[00:22:50.890]So Katie's done great work.
[00:22:53.300]And so the symposium has been great.
[00:22:57.290]And so I guess what I take
[00:22:59.210]from my perspective all of these years is, you know
[00:23:02.580]how do we overcome the disconnect between perception
[00:23:08.530]and reality and that's really important.
[00:23:12.610]And so I'll stop there.
[00:23:14.990]So my influence, I thank Bob Beewald
[00:23:18.030]for bringing me in right away on environmental issues
[00:23:21.660]way back when I was a graduate students.
[00:23:25.140]So with that I'll stop the share, turn it back over.
[00:23:29.840]Well, thank you, Peter.
[00:23:31.210]And it's always an honor to work with Peter
[00:23:34.300]on projects at UNK.
[00:23:36.350]We get to serve together in the College of Arts and Sciences
[00:23:38.840]in our respective departments.
[00:23:40.640]And so I learned a lot from him as well.
[00:23:44.780]All you have mentioned parts of this answer
[00:23:49.800]to the question I'm going to ask
[00:23:51.380]but I think that there's other places to expand.
[00:23:53.870]And I think that at least for me, but I would imagine
[00:23:57.710]all of us watching would also very much wanna glean
[00:24:02.190]what you have to say about these sort of two interconnected
[00:24:05.910]questions one is,
[00:24:07.690]so when you were speaking about climate change in 1990
[00:24:12.212]you have already kind of mentioned this
[00:24:13.740]in your opening remarks
[00:24:14.990]but what were some of those big ideas in 1990?
[00:24:18.010]So that's 31 years.
[00:24:20.427]Well, I was just as an aside
[00:24:22.840]and this kind of comes into play
[00:24:24.500]but I was eight years old living in Oregon at the time
[00:24:28.480]but not to make everyone feel their age right now.
[00:24:31.580]But I would say that part of my thinking
[00:24:35.240]as I was preparing to moderate is, you know
[00:24:38.450]what about the younger generations?
[00:24:41.660]How do they factor into these conversations
[00:24:44.280]we're having today and last night?
[00:24:49.300]So what were some of those big ideas then
[00:24:54.580]and you've already alluded to some
[00:24:58.014]and how have those changed in sort of a part of that change
[00:25:01.910]I would imagine has to do with the culture
[00:25:04.710]of the Great Plains, the region itself
[00:25:08.010]how has climate change,
[00:25:10.000]whether people like acknowledge it or not
[00:25:12.150]or how they acknowledge it.
[00:25:13.550]And maybe that's part of the answer
[00:25:15.610]how has that sort of changed?
[00:25:17.380]So those big ideas at the moment, the 1990 conference
[00:25:21.770]but then how have those big ideas shifted
[00:25:25.530]and sort of the way in which climate change
[00:25:28.140]is considered in our region?
[00:25:33.510]Everybody go first.
[00:25:35.010]I have a real quick comment.
[00:25:37.443]Like Fran said she's watched since the 1970s
[00:25:40.860]what's going on where she lives.
[00:25:43.270]My scientist and I as we gather each year
[00:25:45.920]at professional meetings it's all obvious to us
[00:25:49.210]now we can see this, you know
[00:25:50.500]we live in a place of incredible extremes
[00:25:53.900]in the Great Plains but all of a sudden you realize,
[00:25:56.280]oh wait a minute, the extremes are more often.
[00:25:59.230]The extremes are more intense.
[00:26:00.830]So I think we even personally have been able
[00:26:03.080]to see enough time has gone by,
[00:26:05.150]the change is happening and it's happening rapidly.
[00:26:07.730]So that's my bottom comment is at the beginning.
[00:26:10.480]I think a lot of us were skeptical we wanted data
[00:26:13.170]and then we needed to keep players like Clint
[00:26:15.480]who could come in and do the modeling
[00:26:17.350]and crunch a lot of data.
[00:26:29.340]Who wants to go next?
[00:26:33.013]I can say a little bit.
[00:26:35.131]When we were back in 1990
[00:26:38.600]I was a very junior faculty member who had some background
[00:26:46.250]in climate modeling, climate modelers were just getting
[00:26:48.920]to the point at that point where we could start thinking
[00:26:51.950]about how the system might change.
[00:26:54.410]I mean before when I was a graduate student
[00:26:57.400]in that time period really did not have very
[00:26:59.960]good climate models at all.
[00:27:01.940]Or even weather models, there's really common models
[00:27:04.720]simulating weather and then calculating climate statistics
[00:27:07.810]after those simulations.
[00:27:10.500]I mean we don't actually model the climate
[00:27:16.590]but we were so crude that we really had not a good handle
[00:27:20.410]on the feedbacks and the processes overall work.
[00:27:23.590]But at that time that 1988, like Ken said
[00:27:27.840]when Jim Hansen was testifying in Congress
[00:27:29.820]we were getting to the point where the models
[00:27:32.110]were starting to get include enough of the systems
[00:27:37.020]not just the atmosphere but also the oceans and the ice
[00:27:41.980]that we were able to start getting a better handle
[00:27:44.340]on how things might respond
[00:27:46.020]to increasing CO2 in the atmosphere.
[00:27:49.420]And at that point it started to become clear
[00:27:52.630]that we were counteracting what would have been probably
[00:27:58.720]a pretty big cooling if we were just thinking
[00:28:02.920]about the astronomical things that have long been effective
[00:28:08.420]in climate change over geologic history.
[00:28:12.570]And so the climate models
[00:28:15.840]we started running those out into the future
[00:28:17.990]with the projections of what the CO2 might be.
[00:28:21.580]And we found out that in fact they did show
[00:28:26.350]that climate temperatures would increase
[00:28:29.300]global climate temperatures would increase over time.
[00:28:33.452]And the interesting thing is as we've increased
[00:28:35.070]our understanding in those models
[00:28:37.563]I guess I have yet ever in the 30 plus years
[00:28:41.830]of watching this I haven't seen a climate model
[00:28:45.970]show cooling in the future.
[00:28:48.920]We do really well as Ken said
[00:28:52.030]they do pretty well in the past
[00:28:53.560]where there's been cool spells or volcano goes off.
[00:28:56.330]If you could include those aerosols in the model,
[00:28:59.600]just cool, it comes back up after a couple of years.
[00:29:02.200]So they do respond to these other things.
[00:29:06.730]One under increased CO2 in the atmosphere go down.
[00:29:16.650]Fran do you have some additional thoughts
[00:29:19.410]you wanna share?
[00:29:33.370]In 1990, I had a four year old.
[00:29:36.010]I had become a mom four years before.
[00:29:39.220]For some reason my big apocalypse year was 1982
[00:29:43.070]when I suddenly realized how change was coming.
[00:29:46.100]So having a kid and trying to figure
[00:29:49.010]out how to raise a kid who is concerned
[00:29:53.250]about this stuff was very foremost in my mind.
[00:29:56.750]1990 was also the year I went up
[00:29:58.940]to Hudson Bay
[00:30:02.730]to Churchill, polar bear capital of the world
[00:30:05.790]and saw how that was changing.
[00:30:09.260]So I was very aware of past and future.
[00:30:13.390]And the thing
[00:30:14.640]that probably scared me the most about that time
[00:30:18.870]was the moms of my son's little friends
[00:30:22.530]were not particularly worried about environment.
[00:30:25.210]They weren't worried about climate change.
[00:30:27.200]They didn't think about it.
[00:30:28.790]When I would scream at the kids to turn
[00:30:31.090]off the light bulbs because the polar bears were dying.
[00:30:34.440]Everybody looked at me like what?
[00:30:37.990]I remember once trying to convince my kid
[00:30:40.540]that he did not want some little kind of plastic things
[00:30:43.480]because they were bad for the environment.
[00:30:45.600]And he said mom, everybody talks about the environment
[00:30:49.380]but they don't do anything about it.
[00:30:51.100]Why can't you be more like them?
[00:30:54.900]And that was very frightening
[00:30:56.750]because that was clearly the world
[00:30:58.240]that he was growing up in.
[00:30:59.980]So it's not that it suddenly became political.
[00:31:03.040]It's just that there was never an awareness.
[00:31:05.070]And then I thought back to my own childhood,
[00:31:08.540]we recycled everything.
[00:31:11.690]We didn't use pesticides.
[00:31:13.530]We got paid to pick the Japanese beetles
[00:31:16.110]off of the rose bushes and pick the dandy lines
[00:31:18.580]out of the lawn and using pesticides killed songbirds.
[00:31:25.380]And I don't know particularly where that consciousness
[00:31:28.310]came from except that my parents were always outdoors
[00:31:31.070]and had grown up canoeing and hiking
[00:31:32.760]and all those kinds of things.
[00:31:34.460]But I think that part of what we're talking about
[00:31:36.860]is that people are not outside.
[00:31:39.620]People don't notice.
[00:31:41.900]People would never notice that chokecherries had disappeared
[00:31:45.420]because they didn't know chokecherries existed.
[00:31:47.580]I remember being talking to Kay Young one time
[00:31:51.330]about different berries and a student
[00:31:53.160]who was sitting all through it said,
[00:31:56.020]I couldn't believe that conversation.
[00:31:57.830]I mean, I know about like strawberries and stuff
[00:32:01.080]but you were talking about all those different kinds
[00:32:02.970]of berries that I never even heard of
[00:32:04.390]and you knew what each other was talking about.
[00:32:06.620]And I couldn't believe it.
[00:32:10.050]So until we have more of a consciousness
[00:32:13.970]of things until people see things
[00:32:17.330]most people don't know what a bull frog is.
[00:32:20.050]Most people don't know what a toad is.
[00:32:23.030]I might freak out because I don't see any toads.
[00:32:26.150]But if nobody knows what a toad
[00:32:28.040]is except for watching a Disneyfied version
[00:32:30.700]of "The Wind in the Willows" we need better stories.
[00:32:36.220]We need stories that really capture
[00:32:38.280]an ecological consciousness.
[00:32:40.130]And I don't see that happening now.
[00:32:42.320]I watched the weather forecasts on Channel Eight.
[00:32:45.170]I hear everybody talking about normal.
[00:32:47.500]I hear everybody talking about average.
[00:32:49.860]I never on the just local broadcast
[00:32:53.180]see anybody saying anything about climate change.
[00:32:57.240]Wow it was 31 degrees below zero.
[00:33:00.180]Wow that's the second coldest it's been.
[00:33:02.520]Do we say anything about everything's getting more extreme.
[00:33:07.800]And until we have some kind of a different conversation
[00:33:12.400]we're not gonna get very much change.
[00:33:14.530]I look at environmental books for kids.
[00:33:17.150]I freaked out at one book.
[00:33:19.580]I knew what it was doing but it said rivers are not alive.
[00:33:24.150]And I thought, Holy Toledo
[00:33:27.200]I am not telling any kid I care about that
[00:33:29.440]rivers are not alive.
[00:33:30.940]Rivers are alive.
[00:33:32.200]The earth is alive.
[00:33:33.690]We have a false consciousness
[00:33:35.390]and we're developing it in kids.
[00:33:37.040]And that frightens me in some ways
[00:33:39.420]much more even than Clint's charts.
[00:33:50.303]Well, I'll try to...
[00:33:52.210]I'm gonna go back to that political understanding
[00:33:55.400]'cause I define politics as living in community.
[00:33:58.870]And I remember my first vote back in 1976.
[00:34:05.220]I was a senior in high school.
[00:34:06.320]I voted for, I don't mind sharing, Jimmy Carter.
[00:34:09.460]And I was interested in the environment
[00:34:11.300]just like Fran spoke of her parents, my parents recycled.
[00:34:14.140]And we were ahead of the game.
[00:34:16.040]And the next thing you know
[00:34:17.550]president Carter was putting on solar panels.
[00:34:20.400]And then off, I went to further study in law school.
[00:34:24.810]And Ronald Reagan became president.
[00:34:26.900]The first thing he did was he took
[00:34:28.540]down the solar panels off on the White House.
[00:34:31.570]And I'm just trying to think
[00:34:33.440]how do you sort through these type of actions?
[00:34:37.550]So then I had a wonderful law Professor Richard Hornberger
[00:34:41.000]who was my constitutional law, professor.
[00:34:44.550]He would stray into, it's absolutely ridiculous
[00:34:48.380]that so many Nebraskans put so much fertilizer
[00:34:52.690]on their lawns.
[00:34:53.960]And really you should plant cedars
[00:34:57.570]in your front lawn and not fuss with watering
[00:35:02.120]and trying to grow Kentucky bluegrass in Nebraska.
[00:35:06.600]And so I said to my friend who became my wife I said
[00:35:12.010]let's drive by this guy's house
[00:35:13.260]see if he's really doing that.
[00:35:16.660]Went down 48th Street by Bryan Hospital,
[00:35:19.370]lo and behold, there was this house.
[00:35:21.930]And guess what the front lawn looked like.
[00:35:25.530]Those of you know, Richard Hornberger
[00:35:27.200]he was a man of truth.
[00:35:28.670]It was cedars, it was all cedars.
[00:35:30.970]And so I learned so much on,
[00:35:33.900]so I meander so I learn and I'm still a student
[00:35:37.320]but we must address
[00:35:42.530]the disconnect between this reality of climate change
[00:35:49.270]and people's perceptions that are driven by, you know
[00:35:55.600]wild conspiracies and flaunting
[00:36:00.400]the reality that there's climate change.
[00:36:02.650]And that's a task to change
[00:36:07.640]our view of how we collectively
[00:36:12.540]make the world better for my grandchildren.
[00:36:15.860]So way back in '90, I think we were talking pretty much
[00:36:20.800]about similar issues and somehow people think, you know
[00:36:26.210]there were a consumption society
[00:36:28.520]and David he rides his bike to work every day.
[00:36:33.350]And he shamed me into getting a bike.
[00:36:36.440]I'm an old guy.
[00:36:37.273]So if I fall off that might be the last bike ride
[00:36:41.220]He said he would look after me
[00:36:42.880]but the point is it's really hard to change
[00:36:46.190]people's behavior as well.
[00:36:48.760]And to me, I'm more concerned
[00:36:50.170]about how our political discourse is driven
[00:36:54.380]by wild perceptions rather than based on science.
[00:36:59.520]So that's really
[00:37:03.590]on one hand I'm hopeful that we can convey the importance
[00:37:07.449]of science and politics.
[00:37:08.750]On the other hand I'm really concerned about the disconnect.
[00:37:11.470]So I don't know how to solve that.
[00:37:15.140]Well thank you, Peter.
[00:37:15.973]And just so the audience knows,
[00:37:17.828]I significantly encourage Peter to ride.
[00:37:22.170]I don't pressure him but I enjoy riding my bicycle.
[00:37:26.060]So everyone who knows me knows this,
[00:37:29.140]but one of the questions I've had for all of you for a while
[00:37:32.780]just reading your work and kind of consuming that
[00:37:36.570]and sort of where I am in my own professional life
[00:37:40.040]and personal life and how living in the region
[00:37:43.910]and during an era of climate change, you know,
[00:37:48.340]how that all sort of fits in for me
[00:37:51.060]I wanted to get your takes on this.
[00:37:53.840]What does living in the Great Plains
[00:37:56.070]what can it teach us for this larger conversation?
[00:37:59.490]Like, you know, sometimes I talk to friends who live
[00:38:02.340]on the East or West Coast, I'm originally from Oregon.
[00:38:05.410]And so they'll say yeah, you know, why do we have to care
[00:38:09.300]about climate change or what's happening
[00:38:11.680]in the Great Plains?
[00:38:12.610]And I'm like, don't get me started.
[00:38:14.320]But I think that's an actually,
[00:38:17.280]I was curious how all of you sort of see that.
[00:38:20.490]What can living here with the challenges we face
[00:38:26.540]ecologically, agriculturally, however you wanna frame it
[00:38:31.170]what can it teach us?
[00:38:32.260]What can the region teach or provide the larger
[00:38:36.200]sort of conversation and maybe solutions
[00:38:40.182]toward addressing climate change?
[00:38:46.470]We live in a too climate,
[00:38:48.520]it's always too hot or too cold or too wet or too windy.
[00:38:53.940]And so we have that kind of experience of crazy climates
[00:39:00.420]and to recognize that, you know people in California
[00:39:06.290]always had this nice temperate climate
[00:39:08.110]there was never a too anything.
[00:39:10.170]And now it's too forest fires and too brownouts
[00:39:14.900]and to this, that, and the other thing.
[00:39:17.220]So we're the people who can talk
[00:39:19.550]about what happens when you live in a too climate
[00:39:22.570]and how you prepare to live in a too climate.
[00:39:25.740]'Cause that's what we're all living in now.
[00:39:28.920]I think we worry about the extremes
[00:39:31.203]that if it's already crazy, what if it gets more wacky?
[00:39:34.670]I remember once talking to Clint about designing a class
[00:39:37.360]we wanted to call it wacky weather or something like that.
[00:39:39.977]But if it's already extremes
[00:39:42.240]I often use examples of the aging.
[00:39:44.760]And obviously I'm one of the older people here
[00:39:46.830]if not the oldest, obviously health changes over time.
[00:39:50.890]But if all of a sudden I started falling down all the time.
[00:39:53.480]If all of a sudden I had high blood pressure,
[00:39:55.520]I'd go, wow it's more than aging.
[00:39:57.430]So I think we can tell people look, this is a great flyway
[00:40:01.000]for the sandhill cranes and migrating birds.
[00:40:03.520]If we start getting out of sequence for pollinators,
[00:40:06.410]if we start losing bees, if we start all these things
[00:40:08.980]I know we're going down the negative path here
[00:40:10.880]but the point is we're in an ideal location
[00:40:13.160]even though it is extreme
[00:40:14.350]we've got everybody's attention, right?
[00:40:16.170]What if you want to look
[00:40:17.200]at somebody to say it's pretty extreme?
[00:40:18.750]Do you want it to get it more extreme?
[00:40:20.170]If we don't do something, it could.
[00:40:21.460]I think that gets everybody's attention.
[00:40:23.330]And then there must be something people relate to.
[00:40:25.770]The fact that now we can grow plants in Nebraska
[00:40:30.260]that we couldn't in 1990
[00:40:32.140]because we don't have the extreme winters.
[00:40:34.300]And we did luck out with that 30 below zero.
[00:40:36.230]We had a thick snow cover.
[00:40:37.610]If we didn't that cold could have penetrated deep
[00:40:39.940]into the plants that shouldn't be planted here in 1990
[00:40:43.320]but we are now with the moderating climate.
[00:40:53.230]Yeah we've had, I'm thinking now back
[00:40:55.900]to some of the earlier thoughts we've had
[00:40:58.667]and they actually even starting last night
[00:40:59.980]with Danny Hoffman where people, they were saying
[00:41:04.830]how some of the speakers were talking about how
[00:41:08.200]talking to farmers and ranchers.
[00:41:11.550]You can't really start out by asking them about
[00:41:14.410]is climate change happening, right?
[00:41:16.890]And because they'll either recognize it right away
[00:41:19.610]and they'll agree with you and that's fine.
[00:41:21.820]Or they'll start to dig their heels in.
[00:41:25.030]And I wonder and I don't get out
[00:41:28.450]and talk to ranchers and farmers all that often
[00:41:31.180]but I wonder if we start the conversation
[00:41:33.350]is the weather change?
[00:41:36.220]And I think I've talked to the people
[00:41:38.247]the conservative people
[00:41:39.940]they're not necessarily agriculturalists
[00:41:42.299]but they are conservative
[00:41:43.132]and they may not believe in climate change
[00:41:44.480]but they do notice that the weather is changed.
[00:41:47.810]We're getting as Ken was saying more extreme,
[00:41:51.260]more wacky weather, right?
[00:41:53.550]And then if you start,
[00:41:55.620]I think if we start from that, is the weather changing.
[00:41:58.740]And I think we'll probably find much more agreement
[00:42:00.760]with that and then you can start saying well,
[00:42:02.620]is it changing in a way that seems to be increasing
[00:42:06.440]in a certain direction, right?
[00:42:08.800]Isn't that climate change?
[00:42:10.460]I think maybe we could open their eyes
[00:42:13.070]a little bit that way.
[00:42:14.443]They're willing to talk about...
[00:42:18.509]I have, like I said I haven't talked
[00:42:19.660]to many farmers and ranchers necessarily in Nebraska
[00:42:21.640]but back when I was on the East Coast
[00:42:24.180]farmers were always talking about weather. (laughs)
[00:42:27.290]I guess that's something that they're happy to talk about.
[00:42:29.760]I think we start there.
[00:42:31.918]We may get a little bit more buy-in to this
[00:42:35.267]and I think this is really important
[00:42:38.010]because their livelihood depends
[00:42:40.590]on it on being able to adapt to it.
[00:42:42.607]And if we get bigger extremes it's gonna be
[00:42:45.420]harder and harder for them to adapt to those extremes.
[00:42:49.270]I think Mace was just talking
[00:42:52.160]about that in the earlier session.
[00:42:54.520]And I think if we can get buy-in
[00:42:58.700]what's important about this part of the world?
[00:43:00.900]Well it is a fairly conservative part of the world.
[00:43:03.280]And if we can get by-in there and people started to say
[00:43:05.460]we need to do something about it
[00:43:06.830]then I think we can start moving the country
[00:43:09.490]in the right direction.
[00:43:11.560]Hey Clint, I wanna jump in
[00:43:12.590]I don't wanna dominate this
[00:43:13.550]but I was on the chancellor speakers bureau
[00:43:15.880]and I had a talk called the arguments against,
[00:43:19.400]the arguments against global warming.
[00:43:22.660]And I was invited to meet a group
[00:43:25.440]of farmers in Southeast Nebraska
[00:43:27.720]at 5:30 in the morning I arrived.
[00:43:29.750]It was a 6:00 am breakfast.
[00:43:31.400]I did ask that question Clint.
[00:43:33.350]As I was giving the talk how many of you, and I use believe
[00:43:36.370]believe in global warming?
[00:43:38.210]Three or four hands came up and a little bit later on
[00:43:40.500]I said oh, by the way I wanted to ask you another question.
[00:43:43.250]How many of you notice it's really weird lately?
[00:43:45.910]Almost all the hands went up.
[00:43:47.280]So spot on Clint, exactly right.
[00:43:49.270]Stay away from the politically charged words and just say
[00:43:52.060]have you noticed it's a little strange lately
[00:43:56.510]and they will agree?
[00:44:02.780]My turn, always the last guy.
[00:44:07.487]I always drag it down back to politics
[00:44:09.990]but I'm gonna pick up on both your comment Ken and Clint
[00:44:16.207]and the notion that the situation is right
[00:44:20.470]for communication in which we can draw upon the strengths
[00:44:27.060]of our commitment to communities and that's far ranging.
[00:44:32.240]So it's pretty hard to find a bus that would take me
[00:44:37.250]to Grand Island but you can probably take a bus
[00:44:41.840]to around in Lincoln.
[00:44:44.940]And so somehow
[00:44:47.950]we must persuade our communities
[00:44:51.790]to engage in a little more collective action.
[00:44:55.680]And so, you know, I run by students all the time.
[00:44:59.250]And I share that Richard Hornberger, Professor Hornberger
[00:45:03.860]example and one student
[00:45:07.170]David and I know well, Adrian Gomez Ramos said
[00:45:11.640]so Longo why don't you have a coalition where everyone
[00:45:15.280]in Kearney gets rid of their bluegrass
[00:45:17.970]and puts in prairie grass and a few rocks.
[00:45:25.008]That's a wonderful question, right?
[00:45:27.200]So you begin to nibble.
[00:45:28.870]And then I point to my self like,
[00:45:31.540]hmm, throw that kind of energy or persuasion.
[00:45:34.780]So even though the community, you know we can persuade
[00:45:38.370]and they believe in climate change you know
[00:45:40.330]what are the next steps?
[00:45:41.320]So I'm looking at how can we start taking steps
[00:45:46.170]to mitigate the harm
[00:45:50.715]of our human behavior?
[00:45:53.010]So that's a great and I turned that over to Dr. Vail
[00:46:00.200]'cause he's full of energy and he's going to influence
[00:46:04.510]community life up and down the Great Plains,
[00:46:08.850]So I'll turn it back to you.
[00:46:10.380]Yep, I mean thank you, Peter.
[00:46:13.230]I hope that I can contribute
[00:46:15.050]to shaping where these conversations
[00:46:17.730]and things go in the future with my own work.
[00:46:21.820]One of the kind of, I mean
[00:46:23.780]there are two things that kind of popped
[00:46:25.130]out at me as all of you were visiting.
[00:46:27.400]One is you know, at what point do we say 100 year storms?
[00:46:34.570]You know, if they're happening every year
[00:46:36.420]at what point do we say, you know something's up.
[00:46:41.279]And I think I found
[00:46:44.540]in my own personal conversations with a variety of people
[00:46:48.560]in different walks of life, all either maybe thinking
[00:46:52.430]about climate change or resisting it
[00:46:54.780]but so they're thinking about it in kind of a different way
[00:46:57.460]right, they're resisting instead of accepting
[00:47:00.390]but all of them would kind of agree
[00:47:02.300]with that point that these intensities
[00:47:05.900]are what they notice before I present the science
[00:47:14.000]or the history, one of the things I kind of wanted to get
[00:47:16.330]a sense of and this is my historian and me coming out now.
[00:47:19.780]So bear with me.
[00:47:20.660]But I think one of the valuable pieces
[00:47:25.420]of conversation that I've had sort of throughout today
[00:47:30.240]and last night was the power of interdisciplinarity
[00:47:35.146]that one of the kinds of questions I wanna ask
[00:47:38.380]all of you is to what extent that that thinking
[00:47:42.060]interdisciplinary that we can't just have science
[00:47:45.740]but we also need humanities.
[00:47:47.250]We can't just have STEM
[00:47:48.330]but we need those sort of those intersections
[00:47:51.470]new things are revealed right through those intersections.
[00:47:56.210]To what extent, did that play a role 31 years ago
[00:48:00.070]in the conference?
[00:48:01.360]Like it seems to in our conference today?
[00:48:09.010]Well, the nature of the Center for Great Plains Studies
[00:48:13.440]I mean our first
[00:48:20.420]someone from English, someone from Geography,
[00:48:23.500]someone from History.
[00:48:25.780]So definitely everything that the center
[00:48:28.860]did try to be interdisciplinary.
[00:48:31.060]What we found out was that in practice
[00:48:33.500]it tended to be multi-disciplinary.
[00:48:35.950]Instead of people crossing boundaries
[00:48:38.500]there were people sitting in their own little boxes
[00:48:40.930]talking across the boxes
[00:48:42.550]to other people in ways that were extremely useful.
[00:48:47.010]The kind of pushback to interdisciplinarity was huge.
[00:48:51.720]I remember when I was the editor of Great Plains Quarterly
[00:48:54.980]I would get requests to write letters
[00:48:59.180]for people who were being promoted
[00:49:01.170]because they'd done an article in Great Plains Quarterly
[00:49:04.150]and they would get pushback.
[00:49:05.890]Well, this isn't really English.
[00:49:08.630]This isn't a journal that's right next
[00:49:10.240]to an article about agronomy, whatever that is.
[00:49:15.250]And it was very frustrating to be working in that.
[00:49:21.170]I feel like I grew up completely undisciplined.
[00:49:24.520]I was in a remarkable program
[00:49:27.360]or I didn't really have any majors.
[00:49:29.220]It was just sort of called American studies
[00:49:30.970]and everything was game.
[00:49:35.700]But I'd like to push beyond into the interdisciplinary
[00:49:38.510]and get out of the university because a lot
[00:49:41.210]of the things you're talking about where
[00:49:43.700]have I seen people out in the streets
[00:49:45.690]protesting about climate change?
[00:49:49.610]Women's march, Black Lives Matter marches,
[00:49:53.200]Stand in for Lincoln marches.
[00:49:56.682]I spend a lot of time in the streets
[00:49:58.810]and I really see a lot of something
[00:50:03.690]beyond interdisciplinarity going on there.
[00:50:06.450]And I think that it's really important
[00:50:08.040]for the university to be talking to the community.
[00:50:11.919]And I would like to see more university
[00:50:15.330]people actually out in the streets.
[00:50:23.920]No I think,
[00:50:26.760]maybe go in a slightly different direction than Fran was,
[00:50:30.196]I think not everybody has you know,
[00:50:33.150]there maybe exceptions here
[00:50:35.270]but not everybody has a thermometer and a rain gauge
[00:50:38.920]outside and takes measurements all the time.
[00:50:41.050]But we do all see the environment,
[00:50:44.150]whether we're really consciously logging it or recording it.
[00:50:48.430]We do see it.
[00:50:49.740]I think you know, that's one thing where rather
[00:50:52.820]than looking back at data from 30 or 100 years ago,
[00:50:57.360]reading descriptions about the places,
[00:51:01.720]the environments that people lived in, you know,
[00:51:03.820]it's the same place you know,
[00:51:05.630]it's Red Cloud or it's Lincoln or whatever here in Nebraska
[00:51:10.290]that you're reading about and you almost don't recognize
[00:51:14.010]the environment its changed so much
[00:51:16.040]from when that was written and it's not the perceptions
[00:51:19.310]have changed so much it's that the environment has.
[00:51:22.615]And I think that's really important
[00:51:24.437]because like I said, we don't all have measurements
[00:51:27.930]going back 30 years but we all can read
[00:51:30.480]about what it was like 30 years ago or 100 years ago.
[00:51:42.740]Ken or Peter.
[00:51:47.000]Well I think we all have to underscore the importance
[00:51:52.470]of disciplines different and coming together.
[00:51:57.620]I mean, things are not so linear for me, at least.
[00:52:01.810]So even though I'm a political scientist
[00:52:06.390]the historians claim I'm a frustrated historian,
[00:52:10.540]but really, I would rather be a poet
[00:52:14.370]because we don't often, you know
[00:52:17.050]you can read poetry and perhaps you don't understand poetry.
[00:52:20.030]And that's why I think it's so important
[00:52:23.104]for us to have these conversations is to, again
[00:52:26.920]increase our understanding.
[00:52:28.400]It is an exercise in search of the truth.
[00:52:32.440]It is an exercise in search of a good life
[00:52:36.040]which requires a diverse set of voices rather than you know
[00:52:43.570]of a path that might be linear.
[00:52:45.830]But that aside, I think we have to embrace
[00:52:50.230]the scientific realities in those conversations.
[00:52:55.699]So that even though our path might meander
[00:52:59.590]we are guided by the truth.
[00:53:02.100]And you know, in search of COVID remedies,
[00:53:09.550]again the science has meandered but at the end of the day
[00:53:15.580]we improve our chances because of science.
[00:53:19.040]So that has to be cast in a way that we can communicate
[00:53:24.490]to the citizenry so that's how I view
[00:53:27.520]the value of not only this symposium
[00:53:31.450]but opportunities in which we can share our thoughts.
[00:53:35.340]And then David I'll put my comments that
[00:53:38.650]there's two things that are going on.
[00:53:40.410]We need multidisciplinary for just the basic research.
[00:53:44.760]We're putting our heads together.
[00:53:46.230]And you mentioned COVID a moment ago.
[00:53:48.900]People are saying, how could they have a COVID vaccination
[00:53:51.550]and vaccine ready so quickly?
[00:53:53.620]Well what do you think these researchers
[00:53:55.010]have been doing for the last 10, 15, 20, 30 years
[00:53:57.830]already working on vaccines.
[00:53:59.660]They needed to tweak it a little bit and it works.
[00:54:02.300]So we need the collaboration across all the disciplines
[00:54:05.730]but then we need something else, we need messengers.
[00:54:08.457]And Clint you may remember
[00:54:10.390]the University of Nebraska is part
[00:54:12.330]of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research.
[00:54:14.950]We have an annual meeting in Boulder, Colorado.
[00:54:17.260]These are scientists from all over, just scientists.
[00:54:20.420]And then all of a sudden, the director says
[00:54:23.890]we want you to watch some performance art
[00:54:28.150]we were skeptical at first.
[00:54:29.867]And go oh, performance artists trying to express
[00:54:35.390]climate change and the impact of climate change.
[00:54:38.650]So the messengers are important,
[00:54:40.290]any help that we can get to get the message out,
[00:54:44.250]any help we can get in how to frame the message
[00:54:46.980]is extremely important.
[00:54:48.390]And the value of this conference is one more time hearing
[00:54:51.440]you know, try to stay away from the negative.
[00:54:53.880]Remember that there's truth decay.
[00:54:55.620]I love that.
[00:54:56.453]That's something that I picked up last night
[00:54:58.450]but how do we go about being the most effective that we can?
[00:55:02.930]And that's what I miss right now.
[00:55:04.810]We're doing this virtually the conversations
[00:55:07.030]that would be taking place in the hallways.
[00:55:08.840]If we were having an in-person meetings.
[00:55:10.740]So of collaboration to get research results,
[00:55:13.350]collaboration with colleagues who are maybe better
[00:55:16.750]than we are at how to get the message to people
[00:55:19.437]and to make it stick.
[00:55:20.870]So whether it's English, whether it's History,
[00:55:24.530]whether it's political science, whatever it is
[00:55:26.720]there's something that we can learn from them
[00:55:28.240]and how to get the message and get the message to stick.
[00:55:36.250]Yeah I mean, I was just thinking one
[00:55:38.250]of the inspirational things that I've picked
[00:55:40.630]up in this conference
[00:55:42.550]also working with the center on things but, you know
[00:55:45.460]sort of to Fran's point as well for me
[00:55:49.280]I need to constantly be looking
[00:55:51.450]for better ways to take what I'm studying as a historian
[00:55:55.760]of environment and agriculture and connect to people
[00:55:59.930]actually farming the land
[00:56:01.610]regardless if they share my personal political views or not,
[00:56:05.630]that for me at least that really matters
[00:56:09.990]to have those conversations
[00:56:13.330]because the way we share the land is interconnected
[00:56:18.930]and a couple other panels have helped me
[00:56:21.640]see that better too.
[00:56:23.200]So I really appreciate all of you.
[00:56:26.430]We have about three minutes left.
[00:56:28.503]I feel like we could talk for a long time on these topics.
[00:56:33.130]And it's been really encouraging for me to hear
[00:56:35.820]from each one of you and sharing your insights.
[00:56:38.680]I guess my final question for all of you in three minutes,
[00:56:43.400]so good luck but my final question is for people like me,
[00:56:48.820]my age and younger, these generations
[00:56:54.070]what kind of toolkit do we need going forward?
[00:56:57.060]What do we need in there?
[00:56:59.010]That could be a large answer
[00:57:00.590]but what do we need to go forward?
[00:57:05.380]Send your kid into nature.
[00:57:08.370]Make sure your kid grows up outside,
[00:57:11.580]make sure your kid can tell the difference
[00:57:13.840]between a flicker and a red-headed woodpecker.
[00:57:21.440]I guess I would tell people you're part
[00:57:23.060]of a grand experiment.
[00:57:24.890]You have a long life ahead of you
[00:57:26.850]and the choices you make individually and as a group
[00:57:30.610]will affect what your life is gonna be in the future.
[00:57:32.820]And as another quick comment
[00:57:34.170]I think the youth are getting really onboard with this
[00:57:36.630]especially with Greta Thunburg.
[00:57:38.520]So I really do have hope
[00:57:39.960]you didn't ask that question, but I am hopeful.
[00:57:45.580]I'm hopeful as well.
[00:57:47.040]So I see that Kevin's generation
[00:57:50.185]but I certainly see that amongst her students.
[00:57:53.338]So underscore that kid
[00:57:55.170]that's got a great observation and thank you.
[00:58:00.750]Yeah, I have some hope as well too.
[00:58:03.850]I actually, to be honest
[00:58:06.160]I actually last fall
[00:58:10.270]I was teaching fall 2019 I guess it was now.
[00:58:15.210]I was teaching a class on the climate system
[00:58:18.090]and we were talking about climate change, obviously
[00:58:22.060]as an issue and I actually apologized to my students
[00:58:27.180]for leaving them the mess we're leaving them.
[00:58:29.870]And I think they appreciated that if I could,
[00:58:33.010]it came up in a conversation a few months later
[00:58:35.460]and they appreciated that.
[00:58:36.830]And I think they recognize that they are gonna have
[00:58:41.090]to do some cleanup for us
[00:58:43.860]but I think they are ready for it.
[00:58:47.280]They are ready to undertake that.
[00:58:50.133]So I think that's really,
[00:58:51.855]I do have some hope.
[00:58:53.460]I noticed in the Q&A
[00:58:56.250]somebody brought up the idea
[00:58:57.580]of baseline shifts syndrome where things
[00:59:00.600]and Fran kind of alluded to this way
[00:59:03.780]when you were talking about watching the weather
[00:59:06.840]on the local news and then talking about comparing
[00:59:10.240]you know it's above normal or it's below normal whatever.
[00:59:12.760]But what Ken and I know there's a secret behind that, right?
[00:59:15.100]Is that those normals are updated every decade.
[00:59:19.550]It's a 30 year average that gets updated.
[00:59:21.890]And if you actually plot out the normals over time
[00:59:25.770]it's like a set of stairs going up.
[00:59:29.080]And so we're never that far above normal
[00:59:32.120]because we keep shifting the normals.
[00:59:34.458]If we go back and look at what the normals we're like,
[00:59:37.315](indistinct) of the century
[00:59:39.110]and compare our temperatures to them
[00:59:42.330]we're well above normal.
[00:59:47.382]And David we look forward for you
[00:59:49.270]moderating us again, 30 years from now.
[00:59:55.160]Well I would love that.
[00:59:58.190]Anyway, thank you all.
[00:59:59.710]This is truly an honor for me to be able to help guide
[01:00:04.070]the conversation from each one of you.
[01:00:06.290]Thank you for sharing what you have,
[01:00:07.920]and thank you for starting this 30 years ago
[01:00:11.060]or 31 years ago now.
[01:00:12.880]And I'm just really truly honored
[01:00:14.830]to be part of this conversation.
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