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return to Sound Waves article: Scientists and the Media: Impacts of Sea-level Rise

Gary Lytton

Ecological Impacts

Clip 2: Communicating to educate leaders and promote responsible policy change

Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve director Gary Lytton describes hosting a meeting for local leaders to discuss strategies for adapting to climate change in Southwest Florida.

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Gary Lytton: January 31 was the Nation's first "Focus the Nation" event. I don't know how many of you participated in "Focus the Nation" events [URL]; they were hosted by over 1,000 institutions all over the country. And the intent is to create a model like Earth Day. The concept is to get people aware of the issue of climate change but also thinking about solutions to climate change.

What we did was we invited about 20 local leaders. And we had a county commissioner; I think we invited the mayor of the city of Naples; we had private sector, the president of our Chamber of Commerce, the editor of the Naples Daily News, and a variety of others. And we showed them a film that was produced by an organization called the I-C-L-E-I [International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, URL]. It's basically local governments for sustainability, "icklee." A number of you in the audience may be familiar with it; it's an organization that is really trying to focus on getting local governments to address climate change as risk management and to essentially provide guidance and ideas about adaptation strategies for climate change.

The film was about 15 minutes long, which is a perfect window of time when you get elected officials and local leaders together; you don't want to show them an hour-long film. Fifteen minutes was a good opportunity, and it was basically mayors from all over the country that attended a meeting in Anchorage, Alaska. Alaska, of course, is an area where you're already experiencing impacts of climate change—not just environmental impacts but cultural change, economic impacts, and environmental impacts. And the film was interviewing these mayors, and these mayors are basically saying, "It's up to us. We are local leaders; we have to go back to our communities and begin to develop adaptation strategies for climate change." And it gave a lot of different examples in this film.

So, we had this lunch, brought them in, showed them the film, and facilitated a discussion with this local leadership for Southwest Florida. And our challenge to them was: "Let's start the dialogue, and let's focus the dialogue on getting adaptation strategies in place for Southwest Florida." So, ultimately, the endpoint of that discussion was the group decided that they wanted to develop an action plan on climate change, and our role in that is to help facilitate it by bringing scientists to the table, but also bringing other players to the table as well, because again, policy making and land-use decisions are generally gonna be made in the arena of science; but also economics, human health concerns, and politics come into play as well.


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cover story:
Corals, Habitats, and Paleoclimate in the Drake Passage

Scientists and the Media: Impacts of Sea-level Rise

USGS NWRC Celebrates National Women's History Month

USGS Promoted at National Science Teachers Association Conference

Meetings Field Trip for Association of American Geographers Meeting

USGS Modeling Conference

Publications New Poster Depicts Complex Bathymetry in Northern Monterey Bay

August 2008 Publications List U. S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
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