Glaciologist and climate scientist Dr. Keith Mountain wants Frankfort to drift away from the term global warming.
It’s not accurate, he says, explaining that the term gives the impression that global climate trends only affect temperature, when temperature change is just the end result.
“I’d like to sort of reframe people’s thinking about climate change,” said Mountain, who will be speaking tonight at Kentucky State University. “What it really is, is large scale environmental change.”
Mountain, a professor and chairman in the Department of Geography and Geosciences at the University of Louisville, has been on more than 25 international trips to study glaciers and ice sheets to learn more about climate trends.
He’ll speak at 7 tonight in KSU’s Hathaway Hall room 123 about his research and what people can learn from it.
The event is free and open to the public.
Mountain said he hopes the discussion raises some awareness about global climate change, since it’s hard to see the effects in Kentucky.
“If it’s not important to you where you live right now, how do we get people to think it’s important to the future or to people living somewhere else?” Mountain asked.
By looking at the ice cores of glaciers, Mountain said he can discover regional climate trends and global trends. It helps determine temperatures from the past, what plants used to exist and how much dust was in the air, among other things.
“We’ve been able to study (glaciers) now for 50 to 60 years and we know they are very much connected to climate,” Mountain said.
From those findings, he can determine what happened from natural causes and what happened as a result of human beings.
“We surely must recognize that human beings have an impact on this,” Mountain said.
Frankfort Climate Action Network Director Andy McDonald said he met Mountain at an event in Louisville a few years ago and wanted him to speak in Frankfort.
“We’d like to give people in Frankfort a chance to hear his story, hear about the research he’s done,” McDonald said. “Frankfort Climate Action Network has been working for many years trying to raise awareness of climate change.”
He said the research should have a bigger impact when people hear it from Mountain personally.
“It’s different to hear it from a scientist than it is to hear it from a newspaper writer,” McDonald said.
Frankfort Climate Action Network, along with KSU and other area agencies are sponsoring the event.
Mountain said he hopes people leave tonight understanding what climate change is and that they start to think critically about how to deal with it.
“Not only what are we going to do now, but really accepting that this is a serious issue,” Mountain said. “I also don’t want them to leave with the message of doomsday.”