Hammond Lecture, Symposium Explore the Changing Arctic

January 25, 2011 - News Release

Food security in the Arctic is the topic of this year's Kenneth Hammond Lecture to be held Jan. 28 at 6 p.m. in the University of Guelph's Rozanski Hall.

During their free talk, called "From Tuk to Tonga — Climate Change Is Threatening the Menu," Stephanie Meakin and Tiina Kurvits will discuss how communities in the Arctic and on small developing islands are addressing food security issues caused by climate change.

The annual event is sponsored by U of G’s School of Environmental Sciences and by students through the Environmental Sciences Symposium.

"The talk is an exploration of the commonality of challenges faced by communities in the Canada Far North and Pacific small island states," said Prof. Jonathan Newman, director of the School of Environmental Sciences. "Stephanie Meakin and Tiina Kurvits have recently co-authored a report for the United Nations Environment Program on the impacts of climate change on food security in the Canadian Arctic. They will share their expertise on this critical and fascinating topic."

Meakin has worked on remediation projects in the North and has advocated for Inuit and the Arctic through her work with the Inuit Circumpolar Council. She leads the traditional knowledge team on the circumpolar flaw lead system study — the largest Canadian International Polar Year project — and belongs to the research management committee of ArcticNet, a Network of Centres of Excellence.

Kurvits has worked on polar issues for governments and for non-governmental and intergovernmental organizations. As a current member of the Norwegian GRID-Arendal polar program (part of the United Nations Environment Program), she studies impacts of climate change on food security in the Arctic and in small island developing states, as well as ecosystem-based adaptation to climate change.

Students will also run the 17th annual Environmental Sciences Symposium titled “The Changing Arctic: Past, Present and Future” Jan. 29 in Rozanski Hall.

The full-day symposium (including lunch) costs $10 in advance, $15 at the door.

“The topic of this year’s symposium was inspired by the past couple of summers I spent working in the Arctic,” said Brandon MacKay, symposium director. “While I was there, I fell in love with the people, landscape and wildlife. When we hear about the Arctic, the focus is often on the melting ice and starving polar bear population, but there’s so much more to this region. I am hoping the symposium will bring a broader perspective to people who haven’t had the opportunity to go to the Arctic.”

Keynote speaker Michael Byers will discuss “An Arctic in Crisis: Sovereignty and Environmental Protection in the North.” As the Canada Research Chair in Global Politics and International Law at the University of British Columbia, Byers studies Arctic sovereignty, climate change, human rights, the use of military force and Canada-United States relations.

Participants may attend three of the following talks:

• Greg Marshall, “Crittercam: A Wild Point of View”
• Katrina Moser, “Paleolimnological Investigations Reveal Human Impacts on Remote Arctic and Alpine Lake”
• Bruce Uviluq, “The Past, Present and Future of Nunavut and Our Land Claims Agreement: An Inuit Perspective”
• Martyn Obbard, “Will There Be Bears? The Future of the Polar Bears in Hudson Bay”
• Eric Lacroix, “Conducting Large-Scale Remediation Projects in the Arctic: Challenges and Rewards”
• Ken Reimer, “Contaminated Sites in the North: Remediation and Recovery”
• Tristan Pearce, “Adaptation to a Changing Climate: Experiences Living and Working With Copper Inuit”
• Roland Wilhelm, “Whispers From the Permafrost: How Micro-organisms Will Respond to Climate-Induced Changes in the Arctic (and What They Are Murmuring Right Now).”

Karsten Heuer will end the symposium with his talk “Being Caribou.” In 2003, Heuer and his filmmaker wife, Leanne Allison, spent five months following a 123,000-member Porcupine caribou herd from their Yukon winter range to Alaskan calving grounds and back. Their documentary of the journey brought attention to plans to develop the caribou’s 27,000-year-old calving grounds for oil. Heuer, who has spent years following some of North America’s most endangered wildlife, is a wildlife biologist, park ranger and author of the bestselling books Walking the Big Wild and Being Caribou.

For more information on the Kenneth Hammond Lecture, visit the lecture website.

To register and for a complete schedule of the Environmental Sciences Symposium, visit the symposium website.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338, or lhunt@uoguelph.ca, or Deirdre Healey, Ext. 56982 or dhealey@uoguelph.ca.

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