Climate arena

01 May 2010

The negative impacts of climate change is no longer just a concern for experts, but a pressing issue on everyone’s agenda.

New Horizons - Even so, the issue does not always get the attention it deserves. Speaking at the “Climate Arena” panel; organized jointly by the United Nations Joint Programme Enhancing the Capacity of Turkey to Adapt to Climate Change, Middle East Technical University (METU) Science and Society Centre and the British Council; manager of the Greenpeace Mediterranean branch Uygar Özesmi explained that they have lost a lot of time with those who deny climate change. Drawing on the severity of the issue, Özesmi shared concerns by asking “Let’s say that there is no climate change, why should I not save? Should I continue to pollute the atmosphere by burning petroleum and coal and live permanently dependent on fossil fuels? Let’s say there is no climate change, should I continue to destroy this planet like this?” to an audience of approximately 100 who participated in the panel.

In the panel held at the METU Cultural and Convention Center issues like how climate change came about, its effects, national, regional, and local measures in climate change adaptation and the difference individual efforts can make were discussed. Atila Uras; manager of United Nations Joint Programme Enhancing the Capacity of Turkey to Adapt to Climate Change; said that the affects of climate change are inevitable, and that the necessary steps should be taken quickly in all areas to adapt these effects. Uras explained that Turkey is currently developing a national strategy to adapt to climate change in the context of the Joint Programme.

In addition to Özesmi and Uras, Meryem Beklioğlu; associate professor in the Depratment of Biology of METU; Bahar Gedikli; chairperson of Department of City and Regional Planning in METU; Nuzhet Dalfez from ITU Eurasia Earth Sciences Institute and Oya Ayman also spoke at the panel. In an interactive format, where the audience were encouraged to ask questions, the panel also aired on Radio METU presented by Ege Kayacan.

On climate change, Meryem Beklioğlu said that “we can understand that climate is constantly changing by looking at the geological time period of the earth, considering the last 3.9 billion years”. When recent history is taken into account, Prof. Dr. Beklioğlu explained that human-induced climate change was triggered by the industrial revolution for a number of reasons. In the new era, it is not only the climate that has changed but also the ecosystem as well as organisms that have started to become extinct. Beklioğlu said that “Ecosystems are the systems which provide us the raw materials of the each resource we use in this world. We must care for them, we must approach climate change with these changes in mind”.

Nüzhet Dalfez from ITU Eurasia Earth Sciences Institute expressed that, finding a solution for climate change is not easy. “It is not an easy system to solve because the climate system itself is complicated. This complex system includes many time scales. We see that human beings have an impact on the climate. Climate has been changing on all of these time-scales, since the formation of the earth, and the processes which are the reasons of this change are still around” Dalfez said.

Oya Ayman shared the changes that can be made at the individual level and emphasized the importance energy conservation in all areas of life to cope with climate change.

The Climate Arena Panel is expected to continue in different cities at various universities.