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Dean's Blog: Shaping our climate future

Dean Fernando Miralles-Wilhelm

One of Mason’s four grand challenges is the quest for a healthy planet. And hundreds of Mason Science researchers, faculty, staff, and students strive for this worthy cause. 

It’s been a busy few months for those scientists (myself included) who perform climate-related research. Mason's Daniel Tong and our CSISS researchers teamed with NASA and the New Mexico Environment Department to host an internationally attended U.S. Dust Symposium and Zafer Boybeyi and colleagues from Rand Corporation just hosted the 25th Annual George Mason University Conference on Atmospheric Transport and Dispersion Modeling. In addition, NOAA is working with Paul Dirmeyer and his AOES colleagues on drought research which will establish future forecasting models. And, pardon the pun, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

For the past month, all eyes have been on the COP26 meetings in Glasgow, Scotland. Our envoy to the events, chair of Mason’s Department of Environmental Science and Policy (ESP), Alonso Aguirre, has just returned from the discussions impacting our planet’s future. And it's been non-stop since his return; with countless panels, blog posts and multiple briefings for the Mason community on what he’s learned and where our important research partnerships and Mason’s overall sustainability efforts may want to focus.

How can you learn about what happened at COP26 and the decisions which will shape our planet's future? 

First, check out Alonso's blog. He and his colleagues from the Global Council For Science and the Environment (GCSE) recount the sessions from their boots-on-the-ground point of view.  Spoiler alert, he says the takeaways were: 1. Secure global net zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach; 2. Adapt to protect communities and natural habitats; 3. Mobilize finance; and 4. Work together to deliver.

His commentary shows the event from multiple points of view, including from the perspective of the thousands of young activists, some driven by either their ecoanxiety or ecoanger, who attended to voice concerns and offer to collaborate. You can also learn about the Financial Times-sponsored discussion Aguirre and representatives of UNESCO, Earth Day, and Education International had at COP26 about Why Climate literacy and civic skill building will solve the climate crisis. 

Come to the Mason Climate Action Plan townhall on Friday, Nov 19 at 1:30 p.m. Register and engage with the Mason Sustainability Council, hear from speakers including ESP's own Professor Dann Sklarew and also get a chance to share your thoughts.

Network and learn Sign up forMason's ISE / ESP Dept / Center for Climate Change Communications-sponsored COP26 Recap panel discussion on Tuesday, Nov 23 at 11 a.m.

Get involved and share what we do. Much of our college's healthy planet research and education focuses on sustainability and the prediction and effects of our evolving climate. 

Many of my highly regarded AOES colleagues and COLA scientists at Mason are modeling past, current, and putting in place the data infrastructure for future weather patterns, severe weather, including storms and their respective impacts, along with their effects on our planet's resources and overall health. My current, NASA-sponsored research focuses on addressing global water scarcity.

And the brilliant scientists including students in our Biology, Chemistry, and Environmental Science and Policy (ESP) departments and Mason research centers like PEREC, and the Smithsonian Mason School of Conservation, are laser-focused on identifying and enacting sustainability policies for multiple species survival, including our own. 

We've formed many impactful, multidisciplinary partnerships within Mason's Institute for a Sustainable Earth. Learn about them and stay on top of Mason Science research news as our quest for a healthy planet continues. 

Will you join us?