Climate change forum with author Dr. Amitav Ghosh to be held on Earth Day

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On Thursday, Earth Day, the University of Connecticut Reads Program with guest speaker Dr. Amitav Ghosh will host a virtual forum focusing on Ghosh’s recent climate change novel, as well as current attitudes toward the climate crisis. Photo courtesy of Amitav Ghosh’s website.

On Thursday, Earth Day, the University of Connecticut Reads Program with guest speaker Dr. Amitav Ghosh will host a virtual forum focusing on Ghosh’s recent climate change novel, as well as current attitudes toward the climate crisis. 

Ghosh will open up the forum at 12 pm with a brief lecture about his novel, “The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable,” and the message he wishes to convey through it. He will later be joined by faculty and students to discuss topics relevant to both the book and climate change.  

Dr. Michael R. Willig, the Executive Director of the Institute of Environment, Director of the Center for Environmental Sciences and Engineering and professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, detailed what students can expect from the event, as well as what Ghosh’s novel is about.  

“The speaker will be speaking about his book, “The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable,” and it basically is a scholarly work that addresses the question of; we know that climate change is a scientific fact and more and more people have come to that realization, and yet so few people are willing to act upon it in a way that makes the problem go away, or diminishes its likelihood of being a severe as it could be, and so there is this derangement,” Willig said. “There is this great derangement, and future generations will look back and say essentially these people were crazy, they saw this very catastrophic event happening before their very eyes and yet failed to take action to change it.” 

“we know that climate change is a scientific fact and more and more people have come to that realization, and yet so few people are willing to act upon it in a way that makes the problem go away, or diminishes its likelihood of being a severe as it could be, and so there is this derangement.”

Dr. Michael R. Willig, the Executive Director of the Institute of Environment

Willig also spoke about how Ghosh’s perspective on climate change is more humanist than scientific, which will give students a different view on the climate crisis.  

“It’s not that he doesn’t appreciate the science behind the inevitability of the consequences of climate change, but he really starts out by asking the question: why is it that those who write scholarly works as a humanist novels, have they not taken up that banner of addressing climate change and its full ramifications?” Willig said. “He talks about it as this kind of failure to appreciate the gravity of the situation and it’s almost so horrific that it’s not fathomable and therefore it’s this blending of science fiction and science which becomes less clear.”  

Willig also talked about how the forum will touch upon other subjects related to climate change, such as climate justice. 

“The other theme that will run through the discussions is environmental justice and human rights, because often those individual who have had the least input into causing the problems are the individuals who suffer the brunt of the negative effects that would be present because of their disenfranchisement in contemporary society,” Willig said..  

“The other theme that will run through the discussions is environmental justice and human rights, because often those individual who have had the least input into causing the problems are the individuals who suffer the brunt of the negative effects that would be present because of their disenfranchisement in contemporary society.”

Dr. Michael R. Willig, the Executive Director of the Institute of Environment

When asked what he thought students may take away from this forum, Willig commented that he wished that students could take away a greater appreciation of the gravity of the climate crisis. 

“Hopefully, by having this multi-disciplinary panel, there will be moments where people from various backgrounds will have that ‘aha’ moment and will come away thinking this is a problem, and we should and in fact must do something about it,”  Willig said. 

This capstone forum will be one of five climate change discussion events taking place Wednesday through Thursday. More information regarding these events can be found at https://uconnreads.uconn.edu/events-2/uconn-reads-signature-events/.  

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