Earth Day event showcases Mason’s multidisciplinary approach to fighting climate change

George Mason University’s multidisciplinary approach to tackling climate change will be on full display on April 22 when a panel of researchers gathers on the Fairfax Campus at the Johnson Center Cinema to discuss the many facets of the problem and how to best address them.

“Climate 3.0: The Science, the Politics and the Policy Agenda” includes a thorough examination of the issue of climate change in the form of discussing the science itself, policy and communication. University Professor Jagadish Shukla, who is also the managing director of the Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies (COLA), will oversee the special Earth Day event, which will run from 3 to 6 p.m., and include renowned panelists such as Thomas Lovejoy, Andrew Light, Tyler Cowen, Jim Kinter and Ed Maibach. Robinson Professor and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Steve Pearlstein will serve as the panel’s moderator.

“The purpose of the forum is to give an overview of the basic science of global warming, the current American public understanding about climate change and possible adaptation and mitigation strategies,” Shukla said. “The forum brings together Mason faculty from various departments to discuss climate change. Earth Day is the perfect day on which to bring these issues to light.”

Lovejoy, a University Professor within Mason’s Department of Environmental Science and Policy, called the environmental challenge ahead a “staggering” one.

“This is a grand planetary Gordian knot and won’t be solved without a multidisciplinary approach,” he said.

The first part of the forum, from 3 to 4:30 p.m., features leading faculty experts discussing climate science and policy. The second half of the forum is a student-led workshop focusing on what Mason students can do at the local, state and federal levels in the fight against climate change. The hope is that participants will come away with new ideas, new partnerships and innovative, out-of-the-box approaches to the fight against climate change.

“We face many threats from climate change, including costs which are likely understated,” said Cowen, the Holbert L. Harris Chair at Mason’s Department of Economics and a Bloomberg national columnist. “Recent history suggests we will continue to respond to these threats in destructive ways, driving costs even higher. To the extent that progress on climate change is at all possible, a solution is most likely to come from having more people working on the problem, including members of future generations.”

Light, University Professor of Philosophy, Public Policy and Atmospheric Sciences within the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, formerly served in the U.S. State Department during the negotiations for the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

He called the need for a multidisciplinary approach to the issue “absolutely essential.”

“This is a problem that is so extensive,” Light said. “You can’t just look at the science—you have to look at the policy and the politics because this is a problem that ultimately requires transforming the economy.”

The Facebook event page for Climate 3.0 can be found at The event is being presented by Roosevelt at Mason, along with the Institute for a Sustainable Earth and the Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies.