Ph.D. Candidate Participates in White House Panel on Climate Change

Ph.D. Candidate Participates in White House Panel on Climate Change

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Martha Carlson, coordinator of UNH Forest Watch and a Ph.D. candidate in the natural resources and earth systems science program, was one of six private citizens invited to participate in a White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) panel titled “"Climate Change: Discussion with Small Business Leaders" held last Thursday, April 30 in Washington, D.C.  

The Obama administration held the panel discussion “to receive ideas and recommendations about how to better combat climate change, with a special focus on working through the business community.”  

Carlson is a timberland owner and has tapped sugar maples for years, and is focusing her doctoral work on studying the impact of climate change on the region’s signature sugar maple populations. Forest Watch is an inquiry-based science program that takes K-12 students and teachers out of their classrooms to study air pollution and forest health. 

The panel discussion was led by CEQ chair Nancy Sutley and explored three key questions: how has climate change and related impacts (e.g., extreme weather) changed the way small business owners think about and operate their businesses; how is addressing climate change good for business (energy efficiency, clean energy technologies, etc.); and, how is climate change affecting small business going forward? 

For her part, Carlson stressed that climate change in the Northeast is already affecting sugar maples negatively through increased drought, heat stress, more severe storms, and increased numbers of invasive and predatory insects, fungi, and bacteria, among other things.  

But her primary message to the panel focused on the need for education about climate change and for programs that involve citizens and students in helping to plan for climate change. 

 “My Ph.D. studies at UNH have involved working collaboratively with sugar producers and, through Forest Watch, with schoolteachers and their students. Educators are ready to teach about climate change, and everyone is eager to help conserve our sugar maples. The citizen scientists are keen observers and can be useful contributors to our research efforts and powerful supporters of policy change with respect to climate change,” Carlson said.

Of the CEQ meeting, Carlson says she was delighted to see the White House talking with citizens about climate change.   

“It was inspiring to meet the innovative young entrepreneurs who were at part of the roundtable discussion. They were full of energy and confidence in our ability to reduce carbon emissions and adapt to change,” Carlson said.