A Chat with Hon. Fran Ulmer, Chair of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission

A Chat with Hon. Fran Ulmer, Chair of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission

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Julianne Troiano // 04 October 2015 // #Experts #GoingGreen 

Fran Ulmer, Chair of the U.S. Arctic Research CommissionEarly last month over 30 high school teachers of English as a foreign language had the chance to discuss current challenges concerning sustainable development in the U.S. with Hon. Fran Ulmer, the chair of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission. Fran Ulmer was in Germany to participate in the Polartagung Conference and to speak in Frankfurt, Hamburg, and Berlin about the Arctic Council’s work on
a network of marine protected areas and
prevention of oil pollution and ocean acidification. She took the time out of a very busy schedule to discuss sustainability in the U.S. with high school teachers from the Going Green program at the U.S. Embassy Teacher Training Seminar in Berlin. The Teacher Training Seminar followed an exciting event for the U.S. – President Barack Obama’s visit to Alaska where he put climate change in the spotlight and became the first U.S. president to visit the Arctic Circle (more on this in a future post).

We had a chance to ask Fran Ulmer a couple of questions about her opinion of President Obama’s visit to Alaska and how individuals can play a role in combatting climate change.

President Obama visited Alaska in August to, as the White House put it, “shine a spotlight on what Alaskans in particular have come to know: Climate change.” How would you assess the impact of this visit nationally and globally?

“President Obamas visit to Alaska was very significant for many reasons. He focused attention on how rapid changes in climate are impacting communities in the Arctic, today, not in the distant future. Over two hundred journalists from around the world came to listen and to learn. They took their stories to the world and helped increase the understanding of many people about why it is important to work together and take action to slow the warming of the planet.“

You recently took time out of a very busy schedule to address high school teachers engaged in the U.S. Embassy Going Green school project in Berlin. Combatting climate change requires an enormous global effort on behalf of government and industry. Can individuals really make a difference?

Everyone can make a difference by reducing their consumption of fossil fuels, and helping friends and neighbors understand and appreciate what can be done locally and globally. In addition, we can encourage elected leaders to prioritize action steps nationally and internationally; for example, supporting more renewable energy development, putting a price on carbon, increasing energy efficiency of homes and cars, and reducing waste of the resources, like water, on which on life depends.“

More on Hon. Fran Ulmer’s trip to Germany: An interview she gave for the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

Julianne Troiano is a graduate student at the Center for Chemical Innovation on Sustainable Nanotechnology (CSN) at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. Julianne is interested in environmental science and has experience as a blogger (www.sustainable-nano.com). She recently travelled to Iceland to study glaciers and alternative energy and will share her experiences with us.