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During the free webcast, Powell will interact with attendees to consider the implications of a changing planet and the significance of the Alaska experience as related to our unique conditions in Nebraska.

Global climate change is causing rapid ecosystem change in Alaska. How local communities respond to this challenge now and in the future will have great bearing on whether these communities can continue to thrive in an era of climate change. The featured speaker for the Sustainable Leadership Presentation Series (SLPS) on Feb. 5, Alaska expert Jim Powell, will untangle the skein of on-the-ground ecosystem conditions, local perceptions of the issue, and climate change mitigation strategies and adaptation plans being developed.

During the free webcast, Powell will interact with attendees to consider the implications of a changing planet and the significance of the Alaska experience as related to our unique conditions in Nebraska.

The SLPS is a series of free, public presentations given monthly on topics related to sustainability, energy, the environment, and how they apply to individuals. The series is webcast at a number of locations across the state of Nebraska on the first Thursday of each school calendar month. The Joslyn Institute for Sustainable Communities, in partnership with Central Community College, Metropolitan Community College and WasteCap Nebraska, is a sponsor of the series, which is free and open to all interested people.

Alaska is often seen as the “canary in the climate change coal mine”, said Jim Powell, Assistant Professor at the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS), where he teaches natural resource policy, sustainability, and public administration.

“Global climate change has caused rapid ecosystem change in Alaska. There are questions about whether or how communities and institutions are sustaining and adapting to this change,” he said. “My presentation for the SLPS will include an overview of ethnographic research recently conducted in Southcentral and Southeastern Alaskan communities. ... During interviews we found that local observations correlate with instrument-measured science. We also found that Federal agencies under the Obama Administration are actively developing and implementing climate change mitigation and adaptation plans.”

Powell said that state and local governments are not necessarily leaders in addressing the challenges brought by climate change, whereas local subsistance harvesters more often provide great insight into the effects of climate change and have a clearer picture of what might be done to mitigate or slow its devastation.

Powell’s research includes community and institutional response to climate change in Alaska, including Alaska Native observations and adaptation to total environmental changes. Before his position with UAS, Jim spent 28 years in environmental management, focusing on water quality issues and wetlands management. Among other appointments, Jim served Alaska state government as Special Assistant to the Commissioner of Environmental Conservation and Assistant Director for the Division of Environmental Quality. His public service includes nine years on the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly with 3 years as Deputy Mayor. The deepened understanding of municipal decision-making and local environmental systems he gained during his years on the Assembly inspired his passion to improve city-level planning through sustainability assessment, monitoring and adaptation. Today, Jim balances his teaching with serving on several state and local nonprofit boards. He also lectures and consults on sustainability planning and is a board member of the Joslyn Institute for Sustainable Communities.

Powell has a PhD in Natural Resources and Sustainability Science from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, a Master in Public Administration from the University of Alaska Southeast, and a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies from Eisenhower College at Rochester Institute of Technology. He is a member of the Ecological Society of America’s Rapid Response Team and for 14 years he has been on the board of the Arctic Winter Games, which sponsors a yearly international competition for youth involving culture and sports among Arctic Nations.

This event is free and open to the public. Interested participants can Tweet questions for the live Q&A using #SLPSThursday.

More information on the program and essential links.


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