Symposium brings Al Gore to Aspen |

Symposium brings Al Gore to Aspen

Top scientists and policymakers come to Aspen for a symposium on Feb. 18 to discuss the connection and possible reactions to climate change and declining forest health.

Many of the presenters and panelists speak about climate change in the backyards of the residents of Colorado. The symposium is titled “Forests at Risk: Climate Change and the Future of the American West.”

Symposium participants include Sen. Mark Udall and Under Secretary of Agriculture Harris Sherman as well as Nobel Laureate Al Gore and former Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter. Renee Montagne, co-host of NPR’s Morning Edition, will moderate the panel discussions and the question and answer sessions. The event is organized by the Aspen nonprofit For The Forest.

“Our forests are changing – and quickly,” says John Bennett, executive director of For The Forest. “While different superficial causes exist, the bottom-line common denominator appears to be the warmer forest temperatures we’re seeing across the West. Increased forest mortality is another calling card of climate change.”

He cited examples such as the bark beetle epidemic that’s affected 20 million acres of trees from British Columbia to Mexico, a western wildfire season that’s now 78 days longer than it was two decades ago, a decline of large-diameter trees in Yosemite, sudden aspen decline in Colorado and the prediction by some scientists that we may lose half the forests of the West during this century.

Bennett said an important goal of the symposium is to reframe the national dialogue about climate change in personal terms that people can relate to. For The Forest also hopes to use this symposium to spawn similar seminars and public forums around the West and focus attention on the issue of climate change and forest health.

The main room of the event at the Doerr-Hosier Center at the Aspen Institute is sold out, but a remote, live video stream is still available for $5 per ticket.

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