GV explores the reality of climate change


The event’s presenter, Dr. Laiyin Zhu. Courtesy / Laiyin Zhu

Autumn Pitchure, Staff Reporter

Grand Valley State University is hosting a 24 Hours of Climate Reality Event (CRE) Wednesday, Nov. 20, joining on conversations on climate change that will occur all around the globe Nov. 20-21. The day will feature a presentation put on by Laiyin Zhu, Assistant Professor of Geography at Western Michigan University, who will discuss the variations of tropical cyclones under climate change and possible mitigation techniques. Everyone is encouraged to come, learn and participate as this directly impacts all majors and the public. 

The CRE is sponsored by GVSU’s Geography and Sustainable Planning Department, who is holding the event as part of their Geography Awareness Week focusing on climate change. Professor and Geography Chair Elena Lioubimtseva will also speak at CRE and give an overview of climate change curriculum in Geography and Sustainable Planning.

“Our department is the first in Michigan and one of the first in the U.S. to offer an emphasis in Climate Change Mitigation, Adaptation and Resiliency Planning in Geography B.S.,” Lioubimtseva said.

CRE will bring together several local organizations working on climate action including the GVSU Climate Change Education Solutions Network, Grand Rapids Climate Action, Grand Rapids Chapter of Citizens Climate Lobby and West Michigan Chapter of Climate Reality. It will be held from 6-8:30 p.m. in the Henry Hall Atrium, with Zhu’s presentation lasting from 6:30-7:30 p.m..

Zhu’s presentation, titled “Tropical Cyclone and Climate Change: from Nature to Society,” will display his research on tropical cyclone precipitation reconstruction and modeling, urban flooding, hurricane power outages modeling and agent-based modeling of people’s mitigation behavior in repeated hurricane disasters.

“Global warming will increase the sea surface temperature and it will possibly intensify hurricanes and tropical cyclones in the future,” Zhu said. “We want to increase the public’s knowledge and understanding of important impacts of climate change and what they can do.”

Tropical cyclones can create massive damage. Zhu will discuss the important mitigation techniques people can do to prevent disastrous situations and to keep safe. 

“One of the ways to mitigate is to build houses in safer places, building better roofing and siding,” Zhu said. “The government can also provide some type of subsidies to improve the communities resilience when facing those kinds of disasters.”

Continuing to burn fossil fuels only adds to the issue of climate change and global warming, Zhu warns. He stresses how important it is that people become aware of how they are impacting the planet in negative ways.

“Climate is always changing,” Zhu said. “If the community continues to burn fossil fuels, they are contributing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and this contributes a lot of bad things in the future, like extreme weather conditions. It will evaporate the waters in one place and then bring them to another place. If there is too much evaporation, then too much water draws from the soils leading to drought.”

Some other ways to help with climate is through changing our transportation mode, changing our ways of production and changing the fossil fuels to renewable energy. Zhu shares how countries should work together to reduce emissions to the atmosphere and save our planet. 

“Climate change is so important because there will come a certain tipping point where we will no longer get it back to previous climate or normal state of climate.” Zhu said. “Every one of us should react as soon as possible.”