Climate science panelists to tackle state of the environment

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PITTSFIELD — Three experts in climate change will talk about the state of the planet and how to take action on a community level, during an event hosted this month by The Berkshire Eagle and the Berkshire Museum.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Elizabeth Kolbert, climate scientist Kim Cobb and City as Living Laboratory Director Olivia Georgia will participate in a panel discussion July 25 at South Congregational Church.

"We're delighted to collaborate with the Berkshire Museum," said Fredric D. Rutberg, Eagle president and publisher. "It's an important institution in our community, as is The Eagle."

The collaborative event is part of The Eagle's "Conversation Series" and the museum's "Voices and Visionaries" program.

Both organizations had been planning on hosting similar discussions about climate change on the same night and decided to team up.

Kolbert, of Williamstown, won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for her book, "The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History." She has written about climate change for The New York Times and The New Yorker and is a visiting fellow at Williams College. She also is a member of The Berkshire Eagle Advisory Board.

"The Sixth Extinction" talks about how there have been five mass extinctions throughout history, and we are now in the midst of the sixth, said Bridget Rigas, chief engagement officer for the museum.

Rigas said this mass extinction is the first one brought on by another animal: humans.

"She writes about very serious matters, very complicated science, in a way that's accessible to the nonscientist," Rutberg said of Kolbert's work.

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Cobb, a Pittsfield native, is a professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology. She also is the director of its Global Change Program. Cobb studies corals and cave stalagmites to probe the mechanisms of past, present and future climate change. The Pittsfield High School graduate testified before Congress this year on climate change.

Georgia is the executive director of City as Living Laboratory in New York City. She is dedicated to enhancing the role community museums play in curating conversations to educate constituents on the connections between history, science, art and society. Her work focuses on the nexus of art and sustainable development.

The panel discussion will be moderated by Berkshire Eagle Executive Editor Kevin Moran.

We all have common questions about the environment, noted Rutberg. "I want to know: How bad is it? Which tipping points have we passed? Is this truly a one-way street?"

Members of the public can purchase tickets to just the panel at 6:30 p.m., or to a full night of entertainment through the Berkshire Museum.

The museum will host a cocktail reception preceding the panel, featuring Bright Ideas Brewery and Spirited Wines, Rigas said.

After the talk, those ticket holders will return to the museum for dinner and an opportunity to engage further with the speakers, and leadership from The Eagle and museum," Rigas said.

Rigas said that the Voices and Visionaries events are designed to address relevant topics in a way that adds to the museum's collection.

Similarly, The Eagle's Conversation Series is an initiative to turn the local newspaper into a "city square" by hosting routine public events with experts in a variety of fields.

Haven Orecchio-Egresitz can be reached at the horecchio@berkshireeagle.com, @HavenEagle on Twitter and 413-770-6977.


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