Our discussion focused on the high level issues associated with climate change and why we are experience hurricane with ever increasing intensity like hurricanes Harvey and Irma. We also discussed ground level issues in the Houston community regarding toxic pollution from local chemical plants and oil refineries.
Our guests were:
Dr. Kerry Cook – Climate Scientists at the University of Texas
Kerry Cook came to The University of Texas at Austin in August 2008. She began her career at NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Lab at Princeton University, followed by 18 years as a professor at Cornell University. At UT, she teaches graduate courses in geophysical fluid dynamics, and a popular undergraduate course on Global Warming. Dr. Cook is a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society, and served as a member of the Board of Trustees of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research and an editor of the Journal of Climate.
Dr. Cook’s research centers on predicting and understanding climate change and climate variability around the world, including Africa, South America, the central U.S., and home in Austin, TX. She and her group use numerical models of the climate system, including atmosphere, ocean, and vegetation components, along with observational analysis to improve our understanding about how features and processes at the earth’s surface interact with atmospheric circulation and precipitation fields.
Kristal Ibarra-Rodríguez – Volunteer Coordinator with the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club
After serving as a long-time volunteer with the Sierra Club at both local and national levels, Kristal now works with Lone Star Chapter volunteer leaders and staff to develop and implement outreach programs that support the work of existing volunteers and aim to recruit new ones. Prior to this role, she conducted outreach on waste management practices in California with successful efforts toward achieving the ambitious goal of 75% waste diversion from landfills by 2020. Kristal is a graduate of the University of Puerto Rico, her home island, where she studied General Science with particular focus on Environmental Education and Sociology.
Luke Metzger – Executive Director of Environment Texas
Luke Metzger is the State Director of Environment Texas, a statewide, citizen-funded advocate for clean air, clean water and open spaces. The San Antonio Current has called Mr. Metzger “long one of the most energetic and dedicated defenders of environmental issues in the state.” He has played a key role in dozens of successful environmental campaigns, including winning permanent protection for the Christmas Mountains of Big Bend, getting Shell and Chevron Phillips to cut air pollution at two Texas refineries and chemical plants, and getting the Legislature to dramatically boost funding for water conservation and state parks.
Ashely “Flashe’ Gordon, Community Activist – she was on the phone with us as she was on the ground in Port Arthur in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey
Ashely is an environmental and social activist. Taking care of the community has always been her priority. Both of her parents served in the community during Ashely’s childhood. That is when she learned that our community is our family and we have a responsibility to that family. She returned to Austin in 2013 after the death of my father in 2008 with a renewed passion to serve in Travis County. Ashely was a candidate for Travis County Commissioner in 2017. She now lives in Port Arthur Texas, which was hit hard by Hurricane Harvey. You can help Ashely with her work on the ground here.
For more info about the environmental impacts of Hurricane Harvey, the EcoNetwork wrote two blogs on the subject.