Columbia Jewish Congregation to host expert for climate change program

Professor Peter Goodwin
Professor Peter Goodwin (Courtesy of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science)

During Columbia Jewish Congregation’s upcoming April 10 event, What Climate Change Means to our Community, Professor Peter Goodwin hopes to talk about the Ukrainian scientist who explained how the threat of climate change is inherently more dire than even the ongoing war in Ukraine.

Goodwin, the president of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, will be the guest speaker at the CJC event. The online program will cover how climate change affects individuals and communities, how it’s being mitigated and the 2022 Maryland Climate Solutions Now Act and the Maryland Environmental Human Rights Amendment, said Dr. Irma Bensinger. Bensinger, a recently retired family physician, is a member of CJC’s Green Team, which is organizing the event in partnership with the synagogue’s Mensch Club.

Dr. Irma Bensinger
Dr. Irma Bensinger (Courtesy of Dr. Irma Bensinger)

In addition, Goodwin plans to discuss some recent reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. According to these reports, he explained, climate change is progressing significantly faster than had been anticipated by an assessment conducted six years ago.

On what the findings of these reports mean for Maryland, Goodwin said he expects to talk about the increase of disasters related to weather and climate the state has seen since 1980, including storms that are becoming more frequent and intense, and sea levels that continue to eat up more and more of
the shoreline.

“We’re seeing rising sea levels here in Maryland,” said Goodwin, a resident of Annapolis and member of Congregation Ahavath Beth Israel in Boise, Idaho, where he previously lived. “And you just have to come to Annapolis … where normal high tides are beginning to flood areas on a routine basis, that we wouldn’t have seen, say, 20 years ago.”

Goodwin noted a pair of floods that Ellicott City had experienced in the past six years, and which had previously been almost unheard of.

Goodwin also noted that one of the authors of these recent reports, a Ukrainian scientist by the name of Svitlana Krakovska, gave a recent interview with the BBC while sheltering in her Kyiv apartment.

“She also pointed out, as terrible as the things that were happening to her country at the time, in 10 years or so this will have passed, but climate change is with us,” Goodwin said. “And if we don’t take serious action in the next decade, then we will have lost this window to avoid the very worst effects.”

The idea for this program emerged out of CJC’s Green Team’s monthly meetings, said Bensinger.

Some of the topics Bensinger, a resident of Glenelg, hopes to bring up during the event include how greenhouse gasses and climate change are contributing to rising sea levels, and the impact that may have on the Chesapeake Bay watershed. She also hopes to learn more about what efforts are being made to mitigate the effects of salt water intrusion and salinization in Maryland’s groundwater aquifers and coastal wetlands, as a result of rising sea levels, and how extreme weather events, like droughts and floods, affect Maryland’s agricultural production.

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