May 16, 2013

Guest Blog: What is your motivation for engaging in Climate Change research in Ontario?

‘What is your motivation for engaging in Climate Change research in Ontario?” This was one of the questions posed to the participants in the First Annual Ontario Climate Consortium Climate Research Symposium held in Toronto last week. The room was filled with an excellent mix of academics, individuals representing all levels of government, the private sector, and non-profit organizations.

2013_05_16_Transition KWI was attending on behalf Transition KW and our project creating a Climate Change Adaptation Toolkit for use by individuals and communities in the Waterloo Region. We came to the symposium to gather more research sources to increase our understanding of the impacts the region is likely to feel in the coming decades from climate change. We were also hoping to find others working on similar projects in other parts of Ontario or further afield. Though our project is only in the beginning stages, the symposium was an incredible inspiration for driving the work forward.

One of the concepts that appeared throughout the Symposium was best articulated by the speakers in the second morning panel: “A Model for Collaboration.” They emphasized the resounding need for intermediaries in communicating climate change related research. I visualized these roles as a sort of translator – interpreting the research produced by academics and other scientists and compiling it into forms that individuals, companies, and governments can use to make informed decisions and take action! I agree this role is essential and currently somewhat lacking in practice. One of the reasons Transition KW chose to take on the Climate Change Toolkit project was because we ourselves initially didn’t understand the specific climate change impacts expected in our region.

We are now working to fill that gap. With the creation of the toolkit we aim to accept the challenge presented at the symposium and become an intermediary interpreting the relevant climate research for our local community. I urge you, even if your path is not to fill a similar intermediary role, to find your motivation and engage the issues of climate change. I hope to see you at next year’s Symposium – we plan to bring our completed toolkit to share!

2013_05_16_Kara SchimmelfingKara Schimmelfing is a volunteer with Transition KW and a project coordinator for their Climate Change Adaptation Toolkit project. She is also pursuing a Masters in Geography at Wilfrid Laurier University focused on municipal energy resilience building. She is primarily interested in local preparations for and reactions to long term change.

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