Since taking a sabbatical in Washington, D.C., seven years ago, Dr. Andy Jorgensen has spoken to approximately 150 groups of students, teachers, chemists and other audiences about climate change.On Wednesday, June 3, The University of Toledo associate professor of chemistry will present once more — to the National Press Club. Though the group is different from his normal audience, Jorgensen said it is very important to share his knowledge with press members.
“This is the National Press Club,” Jorgensen said. “This is where people talk about important national issues, and I hope that I can make connections with reporters to help them understand and connect with this subject. In the future, they might come to me with questions because there is a climate change story in the news every day.”
Jorgensen, who focuses on science education, studied climate change during his sabbatical at the National Council for Science and the Environment. During that time, he worked with colleagues to create CAMEL — Climate Adaptation Mitigation E-Learning — an online program with more than 1,400 resources on climate change.
The website, camelclimatechange.org, and Jorgensen’s presentations to groups all over the country attempt to educate the public on why climate change education is important. During each presentation, Jorgensen aims to contextualize and personalize the data so that audience members realize the individual impact they can have on the environment.
“Every person makes a decision,” Jorgensen said. “The next time they buy a car, the next time they walk out of room without hitting the light switch, the next time they order on a restaurant menu — every decision has its consequences.”
Jorgensen was invited to speak to the National Press Club after a member saw a presentation he gave to the American Chemical Society, of which he is a member.
His June 3 presentation is titled “Climate Change Disruption: How Do We Know? What Can We Do?” He plans to provide current data about climate change, but also information about the presentation itself and the impact it has had on other audiences.
In particular, Jorgensen will talk about his use of clickers during his presentations; these allow him to ask the audience questions, gather responses, and display them in real time. He typically asks the audience for their opinions on climate change before and after the presentation, then displays the changes in opinion.
Aside from presentations, Jorgensen spends much of his time helping the public understand climate change in other capacities. He recently helped the UT Department of Theatre and Film with its production of “The Immortals,” which touched on climate change and global warming.