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Honors Colloquium

Fall 2008 Honors Colloquium

Sen. Whitehouse Brings Senate Committee to Rhode Island to Discuss Global Warming's Impact on Narragansett Bay

Thursday, August 21, 2008 10:30 am
University of Rhode Island, Bay Campus Corliss Auditorium
South Ferry Road, Narragansett, R.I.

Providence, R.I. – From rising water levels to increasing water temperatures and changing fish populations, global warming's impact on Narragansett Bay is measureable, growing, and in need of urgent action. To raise Rhode Islanders' awareness of the effects of climate change on the Bay, our coastal areas, and our communities, U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) will chair a field briefing of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) at the University of Rhode Island's Bay Campus to discuss the implications of global warming for Narragansett Bay.

"Left unchecked, climate change will affect every community in every nation on earth, altering our Ocean State – and the entire world – in ways we are only beginning to understand, and coastal communities will be among those at greatest risk," said Whitehouse. "This issue is real, time is of the essence, and action is called for."

The briefing, which will be held on Thursday, August 21, is open to the public. Members of Rhode Island's scientific and environmental advocacy communities will present evidence of the impacts of climate change on the Bay and discuss ways in which the state can prepare. The briefing is considered to be an official meeting of the EPW Committee, and its proceedings will be entered into the Committee's official record.

Witnesses testifying at the briefing will include:

The Senate EPW Committee is responsible for reviewing all Senate legislation pertaining to the environment, particularly matters related to global warming, environmental health, and air and water quality. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) has served as Chairman of the Committee since January, 2007.

As a member of the Senate EPW Committee, Sen. Whitehouse has worked to draw lawmakers' attention to the impact of global warming on the Bay. At the Committee's inaugural hearing in January 2007, Whitehouse delivered a presentation reviewing scientific evidence of temperature changes and recent fish kills in Narragansett Bay. The Bay's annual mean winter temperature has increased by about 4 degrees Fahrenheit over the past 20 years, an ecosystem shift for fish and shellfish populations which threatens the fragile and rich diversity of marine life and could have implications for Rhode Island's fishing and tourism industries.

Last year, Sen. Whitehouse introduced the Global Warming Wildlife Survival Act (S. 2204), which calls for a coordinated national strategy to help wildlife populations and habitats, including coastal and marine animals and ecosystems, adapt to stresses related to climate change. The goals of this bill were incorporated into the Climate Security Act (S. 2191), which was debated briefly before the full Senate before Republicans blocked its further consideration. Sen. Whitehouse also offered an amendment to the Climate Security Act, which passed in Committee, that would ensure that coastal and Great Lakes communities affected by climate change have the information they need, such as data on projected sea level rise, severe weather, and associated flood risks, to prepare for and adapt to global warming.

For more information on Sen. Whitehouse's work on climate change, visit the "Protecting Our Environment" page on the senator's web site.

For addtional background information on this hearing, click here.

Major Sponsor:

The G. Unger Vetlesen Foundation

Sustaining Sponsors:

URI Office of the President; URI Honors Program; The Mark and Donna Ross Honors Colloquium Humanities Endowment; The Thomas Silvia and Shannon Chandley Honors Colloquium Endowment.

Leadership Sponsors:

URI Graduate School of Oceanography and URI College of Arts and Sciences.


Environmental Data Center, URI Department of Natural Resources Science; R.I. Center for the Book at Providence Public Library; R.I. Office of Library and Information Services; R.I. Sea Grant College Program; U.S. E.P.A. Office of Research and Development, Atlantic Ecology Division; URI Classroom Media Services; URI Coastal Institute; URI College of Business Administration; URI College of Engineering; URI College of the Environment and Life Sciences; URI College of Human Science and Services; URI College of Nursing; URI College of Pharmacy; URI Division of Student Affairs; URI Division of University Advancement and the URI Alumni Association; URI Foundation; URI Office of the Provost; URI Office of the Vice President for Administration; URI Office of the Vice Provost for Information Technology Services; URI University College.

Colloquium Coordinators:

Professor Steven D'Hondt, Graduate School of Oceanography;
Professor Arthur Spivack, Graduate School of Oceanography;
Professor Judith Swift, Theatre and Communication Studies.

For information about ways to support the Honors Colloquium, contact Tom Zorabedian at 401-874-2853 or