Court Street Stories: National Geographic comes to Ohio University for GIS Day 2015

If you’re one of my faithful Facebook friends, you’ll know that I’ve had an obsession with National Geographic (and their reputation in the environmental communications field) since high school. So, when I got an email in early October about the keynote speaker for Ohio University’s GIS Day — Dennis Dimick, Environment and Photography Editor for Nat Geo — I could barely contain my excitement!

And part of what makes my job as an Undergraduate Research Scholar at the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs’ Environmental Studies Masters program so great is that I got to cover the GIS Day events on Twitter, as a social media aficionado. How cool is that?

Here are some of the highlights from Dennis Dimick’s presentation, “The Big View: Stewardship in the Age of Man,” as captured on social media.

The presentation was sponsored by multiple departments and entities across Ohio University’s campus: Ohio University(obviously); GIS Day organizers; the Scripps College of Communication, who hosted the keynote presentation in its brand-new Schoonover Center; the Department of Geography; the Voinovich School; the Consortium for Energy, Economics and the Environment (CE3); the Sustainability Studies and Fire to iPhone themes; and the Ohio chapter of the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA). Ohio University’s Zero Waste team, a Voinovich-assisted initiative who’s social media I actively contribute to, was a partner for the event as well.

Several of my Voinovich School peers — as well as journalism faculty members from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism — were in attendance for the keynote address.

Dennis Dimick began the presentation talking about his background as a journalist and his interest in the environment. Dimick’s childhood growing up on a farm in Oregon’s Willamette Valley heavily influenced both of his degrees in agriculture and agricultural journalism from Oregon State University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, respectively.

Then, we moved on to the topic of the day: the Age of Humans (otherwise known as the Anthropocene in recent environmental discourse). Dimick touched on energy, the future of food, and population growth — all issues that he’s worked on through various National Geographic Magazine initiatives since the early 2000s.

With beautiful, compelling photographs and graphs, Dimick drove home the issue of rapidly increasing carbon dioxide atmospheric concentrations that we’re likely to witness over the next century.

So, with all this doom and gloom about climate change and negative environmental impacts, what’s the future of our planet? Do we have a chance to save the environment?

Dimick ended his presentation focusing on the promise of human ingenuity and sustainability — and how the future of the Earth is up to us!

Contrary to popular discourse, the environment is a multi-disciplinary issue, involving economics, science, politics, and education. And there are feasible, economically viable solutions to mitigate serious environmental hazards within the next century — but we have to start moving towards a more sustainable mindset in the very near future to prevent serious, irreversible damage to our planet.

Climate change is truly the issue of our generation, but it’s not a lost cause (yet!). Everyday actions to improve energy efficiency and mindfulness when electing government representatives can all positively impact our environment — and the future of mankind.

This post also appears on Court Street Stories