2nd Annual UC Riverside Climate Change Fair to Take Place on Oct. 13

“Refresh Riverside!” will communicate the essential science behind climate change; free public event expected to draw hundreds to campus

Photo shows two young girls playing Twister.

Young visitors to last year’s climate change fair had fun playing a variety of games. UCR Strategic Communications.

By Lucas Joel

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Last year, more than 600 people, from kindergarteners to adults, came to the University of California, Riverside for the first-ever Refresh Riverside! A Community Fair — a fair where they got to learn the science behind one of the most discussed issues of our time: climate change.

The free popular fair is back this year, with some new twists and additions. The fair will take place on Saturday, Oct. 13, from 10 a.m.–3 p.m. near UC Riverside’s bell tower, and will have it all: from informational booths to engaging games and free food.

Fairgoers will have the chance to learn about and calculate their carbon footprint. They can head next to the “Carbon Price is Right” game to learn about the eco-friendliness of everyday activities (e.g., driving a car versus riding a bike).

Closer to home, the “Future of the Inland Empire” booth will present scenarios for how climate change might affect Riverside County in the near and far future. In “Water Conservation,” attendees will learn about just how limited water resources are (particularly in the Inland Empire), and how saving even a little water every day can make a big difference.

Photo shows Chancellor White signing a banner.

UC Riverside Chancellor Timothy P. White signs the “I Pledge to Refresh Riverside” banner that will be draped around the university’s bell tower on Oct. 13. Photo credit: Lucas Joel, UC Riverside.

Last year’s popular “Sea Level Limbo” and “Tornado Twister” games will also be at the fair, along with “Climate Change Jeopardy!,” which will test fairgoers’ climate-related knowledge .

Climate experts from NASA and UCR will be on hand to answer questions about climate change, such as how climate change is affecting us, and what the future consequences — both short term and long term — of climate change are likely to be.

A new addition to this year’s fair is the “I Pledge to Refresh Riverside” banner. Attendees can pledge on this banner to make a change in their everyday lives to be more environmentally sustainable, such as using reusable grocery bags and carpooling to work.

“We want to communicate to everybody — children and their parents — that we can each be working to reduce our impact on the environment,” said Mary Droser, a professor in the Department of Earth Sciences who is directing the fair for a second year in a row. “This year’s fair is about taking the information you learn about climate change and applying it to your life.” (See Q&A below.)

Photo shows a family at last year's climate change fair.

Last year’s climate change fair attracted hundreds of families, one of which is seen here. Photo credit: UCR Strategic Communications.

UCR is a leader in sustainability education and research, focusing on topics such as the environment, energy, climate, recycling, waste management, transportation, and water.

“Because higher education provides the intellect and initiative to move this country forward, it is important that we set the standard for society to aspire to and train the intellectual community and the workforce to preserve this planet for future generations … and do battle with the causes of climate change,” said UCR Chancellor Timothy P. White.

Free food — including food from Rubio’s Fresh Mexican Grill, snow cones and cotton candy — will be available. Reservations are not needed to attend the fair. Parking in Lot 1, at the corner of University Avenue and West Campus Drive, will be free for fairgoers.

For a complete list of booths, activities, sponsors and extra information, please visit: http://globalclimate.ucr.edu/refresh2012.html.

The community climate fair is being hosted by NASA; UCR’s Office of the Chancellor, the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, and the Department of Earth Sciences; the Riverside Unified School District; and the Moscarello Family Foundation.

Photo shows Mary Droser.

Mary Droser is a faculty member in the Department of Earth Sciences at UC Riverside who is directing the climate fair. Photo credit: UCR Strategic Communications.

Q&A with Mary Droser:

Why should the public be concerned about climate change?

Climate change is one of the biggest issues facing society today. While it often seems like a strictly academic issue, the fact is that climate change will affect all of us. Many people think that a 1 degree change in temperature isn’t that big a deal, but the effects of climate change in the form of global warming — from sea level rise to more extreme weather events — will affect our way of life and our economy. Most climate scientists agree that climate change is happening, and so, as a society, we need to take action.

Why is the fair happening again this year?

We have many more things to talk to the public about at this year’s fair. We have several new activities, booths, and sponsors, and we’re implementing a new theme: sustainability. Here sustainability means the power of one person or one family to help curb climate change by pledging to change some everyday practices — for instance, turning off lights in vacant rooms in the house. We really want fairgoers to learn that they can, in fact, make a difference.

What message do you want fairgoers to take home with them?

We hope that everybody who comes to the fair understands a few more things about climate change — the basic scientific facts, and what they can do to live more sustainably. If people walk away knowing that we are facing climate change as a country and as a globe, and that they can do something to contribute to the solution, then the fair has done its job.

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