Hard Earth Winter 2019 Speaker series
California Catastrophes: California as the harbinger of environmental change
Environmental disasters are striking with alarming frequency. Many, including wildfires and ecosystem collapse, are hitting California. The winter 2019 Hard Earth series will feature biweekly talks by Stanford graduate students whose research probes how people are coping with, adapting to, and changing their lives in the face of environmental catastrophe. Their talks will focus on events close to home in California. The talks are free and open to all. Additionally, students who choose to enroll in the entire quarterly series as a 1-unit class (CEE 126Y/ EARTH 126Y) will, in the weeks between the talks, discuss what’s happening in California in the context of the rest of the world.
Our first talk of the quarter will have PhD Candidate Francisca Santana talk about changing how Californians react to smoke from wildfires. Climate change is making wildfires more frequent and more intense. Exposure to wildfire smoke poses severe health risks, especially for vulnerable people such as children and the elderly. But how people react to wildfire smoke has a massive impact on how severely the smoke hurts them. In the disastrous 2018 Camp Fire, which destroyed Paradise, California, many people reacted in ways that didn’t help them. Some, for instance, donned masks even though that worsened their asthma. Why do people react to wildfire smoke in counterproductive ways?