S1E6. Karen McGlathery on Coastal Resilience
Play • 1 hr 3 min
Today on Free Range, Mike Livermore discusses coastal preservation with Karen McGlathery. McGlathery is a professor at the University of Virginia’s Department of Environmental Sciences and the Director of UVA’s Environmental Resilience Institute. McGlathery’s work centers on coastal ecosystems and the discussion today covers a number of different topics related to climate change and coastal communities. McGlathery begins by discussing her path to becoming an environmental scientist (:55 – 4:00). She then outlines the work being done at the University of Virginia’s Resilience Institute, including explaining what the term “resilience” means in the context of the environmental sciences, and how the institute works on issues related to climate change (4:10 – 7:57). McGlathery discusses one of the institute’s recent projects, which examines the effects of coastal storms on flooding patterns, saltwater contamination of fresh water sources, and how this impacts water sustainability. The project, which is based on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, reflects the institute’s interdisciplinary approach by including not just university-based scientists but also local community organizers and faith-based leaders (8:05 – 16:22). This segues to a discussion about what kinds of futures are envisioned for coastal communities, such as coastal restoration or retreat inland. This leads to a discussion of what role the concept of equity plays in these considerations, and how rising sea levels may lead to difficult decisions in this regard, particularly as so many coastal communities have based their economies on access to the coast (17:30 – 27:00). The focus of the conversation then shifts to one of McGlathery’s primary areas of expertise — coastal ecosystems and their importance in the fight against catastrophic climate change. McGlathery goes over both the positive and negative aspects of these “blue carbon sinks,” which include seagrass meadows, mangroves, and marshlands, and signals the way in which these areas may be used by entities to falsely claim they are carbon-neutral (27:20 – 38:35). This leads to an explanation of the process through which scientists measure the amount of carbon a carbon sink is able to remove from the atmosphere. This part of the discussion expands the conversation’s focus to incorporate questions about whether environmental policy decisions can keep up with the realities of climate change (38:40 – 50:21). Finally, the conversation touches on the costs associated with coastal preservation and how those costs may rise in the future, making it more difficult to justify them among the public (50:25 – 59:40). Professor Michael Livermore is the Edward F. Howrey Professor of Law at the University of Virginia School of Law. He is also the Director of the Program in Law, Communities and the Environment (PLACE), an interdisciplinary program based at UVA Law that examines the intersection of legal, environmental, and social concerns.
More episodes
Clear search
Close search
Google apps
Main menu