Typically when you think about a bunch of academics discussing environmental change, it has an air of doom and gloom. The projections aren’t promising: the global temperature is predicted to rise 0.2 °C each decade, resulting mainly from anthropogenic increases in greenhouse gases, and this will continue to result in rising sea levels and unpredictable, catastrophic weather events. Many people are left feeling hopeless with a feeling of “it’s too late.” But thanks to President Michael McRobbie’s decision to fund Grand Challenge Proposals and the ensuing advent of the Environmental Resilience Institute (ERI) at Indiana University, there is a new reason for hope in Indiana.
The institute has one clear primary mission: to prepare the state of Indiana for the inevitable environmental change that it will face in the coming decades. The visionaries behind the ERI include faculty hailing from departments and schools all across the IU campus, including the Department of Biology, The Media School, the School of Public and Environmental Affairs, the Department of Geography and more. Everyone involved shares a common interest in protecting the natural world and improving the resilience of our state to the inevitable march of climate change. But to break up the mission of the Grand Challenge Proposal into more manageable goals, researchers teamed up into working groups to define goals that were of equal importance in preserving our state’s beauty and preparing the economy for environmental change, including: predicting changes in weather projections, conserving animals and plants, protecting humans against invasive species and disease vectors, promoting urban green infrastructure, and fostering better communication of future challenges (e.g. flooding, crop loss) to the communities across Indiana. (more…)