Water and Land Symposium brings climate change awareness

Emma Keating

Kicking off Kent State’s fourth annual Water and Land Symposium Wednesday, environmental and science journalist Cynthia Barnett said she believes rain is life’s greatest elixir.

Barnett, known for her books on rain, told the symposium audience about the history of rain, and how it has affected culture throughout history.

“I set out to write something more lyrical,” Barnett said. “Writing a book about rain has allowed me to draw a larger audience interested in rain and also interested in climate change.”

Barnett said she feels it is important to talk about rain in regards to climate change because it has been such a significant factor over the course of history.

“It’s the same story in different times,” Barnett said. “We express great fear in what the climate wrought and we pine to change it. It’s not the rain itself that’s dangerous, it’s out actions or lack of actions that is.”

Anne Jefferson, an associate geology professor who invited Barnett to the campus, said she loved reading Barnett’s books and was thrilled to have her visit Kent State.

While Barnett’s newest book, “Rain: A Cultural and Natural History,” relates to historical events, Jefferson said it’s still valuable in current times.

“It all relates to the issue of how we’re going to deal with climate change that is happening now,” she said. “It’s going to intensify in the future. How might we be sustainable or resilient in the face of changing climate?”

Barnett said that the historical perspective should give people hope for how the world handles climate change in the future.

“We have all these computer models looking forward, but we forget how important it is to walk back,” she said. “Just like we have before, we will come around to using our big brains.”

Catherine Ruhm, a geology graduate student, said she thought the Barnett’s speech was incredibly interesting.

“I like that (she) met culture with science,” Ruhm said. “I think it’s very important for scientists to bring what we’ve studied to the public and get them engaged with what’s going on.”

All in all, Barnett said she simply wants the public to understand rain for what it is: a natural source of nourishment.

“We need to help people understand that climate is not a source of fear, but a source of life,” she said.

Emma Keating is the arts and sciences reporter, contact her at [email protected]