GCC professor writes about climate change in a novel

  • GCC Professor Emeritus and novelist Brian Adams Contributed Photo

Recorder Staff
Friday, August 11, 2017

GREENFIELD — As Brian Adams was wrapping up his 20-plus years of teaching at Greenfield Community College, he had a question.

“How do I do science and make it accessible?”

So he chose to write about his growing sense of urgency about climate change, placing the topic in a novel.

Drawing from his teaching style, Adams employed humor to help facilitate learning in his novel, like his idol public television’s Bill Nye, “The Science Guy.” He’s always thinking about accessibility, particularly when it comes to climate change.

“If we don’t do that, we’re in trouble,” Adams said at GCC following a discussion to a group of science students. “The times demand it. Our economy, our lives demand it. Our environment demands it. It’s the challenge of our times.”

As Adams discussed his first of two novels, “Love in the Time of Climate Change,” he helped to educate a group of local students about the value of science-based careers in today’s world. He discussed both the economy for local jobs in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) fields, but also the place for activism in partnership with them.

“My goal today is to get people thinking about this intersection of science and policy and how they can save the world,” said Adams, a professor emeritus of environmental science at the college. “It sounds trite and almost silly but that’s what it’s all about.”

The group of students, ranging from current college students to high school students, are a part of GCC’s fourth annual STEM Starter Academy, a statewide program run at community colleges.

At the college, the program is both free and counts toward college credit and for some, duals as high school credit, its coordinator Alysha Putnam said.

The program with 43 students, up from last year’s 26 participants, is nearing its end this summer. It allows students to choose a particular STEM-based summer course, which are eight week-long intensive classes instead of the typical 15-week semester load.

“Because it’s free, it gives students who are not really sure about STEM an opportunity to try it,” Putnam said. “I look at it as a way to make STEM more accessible.”

The students Wednesday afternoon had a chance in the college’s library to listen to Adams speak about ways that STEM could lead to a sustainable future for them.

“It’s not like we don’t have the key to solve the climate mess that we’re in,” Adams said. “The technology and engineering can really propel us forward into a fossil fuel free world.”

The former GCC professor told the students about his experiences in West Virginia and the need for the area to use its natural resources for the benefit of the environment and its people living there, which he says can also lead to long term jobs. He then brought the conversation back to the Pioneer Valley.

“You can build a pipeline through western Massachusetts and create a couple thousand jobs for a few years and that’s it,” Adams said, countering and offering that jobs in renewable energy are better.

“What could be better than that? There’s so many opportunities for you to do good work while saving the world.”