Next Charlemont Forum speaker to discuss climate-related migration

By BELLA LEVAVI

Staff Writer

Published: 07-16-2023 2:04 PM

CHARLEMONT — Organizers of the Charlemont Forum are bringing discussions on climate change and resulting migration to town in this season’s second program.

The Charlemont Forum will host Columbia University professor Alex de Sherbinin for his free talk “Climate Refugees: How Migration Will Change Our Global Landscape” at the Charlemont Federated Church, 175 Main St., on Thursday, July 20, at 7 p.m. The presentation will also be available on Zoom.

In the wake of increasing temperatures, flooding from rising sea levels and unprecedented West Coast fires over the past several years, climate-related migration was chosen as the focus of the Charlemont Forum’s second summer program. Using current research models, including de Sherbinin’s own, he will outline how the consequences of climate change will lead to dramatic population shifts around the world, including in the United States.

“A current major research focus is on how coastal states such as Massachusetts are addressing the growing risks of sea-level rise along with flood risks and other stressors,” de Sherbinin explained. “As a region with abundant water resources and relatively moderate temperatures, western Massachusetts may see some in-migration from other parts of the U.S. as people seek to escape extreme temperatures, wildfire smoke or coastal hazards.”

Charlemont Forum Committee member Peter Purdy said that over the 14 years the committee has organized the talks, climate change continues to be discussed.

“It hasn’t gone away,” he said. “We are trying to put a different spin on it so people will take a look at the issue and how it is going to play out.”

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Purdy explained that New England will be affected by global migration due to climate change, so this talk is incredibly relevant to the people of Franklin County. He said the region has already seen this in part when people began moving to the area during the pandemic to get away from the highly populated cities.

“We hope that Alex’s talk will be very interesting and relevant for people who live in the hilltowns,” Purdy said, “and have implications for rural areas in general.”

This is the second talk of the summer. The first event led by Westy Egmont, former associate professor and founder of the Immigrant Integration Lab at Boston College’s School of Social Work, took place in June.

The Charlemont Forum will host one more talk in October. The program, created and presented by Jesse Freidin, is titled “Are You OK: What Can Young Trans Voices Teach Us About Justice.” It will be sponsored by the Charlemont Forum and The Academy at Charlemont, and will be a largely visual event featuring Freidin’s photo series.

The Charlemont Forum speaker series started in 2010, and has had past discussions on topics ranging from religion in American political life to economic inequality. The presentations were held virtually in 2020 and 2021 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This year’s talks are as interesting as all the talks have been over the past 13 years,” Purdy said. Of the July 20 talk, he added it’s “worth coming out to hear a speaker like Alex. He is a big deal in his field, and we are lucky to have him.”

For more information about the talks, visit the Charlemont Forum’s Facebook page at facebook.com/charlemontforum.

Bella Levavi can be reached at 413-930-4579 or blevavi@recorder.com.

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